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Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Vets, Pets and Me!

Developed by:

Ann Mennonno and Amy Wackerly

Indianapolis Public Schools, Center for Inquiry #2

Brief Summary of Unit:

Students will explore health and wellness by engaging in activities that allow them to see the similarities and differences among humans and other animals (pets)

Grade Level: 3

Subject/Topic Areas: Science Health

Key Words: Health Preventative, Veterinary, Needs, Wellness

Time Frame: 5 week unit piloted January 3, 2011 to February 4, 2011

3rd Grade Curriculum


Students will:

  • Understand the science involved in keeping people and animals healthy
  • Understand the importance of keeping people and animals healthy


Students will understand that…
  • Humans and animals have similar basic needs (food, exercise, water)
  • Humans and animals need preventive care from doctors/veterinarians to stay healthy
  • Humans and animals need the help of a doctor/veterinarian when they are sick


Essential Questions:

  • How and what health issues affect both people and animals?
  • What preventive steps can be taken for both people and animal health?
  • What types of tools are used determine health and sickness in people and animals?
  • How can data collected be used to inform doctors and veterinarians of their patient’s health?


Students Will Be Able To…

  • Identify and compare similarities and differences among people and other animals (pets)
  • Describe how people and pets use nutrition and exercise to stay fit
  • Discuss and illustrate how pets act as exercise partners and friends to keep you healthy
  • Describe how doctors prevent illness in people and animals through examinations and vaccinations
  • Explain how doctors help people and animals when they are sick through diagnostic testing and prescribing medicines
  • Explore tools used to determine health and sickness in people and animals like the scale, thermometer and stethoscope
  • Collect data through the use of live animals and models


3rd grade resources are divided into the following sections

Books about Health Professions


Books about Animal Care  
Other Suggested Readings  
Other Resources  

Lab Coat

Lab Coat

Elementary Microscope Animals Slide Set - 12 slides following

Canary Feather

Canary Feather

Fowl Feather

Fowl Feather

Straited Muscle of Frog

 Straited Muscle of Frog

Fur from Mouse

Fur from Mouse

Hair from Sheep

Hair from Sheep

Hair from Phesant

Hair from Phesant

Hair from Horse

Hair from Horse

Hair from Hare

Hair from Hare

Hair from Fox

Hair from Fox

Hair from Dog

Hair from Dog

Hair from Cat

Hair from Cat

Scale from Goldfish

Scale from Goldfish





word bank word bank

Pet Scientists Pediatrician
Veterinarian Stethoscope Otoscope
Reflex hammer Nutrition Exercise
Well care Vaccination Foreign bodies
Food pyramid Candling Poultry

Veterinary technician

Incubator Observation
Compare Contrast Data Collection


Students will keep science notebooks. Pages to include:

  • Concept Map
  • I Wonders
  • Word Bank
  • Health Careers
  • Observations
  • Data
  • Daily Self-Reflection (Something New I Learned Today….What I Need to Know More About…)
  • Investigation (question/problem/solution; prediction; develop a plan; drawing conclusions)
  • Claims/Evidence
  • Video Notes – surgery/procedures from Purdue
  • Guest Speaker Notes
  • Research Notes
  • Quick writes
  • Self-reflections

I wonder, word book I Wonder notebook page

Academic Standards

Science - Content

3.4.6  Explain that people need water, food, air, waste removal, and a particular range of  temperatures, just as other animals do.
3.4.7 Explain that eating a variety of healthful foods and getting enough exercise and rest help people stay healthy.
3.4.8 Explain that some diseases are caused by germs and some are not.

Science- Process

3.1.1  Recognize and explain that when a scientific investigation is repeated, a similar result is expected.
3.1.2 Participate in different types of guided scientific investigations, such as observing objects and events and collecting specimens for analysis.
3.1.3 Keep and report records of investigations and observations using tools, such as journals, charts, graphs, and computers.
3.1.4 Discuss the results of investigations and consider the explanations of others.
3.1.5 Demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively while respecting the ideas of others and communicating one’s own conclusions about findings.
3.1.6 Give example of how tools…have affected the way we live.
3.1.7 Recognize that and explain how an invention can be used in different ways
3.2.3 Keep a notebook that describes observations and is understandable weeks or months later.
3.2.4 Appropriately use simple tools and other technology to help solve problems
3.5.5 Explain that one way to make sense of something is to think of how it relates to something more familiar.
3.6.2 Investigate how and describe that something may not work if some of its parts are missing
3.6.3 Explain how a model of something is different from the real thing but can be used to learn something about the real thing.


