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Thread: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by mufasa View Post
    I won't get into the debate over whether or not guinea pigs in the classroom are appropriate as I can see valid points on both side, but @MrsATeaches5th did you know you can get start-up grant money? I hope you'll adopt rather than buy a pig, but it looks like you can get money for supplies, not just purchasing an animal: http://www.petsintheclassroom.org/

    You have to turn in your application by June 9.
    I believe she has already said that she HAS adopted guinea pigs from Craig list (her very first post on this thread)

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nazgul View Post
    It doesn't really matter how well-intended you are; you KNOW guinea pig experts advise against it, you KNOW you're going to get slack for it because you KNOW it's not the right option, and yet you want to do so anyways. Why? If you were doing it for the sake of the piggies, you wouldn't even consider using them as a classroom pet. It is a life guinea pigs are NOT suited for; and that is an irrefutable fact.
    with the respect due, I think you mean to say "flack", not "slack". I 100% trust @MrsATeaches5th's discretion here. She clearly will not allow any harm to befall the Wheekers she chooses to take to her class for Mon-Fri.

    Do you remember when you were in grade 5? My class had a pair of white rats, Pinky & Honey, our Science for that year was Biology, and being trusted to take them home for the weekend (parent approved, obviously) was a reward for good behaviour

    When it comes to Guinea Pigs, will they not prefer the interesting, social aspect of a classroom, over being left home alone in their cage while Mrs. A. is at work? Up here (Toronto area), much trial of Wheekers as therapy animals is being done, especially with (supervised of course) Seniors & those suffering Depression

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rywen View Post
    He's trained to walk into a cuddle sack when I want to take him out of the cage (I highly recommend this if you can train your piggies to do it).
    I've gotten all 3 of my Wheeekers to enjoy floor time without the stress of "chasing them" around to pick them up, by doing exactly this.

    It's gotten so that now when I show them their cuddle sacks, they start wheeeking happily (YES, a person can SO tell when their own pig that they know is happy, sad, scared, or excited!), and they run readily into their sacs, turn around and look at me as if to say "C'mon, Lianne, are we going or what?"

    Not only do they like it better, it is a LOT less stressful for me because there isn't the chance of them squirming out from a dangerous height while putting them back home

    Sorry this is off topic, but I cannot recommend the snuggle sac training strongly enough!

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by BaconAndEggs View Post
    you can never really tell how they're going to react until you put them into a room with a bunch of people and they either freak out, run into their hidey for hours, or see it as an opportunity for treats and start wheeking.

    I was a fifth grader myself. It might be very hard to quiet them down around the piggies. It is only a possibility, but what if you left the room for a few moments, and some boys started poking at them? People can be cruel-I've seen that. Boys are always aiming to be clowns, but couldn't it go too far?
    Sad but true, when I was in grade 7 one of the "class clowns" began scaring the fish by tapping on the glass, I think he enjoyed the attention he got when we all admonished him

    Sure enough, one day he broke the fishtank! The teacher wasn't out of the room, and she had told him repeatedly not to do it, so ... the lock on the cages is a good idea, and maybe each day there is one student "in charge" of monitoring what goes on?

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by frNzR4evr View Post
    with the respect due, I think you mean to say "flack", not "slack". I 100% trust @MrsATeaches5th's discretion here. She clearly will not allow any harm to befall the Wheekers she chooses to take to her class for Mon-Fri.

