It's no secret that my classroom theme is pandas and bamboo. It came to me very randomly, but I absolutely love it. Manda Panda is a huge part of our class and the kids really love her. She sits in our reading corner and they love to cuddle with her during reading time.
One day last year, my principal sent me an email she had received from WWF about their symbolic adoptions and it caught my eye because the animal they were promoting in that email was the panda. I thought about it over the weekend and tried to come up with a way to include my students in a symbolic adoption without asking parents for donations. It came to me as I was shopping to replenish my treasure box. (If you haven't read about the reward system I use in my classroom, go check it out now!).
The kids were already sensitive to the plea of endangered species as we had discussed it in science, so when I came to them with the idea, they were extremely interested. We decided to close the Mathis Store for a few weeks and the kids gave me donations from their Mathis Dollars. Instead of spending money to replenish the store, I spent the money on adopting a panda. We received a plush panda, a poster, an adoption certificate and bookmarks. The kids were so proud and just thrilled with their decision.
That lead to more adoptions. That same year, we also adopted a shark and a caribou. This year, my new students had heard all about it and begged to adopt more animals together. We've adoped a tiger and a polar bear so far.
I made learning about these animals part of my lessons for a few weeks and got the kids really excited. The plush animals sit on my desk during the week, and on the Friday, I pick kids randomnly to take them home for the weekend. At the end of the year, I'll have a draw for who gets to keep the plus animals and the posters. They're already discussing which animal we'll adopt next!