Health Content

 3.1.1  Identify the link between healthy choices and being healthy.
 3.1.2  Give examples of physical and emotional health.

Day 1: Engage

Teacher will administer a Pre-Assessment. (Concept Map)

For daily shared Reading during literature time (book will be read as a whole group throughout unit) - The teacher will introduce the book Puppy Place: Lucky to students. The teacher will tell students they will be reading this book as a whole group for the daily shared reading times. After each day's reading students will complete a literature log to go with the book.

Before lesson the teacher will create a chart with three columns. Column one will be titled “What is a Pet?” Column two titled “Types of Pets.” And column three titled “Who has a Pet?” As a whole group the teacher will ask students What is a pet? Teacher will take responses from students listing them on the first column of the chart – “What is a Pet?” Next, the teacher will have students raise their hands if they have a pet. Teacher will ask students in the class what are different types of pets and list them in the second column of the chart – “Types of Pets.” Finally, the teacher will ask the students “Who has a pet?” The teacher will list the different types of pets the students in the classroom have at home. Teacher will tell students if they have a photograph of their pet they can bring it to school to place on the chart next to their name under the column “Who has a pet?”

 Day 1 - pre-assessment


Day 2: Explore

Teacher will next read aloud Arthur’s New Puppy by Marc Brown. After reading the book the teacher will discuss book with students. What does responsibility mean? What responsibilities did Arthur have with his new puppy?

The teacher will review types of pets from the list on the chart. Teacher will tell students they are going to create pet collages w/ magazine pictures. They will look through the various pet magazines and cut out pictures of any pets and then use the pictures to create a collage. Teacher may have to demonstrate how to create a collage.

Explore pets from other countries

 Day 2

Day 3: Explore

Teacher will introduce the science notebooks to the students based on the work of Michael Klentschy in Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms. Teacher will give each student a notebook and guide them through numbering the pages and setting up the notebook – table of contents, word bank, concept map, I wonders…

Teacher will discuss the difference between “needs” and “wants” with students. Using two sheets of chart paper label one “Children’s Needs” and the other “Pet’s Needs.” Teacher will ask students to name the different things that they need to be safe and healthy. Teacher will record responses on the “Children’s Needs” chart. Next, teacher will ask students what pets need to be safe and healthy and record their responses on the “Pet’s Needs” chart. (Be sure needs include food, water, shelter, space, love, exercise and play, bathing, education [training], I.D. tag and collar, and visits to the doctor/veterinarian.) As a whole group review the charts by asking students What needs do children have? What needs do pets have? What needs do children and pets share? Place a star next to any needs that appear on both charts. Teacher will have students copy charts in their science notebooks for future reference.

Teacher will refer back to the chart created on day one “Types of Pets.” Teacher will ask students to select the pet they would most like to have from the list and draw a picture of it. Then the teacher will have students write a short story about how they would take care of the pet. Teacher will remind students to refer to the “Pet Needs” list to help them write their stories. Teacher will invite students to share their pictures and stories with the class.

 day 3 explore day 3 engaged

Day 4: Explore

Teacher will review with students what a good science observation includes by reviewing the observation rubric with the class. Observations should include labels, drawings, color, I Wonders, descriptive words and phrases, and measurement.

In order to help students understand different animals have different needs and to develop live animal science observation skills teacher will have live animals in the classroom for students to care for and observe. This lesson uses crayfish but other animals can be substituted like worms, frogs (tadpoles), butterflies (caterpillars.)

Teacher will introduce the crayfish to students. Teacher will share procedures for the live animal observations and share where students will record their observations in their science notebooks.

Crayfish – teacher will place a crayfish in a tub for students to observe. Students will observe the structures of the crayfish and record their observations through technical drawings and labels. Teacher will demonstrate how to properly pick up a crayfish and will help students who would like to hold the crayfish.

Teacher will introduce the “Student Daily Reflections” in their science notebooks. Students will reflect on “Something New I Learned Today….What I Need to Know More About…” Students will reflect each day at the end of the lesson for the remainder of the unit.

 day4 explore

Day 5: Explore

Teacher will review with students what a good science observation includes by reviewing the observation rubric with the class. Observations should include labels, drawings, color, I Wonders, descriptive words and phrases, measurement.

