Connecting Animals and Children in Early Childhood
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WHEN VIEWING ON A MOBILE DEVICE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM Why Are Children So Interested In Animals, Anyway?  nervous about her new school and all the children she doesn’t know. When she enters the room, a small group of children crowds around her, excited to show her their favorite thing about school: the class- room pet, a box turtle. They talk over each other, excited to share their knowledge about the turtle: Mohammed: This is the turtle, her name is Sandy! She eats worms and strawberries. We read her stories sometimes. Daniel: Sometimes we give her dandelion leaves, too. Ali: And crickets! Sandy loves crickets! Daniel: Yeah, but you have to help her find the crickets! Mohammed: She doesn’t see very well, so we help her find the crickets. Ali: She has that light, on the top of her tank. That light helps her see. That light gives her vitamins. That’s her soaking dish there. She likes to soak and take baths in that soaking dish. You can’t put toys in her tank. Daniel: Sometimes she poops in the soaking dish! Holly: She’s scared of loud noises. She doesn’t like when you tap on her tank. She likes to go outside. Sometimes we take her outside to the grass. Daniel: She stretches her head way out when we take her outside! She loves it outside! Ali: And she hides under that box when she’s tired and wants to get away. It’s her quiet place. Holly: And you can only touch her if Miss West says so. And you have to wash your hands with soap. As Lateesha’s curiosity is piqued, it overrides some of her apprehension. The other children share in the role of welcoming her by telling her all about the turtle: its name, how they care for it, and what she can expect the turtle to do from time to time. They share with Lateesha their cognitive understanding of the turtle (what it eats, why it has a soaking dish, what the light is for). In doing so, they indicate their awareness of the turtle’s unique physical needs, its vulnerability, and their caring roles (by mentioning Sandy’s need for food, how they help her find crickets, the fact that she cannot see well, the fact that she “doesn’t like when you tap on the tank”). When they talk about the turtle stretching its head out while outdoors, the children demonstrate their shared sense that the turtle has feelings—​the turtle’s behavior is evidence that the COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 23