The Vet Project

A Project by Three-, Four-, and Five-Year-Old Children at Bright Beginnings, Woodford County Special Education Association, Eureka, Illinois

Length of project: 8 weeks
Teachers:  Pam Scranton, Brenda Wiles

Phase One—Beginning the Project

The Vet Project began when one of the children, during morning group time, cried because he had to leave his kitty at the vet's to be neutered. After talking through the experience as a group, the rest of the children couldn't let go of the subject and continued to talk about David's kitty the rest of the morning. The next day we talked about the possibility of going to a vet clinic, and the children began asking questions and predicting what we would see. Kati shouted, "You better start writing, Teacher!" We started making a list of what they knew about a vet clinic. I discovered that they had a limited "vet vocabulary." We decided to go to the library to choose some research materials.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

After the trip to the library, the children began reading the vet books and had some discussions about what kinds of animals we would see at the vet's. Some of the children thought that we would see monkeys, zebras, cows, and pigs. We made our beginning web and prepared interview questions for the vet. On the actual field experience, the children were divided into two groups. Those children most interested and involved in the project were responsible for graphing certain aspects of the clinic, recording answers to their questions, and sketching parts of the clinic. The expert, Dr. Marge, took the children through a typical exam and the children manipulated lots of the vet tools. After we returned to the classroom, the children began to make plans to construct their own vet clinic. They used their field sketches and photographs taken on the field experience to construct, using boxes and the various scrounge items that parents brought into the classroom. The small group of children building the clinic was very concerned with making the clinic look as close to the one they had visited as possible, and they had to problem solve through the construction of key pieces of the clinic. This same group also visited the high school art class where the art students encouraged them to model with clay and represent the animals they saw at the vet clinic.

Phase ThreeConcluding the Project

As the month of May approached, the dramatic play that had been so intense a few weeks earlier began to wane. I gathered the project group together, and they decided to take down the vet clinic. We made another web and found that they knew a lot more "vet words" now and could tell anyone the important parts in a vet clinic and why they were needed. We made a list of their ideas about sharing their learning with their parents and the ECE class next door. The group decided to make a book. They then made a list of important things they wanted included in the book. They collected the displayed drawings and graphs from the walls for processing into the vet book.


This project mushroomed so quickly that it surprised me! The community of Eureka became so involved in the vet project, and it was so exciting to watch it happen! The clinic itself was very accommodating to the project group's needs that day; the art students at the high school did a wonderful job supporting the children as they attempted clay for the first time; some education majors at Eureka College spent time helping the children record their vet experiences in journals; and our parents were wonderful with all their donations for the construction of the vet clinic and giving of their time in the classroom as the children investigated.


drawing of a vet


meeting a horse

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