Last week, we welcomed our new class pet into our kindergarten classroom -- a baby leopard gecko. I can't decide who is more excited... me or the kids! They are fascinated with the little guy, as they have never had or even seen a lizard. I am thrilled with the possibilities he brings into our classroom. My students will learn so much from him -- science, responsibility, as well as care and respect for living things.
Of course, we brainstormed a name for him. After suggestions ranging from our own names to "Star Wars" (they are kinders after all...), we decided on Echo. We measured him on Thursday and documented our findings. He is currently 11 cm and we will continue to measure him and watch his growth to full-size (10-12 inches).
One of the best parts about having a lizard is that they are low-maintenance and it is SO FUN to watch them eat. Echo eats live mealworms and crickets, so he "hunts" them in his cage. He is even "hand-feeding" from a pair of chopsticks - which the kids LOVE.
My favorite part of having a class pet so far is the authentic and meaningful learning that has taken place. There is something empowering about arming a child with a supply of strong vocabulary words - and giving him/her the opportunity to use them in context. Right now, if you ask any of my kinders about our new class pet, their explanation would be littered with words like nocturnal, cold-blooded, reptile, and habitat. Oh, and they know exactly what they mean! I've never seen my class gain strong vocabulary and complex concepts as quickly and excitedly as they have with Echo.
Any educational philosopher would tell you this comes from the contextualized and naturalistic stage for learning our class pet is providing. And I know this is true. But, a small part of me has to believe it's because he is so cool. :) Stay tuned to watch our little guy grow-up.