Animals as Teachers: Incorporating Animal Concepts into Student Learning

BC SPCA programs educate youth on animal welfare issues and help them develop empathy, compassion, and critical thinking skills. Kids who have high levels of empathy are less likely to be aggressive towards others, are more tolerant of differences, and are better equipped to deal with emotional challenges. This encourages prosocial behavior, which will help youth develop positive social relationships with peers.

Children generally have an innate curiosity and connection with animals. Animals are in children’s storybooks, movies, and in our homes, but children often do not think about the animals from the animal’s perspective. The cross-curricular lessons developed by the BCSPCA incorporate fun, interactive lessons where students learn about animals by understanding their needs and similarities to humans, thus creating more respect for the environment in which they live. Since March 2020, the BC SPCA Humane Education team have been creating virtual learning material to aid in instruction for remote learners as well as in-class.

Understanding our social responsibility to animals in our lives whether it be as a pet, for food, used in entertainment, or as part of the ecosystem, will provide a base for students to learn concepts that will demonstrate how our actions impact others, our communities, and the environment. In this workshop, participants will take part virtually in activities for grades K – 12 using animal themes to initiate an understanding of social responsibility and justice concepts around stereotypes, racism, responsibility, and equality. Information on how to receive free lesson plans and resources will be provided as well as information on our new virtual presentations!

Target Audience

Elementary

Sessions

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
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Presenter

  • BC SPCA
    Allison Simpson

    Allison Simpson is a BC certified teacher and joined the BC SPCA in 2016 as a Regional Humane Educator in the Fraser Valley.  In her 14 years as a professional educator, she has worked with students in Kindergarten to College, as a classroom teacher and tutor, specializing in developing personalized education plans to meet the needs of neurodiverse students. As a Regional Humane Educator, she has merged her love of life-long learning and animals into holistic meaningful experiences for youth. Youth are naturally curious about animals and looking at the world from the animals' point of view leads to opportunities for innovative problem solving and considerate, conscientious action.

    Lisa Keegan developed a passion for education while teaching drama to secondary school students in Ireland where she saw first-hand the value of giving youth a platform to express themselves. With a BA in Communication Studies, Lisa has been working as a Regional Humane Educator in the Lower Mainland with the BC SPCA for four years. In this time she has taught students from kindergarten to grade 12, developing empathy, critical thinking skills and social responsibility through virtual and in-class presentations. Learning about animals through a lens of compassion allows youth to demonstrate their ability to speak up for others and cultivate empathy within their communities, and the world at large.