Changing Perceptions of Unpopular Animals Through Facts, Poetry, Crafts, and Puppet Plays

Abstract

Today’s children are often separated from the natural world, developing fear and aversion to wild creatures. This humane education program used curriculum-blended science lessons that focused on eight generally disliked animals: bat, skunk, snake, mouse, spider, centipede, cockroach, and mosquito. First and second grade students participated in 6 weekly hour-long lessons that introduced appealing images of the creatures, facts, and poems that presented their lifestyles. Students practiced fine motor skills by making a craft version of each animal. Literacy skills were addressed by analyzing the poems and writing a script for a puppet play that told why humans don’t like the animal and how these characteristics or behaviors help the animal survive in the environment. This pretest–intervention–posttest quasi-experimental study had 26 students (16 f, 10 m) in the experimental group and 16 (11 f, 5 m) in the control group. Students rated their liking for the eight targeted animals and four other animals not discussed in the intervention (dog, cat, goldfish, butterfly) on the pretest and posttest. Results showed significant differences for the experimental group for all animals considered together and for the targeted animals as a group. The control group did not exhibit these differences. The results indicate that lessons focusing on ecology and animal lifestyles help improve students’ caring for animals.

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Correspondence to Audrey C. Rule.

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Rule, A.C., Zhbanova, K.S. Changing Perceptions of Unpopular Animals Through Facts, Poetry, Crafts, and Puppet Plays. Early Childhood Educ J 40, 223–230 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-012-0520-2

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Keywords

  • Humane education
  • Animals
  • Research
  • Early childhood
  • Ecology
  • Compassion