Kids College has an interesting array of pets. Each was chosen having taken into account the benefits and risks to the pets and our children. Our menagerie of pets has been a rich source of learning for our children and offer ideal opportunities to practice empathy and care giving. We have such a strong social emotional program fostering children’s emotional intelligence and our pets offer our children the chance to practice these skills safely. We also use our pets to teach children about sustainability and that each of us are part of the global citizens.

Kids College has been home to crazy crabs, worms in our worm farm, fish, snails and our bearded dragon, Raa. We also have a number of fluffy toy animals which give children valuable lessons in looking after family pets and being how to be gentle.

We also welcome visiting pets. The hatching chicken eggs are always a favourite. Our children very much enjoy particularly fathers day at Kids College where we get cuddly animal farm to visit us. It is really wonderful to see the calming nature of these patient animal farm fluffies with our children and the daddies who visit us. If you have any children friendly pets at home let us know and we can see if it is appropriate to welcome them for a hello at Kids College. We also encourage you to send in photos of your pets for our children to enjoy.

Animals as the third teacher

Kids College provides our children with access to animals to help them learn about the life cycle and relationships, and improve communication. Contemporary thinkers put forward the notion of ‘animals as the fourth teacher’ building on the work of Malaguzzi in the town of Reggio Emilia. Malaguzzi’s ideology positions the parent as the child’s first teacher, the educator as the second and the environment as the third teacher, emphasising the crucial role they all play in supporting children’s learning.

Benefits of having all kinds of pets

Respect: Children learn that animals deserve to be treated with care and respect. Animals have limits just like people do and although they may enjoy interaction, sometimes they want space.  Understanding an animal’s boundaries and body language are important and that learned respect translates to respecting other people.

Empathy: Having a pet gives children the opportunity to become a caregiver. Children learn to respond to their pet’s needs and may witness their pet’s fear and anxiety in an unfamiliar place or around loud noises.  Recognizing a pet’s needs and comforting them helps children learn how to feel the way others feel, becoming more empathetic. Owning a fish tank is a stress reducer. Watching the fish swim peacefully through the water and the bubbles floating to the surface can really relax you.  If you have a child that’s rather emotional, this might be a nice place to sit them if they are feeling a little overwhelmed or overtired.

Responsibility: A child should never be solely responsible for a pet, as the responsibility of an animal’s wellbeing ultimately falls on the parents or other responsible adult, but by participating in the care of an animal a child learns good habits. They learn accountability and that they are depended upon by a living thing.  This also helps children develop a conscience.

Self-esteem: Pets are non-judgmental. Children know that no matter how bad of a day they are having, a pet is always there to “listen” and be a source of affection.

Overcoming Fears: Children who grow up with pets are generally less fearful of animals. They become familiar with animals and animal behaviour, which makes them less anxious about the unknown.  Additionally, children are less likely to believe myths about animals with less favourable reputations if they have spent time around them.

Circle of Life: As a pet’s health declines due to illness or old age, children learn that life is not infinite, but love and memories are. When a beloved pet passes away, a child learns that they can live through the grieving process and appreciate the life of their special family member.

Appreciation of Nature: Through pets, children gain insight into wild and domestic animals.  By observing their behaviour, children learn about animal instincts and intelligence.  There is so much to discover about wildlife, that children exposed to nature develop a sense of wonderment and appreciation for life on Earth.

Honouring a biological connection

Anyone who works with children knows that children are drawn to animals of all kinds. There is definitely something special about children’s interest in animals. Research shows that humans’ innate interest in animals is biological: we are drawn to species that are “other” than human and in many cases have an instinct to want to care for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable.

In 1984 E.O. Wilson, a biologist, introduced the idea of “biophilia”-that innate affinity we humans have for other living things. In recent years, many early educators have recognized this affinity in young children and have embraced a philosophy that includes lots of living natural materials in the classroom (such as plants and flowers), nature-based play areas with landscape features that include lots of vegetation, and providing plenty of outdoor time for children.

