"Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and therefore the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants and especially of animals. Nothing awakens foresight in a small child, who lives as a rule for the passing moment and without care for the morrow, so much as this."
- Maria Montessori
We have a couple Silly Wabbits we love and our kids help care for them. They're New Zealand-California crosses and they're great for breeding and meat. These furry friends make wonderful pets and they also provide an opportunity for our kids to sharpen their Practical Life skills. In this post, I'm going to walk you through our routine for our Montessori pets and caring for animals in a home or homeschool environment with children ages 2-6.
Why Include Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals in Homeschool?
- Teach care and empathy for all living things
- Teach life skills that extend into adulthood
- Integrate Practical Life work with Science lessons including Biology, Ecology, etc.
- Bring joy to children and families
- Not limited in pet choices as you may be with a traditional classroom environment
Low Maintenance Pets for Kids and Homeschool
- Guinea Pigs
- Hermit Crabs
There are even more choices than what I listed but these are the most popular for their friendliness and care requirements. Doing some research will help you decide what is best for your family and your homeschool.
We live on a farm in the Pacific Northwest, so there are a lot of wild animals around. Sometimes they're at the front door or on the back porch. It felt a little like Northern Exposure when we first moved in. Now, the wildlife are like part of the family. However, we're always mindful of our place in the food web and act accordingly.
So, all of that to say, don't just trap or bring home anything you can get your hands on. Do your research.
How We Include Kids with Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals
We observe our children to determine where they are at developmentally and then we match the task to that level. I started out by modeling the routine for everyone. After some time, we slowly introduced different tasks at different times.
For example, our 2 y.o. can independently add hay to our rabbit hay feeder. She will continue to add hay and take it out and repeat the process over and over concentrating on her work until she's satisfied. She's not quite ready to safely remove the water bottle from the hutch and fill it. Therefore, we reserve that task for an older child.
On the other hand, our oldest is able to accomplish almost everything related to the rabbit's care and she is interested in doing all of the tasks. More specifically, she wants to make sure they have food, water, and a nice clean hutch. She really enjoys taking care of their needs and then playing with them afterwards. As a result, she can assist her siblings with anything they need and then do additional tasks that they're not quite up for yet.
Our Daily Routine for Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals (2 Rabbits)
1. Refill the Rabbits' Water Bottle
Our oldest will detach the water bottle from the hutch and fill it with filtered water from the Berkey. Our son can also refill the bottle and is currently mastering detaching and reattaching it to the outside of the hutch.
2. Replace Fleece Bedding in the Hutch
Our rabbits love their fleece blankets and we like to change them out everyday. These baby blankets served all four of our children well and it's so sweet to be able to repurpose them as rabbit bedding.
3. Refill the Hay Feeder
We keep this hay bale off the ground and under a covered porch behind our garage. Our kids will grab the hay feeder from the hutch and walk it around to the hay bale to refill. There's a container on the ground to catch any extra and for our youngest daughter to practice her feeder-filling (and emptying) skills.
4. Sweep the Area Around the Hutch
We keep our children's rainbow broom hanging outside the back door. Our oldest two will sweep the area around the hutch after we finish our routine and anytime hay accumulates around the porch.
5. Play With the Rabbits
Of course, the best part is to be able to play with them after we've completed their daily care routine.
6. Let the Rabbits Explore
We like to give our rabbits plenty of room to explore and they never disappoint in bringing joy into our home. It's a great way for them to get the exercise they need after cuddling with the kids
Summary of Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals
We give our kids a lot of opportunities for Practical Life work, and this is another example of how we do that. In addition to this daily routine, we also do a more thorough cleaning of their hutch a couple times a week and rabbit grooming. It's an excellent way to teach care and empathy of living things. Also, if you've seen our Montessori Homeschool Space, you'll notice it fits with our interdisciplinary approach to homeschooling, as seen on our science shelves.
We hope this gives you some inspiration for planning your Practical Life works this summer and for this upcoming year of homeschool. What pet(s) would you like to add to your home or homeschool?
More Montessori Pets and Caring for Animals
More Rhythm and Routine
More Homeschool Practical Life
- Gardening: Empower Kids to Grow Their Own Food & Eat Healthy
- Practical Life in the Kitchen: Baking Blueberry Cake
- Primary Curriculum
- Montessori Elementary Curriculum
- Montessori Third Great Lesson Materials and Follow-Up for Primary & Elementary
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