HELPING TEACHERS INSPIRE COMPASSION FOR ANIMALS, PEOPLE & THE ENVIRONMENT

Character Education

Division 2: Grade 4 - Grade 6

Below are discussion questions and activities to spark curiosity in and foster compassion for animals, people, and the environment. Both the discussion questions and activities are part of the ‘Stay Curious’ character education theme for the 2019-2020 school year! To see other character building themes, click here!

Discussion Questions:

  • What does it mean to be curious?
  • Why is it important to ask questions?
  • What are different ways we can find answers to our questions?
  • How has the artist conveyed curiosity? Do you think it is effective?
  • Do you think animals are curious? If so, how can you tell?
  • Can you tell how an animal is feeling just by observing it? What are some examples?
  • Who are some famous curious people?
  • What are the benefits to being curious? How do these impact animals? People? The environment?

Activities:

1. Animal Behaviour

Animals often do unusual things! As a class, watch the “Budgie Preening” video (2:32). What did you observe? Why do you think the budgie was behaving that way? Budgies, like all birds, preen or groom to keep their feathers in great condition. This natural behaviour helps remove dirt, dust and any parasites from their feathers. Preening helps keep birds healthy, and is done several times a day.

Individually or in groups, have students observe an animal (could be a pet or wildlife) either in person or online (there are many animal behaviour videos online or watch an Animal Cam) and have them record any interesting behaviours they notice (ex. cat scratching, dog wagging a tail). Next, have students select one of the observed behaviours and record a hypothesis as to why they think the animal engages in the behaviour. After they make a hypothesis, have students research and explore reasons for the behaviour. Students can present their findings on a poster and share with the class.

ADVISE STUDENTS: While observing wildlife, it is critical to not disturb the animal. Remind students to be respectful by giving the animal space, being quiet, and observing from a distance. Never touch or feed wildlife as this can result in injury to the animal and person.

2. Curious People

Scientists, such as Dr. Jane Goodall and Albert Einstein have used their curiosity to
change how we see the world! Read aloud The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with Chimps by Jeanette Winter and/or On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. Alternatively, you can show the read aloud videos: “The Watcher” (10:34) and “On a Beam of Light” (14:46).

  • Post Reading Discussion Questions
    • What do Jane Goodall and Albert Einstein have in common?
    • They both discovered their findings using different methods, why do you think they used the methods they did?
    • What are their contributions to the world?
    • What characteristics do they have that allowed them to make these contributions?

Curiosity is essential across disciplines! Curiosity and innovation is required for artists, musicians, historians, etc. Individually or in groups, have students pick a famous curious person to learn more about. Have students create a poster, blog, or PowerPoint that includes a short biography and the contribution the individual has made to the world.

3. Exotic Pets

A pet is an animal that we keep for companionship. Domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, and many species of farm animals have been living with humans for thousands of years and through artificial selection have adapted to living with (and relying on) humans to meet their needs. In recent times, other non-traditional animals (exotics) are being kept as pets. Many exotics have retained their wild behaviours and require specialized care that many people are unfamiliar with.

Ask students to research an exotic pet they find interesting (ex. rabbit, ferret, fish, budgie, etc.). Have students research the animal’s needs (diet, appropriate environment, behavioural needs, health, handling). Have students create a pamphlet on how to best care for the animal.

OPTION: This activity can be done by addressing the Five Freedoms for animals. This is an internationally recognized concept used by professionals in animal care and welfare. Watch “Life with Louis” (0:90) for an example of how Five Freedoms are met for a dog.