    Do you remember when you were in grade 5? My class had a pair of white rats, Pinky & Honey, our Science for that year was Biology, and being trusted to take them home for the weekend (parent approved, obviously) was a reward for good behaviour

    When it comes to Guinea Pigs, will they not prefer the interesting, social aspect of a classroom, over being left home alone in their cage while Mrs. A. is at work? Up here (Toronto area), much trial of Wheekers as therapy animals is being done, especially with (supervised of course) Seniors & those suffering Depression
    A single guinea pig might feel lonely during the day but a cage with multiple guinea pigs have one another for companionship. And as far as supervised seniors go, there a big difference between seniors and a class of 5th graders.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by joys_cavies View Post
    I believe she has already said that she HAS adopted guinea pigs from Craig list (her very first post on this thread)
    Excellent! I read the initial post but got a little cross-eyed after so many pages. Hopefully she can get some grant money for the supplies.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    There have been a lot of "what if" scenarios painted here. What if there was a fire? Well- that could happen at your home as well. Do all of you sit at home watching your guinea pigs 24/7? If you do - lucky you! But I do have to work...the babies coming to work with me seems like a win-win! What if a student is allergic to the hay? I'll switch to orchard hay. I've researched that too. What if they are allergic to the fur? No guinea pigs that year and that will be OK - they will stay at my house. The students needs will come first.

    Since I still haven't found any empirical evidence that contradicts my plan - just opinions and worries - I think I will go forward. I also think I will keep a blog during the year so if any of you are interested in seeing the piggies progress, you can monitor that first hand. I promise to be truthful about the experiences and paint a realistic picture of the pros and cons of the situation. Maybe this will help other teachers who want to do a pet project. Also - I am blessed to have not one, but TWO, huge carpeted classrooms. So - my piggies will get the room they deserve and not be allocated to a tiny corner of the room.

    I also want to add that yes, I got the Pets in the Classroom grant. I received 2 pages of coupons from PetCo that included a free Kaytee Guinea Pig setup (I am going to use the cage for transport to and from school), and free treats, 50% food and bedding coupons. It also had a 50% off one guinea pig coupon but I didn't use that. I would say it was about a $175 value. It was very easy to apply for this grant and while I would like to say it is all around fantastic - I think there are a lot factors in place that could lead teachers to setting up improper cages for the guinea pigs at school if they only get their info from the grant website and Petco. And I am sure thousands of teachers take advantage of this. So - from an animal welfare point of view, this is something to consider. How can we educate teachers about what is a BETTER situation for guinea pigs (though maybe not the "best")?

    Guinea Pigs and Autistic Children (NPR Story)
    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-s...istic-children

    Great Washington Post article about pets being used in the classroom:
    http://www.washingtonian.com/article...the-classroom/

    An article that shows both points of view (recommends guinea pigs)
    http://www.naturalawakeningsmag.com/...om-Pet-Debate/

    From a study done at Cornelius University:
    "Our results indicate that the presence of a small TA can positivelyinfluence the quantity and quality of the social behavior of autistic children and that thecharacteristics of social contacts were dependent on the individual."
    Abstract: http://www.petpartners.org/document.doc?id=796

    LA Times Article:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb...sroom-20130227

    Vet Street Article
    http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-exp...istic-children

    Case study on Penny, an 11 year old pet sitter with special learning needs & ADHD, caring for a guinea pig:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=lU...udents&f=false

    5 Best Classroom Pets (PetsMD)
    http://www.petmd.com/exotic/slidesho...classroom-pets

    Santa Barbara Independent Opinion Column by an Animal Rights / Outreach Activist (recommending guinea pigs)
    http://www.independent.com/news/2010...lassroom-pets/

    Scholarly Article about the effects of guinea pigs in the primary school classroom:
    http://humananimalinteractions.com/u...013_ohaire.pdf


    A Teacher's Experience:
    http://nboyd2906.hubpages.com/hub/He...ful-Class-Pets

    Another teacher's experience, from Pro Teacher Forums:
    I teach fifth. I have a guinea pig named Patches who is just plain awesome. He is gentle and quiet. He sits on the kids' desks during silent reading. They love him. However, he is messy. The kids clean the cage once a week. I make them come in before school because it is a fifteen minute project. When they hold him or have him at their desk they set him on an old towel. He will poop. All they have to do is shake the towel into the garbage.

    I had a gecko before this. He was okay. The kids thought he was cool. But as with all reptiles, we had be extra careful about hand washing. The teacher next door to me had hermit crabs. I don't think they made the school year.

