New Special Educational Needs resource on cats and dogs

On the cover of the Cats, Dogs and Us materials are seven-year-old boy Owen and his dog Haatchi, who won the 2012 Animal Action Awards Animal of the Year for his work helping young Owen.This month, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is launching a new, free, all-age Special Schools resource entitled Cats, Dogs and Us.

The new learning tools for students aged from two to 19 focuses on learning about cats and dogs as well as ourselves.

Cats and dogs can provide great friendship to our students and through this resource, teachers will be able to teach students how to return that friendship. In learning about cats and dogs, students will also find things useful to their own lives, such as how we express emotions and what we all need to be happy and healthy.

It is widely accepted that most children have an affinity for, or at least interest in, animals and curiosity about nature, meaning that lessons with animal content are more likely to capture students’ attention. This is no different for children with special educational needs, and through this pack, teachers will be able to share the personal stories of children who have a special bond with their pet. Cats and dogs have been shown to be incredibly important to children with special needs and disabilities, with studies demonstrating that animals can provide a conduit to helping develop children’s emotional needs, social skills and communication.

The online pack includes a colourful magazine to share with students and lesson plans focusing on different areas of the curriculum including drama, citizenship, literacy, PE, PSHE and science.

Accompanying the lesson plans are a number of supporting resources and activities, including songs about cats and dogs, animal sensory experiences to explore with  students, symbols to support communication, role-play activities and suggestions for a public performance based on students’ learning.

We hope teachers will find something for every one of their students in this pack, including those who access their learning in a purely sensory way and those achieving at a level equivalent to their mainstream peers.


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project