Curriculum Connections

Science

General Learner Expectations: Students will:

  • 4-1 Investigate the nature of things, demonstrating purposeful action that leads to inferences supported by observations.
  • 4-2 Identify patterns and order in objects and events studies; and record observations, using pictures, words and charts, with guidance in the construction of charts; and make predictions and generalizations, based on observations.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will
  • Focus
    • Ask questions that lead to exploration and investigation
    • Identify one or more possible answers to questions by stating prediction or a hypothesis
  • Explore and Investigate
    • Identify, with guidance, ways of finding answers to given questions
  • Reflect and Interpret
    • Record observations and measurements accurately
    • Identify new questions that arise from what was learned
  • 4-4 Demonstrate positive attitudes for the study of science and for the application of science in responsible ways.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will show growth in acquiring and applying the following traits:
    • a sense of responsibility for actions taken
    • respect for living things and commitment for their care
Language Arts

1.1 Discover and Explore

Express ideas and develop understanding

  • Ask questions, paraphrase and discuss to explore ideas and understand new concepts

2.2 Create Original Text

Generate ideas

  • Use a variety of strategies for generating and organizing ideas and experiences in oral, print and other media texts

3.2 Select and Process

Use a variety of sources

  • Locate information to answer research questions, using a variety of sources, such as maps, atlases, charts, dictionaries, school libraries, video programs, elders in the community and field trips

3.4 Share and Review

Share ideas and information

  • Communicate ideas and information in a variety of oral, print and other media texts, such as a short report, talks and posters
Science

General Learner Expectations: Students will:

  • 5-1 Investigate the nature of things, demonstrating purposeful action that leads to inferences supported by observations.
  • 5-2 Identify patterns and order in objects and events studies; and record observations, using pictures, words and charts, with guidance in the construction of charts; and make predictions and generalizations, based on observations.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will
  • Focus
    • Ask questions that lead to exploration and investigation
    • Identify one or more possible answers to questions by stating prediction or a hypothesis
  • Explore and Investigate
    • Identify, with guidance, ways of finding answers to given questions
  • Reflect and Interpret
    • Record observations and measurements accurately
    • Identify new questions that arise from what was learned
  • 5-4 Demonstrate positive attitudes for the study of science and for the application of science in responsible ways.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will show growth in acquiring and applying the following traits:
    • a sense of responsibility for actions taken
    • respect for living things and commitment for their care
Language Arts

1.1 Discover and Explore

Express ideas and develop understanding

  • Read, write, represent and talk to explore personal understanding of new ideas and information

3.2 Select and Process

Use a variety of sources

  • Locate information to answer research questions, using a variety of sources, such as newspapers, encyclopedias, CDROMs, a series by the same writer, scripts, diaries, autobiographies, interviews and oral traditions

3.4 Share and Review

Share ideas and information

  • Communicate ideas and information in a variety of oral, print and other media texts, such as illustrated reports, charts, graphic displays and travelogues
  • Select visuals, print and/or other media to inform and engage the audience
Science

General Learner Expectations: Students will:

  • 6-1 Investigate the nature of things, demonstrating purposeful action that leads to inferences supported by observations.
  • 6-2 Identify patterns and order in objects and events studies; and record observations, using pictures, words and charts, with guidance in the construction of charts; and make predictions and generalizations, based on observations.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will
  • Focus
    • Ask questions that lead to exploration and investigation
    • Identify one or more possible answers to questions by stating prediction or a hypothesis
  • Explore and Investigate
    • Identify, with guidance, ways of finding answers to given questions
  • Reflect and Interpret
    • Record observations and measurements accurately
    • Identify new questions that arise from what was learned
  • 6-4 Demonstrate positive attitudes for the study of science and for the application of science in responsible ways.
  • Specific Learner Expectations: Students will show growth in acquiring and applying the following traits:
    • a sense of responsibility for actions taken
    • respect for living things and commitment for their care
Language Arts

3.2 Select and Process

Access information

  • Use a variety of tools, such a bibliographies, thesauri, electronic searches and technology to access information
  • Skim, scan and read closely to gather information

3.4 Share and Review

Share ideas and information

  • Communicate ideas and information in a variety of oral, print and other media texts, such as multi-paragraph reports, question and answer formats and graphs
  • Select appropriate visuals, print and/or other media to inform and engage the audience

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