Poultry Veterinarian and/or Teacher will introduce the chicken eggs and incubator to students. Poultry Veterinarian/Teacher will candle eggs to show students the embryos inside. They will discuss with students how to handle and care for the eggs and the chicks when hatched.

Chick eggs and incubator- students will observe and note the environment the eggs are in. They will record their observations by drawing a sketch of the environment with labels. Students will note the environmental conditions necessary for the eggs to hatch (temperature and humidity.)

Remainder of the Unit Elaborate
Students will be asked to keep regular observation notes of the crayfish and chicks for the remainder of the unit. The notes will include observations of behaviors of the animals and needs of the animals. 

Day 5 Day 5

Day 5

Day 6: Explore & Explain

Teacher will display the food pyramid. Teacher will review the food pyramid with students. Teacher will give each student a blackline copy of the pyramid

Exploring the Food Pyramid
Direct students attention to the food pyramid poster. Ask what they notice. As a whole group explore what’s on the poster. 
1. Point out that foods on the poster are arranged in groups. Help students use the key to learn which color represents which food group. Which of the colored stripes are the largest? Point out that these are foods that students should choose more often. Which are the smallest? These are foods that children should choose less often.
2. Point out that everyone needs food to live and grow. But if people eat too much of some foods high in sugar and fat, they don’t have enough room to eat other foods that are good for them. Ask students to name healthy choices from each of the food groups.
3. Discuss each food group in turn. Ask students to identify the foods they know that are shown on the poster. What are some other foods from each group that they like or know about?
4. At this age, some students may not know what a “grain” is. Grains come from plants like wheat, corn, and oats. They are used to make foods like bread, cereal, tortillas, and corn muffins. Popcorn is a grain-groups food, too.
5. What’s the thin yellow stripe? It represents oils, which can be found in foods like nuts or fish or added to foods as soft margarine or salad oil. Note how then the stripe is. Most people need to limit the amount of oils they eat.
6. Why are there stairs? They represent physical activity. Look at the variety of activities shown on the poster. How many do you see? Part of being healthy is keeping physically active. Ask students to describe some of the ways they stay active.
7. Give each student a copy of the “MyPyramid for Kids” handout. Using the wall poster as a reference, have students color the stripes to match the colors on the poster. In the space provided have students draw a picture of a smart food choice from each group and write in the name of the food group.

Lunchroom Link: Look at the lunch menu for today. Ask students into which food groups each of the items on the menu would fit. Teacher may have to explain that some foods like hamburger or pizza will fit into several groups.

 Day 6

Day 7

As a whole group challenge students to name as many fruits and vegetables (F & V) as they can in 2 minutes. Write these on the board. Point out that fruits and vegetables are foods children need to grow and be healthy. Ask students to look at the list they just developed. Are there any fruits or vegetables they have never tried? Discuss importance of eating fruits and vegetables:

• F & V are excellent sources of many nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, and dietary fiber.
• Most F & V are naturally low in fat and calories and do not contain cholesterol.
• Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
• Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
• Fiber keeps food moving through the digestive tract.
• Dark green and orange vegetables are important to eat – can you name any?
• French fries, which make up ¼ of all vegetables eaten by elementary students, are an exception. They are high in fat and calories.

Pass out students “What I Eat” homework tracking form to be returned to school. Give students a highlighter and have them go through and highlight each fruit and vegetable they ate each day. What did you find? Discuss findings as a whole group – have students share.

Extension: Have students graph the total number of fruits and vegetables they ate in the week. They can use green squares to represent vegetables and red squares to represent fruits just like the colors on the pyramid.

Day 7 Day 7

Day 8

Teacher will have students create a three tab Venn diagram foldable from Dinah Zike’s Foldables. Teacher will have students label the first tab in the Venn diagram “humans”, the second tab “both” and the third tab “pets.” As a whole group, the teacher will help students list the types of foods humans need to eat to be healthy from previous lessons (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats.) The teacher will explain that just like we need to eat good to stay healthy so do our pets. The teacher will read aloud pages 16-17 in Taking care of your rabbit about Rabbit food. As a whole group discuss what foods rabbits need to stay healthy. Teacher will have students select a pet of choice (dogs, cats, guinea pigs, gerbils, reptiles & horses) to research what the pet eats to stay healthy. Students will then be grouped by pet choices. The group will read their book then under the “pets” tab they will list the type of pet they explored then they will list the foods their animal needs. Then the group will complete the second tab comparing what healthy foods people need to what healthy foods their assigned pet needs. When groups are finished teacher will have each group share aloud what they learned about what healthy foods their assigned pets need.

