Once a year, my Pre-K scholars participate in a memorable math and literacy extension activity.
Pre-K Pet Adoption Day is a highly anticipated activity, filled with wonder and excitement. My Pre-K scholars learn about: pet care, earning and saving money, following a shopping list to purchase supplies, and being responsible for a pet like no other. Pet Adoption Day can be an extension activity added to any pet or animal theme/unit, or a study on rocks.
For three weeks, my scholars earn money by being engaged in their centers and building up their classroom family members.
On the first day of our extension activity, each of my scholars decorate a large, brightly colored envelope. The decorated envelope transforms into their personal class currency wallet. Randomly throughout each days work-cycle, as I engage with students in small group, tutoring or centers, I give scholars class currency. They learn to immediately place it in their wallet, they leave in their school cubby.
Each morning, we do a small group number bonds activity. My scholars bring their wallet to the group table and count their class currency. From there I give them a number that fits into the range of their saved currency total. Each of my scholars count out the given number in class currency and place it in one of the number bond circles. I add between one and three additional dollar bills to a separate circle on their number bonds mat and then they count the total. They find the corresponding number card to place on the large number bonds circle. We move around the piles on the mat and go over the addition/subtraction problem in more detail. During the week of our activity, I use small pebbles, rather than class currency. The pebbles are a fantastic connection to the adoption of their pet rocks. Over the three weeks, my scholars learn the basics of a mathematical concept that they can then demonstrate to others.
Children's books help lead up to the special event.
There are four books I like to read, in the days leading up to our Pet Adoption Day. I like to start out with 'Ricky, The Rock That Couldn't Roll' by Jay Miletsky. Second, I read 'If You Find a Rock' by Peggy Christian. Third, I like to read 'Everybody Needs a Rock' by Byrd Baylor. On the school day prior to Pet Adoption Day, I like to read the book 'Charlotte and The Rock' by Stephen W. Martin. Since children are naturally fascinated with rocks and rock treasures are so abundant, you can ask your scholars about rocks they may have found, or bring different types of rocks in for them to observe closely as you read one of the books. I like to have my science center lesson activities about rocks as well.
Signs and set-up help foster excitement.
On Pet Adoption Day, my scholars are greeted with an event banner, as they enter the doors. The goal is to set it up as a life-like adoption event. The more realistic the event, the more students enjoy the entire process. Having banners made isn't required, but I like to make specific educational memories for my scholars, that I hope they carry with them for years to come. I have my banners printed through VistaPrint, when they throw a sale. The signs can also be printed on 11x17 paper and laminated, as another alternative. My Pet Rock Adoption Activity Pack has options that range from banners, down to regular printer paper.
Pet care supplies can be easily made.
When my scholars arrive on Pet Adoption Day, they receive a shopping list, collect their wallet from their cubby and pick up a shopping basket. The items on the shopping list are: 1. Choose your pet rock, 2. Pick out a pet bed. 3. Choose a pet blanket, 4. Pick out a collar/leash set, 5. Collect a Pet Rock Handbook, 6. Pay for supplies and adoption fee.
The cage isn't required, but I found a small pet cage on clearance, making it the perfect set up for the adoptable rocks. The rocks are mix of some special finds while on vacations and large river rocks from the craft store. Like most teachers, my upcoming activities are always on my mind. Even on vacation.
The pet beds are small papermaché gift/jewelry boxes, I'm always collecting during holiday clearance at stores. The pet blankets are cut from an eighth of a yard of fleece, purchased from the fabric store. Look for sales on fleece allowing you to choose a few different patterns, without it costing very much. That much fleece goes a long way too, making enough for a large class or saving it to repeat the acivity each year. Fleece doesn't fray, so stitching the edges isn't required. I cut the fleece to easily cover the size rocks I chose for the adoption event.
The collar/leash combo sets can be made two different ways. First, small lengths of quarter inch-wide elastic can either be glued or sewn together, to form the collar. Then, string can be added by tying or connecting via a small plastic ring. The second collar/leash combo method is to use a thick rubberband and tying the string leash around the band.
Pet Rock Handbooks can optionally be laminated. Since I have access to both a laminator and a binding machine, I chose to laminate and bind them, using binding combs I cut in half. The handbooks are included in the Pet Rock Adoption Day Activity Pack.
Pet carriers and adoption certificates make it official.
Small animal carrier boxes are the perfect fit for pet rocks. This years boxes were donated to my school by my local Petco. Most big box petstores will happily donate a class set, by explaining the activity to the store manager. After a scholar chooses a pet rock, I write their name on the cardboard carrier and place the chosen pet rock inside. Their carrier is set aside, until they've finished shopping and are at checkout. The last step, before paying at the register, is to be given an official adoption certificate.
The checkout process provides a wonderful math opportunity.
When my scholars have completed their shopping experience and are ready to pay at the register, they pay for one item at a time. This offers multiple opportunities to count class currency, to reach a certain number. Since I use this activity for Pre-K, the largest number they need to count out is twenty. Alternatively, if this activity is being used for an older group, the scholar could count out the total. After they've paid for each item, I place the item in the shopping bag (minus the pet carrier box). Once a scholar has completed the activity, I give them an opportunity to go through their new treasures together, at the group table. Before class is over, I read the Pet Rock Handbook with them, to teach them how to care for their new pet.
All of the signs, labels and activity pages can be found in the Pet Rock Adoption Day Activity Pack.
If you are interested in holding your own pet rock adoption day and would like to use the signs, labels and activity pages seen here, the Pet Rock Adoption Day Activity Pack can be found in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers, by clicking the link at the bottom of this blog post.
Additional Activity Ideas
There are a growing number of rock based games on the market. Our two new favorites are 'Rock 'n' Gem Surprise' by Learning Resources and 'Rainbow Pebbles' by EDX Education. 'Rock 'n' Gem Surprise' works on eye-hand coordination, fine-motor, sorting and color matching with reusable play geodes. 'Rainbow Pebbles' is wonderful for sorting, counting, imaginative design, fine-motor and one-to-one correspondence. Both of these activities work a wonderful array of skills.
Click on the image below for the Pet Rock Adoption Day Activity Pack:
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