WHAT IS SHARING HOME?
Sharing Home is a collection of 101 humane education lesson plans for elementary through high school grades. Most of the lessons are based on one or more true short stories about animals that demonstrate their intelligence, emotions, and amazing abilities. The stories are followed by questions and activities that promote critical thinking, along with suggestions for what students can do to help the species of animal or the issue that is the subject of the lesson. Many lessons include a Background Information section. The lessons teach students to use critical thinking to align their choices with their values in order to save the planet.
The lessons are categorized by grade and subject according to the National Common Core Standards* at educationworld.com/standards and the standards for math education published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (www.nctm.org). The character values each lesson teaches are also listed in each lesson, just below the grade levels and subjects.
Most of the lessons can be adjusted to suit a lower or higher grade level by substituting simpler or more difficult vocabulary in the story and by adjusting the activities. Click on HOW TO USE THESE LESSONS below to see an example.
(*Note to teachers: The common core standards are subject to change at any time. Teachers who require precise matches between classifications and the most current standards should re-check the classifications in the lessons they download against the most recent listing of standards.)
The ADDITIONAL RESOURCES section includes FREE FACT SHEETS for use with the lessons, 2 Natural World Charts (one of Kingdoms and Phyla, the other of Vertebrates), a Puppet Primer with suggestions for scripts teachers can use to put on educational, entertaining puppet shows and a Caring Consumer Wallet Card teachers can make copies of to hand out to their students. One page shows a single card and another shows multiple cards. Every student should receive a copy of the card to take with them when they go shopping, to help them make choices that are aligned with their beliefs in order to help create a better world.
The fact sheets that support each lesson are listed near the top of the lesson. Fact sheet topics are:
List of Emotions
Animals in Entertainment
Animal Experimentation and Xenotransplantation
Animal Senses and Abilities
Animals Working for Humans
Farmed Animal Sentience and Intelligence
Fishing and Marine Issues
Food Chains and Webs
The Fur Industry
Human Impact on the Natural Environment
Humane Science Projects and Alternatives to Dissection
Hunting and Trapping
Rae is the co-founder of the International Institute for Humane Education (IHE) and co-founder of Plant Peace Daily and Vegfund. She designed and led hundreds of humane education programs and seminars to train educators in the U.S. and abroad, and co-designed and taught a Master’s degree program in humane education. She is the co-author of Sowing Seeds, a Humane Education Workbook and Plant Peace Daily, Everyday Outreach for People Who Care. She has been a frequent public speaker and media guest on humane issues and the power of the individual to make a difference for all life.
When people ask how I came to this work, I tell them my path is about my heart. I survived a traumatic early childhood supported by the love of a rescued dog named Sandy. As a teen, most of society would have considered me “a lost cause.” In the wilderness, among wild things and free of human noise and influence, I found peace and self-acceptance. Those experiences gave me the strength to find my way.
I have been saved by a dog, an otter, and wild places. When I was terrified of all animals at age 5, a little dog named Sandy looked in my eyes and connected with the less fearful part of me. Years later, when I had given up on my life’s work, an otter showed up inches away from me to remind me how important it is to use my voice for all species. The very first place I felt at home was in Yosemite National Park as a teen with a backpack I found in the trash. Three weeks of hiking in the mountains gave me life. Throughout my adult life my purpose has been using my heart and mind to speak for all life. When I feel despair at seeing what we humans have done to this earth and all its inhabitants, the choices are to give up or speak up.
A truck passes filled with old growth trees that have been cut down, another passes crammed with pigs in 90 degree heat, I learn of the sabotaging of the electric car, and in each case, I feel despair. I look into the eyes of a bird or an abused dog, or watch a snake move across the grass with such grace, and I long to make this a world where humans are not waging war on our own species, on our fellow beings, and with all life.
The only constructive response to despair is to act, to think outside the box and to assist others in doing the same. We humans are capable of caring, gratitude, creativity, and beauty, but we are also prone to self-centeredness, greed, abuse and judging others by appearance rather than more important qualities. For many, these judgmental and fearful attitudes and the desire to fit-in all too often win out over doing the right thing.
A desire to understand people’s daily choices led me to obtain a degree in cultural anthropology. My degree, combined with my knowledge of and connection to non-humans, led me away from a coveted position at a museum to pursue work with young people. Many, like myself, were considered “lost causes.”
