Purchase photos

Critters part of the education





Stacie Zimmerman, Wilson Elementary School third grade teacher, readily admits to having class pets.

In fact she has two -- Miss Piggy and Babe. They're guinea pigs who live in a cage in a corner of Zimmerman's classroom.

The pair was four weeks old when she got them during spring break 2013.

"We celebrate their birthday on my birthday, then I can keep it (the date) straight," Zimmerman said. "We made little birthday hats for them and had a little party for them."

Zimmerman takes the pets home on weekends and holidays, but the students help care for them during the week.

"We have guinea pig jobs. We get to feed hay to them and fill their water bottles," Kyreese Groen said.

The students fill the animals' water bottles every morning. Besides hay Miss Piggy and Babe eat pellets and salad greens.

"They eat quite a bit. They're spoiled," Zimmerman said.

Having the classroom pets isn't just about feeding and watering them.

"They just get to hold them," Zimmerman said.

The students take turns sitting at the front of the classroom holding the pets while Zimmerman reads aloud to the class, usually for 15 minutes.

"That's caring for them too," Zimmerman said.

Several of the students said helping care for Miss Piggy and Babe has helped them learn how to take care of their own pets at home.

"They're fun to watch playing and climbing on their 'house' inside the cage and jumping off," Logan Chance said.

The pets have been adopted by others like school secretary Mia Knoll, their honorary godmother.

"It's really nice to have them for company," Danica Sheve said. "They like to talk to us. They make noises."