Books include:

Taking care of your Rabbit
Pet Care Gerbils
Pet Care Guinea Pigs
Dogs – How to Choose and Care for a Dog
Pet Care Horses

Teacher will lead discussion on comparing the food needs of people and animals.

 Day 8

Day 9: Explore & Explain

People preventive care (Guest speaker – doctor) – students will take guest speaker notes in their science notebooks. The doctor will discuss preventive care and model a wellness check. The doctor will discuss how they collect data to use to inform them of their patients' health. The doctor will share types of tools used to determine health and sickness in people. Doctor will discuss how he/she is a scientist.

Students will explore books about doctors. 

Day 9 Day 9

Day 10: Explore & Explain

Exercise – Mini-field day (in collaboration with P.E. teacher)
Teacher will set up mini field day activities for students to participate in. After completing activities teacher will lead discussion on why did we just do these activities. What are some things you notice about yourself when you exercise? (heart rate change, sweat, soreness) Why is it important to exercise? Do you think pets need to exercise too? How do different pets get their exercise? What happens to pets/people if they don’t get enough exercise? Create a T-chart to list how people exercise on one side and how animals exercise on the other.

Mini Field Day Activities:
• Begin by stretching as a whole group – warm up
• Then do laps around the school for 15 minutes – see how many laps can you finish in time given 
• How many jumping jacks can you do in a minute?
• How many sit ups can you do in a minute?
• How many push ups can you do in a minute?
• Closing stretch – warm down

Day 10 Day10

Day 10 Day 10

Day 10

Days 11-13

(can be done over several days or used as morning centers)

Begin centers (chicks; crayfish; DS games (see list below); radiographs; ER Vet books; Internet exploration; book browse, You Are the Vet). *These are sample centers you could use. Other centers could be used that relate to the unit. After students complete a center they will record and reflect on new learnings and I Wonder questions in their science notebooks.

Center 1 – Chicks
Students will spend time observing the hatched chicks. They will read books about chicks, make observations about and explore the Chick Life Cycle plastic eggs from Learning Resources. 

Center 2 - DS Games
Use Nintendo DS game consoles. Have students spend time playing some of the DS games. The games will give students an opportunity to virtually experience caring for pets, learning about veterinarian life and working with animals they don’t have access to.
Possible Nintendo DS games include:
• Animal Planet: Vet Life
• Discovery Kids: Pony Paradise
• Animal Planet: ER Vets
• Pet Pals: New Leash on Life
• Aquarium
• A Puppy of Your Own
• Pet Vet: Down Under
• Petz Horsez 2

Center 3 – Virtual Vet Visit
Students will use computers to visit the website: www.purdue.edu/engagement/p12/virtual-vet-visits. They will have the opportunity to see a well check visit on a horse, a blood pressure check on a cat and much more.

Center 4 - ER Vet Books
Students will read the ER vet book then select one case study from the book that interests them and compare it to an injury or illness a human could have.

Center 5 – Book Browse
Students will browse through a variety of pet care, veterinarian, doctor and health books. They will read about topics that interest them. Students will record new learnings in their science notebook.

Center 6 – You Are a Vet
Students will use the tools a veterinarian uses (stethoscope, reflex hammer, thermometer, etc) and perform “check ups” on stuffed animals they have in the room. They will fill out a data sheet for the animals they are checking. They can have a healthy animal data sheet to compare with their animal’s results.

Center 7 – Foreign Body 
Students will explore radiograph files of animals that have foreign bodies, broken bones, pregnancies.... Using the radiograph with foreign bodies students will be given the items animals have swallowed and will match up the items with the radiographs.

Center 8 – Crayfish
Teacher will place food in observational tub for crayfish. Students will observe the crayfish eating and take observational notes of the crayfish eating.

