Unit Overviews

Environments and Habitats

Levels: 1-2

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Environments and Habitats is a visual art unit that explores the artistic element of texture through an investigation into the environments and habitats that a variety of animal species live in. Students will develop their knowledge of animal welfare by learning about what different types of animals need to be comfortable, safe, happy and healthy in the environments and habitats that they live in. They will then communicate this learning through the creation of two art pieces.

Sound Proof Hiding Places

Levels: 1-2

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This STEM unit presents students with the challenge of designing a safe and comfortable hiding place for a cat to retreat to when they are feeling afraid or stressed, particularly by loud noises. Providing for a cat's welfare by giving them freedom from fear and distress and freedom to express their normal behaviour by ensuring they have a safe place to hide in stressful situations, gives students a real life context to engage in the technological design process, using science and mathematics concepts to inform their technological outcomes.

4 Walls and 5 Freedoms

Levels: 1-3

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The concept of well-being encompasses the physical, mental and emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of health. Hauora is a Māori philosophy of health that is based on a holistic health model. In this unit students explore hauora by observing well-being models such as Dr Mason Durie’s whare tapa whā.  Students are introduced to the concept of animal sentience and explore the five freedoms, learning about what animals need to stay healthy and happy.

Students will learn that animals have needs just like humans, and that these needs include food, water, companionship, a suitable place to live, being looked after by a vet if they are ill, and the freedom to express normal behaviour. Students then design their own holistic health models illustrating the dimensions of animal well-being.

Animal Care Product Designers

Levels: 1-4

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In this meaningful technological challenge students become ‘animal care product designers’ assigned the task of designing, producing, trialling and evaluating an animal care product that makes life better for their own companion animal or animals at their local SPCA. The product will need to help to provide the selected animal(s) with at least one of the five freedoms.

Students will have to research the five freedoms and the needs of the specific animal(s) they wish to create a product for. Using their research to inform their product design, students will complete a design brief, create a prototype, then evaluate their prototype, before creating the final product.Once their product is completed, learning could be extended further into exploring product packaging and product advertising to target audiences.

Community Heroes

Levels: 1-4

  • A voice for the animals

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This social inquiry unit uses SPCA as a context- exemplar to support students’ learning of charities and other non-profit organisations who make significant positive contributions to the community. Students create a list of people and organisations that use their skills, resources and time to help others. Students will then choose a ‘community hero’ from this list to research further.Working in groups students will research their selected ‘community hero’ as well as their hero’s contributions to their community, this could be in social, animal welfare, economic, cultural, political, and/or environmental ways.

The second component of the unit encourages students to support the work their hero does and/or thank their ‘community heroes’ for the contributions they make to their community.

Dancing Feelings

Levels: 1-4

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This unit uses dance as a tool to identify the core needs of humans and animals and understand how emotions and feelings can change in response to these. Students will integrate thinking, moving, and emotion to effectively express feelings and emotions as they tell the story of an animal’s journey. Throughout the learning experiences students will extend their skills in performance, choreography, reflection and critical response, whilst developing empathy for other students and animals through exploration and understanding of commonly-shared emotions and feelings...

Game Makers

Levels: 1-4

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Students become ‘board game manufacturers’ who have been assigned the task of designing, producing, trialing and evaluating a board game that will help people learn key animal care messages, in a fun and interesting way. Students will need to research an area of animal care to base their game, complete a design brief, create a game board, make any playing pieces that are needed and write the playing instructions. They may work alone or in a small group.

Once their games are completed, then the real fun can begin! Students can demonstrate and then lend their games to other classes or set up a game playing station in their classroom, school library, public library, school office foyer or local community centre.

Single Session Lesson Plans

Levels: 1-4

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We know that it is not always possible to complete a full unit from our Teachers' Portal based on various factors that go into selecting learning contexts in schools. The aim of these one session lessons is to allow teachers to incorporate animal welfare and responsible animal guardianship messages into a variety of learning contexts that they may already be covering.

