Project Time

Keystone's Safe and Humane Animal Care 

Our Inspiration

Last year, the Kirkpatrick Foundation granted the funds to rebuild and refurbish our Keystone barn, updating stalls and building a finished classroom/learning laboratory for expanding our children's experience of safe and humane care of our animals with an outreach program to teach other school children about the same. These generous funds helped to continue our one-of-a-kind programs that give our Keystone Kids unique learning opportunities.

Step 1. Brainstorm

Once everyone got the news that we would be putting together an ensemble of animals and information on how to properly care for them in the most humane way we began to

Keystone kids are such an excited group of learners, but when they are given a chance to delve into one of their favorite topics the excitement level seems to double.

We began to put together a list of animals. This first list that we brainstormed together was any animal, it could be domesticated, wild, local, or exotic. Since we started with a boundary free list this allowed all of our thinkers to really get their brain juices flowing. Hands were shooting up constantly and a constant stream of animals were being added to our list. By the end of the whole group brainstorm we had a wide array of animals from small reptiles to massive mammals. 

Step 2. Small Groups

After a short break on the playground to get the wiggles out we broke in to eight multi age groups. The goal for the small groups this afternoon was to decide on one animal from the list and begin a deeper study on that specific animal. In some of the groups each student got to pick an animal and then the group voted on which one they would be researching. Since the beginning of the school year we have been building a democratic community throughout our whole school- this makes life’s “big decisions” like picking just one animal to study much smoother. After the groups had decided on an animal and the iPads were distributed we starting searching for the answers to following questions pertaining to the humane care of each animal.

  • What do we need to know?
  • What environment does it need?
  • What food does it eat?
  • Does it require exercise?
  • How much water does it need daily?
  • What is the cost for the upkeep of this animal?
  • What kind of animals can they live with?
  • What kind of animals can they not live with?
  • What are their behaviors? 

Step 3: Consolidating the list

Wanting to stay true to the Kirkpatrick’s goal to make Oklahoma the most humane state; we regrouped and edited our animal list to only animals that would be found in Oklahoma. Each class then volunteered to research a couple of animals from the condensed list. This allowed the second round of research to be more age appropriate for the whole school. The older researchers did independent and specific questions; whereas the younger researchers focused on the basic needs and illustrated pictures to display their findings. 

Step 4: Class Presentations

The whole school got a great chance to practice both our public speaking and audience member skills. Each class prepared a presentation or display to exhibit the information they had gathered.

Step 5: Hands on

After a couple of weeks of research it was time to get our hands messy! If you have ever done paper mache with 60 elementary students you know that we got our hands REALLY messy. Each student picked out an animal (from the consolidated list) to construct. This process had several steps:

  1. Pick an animal from the consolidated list
  2. Construct their animal out of newspaper and tape
  3. Tape, tape, and more tape to makes sure their structure was secure
  4. Paper mache and let dry
  5. Prime their animal with a white base coat
  6. Paint their animal and add details/final touches to make their structure realistic

Building our animals was pertinent to our overall project because it provided direct experiences with materials, objects, and phenomena. This motivates students who love hands-on activities to remain interested in the project. The goals for the construction are that the students will remember the material better, feel a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed, and be able to transfer their experience/information easier when we open our safe and humane animal exhibit.

 Step 6: Building the Exhibit

Half way through our personal animal constructions, we started to discuss what we wanted our exhibit to look like. We had already been contacted by one organization that wanted to tour our outdoor classroom so we had to start asking ourselves questions pertaining to what our exhibit would look like. What do we want our viewers to learn? What is the most important information regarding the safe and humane treatment of animals? How should our information be displayed? What types of visuals should be in our exhibit? How many visuals should be in our exhibit? The paper mache animals turned out to be such quality pieces we decided they would be the focal point of our exhibit. We would construct the rest of the displays and information around them. As a group we spent time picking specific animals and then brainstorming what all information a viewer would need to know about the treatment of that animal. After this discussion we started the construction of large visuals and even life size animal replicas.