A “biocentric” approach to early care and education means more than just providing opportunities for nature play however. It can—and should—include opportunities for children to connect with living animals. Unlike adults who tend to value animals for what they can provide (food, leather, wool), or how they can serve us (as companions), children tend to value animals simply because they are. They recognize the intrinsic value of animals—that simply because they are living creatures, they are important.

Our pet bearded dragon

Bearded dragons are very easy to care for, smart, fun to play with, and capable of building a strong bond with their owners. Bearded dragons are good pets because they are generally peaceful and nice reptiles. They have a tendency to be passive, and they generally get calmer as they age.

They are unique to Australia and have a fascinating appearance. Bearded Dragons have spines under and around their throats that give them their distinguishing feature and name. These spikes are actually quite rubbery, not sharp, and fool predators into thinking that this is a dangerous lizard. Both male and female Bearded Dragons have beards

Bearded Dragons can change colour very quickly to blend into their surroundings or to make themselves less appealing to predators. When threatened, a mature male changes the colour of his beard to black and puffs it up so that the spines appear rigid and his body looks bigger. He also opens his mouth, revealing a bright colour that surprises predators.

When they feel threatened, they flatten their bodies, puff out their beards, and open their mouths to make themselves look bigger. Both genders turn jet black when the animals are stressed — making it easy to know when they’re upset.

Caring for them is an easy and fairly low-maintenance task. Supplying adequate ultraviolet (UV) light during the day will help ensure that beardies can make vitamin D in their skin, which allows them to absorb both calcium and phosphorus from their food.

These lizards enjoy a variety of insects, fruits, and vegetables, so finding food they like is never a challenge. Bearded dragons are omnivores, eating both plant and animal-based foods.

They are quite intelligent! They have the capacity to clearly recognize their owners and develop a strong connection over time. Bearded dragons may not show love like a cat or dog does, but they definitely have the ability to display signs of affection for their owners. Many people are surprised to hear this because they assume that reptiles don’t have the capacity to be nice and show affection (which is simply not true), but bearded dragons are very good pets in this regard!

Beardies like to be warm, and it is not uncommon for them to snuggle into their owners’ necks or chests when they are taken out of their terrariums. Some will even fall asleep while snuggled up with their owners and stay like that for hours at a time!

It may surprise you to find out that bearded dragons can be very entertaining to watch! If your bearded dragon wants your attention, it may run back and forth inside of its terrarium. It will learn when it’s mealtime, and it will let you know if you’re running a bit late! Unlike lizards who are active at night, bearded dragons are awake during the day. They often like to climb branches and sit on logs to bask in the sun. As a result, they make great pets for people who want to interact with their pets during waking hour

When our beloved pet bearded dragon, Raa died we took this teachable moment opportunity to speak to children about loss. Like any learning, we helped guide our children through their loss. Discussing the loss of a pet slowly builds an ability to cope with big emotions. A child’s brain does not have the mental maturity of adults and we need to help them build their skills and manage their feelings. These skills need to be taught and we specialise in social emotional learning at Kids College actively working each day to help children in one of the most important learning areas.

Our pet worms

We even have working animals at Kids College. So, most of us have had a pet of some sort over the course of our lives, our pets bring us joy, love, laughter, and good times. But imagine owning over 500 pets that never need to be walked, are happy to eat your scraps, provide you with amazing fertiliser AND help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint! Sound too good to be true?  Well, welcome to the wonderful world of worm farms – top little carbon crusaders and garbage gobblers who just happen to be awesome (and fairly low maintenance) pets!

One of our children’s favourite pets are our little worms in our worm farm. Charles Darwin referred to earthworms as natures ploughs. Much like human engineers, worms change the structure of their environment. Worms aerate soils and breakdown dead organic matter. Worms eat and pass organic matter allowing bacteria and fungi to release nutrients.  These nutrients then become available to living plants and for this reason are important to the process of growing food plants.