I have seen what happens when young people are given the opportunity to be real, to answer what is truly in their hearts, to peek over the top of the box we have all created and see a new way. I have seen powerful transformations when they find something and someone to believe in. As they open their eyes to the possibility of caring for others, they also begin to care more about themselves. They become powerful agents for positive change in the world.
I chose activism as a means of dealing with the symptoms of our destructive choices, and educational work to help prevent such destructive choices. I co-founded the International Institute for Humane Education to teach adults how to help youth learn creative thinking and to live consciously, and with compassion for all. At its core, the humane education process is not about teaching young people what to think and how to live. It is about giving them tools to align their deepest compassionate values with their daily choices. And, it empowers them to share this potential with others in their lives.
I want to send a message to all humans to wake up to the non-human world around them and see ourselves as part of that world rather than opposed to it.
We protect who and what we love. As young people and adults find connection with the natural world, they come to love it. And, with that love, their desire to preserve and protect it comes naturally. We must never give up the hope of co-creating a world that is not at war within our own species, with other species, and with all life.
Background Section of Lessons
Some lessons have Background sections. Teachers can convey the information in these sections to students by reading these sections to the class, or by calling on individual students to take turns reading passages from these sections out loud to the entire class.
Adjusting Lessons for Age Appropriateness
These lessons can be used for all ages by adjusting the activities, vocabulary, length, and depth of each lesson. Each lesson can also be used in numerous subject areas. For example, a lesson written with an apparent focus on history can be adjusted for use as an art lesson. Below are several examples of how to modify a lesson:
Here is a story written for an older audience:
Oscar, the cat, was not permitted on furniture, countertops, or near the baby’s crib. One day, Oscar began yowling loudly, but he could not get Kandy, the mother of the house, to pay attention to him. He jumped up on the counter next to where Kandy was washing the dishes, but she just scolded him and brushed him off the counter. It was only when he nipped her leg that Kandy realized Oscar was serious.
Oscar ran to the bedroom where Kandy’s four-month-old baby was sleeping, with Kandy right behind. Violating yet another rule, Oscar jumped up onto the changing table and from there to the baby’s crib. When Kandy reached the crib, she found the baby lying on his side, his face purple and his eyes tightly shut. He had spit up in his sleep and choked, and now appeared to have stopped breathing.
Kandy changed the baby’s position so air could enter his lungs. Once the crisis had passed, she realized that if Oscar had not alerted her, the baby would have choked to death.
And here is the same story told in a simpler way for a younger audience:
Kandy was home with her baby and her cat. Her cat’s name is Oscar. Oscar is not allowed on furniture, countertops, or near the baby’s crib. He obeys these rules. One day while Kandy was washing the dishes, Oscar began meowing loudly to get Kandy’s attention. Then he broke the rules and jumped on the counter next to Kandy. She pushed him off and told him he was bad. He tried many ways to get her attention and finally gave her a small nip on the leg so she would know he was. Then Oscar ran to the baby’s room and Kandy followed him. Once they were in the baby’s room, Oscar broke another house rule and jumped up on the changing table and from there, into the crib. When Kandy reached the crib, she saw that the baby had been choking and needed help. Kandy picked up the baby and patted him on the back to help him breathe. The baby was fine. Oscar saved the baby’s life.
Once a story has been simplified, the vocabulary can be adjusted. For the simplified story above, you could discuss the words highlighted in yellow. The changes are not only to vocabulary but also to content. Notice that some of the more frightening details have been removed.
Here is one of the activities in the lesson about Oscar.
Activity Two—Ask students the following questions:>
Have you ever broken the rules in order to do something that seemed important or “right”?
Can you think of people and situations in history where rules were broken to help people? (Examples are the Underground Railroad that enabled African Americans living in slavery in the south of the U.S. to escape to the north, where they could be free; Mahatma Gandhi’s urging Indians to make their own salt rather than pay taxes to the British for salt; people hiding Jews during the Holocaust; people hiding Native American children when the U.S. government tried to steal them and force them to live in camps where they were forbidden to learn their own language and culture; people picketing factories and stores in support of unions.)
