Care of Classroom Critters over Breaks
By Melissa Hodges
By now, you and your students have the care and handling of your classroom organisms down to a science. However, school breaks and holidays cause problems if you do not plan ahead. These tips will help you keep your critters happy and healthy anytime you are out of the classroom.
Before you leave for the holidays, make sure these basic requirements have been met:
- Your critters are in a safe enclosure or habitat from which they cannot escape.
- The building will be supplied with heat (or air conditioning) over the break. The habitat should not be located under a draft or exposed to direct sunlight. Keep in mind that additional heating sources and lights with timers may be required for some organisms.
- Your critters have ample food and fresh water during the break. This may require multiday feeding blocks or automatic feeders for aquarium animals.
- Enclosures are clean at the beginning of break. You may need to make arrangements to keep the habitats sanitary and odor free during your absence.
For long (multiweek) school breaks, it may be necessary to make special arrangements for your critters. Here are some possibilities:
- Schedule visits to your classroom every few days to monitor their food, water, and health.
- Take them home for the holidays!
- If you are going out of town, see if a student's family is willing to care for them. (Make sure you discuss this directly with the parents.) Be sure to provide detailed care instructions before sending any critters home with a family.
- Expect the unexpected. Try to have a contingency plan that covers the prospect of a weather surprise or other unforeseeable event that may delay your return to the classroom.
Now, you can check one worry off your list and enjoy the break.