    Class pets are a wonderful bonding experiences for a class. However, they can be time consuming and distracting. I love ours and can't imagine class without him.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    And none of those articles you cite about the values of pets in the classroom come from people with years of guinea pig experience.

    Like the kid on another thread who wants three boars, you were always going to do what you wanted regardless of what we said. I'm not sure what you gained by even asking.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    And none of those articles you cite about the values of pets in the classroom come from people with years of guinea pig experience.

    Like the kid on another thread who wants three boars, you were always going to do what you wanted regardless of what we said. I'm not sure what you gained by even asking.
    I wasn't asking for permission. I was asking for input. My concern being mostly about guinea pigs biting children. I did want to offer up an alternative point of view to your community and it appears as though many of the replies here have been supportive. I see that you are an administrator of this site, bpatters, so I would hope that this thread has opened your mind to a different perspective about guinea pigs in the classroom. I guess I kind of look at this as if these guinea pigs are my kids, my responsibility. I will raise them how I choose. I look forward to visiting this site because there is some great info from people who have a lot of experience with guinea pigs. It would be nice if people could share their comments and concerns in a way that wasn't rude or snarky...especially coming from an admin. While I try not to presume, I am guessing that what really ticks some people off here is that here comes this newbie who has clearly done her research, and now contradicts many assumptions about those horrible teachers keeping a lone, sad, pathetic guinea pig in a cage and kids putting their grubby little hands all over the thing (roughly quoting from another thread). I probably overstepped my boundaries to presume I could start a thread here that would be an open dialogue. But I have appreciated the points raised. I'm even planning to make a cozy fleece cage cover for transports from home to school in the winter because of the concerns addressed here. I've def. gotten something out of this conversation.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    My point with the bring your pigs home with you every day because of "what if" scenarios was the solution was simple. Bring the pigs home with you is as simple as installing smoke alarms, having a fire extinguisher (referring to your fire reference) and not leaving any candles or incense unattended, sure it might not prevent unfortunate incidents but it certainly helps. I am very much the kind of person who hopes for the best but prepares for the worst.

    It is in no one's best interest to leave them at school overnight, particularly in the scenarios where they end up in the class room with substitute teacher in charge, or in the situation when the "what if" day falls on a Friday. You might not be able to get to them until the next Monday - depending on how your school handles teachers entering the building out of hours.

    In the substitute teacher scenario the substitute would not know your students as well as you do, nor are they likely to be informed of proper handling practices and other important information when it comes to the children and the guinea pigs. It would not be in your student's best interest to be placed in that situation and be taught improper practices by the substitute, not to mention in the unfortunate incident where someone (guinea pig or child) gets injured that would undoubtedly be traumatising to some (perhaps the more sensitive or compassionate) children.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Soecara View Post

    In the substitute teacher scenario the substitute would not know your students as well as you do, nor are they likely to be informed of proper handling practices and other important information when it comes to the children and the guinea pigs. It would not be in your student's best interest to be placed in that situation and be taught improper practices by the substitute, not to mention in the unfortunate incident where someone (guinea pig or child) gets injured that would undoubtedly be traumatising to some (perhaps the more sensitive or compassionate) children.
    Some excellent points raised here - I will talk with my colleagues about how to feed / care for the piggies in the event that I am sick. Kids won't be allowed to touch the piggies if I am not there. These are great points and something I will include in my class rules and my GP care plan.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsATeaches5th View Post
    Some excellent points raised here - I will talk with my colleagues about how to feed / care for the piggies in the event that I am sick. Kids won't be allowed to touch the piggies if I am not there. These are great points and something I will include in my class rules and my GP care plan.
    In that case it would also be a good idea to have a set routine when it comes to feeding in general and incorporate the children into it (which you were probably planning regardless). That way in the scenario where the guinea pigs get forgotten by the substitute (which lets be honest I can only imagine teaching an unfamiliar class -note I am not a teacher- would be a very stressful at times so I would not blame them if some things were to slip their mind) the more diligent students or the students more interested and involved with the guinea pigs would remind the teacher of the routine if it were broken. I don't know how you would tackle vegetable feeding in this situation, perhaps always having the next day's vegetables in a staff fridge or something, but I'm sure if you couldn't work something out then them missing veggies for a day or so wouldn't be too harmful.
    Last edited by Soecara; 06-02-15 at 09:36 am.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    "I guess I differ from many of you in that you are putting guinea pigs needs first but I am putting kids needs first."


