Meeting the Needs of Pets

K, 1, 2

This lesson will enable learners to discuss what people need to provide for pets to insure their welfare. Learners will use vocabulary and ideas from previous lessons to generate a plan to provide care and compassion for shelter pets. The plan will inform and involve schoolmates about pet needs.

PrintOne 50 minute class period with additional time needed to collect items for service learning activity.

The learner will:

  • describe examples of good pet care.
  • design posters/flyers that inform about pet needs. 
  • make a plan to ask for donations of specific items to be given to an animal shelter.
  • read aloud copy of Let’s Get a Pup, Said Kate by Bob Graham
  • read aloud copy of Before You Were Mine, by Maribeth Boelts
  • Boelts, Meribeth. Before You Were Mine. 2007. The Penguin Group. New York, New York.  ISBN: 978-0-399-24526-8
  • Graham, Bob. Let’s get a Pup, Said Kate. 2003. Candlewick. ISBN:0763621935


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the learners a photograph or a picture from a magazine or poster of a dog or a cat. Ask the learners to describe the animal (big, tall, brown, long hair, short hair), describe what they think the animal is doing, and give details about the surroundings of the animal. Tell the students that you are going to read a book with lots of descriptions and details.

  2. Read the book Let’s Get a Pup, Said Kate by Bob Graham

  3. On the board or chart paper, ask the learners to give examples of describing words from the book (i.e., small, cute, big, sniffers, sleepers, wire-haired, short haired, scratchers, leapers, snarlers, growlers, biters, fighters, happy, sad, “take me” dogs, chew-it-up and spit-it-out-at-you dogs).

  4. Ask the group to describe the dog that finally captured the heart of the family. (Dave is little, energetic, cute, and brand-new.)

    What did the learners notice about where the family found Dave? Was he alone in a kennel? Did they notice certain things in the Animal Center? (Chain fences, locks on doors, one bowl or no bowl in pen, man with broom and dust pan and lots of keys, some dogs with a bone, no fancy beds, etc.)

  5. Discuss the environment of the local animal shelter from your and the students' experiences. 

    Guide the discussion by using some of the following questions: Has anyone been to an animal shelter? What does it look like? Why do you think some pets live in a shelter and don’t have a home of their own? Do the animals in a shelter have needs and wants too? Would you like to help the animals in a shelter who don’t have their own home and family? What could our class do to help provide for the animal’s needs and wants?

  6. Invite someone from a local shelter to come to the class and talk about the needs of the shelter. If they cannot send a representative, call them and ask about their needs. Possibly have a conference call so the students can see the person who works there and the place. 

    IYou may also read the book, Before You Were Mine, by Maribeth Boelts.

  7. Discuss with the class why the adoption of a pet is beneficial to the animals and to the community. (Adopting a pet from a shelter makes space for other animals in need and it allows the pet to be cared for in a loving family environment.) 

  8. The learners may create a list of needs/wants for the shelter. Help the learners come to consensus about whether they want to make something (blankets, toys, treats) or try to collect and donate items or create a poster or video informing and inspiring others to donate. 

  9. Send notes home to families and include a message to families in the school newsletter, newspaper, daily announcement sheets, etc.) See Handout One: Sample Family Letter and Announcement

  10. Help students develop a plan for their service project. 


Teacher will evaluate the posters for effectiveness, neatness and clear information. Also teacher observation of the class participation will serve as an assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

After conducting a needs assessment for a local animal shelter in their community, with the guidance of the teacher, learners will plan, advertise for, and collect specific items to donate to a shelter.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Explain the difference between wants and needs.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
    3. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Describe the task and the student role.