Your child will learn about and practice taking care of a pretend pet.
Learning Area(s): Science; Social and Emotional
- Stuffed animals that could be pets (e.g., dogs, cats, birds, fish, snakes)
- Pet care items (e.g., food bowl, water bowl, leash, ball/toys, blankets, pillow to make a pet bed)
Begin by reading a book about pets or about a child who is learning to take care of pets. After reading, remind your child that all pets need food, water, and a place where they can stay dry and warm (shelter). Pets also need exercise and love. Some pets need to be brushed and taken on walks.
Ask your child if she wants to pretend to take care of her own pet, and help her pick out a stuffed animal to pretend with. Encourage her to name her pet, and talk to her about what her pet needs in order to be well taken care of. Show her and name each of the pet care items she might need for her pet (bowls, blankets, brush, etc.) Describe how each pet care item is used. Once she understands what the pet care items are used for, allow her to play with the items. While your child is playing, ask her questions about her pretend pet and how she is taking care of it. Remind her that pets need food, water, shelter, and someone to play with them.
- Make sure the stuffed animals you use are animals that could actually be kept as pets (e.g., not a teddy bear or dinosaur).
- If you have a family pet, point out the things around the house that you use to take care of your pet. Ask your child to describe how your pet uses each of the pet care items. Ask your child if she would like to help take care of your family pet by petting it, giving it food and water, brushing it, or playing with it.
- Watch children very carefully as they play with leashes. Explain to children that leashes should only be used to clip on to a pet’s collar. You can also talk about which animals walk on a leash and which do not.
- Show your child how to feed, water, play with, and cuddle the animals. Children learn from watching adults and often repeat what they see.
- Check your local library for any of these books about pets:
- Touch and Feel: Pets published by DK
- My Dog Needs Me by Jane Cottrell and Jordan Wray
- My Cat Needs Me by Jane Cottrell and Jordan Wray
- Baby Touch and Feel: Puppies and Kittens published by DK