What this means is our children get to see first hand every day the wonderful work the worms do and how to use them to ensure we grow great vegetables in our veggie patch and gives our soil great food for our plants to grow in. We notice that when the children are involved in the every day care of our worms they extend that knowledge into other areas of learning. Our worms also teach our children not just to be gentle but the whole process of sustainability and the interconnectedness of our actions. We collect food scraps to feed the worms, harvest the fertilizer they create to grow more vegetables.

Our pet snails

Pet Snails are one of the easiest, low maintenance and inexpensive pets available. They are quiet, harmless to children and will thrive on scraps from your kitchen.

Snails are herbivorous and eat vegetables and (non-citrus) fruit – lettuce and cabbage are real favourites. Other suggestions are apple, avocado, banana, tomato, carrot, cucumber, mushroom, potato, pumpkin, spinach and many more fruits and vegetables

Pet Snails are fascinating to interact with, observe and can thrive in even the smallest spaces. Pet snails are easy to care for.

If you take good care of your garden snail, they generally live up to three to five years old, although surprisingly some pet garden snails have even lived for up to twenty years.

When temperatures get fatally dry, snails have to sleep so they can secrete enough mucus to survive. Generally, nap time for a snail can last from a few hours up to 3 years.

Unless the weather has been rainy, you’d rarely see a garden snail in broad daylight. Instead, it does most of its routine at night until the wee hours of dawn.

Snails usually have two eyes. For land snails, these eyes can be found at the tips of their longest tentacles.

Upon hatching, baby snails have a  shell.” Though soft and transparent at first, the snails develop a harder shell as they get calcium from their food.

Aside from being their homes, snail shells protect the snail’s organs. Though a snail could heal from minor damage and cracks, it cannot recover from a completely broken shell

Though you may think that snails would move in a way similar to snakes, this is actually not the case. Instead, snails propel themselves forward using one muscular foot. The mucus they secret also serves as a lubricant and protects their underside from rough or sharp surfaces.

With the average snail speed, it would take over a day, 33 hours for a snail to travel one mile.

We had a such a lovely experience when walking a little girl to school. We were walking on the damp footpath when she hunkers down to see a tiny baby snail in the middle of footpath she spotted. We admired him and she was astounded to see how tiny he was and how fragile he looked. She thought he might be in danger, so she suggested we move him off the path and into the bushes close by, where he seemed to be heading. She showed such compassion and care and was so proud of herself when I complimented her on her actions, telling her even as small as she was, she was able to make a big difference and save a tiny snails life. It took a brief moment in our morning to make a big difference to that tiny snail and show such compassion.

Our fish aquarium

Having an aquarium can do wonders for a child. It can provide children with knowledge and create great memories while we sit with them and explore the wonders of an aquarium. It inspires cognitive development, sparks imagination and improves social and emotional skills. Observing fish in an aquarium also helps calm children who suffer from ADHD.

Recent studies have shown that simply looking at an aquarium will reduce stress and anxiety in children. Looking after a pet fish takes up kid’s attention. This can control anger or frustration and helps children deter negative emotions.

Every aquarium represents a small world. They usually have algae in them, corals of different shapes and sizes, smaller objects like treasure chests or some sunken buildings. You can even put rocks or sand from the ocean in your aquarium.

Looking after the aquarium and the fish in it can make children more conscious about their actions on the things around them. Teach them about what the fish needs. If they need water changed, tell your children how to do it. If they need to be fed, explain how it’s done. This will teach them the social skills that can be applied to humans as well as animals. That way, looking after a pet fish will promote a kid’s self-confidence.

Looking after an aquarium by yourself requires a lot of knowledge. While looking after their pet fish, children will learn a lot about chemistry, biology and ecology. Just by having an aquarium you can teach your kid about fish anatomy or something more complicated, like the food chain.

Looking after an aquarium full of different fish is very educational and positively impacts children’s social and cognitive development.

