When I taught third grade in an inner city school, I knew the children needed something to love, but being a city girl, my love of animals was deficient. That is when my husband helped me to set up an aquarium. I purchased a water heater, a bubblier, chemicals, plants, fish food, and of course the fish! Little did I know what effect this would have on my munchkins.
Every day, the children would enter the room, go over to the fish tank, and talk to the fish. Each fish had a name, and being the fish keeper became the prized chore. Even though we couldn't pet the fish, they were loved by every child, and they brought a sense of family to my classroom. Naturally, one of the fish died, but it allowed us, as a class, to mourn together.
When a guest entered our room, s/he had to be formally introduced to the fish. They became the focal point of the classroom. But there was something else that transpired that truly surprised me. The fish had a calming effect on my student who had a behavior disorder. If his desk were moved near the aquarium, he would sit quietly and actually do some of his work without disruption.
At the end of the year, the remaining fish made their way to my home where they spent the summer with my husband's critters. Unfortunately, they failed to calm the cockroaches into silence! But all six survived to be in third grade again!
Thanks for letting me share!