Center 9 – Microscopes Exploration
Students will explore slides using a microscope of pet fur and feathers. Students can also bring fur and toenails in from home to create their own slides. (crayfish molting can be used)

Day 14: Explore & Explain

Pet Care Professions
The teacher will review with students different types of pets and the needs of these pets (use charts created.) Teacher will guide students in identifying jobs that help meet pets’ needs. Teacher will begin a chart of “Pet Care Professions.” Jobs include: veterinarian, groomer, kennel operator, pet-supply-store clerk, obedience trainer, blacksmith, pet sitter, animal control officer, and animal shelter manager. Discuss which of the professionals are scientists and which are not – note on the chart. After discussing the different types of jobs teacher will tell students they are going to focus on one of the scientist professions specifically – veterinarians.

Teacher will show students the different books about veterinarians. 
A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian
Community Helpers- Veterinarians
Veterinarians Help Keep Animals Healthy
I Want to Be A Veterinarian

Students will work in a small group (3-4 students) to read the book together. When they finish reading each group will create a shutter foldable that tells about what they have learned about veterinarians. The outside of the shutter will illustrate a veterinarian. The inside will list facts about the profession. Instructions on foldable can be found at:

Students will share what they learned about veterinarians. The teacher will list facts on the “Pet Care Professions” chart began earlier.

 Day 14

Day 15: Elaborate

Guest speakers – veterinary technicians

Three veterinary technicians will visit the class with three companion dogs. The veterinarians will work with small groups of students (6-7 students.) They will model a well check up using tools on the dog sharing with students what vets look for in animals during check ups. The vets will also discuss types of tools they use during check-ups. Students will take notes in their science notebooks. Vets will discuss how dogs can be companion animals to help humans. After the small groups complete the check ups, vets will remind students of things that are important for animals like eating healthy and exercise. Vets will take small group of students with the companion dog on an exercise walk around the school building so that students can participate in exercise with the animals – something they both need.

Day 15 Day 15

Day 15

Day 16: Elaborate

Case studies of sick animals - can humans have the same or similar problems?

Students will work in pairs and read the different case studies in the ER Vet: Life in an Animal Emergency Room. In a whole group setting the teacher will ask students about the different problems/illnesses the animals in the book encountered, and have students list them on a chart. Teacher will ask students to identify which of the problems could also affect humans and note these by placing a check on the chart by those the students identify as potential problems for humans.

Computer model – Bart and puppy (human and dog comparison)

Day 16 Day 16

Day 17: Explore & Explain

Pet Care Adds Up
Materials – pet supply catalogs, websites, and circulars, and information provided by local veterinarians

Students will listen to a guest speaker – manager from a local pet store. He will discuss the costs of owning a pet. The speaker will share costs of buying a fish and the supplies needed for the pet. He will also discuss prices of other items for other pets.

The teacher will explain to students that a major factor in pet selection is the cost of caring for a pet. Teacher will divide students into small groups based on student’s choice of pet and resources to research. Teacher will give each group a book about caring for their pet to help them determine the needs of their pet. Each group will make a list of expenses associated with the pet they have been chosen. This list should include food, supplies, adoption, vaccinations, licensing, spaying/neutering, grooming, and boarding fees.

*Extension: instead of using pet supply catalogs a fieldtrip can be arranged to a local pet store to collect data of pet care costs. Pet store internet websites will also give cost information.

Days 18 to 24: Evaluate

Integration: Study the genre of non-fiction during writing workshop time to prepare students for summative project.

Introduce and begin summative project

Students will create a pet care book. Pages of the book will include:
• Type of pet
• What pet eats
• What type of exercise
• Other needs
• Compare and contrast people needs/issues with pets needs
• Costs to have pet
• Preventive Care
• Fun Facts page
• What type of person is best suited for this kind of pet?


Students will create a pet care podcast synthesizing information learned from the unit on a chosen pet. podcast will include: (photos, videos, drawings, oral narrative)
• Type of pet
• What pet eats
• What type of exercise
• Other needs
• Compare and contrast people needs/issues with pets needs
• Costs to have pet
• Preventive Care
• Fun Facts 
• What type of person is best suited for this kind of pet?

Written Post-Assessment

Day 18 Day 18

Day 18

Day 25: Project Presentations

Project Presentations

Day 25 Day 25

Day 25 Day 25

Day 25

Student self-assessment

The project described is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIH . . . Turning Discovery Into Health

Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of ORIP or NIH.