Pick a Pet

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

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • 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 I. Understands the structure and function of cells and organisms
2. Knows that plants and animals have features that help them live in different environments
Standard 6. Level I. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment
2. Knows that living things are found almost everywhere in the world and that distinct environments support the life of different types of plants and animals
Standard 6. Level I. Understands and applies basic and advanced concepts of statistics and data analysis
1. Collects and represents information about objects or events in simple graphs
2. Understands that one can find out about a group of things by studying just a few of them
Language Arts
Standard 1. Level I. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
7. Writes in a variety of forms or genres (e.g., picture books, friendly letters, stories, poems, information pieces, invitations, personal experience narratives, messages, responses to literature)
8. Writes for different purposes (e.g., to entertain, inform, learn, communicate ideas)
Standard 4. Level I. Gathers and uses information for research purposes
1. Generates questions about topics of personal interest
2. Uses a variety of sources to gather information (e.g., informational books, pictures, charts, indexes, videos, television programs, guest speakers, Internet, own observation)


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.

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