    This is exactly the problem with class pets. The tantamount responsibility for a teacher is his/her students. If there's a fire, you will be busy leading children out of the building, not scooping up guinea pigs and budgies. My first piggy and all 4 of my birds have been classroom rescues. I can see that you are prepared to provide high-quality food and a proper cage, but the animals I have rescued have been subjected to conditions no pet should ever experience. Mindy the piggy was picked up and dropped, and children would poke and scare her when the teacher left the room. The birds were unable to get any exercise, and one of the two that I currently have (the other two died) has lipomas. I applaud your efforts to teach proper pet care to your students, but please keep your critters at home where they belong. You can bring one of your pigs in and give a presentation on pet care. My brother attended an animal-themed summer camp one year, and they had me bring some of my critters in for a few hours each day.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by GuineaPigster View Post
    "I guess I differ from many of you in that you are putting guinea pigs needs first but I am putting kids needs first."


    This is exactly the problem with class pets. The tantamount responsibility for a teacher is his/her students. If there's a fire, you will be busy leading children out of the building, not scooping up guinea pigs and budgies. My first piggy and all 4 of my birds have been classroom rescues. I can see that you are prepared to provide high-quality food and a proper cage, but the animals I have rescued have been subjected to conditions no pet should ever experience. Mindy the piggy was picked up and dropped, and children would poke and scare her when the teacher left the room. The birds were unable to get any exercise, and one of the two that I currently have (the other two died) has lipomas. I applaud your efforts to teach proper pet care to your students, but please keep your critters at home where they belong. You can bring one of your pigs in and give a presentation on pet care. My brother attended an animal-themed summer camp one year, and they had me bring some of my critters in for a few hours each day.
    I agree with your comment about fire or an emergency. While it is possible to have a fire at your own home, you'd have more control over getting your pets out than at a school, where you're told to leave everything behind and vacate the building. Your second point about including them in a presentation instead of housing them at school is also an excellent one.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    You may or may not already have this as part of your plan but....I would wait a few months into the year to bring them in. That gives you time to assess this group of children and allows you to make an educated choice. My sister is a teacher (fourth grade) and I know some years kids are more challenging than others. You may get the most wonderful group of 5th graders ever and bring them in and everything will be lovely! Or you may, a month into the year, know in your heart of teacher hearts that little Johnny is going to torture any pets the minute he gets the chance.

    Just a thought. I am against class pets in general but I do wish you luck and applaud the time, thought, and energy you are putting into this.
    Using Tapatalk

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    Lightbulb Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    We never had classroom pets so I can't really speak on the do's and don'ts of how this really should work. We were thinking about having a work pet but since we get called into the field often we (adults) nixed that idea. It seems you have done a lot of research and I think it's awesome you are making sure they have adequet floor space. May I ask how big your classroom size is? (student number) I think if the class room is small enough student wise it can be easier to maintain. I agree with @barbaramudge in accessing your class before you bring your friends. Since there are so many weeks in the school year, maybe divide up the responsibilities to a choice few and rotate that out each week this way the furkids aren't too overly stimulated but everyone gets a chance to participate. Since everyone brings up fire (which my pigs are home right now and I'm at work, if there was a fire they would be screwed along with my dogs), assign that weekly responsibility to three children two to "rescue" the piggies, one to grab the portable cage and get into line with you. Implement it during fire drills and at the beginning of each week explain this responsibility. Maybe have special cuddle cups you make over the summer which are just for "fire rescue". You will have some students who have no desire to help with their care so they should be eliminated from the responsibility but they also miss out on the "fun". Maybe make a desk option like a TV tray they can sit across their lap while they work and have them sit on the floor, this way if the furkid decides he wants off, he won't fall. You could even make a cavy working corner where the pig and the person having a struggle can work quietly together. I used equines in therapy (physical, emotional and mental) and was very successful with it. I can see how GPs could be helpful in that aspect as well as just about any pets. I think health wise GPs are cleaner when it comes to children handling and they are small enough they could be healthy classroom pets if done properly. To me is seems you have a lot of heart for these guys and your students. Heck who knows maybe this will educate some of the children whom already have GP's at home and they will go home to make the necessary changes for the better of their own GPs.
    Last edited by AnnikasMommy; 06-02-15 at 01:07 pm. Reason: Because a teacher stated this post and now I'm finding my grammatical errors lol

