The Importance of Teaching with Live Animals
Children love animals, and Kidspace knows this first hand. Our guests are always fascinated when one of the Kidspace critters comes out for an “Animal Encounter”. Showing animals like ‘Ozzy’ the Bearded Dragon, ‘Baldwin’ the Ball Python or ‘Rosie’ the Chilean Rose Haired Tarantula goes beyond Kidspace staff just letting children touch and say “hi”. It encourages children’s interest in the natural world and introduces them to exotic animals that they may not see otherwise. We also know that a live animal gives children a unique connection to science and the ecosystems surrounding us.
Children definitely benefit from interacting with live animals; this is why teachers often want to have live animals as part of their curriculum. Housing a live animal in the classroom, not teaches children about the habitat and anatomy that particular animal but it also responsibility through their care and maintenance. As well, it teaches children humane treatment and respect for animals.
This is why the “squish the bug” mindset that many children used to have has changed to children wanting to take a picture of that bug, research it and maybe even collect it. I have been pleased to hear stories from the many children that visit Kidspace’s Nature Exchange of what animal they saw when they went to the park, the ugly spider they saw but did not squish, what their dog found with its nose, or the amazing animal they saw at the zoo. They always want to learn and understand more.
With children now a days spending so much time indoors playing video games or surfing the web, live animals is a great hands-on and unique experience to expose children to nature. I encourage you to visit the live collections at Kidspace and ask questions!
Blog Entry by:
Yessica Flores, Live Collections & Outreach Specialist, has been with Kidspace for six years. After graduating from North Hollywood High School’s Zoo Magnet, she volunteered and worked for over eight years with zoo keepers and the education department at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.