From our campus dog Kenner to our littlest surprise hamster friends, Villa di Maria shows its love for all animals, great and small! Become acquainted with (or reacquainted with) the pets at VdM, and the big part they play in the development of the whole child, below.
Visit any classroom at Villa di Maria, from the Children’s House on up through Upper Elementary, and you will likely find a child caring for, feeding, petting, or observing a classroom pet. We discussed the role of pets in the Montessori classroom here. In this post, we check in on the new furry friends that have come to live at (or visit) VdM.
Kenner, the largest addition to Villa di Maria’s campus, came to us awhile back, and though she may not be able to stay currently, she has still made a big impact on the kids. Kenner is a rescue dog who found her way to Anna after much research and patience; she knew that in order for a dog to be part of a classroom setting, she had to be just the right dog: calm and gentle disposition, lots of practice being around children, and preferably a much older dog. Kenner, who is around seven years old, fit that description perfectly. Though Kenner only visited once or twice a week for a few months, and stayed in the main office building, she was cared for by Anna’s class during that time, the Racks and Tubes Lower Elementary children.
Taking Kenner for walks around campus is a highlight of the Racks and Tubes children. When I interviewed them about the best parts of being in Lower Elementary, caring for Kenner was at the top of many of their lists!
The children have been studying up on these cards, which relay with great accuracy the different body language signals of dogs: when they are fearful, relaxed, or excited. Understanding these signs help the children respect how a dog might be feeling at any given time, and are not only helpful in their interactions with Kenner, but also with dogs they may encounter out in everyday life.
The surprise baby hamsters that “came with the package” (so to speak) when the Checkerboard Lower Elementary classroom adopted Chubby at the end of November have settled into their new homes nicely! The children have enjoyed naming them, and watching them eat, sleep and play daily.
Wiggles, the Racks and Tubes hamster (and one of Chubby’s daughters), eats breakfast in bed. According to the children, she likes to eat her carrots in complete privacy. She also enjoys long rolls around the room (in her ball) during read-aloud.
The Upper Elementary classroom also adopted one of Chubby’s daughters. They are still deciding on a name for her.
New Guinea pigs Frida and Rosie enjoy the attention P1 children pay them
Aside from the obvious care and responsibility required for keeping animals happy and healthy, children also learn empathy, compassion and respect for all living things. Watching young children interact with and care for animals in the classroom is an education in and of itself! We are so grateful for our furry, feathered, scaly and shelled friends!