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    @MrsATeaches5th thanks for this great post!

    A local public school recently adopted one of my baby girls as a pal for their female. If you look at my previous thread "adopted!", you can find more information but let's just say that i quickly found out that this forum isn't very supportive for guinea pigs in a classroom, but just like in your case: they aren't JUST classroom pets. the 2 girls will be taken home on weekends mostly by a family whom I personally know, and they know the teacher (who owns them), the teacher cares a great deal for them and makes sure they always go to someone's home on the weekend (either by students or teachers) , and on breaks and vacations. The same rules for the guinea pigs apply at that school.

    Thanks for re-assuring me that guinea pigs can be "classroom pets' but can still be greatly taken care of, I hope everything goes well and good luck!

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Popcorn321 View Post
    @MrsATeaches5th thanks for this great post!

    A local public school recently adopted one of my baby girls as a pal for their female. If you look at my previous thread "adopted!", you can find more information but let's just say that i quickly found out that this forum isn't very supportive for guinea pigs in a classroom, but just like in your case: they aren't JUST classroom pets. the 2 girls will be taken home on weekends mostly by a family whom I personally know, and they know the teacher (who owns them), the teacher cares a great deal for them and makes sure they always go to someone's home on the weekend (either by students or teachers) , and on breaks and vacations. The same rules for the guinea pigs apply at that school.

    Thanks for re-assuring me that guinea pigs can be "classroom pets' but can still be greatly taken care of, I hope everything goes well and good luck!
    I just found out that a rescue organization out of Iowa has a program where classrooms foster piggies until they find their forever families. I think there are so many differing opinions on this topic and while we may not all agree on every detail of piggies lives, I think we DO all agree here that piggies are always happier when they have a companion and when they are in a large enough enclosure.

    thanks everyone!

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    That's very interesting about the foster program. I wonder if some of the pigs end up getting adopted by students (and if so, hopefully they've been educated on proper care by having the animals in the classroom). When I was in school, we had rabbits and hamsters in the high school science room. I always took one particular hamster home for the holidays and the summer. Looking back, I can see now that their cages were small and they didn't get enrichment, other than the social interaction with the students. I would love to see programs like Pets in the Classroom expand into the educational aspect of proper care, as not every teacher searches out proper information like @MrsATeaches5th

    There are great points here on both sides of the debate. I will say, even with the non-ideal aspects of being a classroom pet, her pigs will live better lives than the vast majority of the poor creatures who are purchased in pet stores on a whim and languish in tiny, filthy cages until they die an untimely death from neglect because the kids got sick of them within a month or two.

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    Re: Guinea Pigs in the Classroom - an alternative point of view :)

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsATeaches5th View Post
    I just found out that a rescue organization out of Iowa has a program where classrooms foster piggies until they find their forever families. I think there are so many differing opinions on this topic and while we may not all agree on every detail of piggies lives, I think we DO all agree here that piggies are always happier when they have a companion and when they are in a large enough enclosure.

    thanks everyone!
    I think a similar topic came up some time ago regarding school programs in agricultural states. I think there's a very different mindset in communities where animals are raised and in urban areas.

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