Each lesson plan includes a brief explanation of what learning context the lesson may be incorporated, links to the relevant NZC achievement objectives, the learning intentions, a lesson sequence, a list of resources needed and supporting templates, where necessary.

SPCA's Problem Solving Task Cards

Levels: 2-3

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Each of SPCA's Problem Solving Task Cards has a question that applies the use of mathematics to a real life context of animal guardianship (ownership). The aim of these cards is to show students how the use of mathematics is necessary when considering whether to adopt an animal and also when you are an animal guardian.

Animal Companion Costs

Levels: 2-4

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Often, the match between a companion animal and a family is not successful if emotions are the primary factor involved when choosing a pet. Consideration of the cost and time involved in caring for a companion animal are usually overlooked during spontaneous adoptions or purchases, and in some cases, the animal ends up being given away, neglected, or even abandoned.

In this inquiry unit students use online tools to learn about the costs of having a companion animal whilst developing their numeracy skills; carrying out simple calculations and budgeting. By learning to consider all factors and make appropriate decisions, children can develop important skills that are vital to becoming responsible animal guardians both today and in the future.

A Voice for the Animals

Levels: 2-4

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Advertising is a powerful part of our culture; catch phrases and references to popular commercials often end up in our daily dialogue. Short, dramatic presentations of persuasive language and imagery of effective advertising campaigns have the power to influence peoples’ attitudes and behavior.In this unit students explore and investigate an animal welfare issue or concern.

During this unit, students will examine television commercials and analyze how they work by identifying their purpose, their target audience and any effective verbal and/or visual features that have been used. Students then combine these understandings to produce their own commercial to educate their community on a selected animal welfare issue and/or persuade them to change their behaviour(s) in relation to this issue.

Animal Portrayals - Stereotypes and Misconceptions

Levels: 3-4

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This unit explores the way animals are portrayed in several sources of oral, visual and written language that students will commonly be exposed to in life. While there are many contrasting messages about animals in the various source types discussed and we do not want to generalise, this unit highlights just some examples of the inaccurate or negative stereotypes and misconceptions they contain. Through exploring these examples, this unit aims to give students the curiosity and skills to begin to look for other animal related messages they see in visual, oral and written language with a more critical lens to recognise where there are inaccuracies.

Conscious Consumers

Levels: 3-4

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This unit explores how conscious consumers can use their purchasing power to have a positive influence on the world around them. Students will explore the needs of farmed animals and how the five freedoms extend further than just our companion animals. This will lead them to learn about the different farming systems in New Zealand, specifically layer hens, meat chickens and pigs, and marketing of animal food products, including eggs, chicken meat and pork.

Students will learn about the SPCA Certified and other certification and accreditation schemes. This includes ways students can make informed purchasing decisions and encourage others to do so too.

Conscious Cooking

Levels: 3-4

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SPCA would like to see all animals farmed in New Zealand cared for in a way that provides them a high standard of animal welfare. A barrier that prevents some consumers from buying animal food products that have been farmed to the highest animal welfare standards is their higher financial cost. The problem that society faces is that consumers must be able to feed their families within their means but the continuing demand for cheap animal food products perpetuates farming systems that do not adhere to the highest animal welfare standards. In this cross-curricular unit, students will be tasked with the challenge of developing a nutritionally balanced weekly meal plan that only uses chicken meat, pork and egg products that are independently animal welfare certified against high animal welfare standards and is still affordable.

Freeze Proof Water Bowls

Levels: 3-4

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Freeze proof water bowls is a STEM unit that has been designed to address a real-world problem using the context of responsible animal guardianship (ownership). A problem that is faced by animal guardians (owners) who live in colder areas is animal water sources freezing over in the winter months. Students will work collaboratively, using technological practices and knowledge to design a potential solution to this problem. As they work through this unit towards a potential solution, they will engage with scientific concepts related to heat transfer and the physical properties of different materials. They will also engage with mathematics as they work with measuring and comparing temperatures and graphing their results.

