Pick a Pet

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, October 5, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Graphic Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Lesson Time

Two fifty-minute class periods


In this lesson, students will design informational materials to educate people on the importance of matching a new pet to the family's lifestyle and living arrangements.

National Standards

Standard 5. Level II. Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms 2. Knows that living organisms have distinct structures and body systems that serve specific functions in growth, survival, and reproduction (e.g., various body structures for walking, flying, or swimming) 3. Knows that the behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues (e.g., hunger) and external cues (e.g., changes in the environment), and that humans and other organisms have senses that help them to detect these cues Standard 6. Level II. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment 3. Knows that an organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment (e.g., kinds and numbers of other organisms present, availability of food and resources, physical characteristics of the environment) 4. Knows that changes in the environment can have different effects on different organisms (e.g., some organisms move in, others move out; some organisms survive and reproduce, others die) 5. Knows that all organisms (including humans) cause changes in their environments, and these changes can be beneficial or detrimental 
Standard 6. Level II. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis 1. Understands that data represent specific pieces of information about real-world objects or activities 4. Organizes and displays data in simple bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs 5. Reads and interprets simple bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs
Language Arts
Standard 1. Level II. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process 5. Uses strategies (e.g., adapts focus, organization, point of view; determines knowledge and interests of audience) to write for different audiences (e.g., self, peers, teachers, adults) 6. Uses strategies (e.g., adapts focus, point of view, organization, form) to write for a variety of purposes (e.g., to inform, entertain, explain, describe, record ideas) Standard 4. Level II. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 1. Uses a variety of strategies to plan research (e.g., identifies possible topic by brainstorming, listing questions, using idea webs; organizes prior knowledge about a topic; develops a course of action; determines how to locate necessary information) 7. Uses strategies to gather and record information for research topics (e.g., uses notes, maps, charts, graphs, tables, and other graphic organizers; paraphrases and summarizes information; gathers direct quotes; provides narrative descriptions) 8. Uses strategies to compile information into written reports or summaries (e.g., incorporates notes into a finished product; includes simple facts, details, explanations, and examples; draws conclusions from relationships and patterns that emerge from data from different sources; uses appropriate visual aids and media)


Students will do the following:
  • use critical thinking skills to make a decision on the appropriate choice for a family pet
  • analyze information about various pets
  • collect, organize, represent and interpret data
  • design informational materials to educate people on the variables involved in pet selection


  • "What Kind of Pet is Best For Me?" worksheet


  • paper
  • writing utensils


Building Background Graphing Pets

The purpose of this activity is to activate students' knowledge about pets. 1. Involve students in a class discussion about pets. 2. As a class, generate a list of the types of animals that people own, i.e., dogs, birds, fish, farm animals, etc. 3. Have the students complete a class survey regarding pets. Ask the students to answer these two questions:
  • What pets do you own?
  • If you could own any pet, what would it be?
4. Plot the results onto two graphs. 5. Discuss the graphs. The following is a list of suggested questions:
  • Are there any columns on the chart that don't contain animals?
  • Which group has the largest number of animals?
  • Which group has the least number of animals?
  • Were you surprised by any of the survey results?

Steps for Learning What Pet is Best for Me?

In this activity, students will research what pets are best suited to people's lifestyles and create informational materials to help people make an educated decision when selecting a family pet. 1. Tell students that every year thousands of pets are abandoned and/or given to animal shelters. Explain that the majority of these pets are euthanized. Involve the class in a discussion about the reasons for this phenomenon. 2. Pass out the list of questions below. Ask students to answer the questions based on the question, "If you could own any pet, what would it be?"
  • Do you have room for this pet inside of your house?
  • Does this pet need a lot of outside space?
  • How many people live in your house?
  • Do you have a "no pet" rule where you live?
  • Do you have young children living in your house?
  • Is anyone in your house allergic to pets?
  • Do you have many strangers coming to your house?
  • How much time do you have to spend with a pet?
  • How much money do you want to spend on a pet?
  • How much time do you want to spend training a pet?
  • How much time do you want to spend grooming a pet?
  3. Ask students to consider whether they think the pet they chose would be a good choice based on the answers to the questions. 4. Provide time for students to share their answers with the class. 5. Break the class into small groups. Tell students that they are going to create informational materials to educate people on the complexities involved in deciding what pet is best suited to their family's wants, needs, and living situation. 6. Ask groups to complete the "What Kind of Pet is Best for Me?" handout as they create the brochure. Teacher Note: If you are completing this activity with younger students, you may choose to complete it as a whole-class activity.


Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric. -How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-Rate how effectively you analyzed the information you used to create your materials. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-Rate the quality of your materials. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor-How effective was your campaign? Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

Activity One: Pet Brochures
Have students work in small groups to create a pet care brochure. Ask groups to select one of the categories from the first activity and research the characteristics of the animal and what people need to know about caring for that particular pet.
Activity Two: Field Trip
Take your class on a field trip to a local animal shelter.
  1. Many students have pets. Those who do not, would like to have one. This design lesson will teach students about the characteristics and habitats of animals as pets. This lesson can be incorporated into the science curriculum where students are required to laern about animals and their habitats. They will also become experts at choosing the best pet and teaching others how to do so.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.