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Hermit crabs and fish might not be the first choice for a wonder pet, but some students think they’re pretty cool.
A few goldfish make their home in the library at Creekside Elementary School in Sonora. Susan McEwen said they might not be used too much for teaching but they often calm the students or are a way to get someone new to open up and feel more comfortable.
“Every child that comes in the library will gravitate to the fish tank,” McEwen said. “They all seem to love watching them and they ask daily if they can feed them.”
Sometimes the fish will come to the top so fast that the students get splashed while feeding them.
“I tell them that sometimes they get a shower for free,” McEwen said.
She tells the students they have to talk to the fish while they feed them. The kids will say “hey there, are you guys hungry?” or “do you want some food?”
While it’s hard to measure a swimming fish, she thinks the two biggest are 7 to 8 inches long. An orange fantail, a calico fantail, a black moor and an orange and white wakin are all in the tank.
Through having the fish they’ve learned black moor are sight-impaired because the location of their eyes. Because of that, the kids watch to make sure the moor is getting food.
“We often see him tucking himself in next to a larger fish, almost like he is using it as a guide to find the food,” McEwen said.
And students sometimes offer McEwen well-intentioned advice on caring for the fish. A student told her she wouldn’t have to clean her fish tank if she got an “allergy” eater because the “allergy” eaters would eat all the dirt.
At Heartland Elementary School in Elizabethtown, Maryjane Boes’ preschool class has had hermit crabs in the classroom for 10 years.
“Mrs. Debbie Wells, preschool paraprofessional, does a great job bringing pets into the classroom and leading the children to take care of them,” Boes said.
Boes will get the hermit crabs out to walk on the table as the children make a circle so the crabs cannot fall off.
“We are also very interested in any wildlife that comes into our outdoor space, whether in our garden or playground,” Boes said. “We have found many insects, frogs and lizards and usually bring them in to explore for a while before they are released again outside.”
The fish tank in Emily Wilcoxson’s preschool classroom at North Park Elementary in Radcliff has five fish and four hermit crabs.
The fish add a calming effect as students watch the fish swim and hear the sounds of the tank, she said.
The fish tank is located between the reading and science center. The students are curious about them and look at books on how to care for the crabs. They also help start conversations between the students.
“A lot of children squeal when the crabs start moving around,” Wilcoxson said.
Thankfully they have never gotten loose.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.