Our pet crazy crabs

Crazy crabs teach us some important life lessons. Crabs live in colonies and have a surprisingly involved social scene. A crab typically has hundreds of friends with whom it eats, sleeps, and generally moves around. In a busy colony, a crab can live up to 30 years. Alone, it only lives a few months and then dies. This teaches us that life is better with friends.

Being small doesn’t mean you can’t do big things. Even at their largest, crabs aren’t much bigger than the palm of your hand, but that doesn’t stop them from climbing to great heights (literally). A crab’s fierce determination to achieving lofty goals is something we can all aspire to.

Some crabs are more aggressive than others, but in general they’re peaceful creatures. They are more likely to hide in their shell than to fight. Crabs are docile until they’re pushed past their limit. And when it’s time to fight, they’re ready. Avoiding a fight is best for humans too.

Don’t shy away from competition. As it grows, a crab needs to find a newer, bigger shell. It uses the shell for hiding, keeping moisture, and for protection from predators. A shell that’s too small makes a crab vulnerable to predators (and it’s probably uncomfortable too). A crab might not like competing, but it has to, to survive. Don’t back down when you compete for something important – that’s what we can learn from these brave crabs.

Embrace the extraordinary. Crabs are actually natural recyclers. Changing shells is a part of life for a crab. But a crab doesn’t always have to use the usual mollusk or snail shell to make its home. They are good at thinking outside the shell. From bottle caps to tennis balls, crabs make the most of what they can find especially when shells are scarce. They do what’s necessary to acquire a new home even if this new home isn’t anything like the last one. Just because you can’t get what you want, doesn’t mean all is lost. A crab’s ability to embrace change is a trait that humans can put to good use.

Our pet silkworms

Growing silkworms in classrooms is a wonderful opportunity to teach our children a wide range of life skills. Silkworms teach children about the life cycle, insect behaviour and anatomy, and how to care and interact with living creatures. Having silkworms as pets helps bring increased awareness and sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others – both humans and animals. Children learn that all living things require more than just water and food to survive and will see directly how their actions and behaviour affect others. Learning how to care for silkworms helps children learn both academically and socially and really make a significant difference in our classrooms.

Silkworms can help show children that their love and care for the insects can help them grow and thrive. These nurturing connections teach children that using kindness and care can benefit those around them, establishing empathy and compassion. Instilling a love for animals and nature from a young age will mean that they will grow up with a solid respect and sense of care for the world around them, as well as empathy and care for other human beings.

Silkworms can be an engaging way to approach the topics we are already teaching within our classrooms providing new ways of learning. Mathematics (how many silkworms do we have?, science (looking into the life cycle of transformation from worm to moth) social science (the use of silkworms) , or even grammar (what adjectives can be used to describe a cocoon?) can be taught through silkworms.

Children get a sense of pride and accomplishment when they take care of silkworms. Seeing the silkworms grow, thrive, and transform only increases the students’ bonds and care for the worms moving forward. Witnessing and being validated for their silkworms’ success will instill pride and confidence in the children. Letting them know that their accomplishments are valued by us, and the worms will boost their self-esteem.”

Raising silkworms from eggs all the way to when they become moths takes a lot of responsibility and care. By entrusting our children to care for the worms, helps them learn about catering to the needs of others, particularly those weaker and more fragile than themselves.

Exposure to silkworms will allow children to feel, see, touch, and make connections to the animal world. Observing and caring for silkworms helps instill a sense of responsibility as well as a respect for all life. Exposing children to nature is especially important in today’s classrooms which are often heavily tech driven. Silkworms will engage children away from their screens, and give them something positive to focus on.

Kids College Philosophy quote

‘We also embed sustainability and recycling at Kids College to support our place in our modern global climate of environmental responsibility.’

‘We aim to support children’s overall sense of wellbeing and increase their emotional intelligence through the love and dedication each of their own unique learning journeys.’

National Quality Standards

1.1.1 Approved Learning Framework. Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.

1.1.3 program learning opportunities. All aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning

3.2.3. The service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.

Kids College family

At Kids College we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input. Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on

With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the
‘village it takes to raise a child’
Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family