Can you think of current situations in different parts of the world and in different population groups within cultures where people break rules or laws to help others? “Others” means humans, nonhuman animals, or any living thing, including trees, the coastline, or any other aspect of the environment. (Examples are people promoting women’s rights in countries that do not recognize women as equal to men; people rescuing animals kept in captivity and subjected to violent treatment; people blocking machinery set to destroy forests.)
In what circumstances do you think it is acceptable to break the rules to help someone and in what circumstances do you think it is not acceptable? For each circumstance, explain why.
For a younger audience, the following activity could accompany the simpler version of the story.
Questions for discussion:
Ask students if they have rules in their homes and, if so, ask them to list some of the rules. Pick some of the rules most of them have in common and discuss when they might break these rules in order to help someone.
For example, students might say they are not allowed to go outside alone. If they were home with their grandmother and she got hurt and needed help but could not walk, would it be acceptable to break this rule and leave the house to go ask a neighbor for help?
If they are not allowed to use the phone, would it be acceptable in this situation to use the phone?
For each rule they mention, ask them to think of times when they might have to break that rule for the safety or wellbeing of someone—themself or others. Discuss those situations with them.
The National Learning Standards do not specifically address the responsibility of humans toward other species because we, as a culture, have not yet embraced all those with whom we share our Earth home. Rather than perpetuate this lack of inclusiveness, we have listed some activities under the Social Sciences standards, although they were originally written to consider only human-to-human interactions.
Language reflects and creates culture, and culture reflects and creates language. Written and spoken language often reflects our lack of connectedness to and respect for all living beings. For example, our computers correct us when we refer to a nonhuman animal as “he” or “she,” changing “he” or “she” to “it”.
Language that implies that one race is superior to another is called racist. Language that implies that one sex is superior to another is called sexist. Language that implies that one species—usually the human species—is superior to another is called speciesist. Speciesist language is common in most human cultures. For example, the words “it” or “thing” or “something” are often used to refer to nonhuman animals but not human animals. Using the same terms for nonhuman animals as for inanimate objects like tables diminishes these animals.
We have chosen instead to use inclusive language in these lessons. Instead of “it,” for example, we use gender-neutral words like “they,” “them,” “he or she,” or “him or her,” although such usage may not fit current grammatical rules.
Sharing Home Resources
Resources used in creating these lessons are listed at the end of each lesson plan or fact sheet. The online resources are given in two forms: the full web address and an abbreviated web address. You will find it more convenient to enter the shortened address (TinyURL) in your browser.
Over time, the web address for a resource might change, making the article at the original web address inaccessible. For this reason, we also provide a link to an online archived version of the original article. Click on this link to see the archived resources for all lessons: sharinghome.org
Trash Investigators is a free sample lesson for younger grades.
Down the Road is a free sample lesson for older grades.
Students learn to respect, reuse and recycle, not waste the planet’s resources.
Students research the resources and energy required to create items they routinely consume, and how these items are eventually disposed of. They learn how our small, daily choices can have…
These fact sheets can be downloaded and printed at no charge.
Standard problems taught in math classes into which humane education has been incorporated, as an example of how humane education can be incorporated into any subject.
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Purchasers of CHAI’s permission to download the charity’s Sharing Home materials agree to not share the materials with other educators for use with their own students, post the materials publicly online for others to access, or use them in connection with a business or profit making activity. These actions would be in violation of our License policy.
Students will develop an awareness of and a new way of seeing the planet we call "home."
Students learn the meaning of an integrated, interdependent system, how Earth’s systems work together to sustain life, and human impact on those systems.
Students become more attuned to all their senses and discover a whole new world around them.
Through observation and silence, students become aware of previously unseen activity in the natural world around them.
Students connect with their senses and with trees in a new way.
Students evaluate stewardship/guardianship vs. dominion/ownership as a basis for decisions and decide which is more beneficial for living beings and the environment.
Students consider how to reduce our carbon footprint and be responsible stewards of the planet in light of the planet’s limited resources.
Students consider more sustainable ways to harness solar energy than fossil fuels.
Students learn to respect, reuse and recycle, not waste the planet’s resources.
Students examine the power of thoughts, words, and music on living beings.
Students consider the lives of living beings raised and killed for food and other products.
Students consider their notion of power, who they admire and why
Students create a work of art representing an animal and explore the source of their ideas about this animal orally or in writing.