Heat Proof Water Bowls

Levels: 3-4

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Heat proof water bowls is a STEM unit that has been designed to address a real-world problem using the context of responsible animal guardianship (ownership). A problem that is faced by animal guardians (owners) who live in hotter areas is their animals' water sources becoming too hot for the animals to want to drink it during the summer months. Students will work collaboratively, using technological practices and knowledge to design a potential solution to this problem. As they work through this unit towards a potential solution, they will engage with scientific concepts related to heat transfer and the physical properties of different materials. Students will also engage with mathematics as they work with measuring and comparing temperatures and graphing their results.

Kind Conservation

Levels: 3-4

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Kind Conservation is a science and social studies unit that focuses on the impact that humans have on the environment and the flora and fauna of New Zealand. Students will begin by learning about the unique species that make up the native fauna of New Zealand and how these species evolved and adapted to their environment over time. They will then consider how human actions have caused environmental changes that have in turn impacted on the wildlife that lived here for thousands of years prior to the arrival of humans. With the understanding that humans have caused the changes that have impacted on wildlife, students will then consider what humans can do to help wildlife thrive again and how humans and wildlife can positively co-exist.

Making a Difference

Levels: 4

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This is a social studies unit that focuses on how attitudes towards animals and their welfare have changed over the last two centuries. Students explore how people, both individually and collectively, in he past and present, take action to improve the welfare of animals and bring about changes to prevent cruelty, promote kindness and alleviate suffering of animals in their communities.

Students will learn about the earliest animal welfare legislation, the formation of SPCA nd how individuals strove to make change for animals, in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Sudents will then be provided with different animal contexts and investigate how attitudes towards animals have evolved within these contexts. The latter half of the unit focuses on the present day and aims to inspire students to become active citizens in their own communities.

Telling Animal Stories Through Colour

Levels: 4

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Telling Animal Stories Through Colour is a visual art unit that explores the theme of animal sentience and the use of colour in art to evoke different moods and emotions. Students will create one or two pieces of art which tell the story of an animal whose life has seen change from a situation of hardship, cruelty or neglect to one of responsible animal guardianship and happiness. They will explore the use of colour in art and how they can select colours for their art which reflect the mood and the emotions of the animal in the different stages of their life. This unit offers teachers some flexibility as there are a few different mediums this piece would lend itself to and teachers can choose one that will suit the needs of their students.

Writers' Corner

Describe it

Levels: 1-6

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Animal welfare is an authentic context for students to develop their writing skills and understandings of procedural writing purposes and processes. Each of the learning experiences (lessons) lead to the creation of a product that links with at least one of the five freedoms. On completion of the product, students then write the instructions for how it was created. Students must consider audience, purpose, context, length, and complexity – plus the specific content of the instructions, such as the steps in caring for a kitten.

Explain it

Levels: 1-6

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Animal welfare is an authentic context for students to develop their writing skills and understandings of explanation writing purposes and processes. The learning experiences within this unit encourage students to focus on a specific animal well-being topic, choose a particular question about that topic, then research using a variety of resources to explore and answer the question in detail. Students then create a written explanation of the animal well-being topic.

Persuade me

Levels: 1-6

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Animal welfare issues range from local, national and international levels. The daily actions of every one of us, directly and indirectly affect animals and their welfare. Consequently, there are a vast degree of viewpoints, social and ethical dilemmas surrounding animal welfare. Such a context will encourage students to see their writing as meaningful and a useful way to express their opinions, feelings, needs and desires.

Recount it

Levels: 1-6

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Animal welfare and responsible animal guardianship are authentic contexts for students to develop their writing skills and understandings of writing purposes and processes. The learning experiences within this unit encourage students to research, reflect and write to retell, record and communicate their thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences about various animal welfare themed topics.