SOUTH WHITLEY, IN — Kindergarten students at SWE welcomed 2 new additions to the classroom on Thursday afternoon, dutch rabbits. The rabbits are an extension of a Whitko course, Project Lead the Way (PLTW). The class focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, but they will also be the new responsibility of the kindergarten students.
Teachers Ashley Roberts, Vicki Sprunger, and Krista Busz planned a reveal day for the students that included four rabbit stations. Two of the stations focused on interacting with the new rabbits in their habitat. Diane Keirn and Tammy Sprunger taught the students to learn how to hold the rabbits, pet them, and remain calm around them. The dutch breed rabbits are smaller in size and have a very distinct color pattern of black and white with white mittens on their front and rear feet.
The other two stations, hosted by Sprunger and Busz, focused on making a craft and reading a book about rabbits and enjoying a snack.
“It is our hope that the entire school gets to enjoy this space,” Roberts said. “It was created to teach kindergartners to observe animal patterns, how to take care of a space and animals, and to learn about what living things (plants and animals) need to survive The idea for a rabbit habitat came about when the kindergarten teachers and I discussed different ways we could use the courtyard and have the students become more involved with nature.”
In the center of the Rabbit Habitat is a mural created by Dewey Thong-Umphai. The mural has a rock path, running water, hibiscus plants and even a butterfly. Thong-Umphai has used his artistry in years past to assist with murals at Whitko Community Schools.
While the students are learning responsibility in the classroom, Diane Keirn had some advice for parents at home. She encouraged parents to allow their children to practice holding a rabbit by using a stuffed animal. She also said that every student could provide “fresh clean water” to their own pets. “All animals need fresh clean water each and every day,” she said.
Whitko Community Schools wishes to thank everyone for their contributions to the rabbit habitat. In addition to those mentioned earlier, thank you to the Whitley County Master Gardeners for their generous funding donations and assistance by creating a garden for pumpkin plants; and special thanks to Bryan Sprunger for building the enclosure for the rabbit habitat which includes a beautiful fence to separate the rabbits from the student play area.