Early Childhood Theme Unit: Pets

I will be doing this unit a little differently.  Because so many of the activities I share fit more than one subject area, which is typical of many early childhood activities, I will just be listing the activities and including the subjects taught in the lesson, at the end of each activity.  This is the key: M-Math, LA-Language Arts, MR-Music/Rhymes, S-Science, SS- Social Studies, B-Bible, AC-Arts/crafts, SN-Snack, MTR-Motor skills.  I hope you enjoy this unit!!

You will also find that this one has more links than usual.  I have been  under the weather and wanted to continue the lesson plans, because many have written to tell me they are using them.  I should be back to full health in a couple of weeks.  In the mean time, I hope you can use what I have shared.  Thank you for your patience and for those of you in our FB group who have sent words of encouragment.



Begin your pet studies by discussing, “What is a pet?”   For this activity you will need:

  • Collect pictures of animals, both domestic and wild.  You can either print them onto paper and cut into cards, or just make a slide show for your child to view. (You do not have to own power point to make a slide show.  Simply search online for “free slideshow creator.”  There are many.)
  • Large house shape.
  • Pictures of any pets you have.

Discuss the question, “What is a pet?” by simply asking your child.  Record the answers you are given.  Write them on the house shape.

Make sure your child understands:

  1. A pet is an animal kept for pleasure, usually in the house or yard.
  2. A pet must be fed, groomed, doctored, and loved.
  3. Wild animals do not make good pets.

Show the pictures of animals to your child.  Have your child choose whether or not the animal would make a good pet, and why.  Don’t forget to include, not just dogs and cats, but other animals kept as pets: rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, hermit crabs, fish, frogs, turtles, and the list goes on.

After you have talked about the characteristics of pets, glue pictures of your own pets on a house shape.  If you don’t have pets, you can use magazine pictures or print and cut pet pictures from your collection. (LA, SS, S)

Digging Up Bones  is a fun math game to play.  You can either make (recipe included at the end) doggie bones, buy doggie bones, or print and cut out paper bones.  Print the Numbered Doggie Heads, laminate for durability and cut out.  Hide 55 dog bones in rice or sand box.  Your child digs and finds enough bones to match with the dog heads.  I put each head in a separate zip top bag and the child puts the correct number of bones in the bag.  (M)

Kitty Cat Crunch Mix is a snack your children will enjoy while talking about pets.  Combine fish crackers, pretzel sticks, and cheese crackers in a bowl. (SN)

Make Cat Ears.  Have your child cut out two triangular cat ears. If you have a head band, tape them to the head band, or make one with a 2 inch strip of paper large enough to go around your child’s head.  Let them wear their cat ears through out the day while doing songs, activities and finger plays. (MTR)

Make Dog Ears. Have your child cut out two oval dog ears. Follow directions for the cat ears to complete the acitivity. (MTR)

Make Tabby Cats by cutting out a cat in yellow or gray construction paper.  If you use yellow construction paper, you will want orange paint. If you use gray construction paper you will want black or white paint.  Place the cut out cat in a box cans come in.  Put paint on a plastic plate or bowl.  Cover marbles with paint, drop them in the box and roll the box back and forth to make stripes on your Tabby Cat! (AC) I found a simple cat pattern online and cut the cat out on yellow construction paper and drew on the features:

DSCN7198Next, I dipped the marbles in the orange paint and dropped them in a box.  Sweet Pea rolled them around in the box a few times.  For more “stripes,” roll it back and forth.   


  DSCN7202           DSCN7204

Use Goldfish crackers for math.  There are so many things you can do with goldfish.  Cut out fishbowl shapes and program them with numbers.  Your child can put the correct number of “fish” on the bowl.  (M)

Add the Goldfish.  Use the Goldfish on an ADDITION MAT. (M)

Fish Count:  Cut out a simple fish shape.  Program each fish with numbers.  If you would like a more “toy like” game, Cut the fish out of felt staple or glue two shapes together and stuff them.  You can write numbers on the fish.  Use the little blue round “plant” rocks as water bubbles.  Your child can put the correct number of bubbles above the fish.  Don’t forget to do the opposite.  Give a certain number of bubbles and the your chlld choose the fish that goes with the bubbles.   (M)

Dramatic Play: Set up a “pet clinic” in a corner of your house and let your child care for “pets.”  Have plenty of stuffed animals available.

Bird seed makes a great sensory activity.  You can fill a tub and bury things, sort the small seeds (which helps with fine motor skills), measure it and play in it like sand, drive toy trucks in it, etc.

Make a toilet paper tube goldfish.  Using orange or golden color tissue paper, cover the tube with the paper.  Add wiggle eyes.  Add strips of tissue paper to the end to make a flaired tail.  Add more for fins.  Construction paper can be used to cover the tube and make fins, but the tissue looks really nice as a tail. (MTR, AC)

For some great FREE printables on pets, visit http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2011/09/dogs-preschool-pack-free-preschool/

Make Paper Bag Puppets of pets. To get you started I have linked patterns to puppets. I could have made some, but there are so many to choose from and so much available, I thought my time would be better served in giving you links!  (AC,MTR, LA)  To make this a great Language Arts Project, have your child use the puppets to tell stories or to tell how to care for the animal (s)he has made.

This is the search for “Dog” puppets: http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0PDoX20IDdSRRAAF3mJzbkF?p=dog+paper+bag+puppets&fr=aaplw&ei=utf-8&n=30&x=wrt&y=Search

This is the search for “Cat” puppets:


This is the search for “bird” puppets:


Make pet masks from Paper plates.  There are many online.

Make thumbprint pets.

When I was in the classroom, I had each child choose a pet.  I gave them the choice of cat, dog, and bird.  We did origami pets and I made a class paper quilt by gluing the origami to an 8” square of construction paper and stapling solid color strips between the construction paper squares.  You may choose to do each one with your child.   (MTR, AC, Basic Concepts in folding (Right, left, over, under, diagonal))This is the link for the directions for the origami dog:


This is the simple pattern for a cat:


Because the origami birds appeared difficult, I used a footprint bird.  This is the link to one similar to the one I made:


For Older children, and some younger ones, you can talk about other animals that are part of the same animal kingdom as your pets.  For example, Cats are felines. What are other felines:  Panther, lion, tiger, cougar, cheetah, lynx, ocelot, bob cats, jaguar, leopard.

What are other canines? Wolves, coyotes, jackals, foxes, dingos, dholes, and bush dogs.

You can print pictures of these animals and have your child sort them into feline and canine.  These are two great vocabulary words to use with your children.  (M, LA, S)

For writing activities, have your child spell out the pet words/vocabulary with magnet letters, paper letter tiles, following dotted lines, or handwriting. For 1st grade children and older, pet words can be spelling words.

Fingerplays, Songs, and Nursery Rhymes about pets:
Three Little Kittens
Old Mother Hubbard
1,2,3,4,5, Once I Caught A Fish Alive
Mary Had A Little Lamb

I have started a pinterest board for the Early Childhood Theme of Pets. I will continue to add pins to this board:

This entry was posted in Early Childhood, Education, homeschool, lesson plans, Preschool, Thematic Units, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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