Students examine how representations of animals in art influence our views about them and create their own message about animals in a work of art.
Students examine how the media and advertising influence our perceptions about certain groups and other species.
Students consider who is “one of us,” who is “other,” the basis for our decision, and how we should treat those who are “other”.
Students examine the inconsistencies in our attitudes and customs currently, throughout history, and across cultures.
Students consider the sources of our attitudes about different species of animals.
Students consider what defines intelligence and wisdom, which living beings have one or the other or both, and how to treat those they consider to be unintelligent.
Students question prejudices and judgments about people, cultures, and species.
Students learn the value of not judging on the basis of external appearance and the impact caring can have on the life of another living being.
Students learn the causes and impact of species extinction.
Students consider who is useful and whether the worth and treatment of a living being should depend on their usefulness.
Students examine the concept of “where we belong” and the basis on which we decide where other living beings belong.
Students learn that human and nonhuman animals exhibit many of the same behaviors and values.
Students question stereotypes and myths about individuals, groups and unpopular species of nonhuman animals and learn to see them from a different perspective.
Words have power. Students consider the influence of language on our attitudes toward nonhuman animals.
What constitutes a crime may change from culture to culture, from species to species, and over time. Students consider crimes from new perspectives and explore who has the power to…
Students explore the concepts of slavery, ownership, and the exploitation of others.
Students consider the merits of experimenting on animals vs. the use of alternatives.
Students consider the benefits of observing wildlife in nature vs. capturing and holding wild animals captive.
Students consider some ethical, educational, and scientific issues concerning the use of living beings and preserved specimens in educational settings, such as in dissections.
Students learn the power of our everyday choices to affect the world around us, for better or worse. They discover where our food, clothing, and other products we use daily…
Students research the resources and energy required to create items they routinely consume, and how these items are eventually disposed of. They learn how our small, daily choices can have…
Students learn about the natural balance of organisms in healthy ecosystems and how our actions maintain or disrupt the balance.
Students learn about the science of biomimicry and practice using biomimicry to solve a problem.
Students explore the issues of animal overpopulation, human responsibility for animals, and the benefits of the human-animal bond.
Students explore our responsibilities toward animals and how we should treat them, learn about animal body language as a means of communication, and learn how to avoid being bitten by…
Students will consider whether animals belong in schools and what species of animals are appropriate companions at home.
Students consider our responsibility for animals taken from the wild and domesticated, including basic cat and dog care and the danger of leaving animals in hot cars.
Students will learn about puppy mills, the illegal trade in puppies, and will compare the benefits of purebred vs. mixed-breed dogs.
Students consider possible responses to encounters with animals under a variety of circumstances.
Students consider whether it is acceptable to use nonhuman animals for our entertainment.
Students consider the ethics of using animals to entertain us and of seeking humor at another’s expense.
Students learn that all mammals, vertebrates and some invertebrates feel pain. They consider the notion of “fair play,” whether a contest is fair when not all parties involved are voluntary…
Students explore the lives of animals who work involuntarily and whose treatment depends on the humans who control their lives.
Students explore our attitudes and behavior toward those who perform involuntary work, whether human or nonhuman.
Students explore the concept of freedom, the effect of captivity on those deprived of freedom, and non-verbal ways captives communicate their feelings about their plight.
Students explore some realities of war and the fate of humans and nonhuman animals who voluntarily or involuntarily serve their country in war.
Students will learn the importance of the human-animal bond and the many benefits of living with and spending time with companion animals.
Students learn that nonhuman animals also experience love, grief, and joy.
Students learn that nonhuman animals, like humans, experience feelings of connection, intimacy, and curiosity and that scientists study animals in the field, not just in captivity.
Students learn that natural disasters affect nonhuman animals and the environment, as well as humans and orphaned animals, are sometimes adopted by mothers of other species.
Students learn what it means to be deprived of the freedom to live a natural existence, and they will explore their beliefs about keeping humans and nonhuman animals in captivity.
Students learn to recognize emotions in others, human and nonhuman, including pain, that nonhuman animals, like humans, have special needs, and that taking action in the face of suffering can…
Students learn that nonhuman animals, like humans, feel and express gratitude.
Students learn about the connection between laughter and health in humans and nonhuman animals.
