The natural world is full of living things. Things that grow and change over time. Things that need food and water, shelter and air. Things that thrive with their roots growing deep into the ground and things that race and run and scamper and hop.
Living things have been coming into my classroom for years. Painted lady and monarch caterpillars, a cricket I nicknamed Clarice, plenty of plants and flowers and things that grow in the ground. One fall we had a snail called Karl that I found in a head of lettuce from my farm share. Miss Piggy, though, was my first real class pet.
She was a sweet blonde guinea pig and she lived in my classroom for two years. Miss Piggy gave students a glimpse into the responsibility that comes with taking care of another living thing. She needed to be fed, watered, and cleaned. We had to be respectful of her space and her tolerance of noise. She needed room to roam and things to entertain her and keep her thriving and happy. She needed families to care for her over the weekend. I loved Miss Piggy, and she left her mark on the hearts of the students that knew her. The reality, though, is we just didn’t have the space to keep a guinea pig in the peak of health and happiness, so the family who brought her to me found her a home where she had room to explore and room to grow.
Miss Piggy inspired a number of families to welcome other guinea pigs into their homes. Last week, two such guinea pigs, Snickers and Bugsy, spent the week in our classroom.
They were an instant hit!
We read my favorite guinea pig book, I Love Guinea Pigs, by Dick King Smith.
We watched. We observed. We sketched.
We became architects of a Guinea Pig Dream Habitat. The idea of needs and wants was discussed.
We began with this:
Then we built!
A well-stocked kitchen.
An entertainment zone.
A maze to get lost in.
Two living things exploring the habitat built for them by 23 other living things. It was a fun week.