Students learn that nonhumans, like humans, love to play and they learn to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate play and humor – when it is at the expense of others.
Students examine humor in various species and their own biases about whether other species have a sense of humor.
Students learn that nonhumans, like humans, experience loving relationships.
Students learn that nonhumans, like humans, experience altruism, caring for and helping others.
Students learn that nonhuman animals, like humans, experience joy and wonder and consider whether we have the right to deprive them of this experience
Students learn that different cultures define beauty differently and that nonhuman animals also have the ability to appreciate beauty in nature and in music.
Students learn that nonhuman animals, like humans, feel sadness and grief.
Students will examine the roles of instinct (innate behavior) and learning in the survival of human and nonhuman animals.
Students will learn that humans are not the only species that makes and uses tools for specific purposes and passes that knowledge on to others, indicating they, also, have culture.
Students learn not to judge others' intelligence or abilities by their appearance.
Students learn that nonhumans, like humans, are capable of rational thought and planning, and that in their plans, they include concern for those they love.
Students learn the survival value of teamwork and cooperation.
Students learn the value of cooperation.
Students learn that nonhuman animals have the ability to find and use medicinal plants and minerals in their natural habitat and examine their beliefs about who possesses intelligence. They also…
Students consider whether instinct or conscious choice governs the food choices of humans and of nonhuman animals and they increase their knowledge of healthy food choices.
Students learn more about healthy food choices and compare the ability of humans and nonhumans to make healthy choices.
Students learn about the intelligence and memory of baboons and consider stereotypes about animals.
Students learn that under certain circumstances, both humans and nonhuman animals deliberately decide to break rules, demonstrating logical, practical reasoning.
Students learn the importance of mutual respect in communicating with others, human and nonhuman, and the power of nonverbal communication.
Students examine how language ability influences our perception of others’ intelligence, human and nonhuman, and under what circumstances animals should or should not be released into the wild.
Students explore the development of language in primates,
Students consider what constitutes language, compare human and nonhuman animal communication and discuss whether nonhuman animal communication can be considered to be language.
Students learn that nonhuman animals also care for and teach their young.
Students explore the intelligence and nature of ravens—in particular, their ability to plan ahead and to communicate and cooperate with other species.
Students explore cultural attitudes toward nonhuman species and consider whether experimenting on other species is justified.
Students explore their own and their culture's ideas and myths about birds and their intelligence, especially that of corvids.
Students explore the intelligence of dolphins and their strong family ties, loyalty, and ability to communicate with their own and other species, including humans.
One aspect of intelligence is the ability to know what someone else is thinking and to act accordingly. Students learn that other species, not just humans, deceive and bluff, and…
Students compare the abilities of human and nonhuman animals that enable them to survive and thrive in their environment. They will learn that animals’ abilities are sometimes greater than those…
Students understand the similarities in the behavior of birds and humans when attracting and evaluating mates.
Students learn about migration, the special abilities of Monarch butterflies, and the importance of habitat in supporting diverse life forms.
Students learn about the intelligence and communication of bees.
Students learn that other species, such as whales, birds, gibbons and mice also sing, that song is important to their survival, and about the impact of noise pollution on species…
Students learn that nonhuman species also appreciate, and sometimes create, music.
Students learn about abilities other species have that humans do not share, including how to find their way home through unfamiliar territory over long distances.
Students explore their senses and learn that other species have superior senses to those of humans and experience the world in a different way.
Students learn about animals' apparent abilities to predict natural disasters, detect illness, find their way to their offspring, mates, and human guardians from a distance, and be aware of their…
Students learn that nonhuman animals communicate in different ways than humans, including bioluminescence, and that even the tiniest creatures and their relationships play an important role in the planetary ecosystem…
Students learn that other species communicate differently from humans, including by using echolocation, and they learn how fear affects our perception of other species and events.
Students learn that the memory skills of nonhuman animals are, in some cases, superior to those of humans, and that some nonhumans use mental maps and have a photographic memory.
Students learn that animals have been building elaborate structures far longer than humans, and that humans have learned building techniques from animals.
Students learn about fish intelligence and that they feel pain.
Students learn about the intelligence, emotions, and behavior of orcas and discuss whether orcas should be kept in captivity.
Students learn about camouflage and consider whether it is an example of intelligence.
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