Humane Education

Are you looking for a way to teach your students about pets, animal welfare, and compassion for animals? Look no further! The Toronto Humane Society is pleased to offer brand new educational content for children of all ages! All education programs are offered free of charge!

Field Trips @ Toronto Humane Society

Children are invited to visit the Toronto Humane Society for a field trip that includes a comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour of our shelter, an educational workshop, and maybe even a visit from one of our shelter animals!

Our educational workshops are aligned with the Ontario curriculum expectations in the subjects of Science and Technology, Social Studies, and Health and Physical Education. For example, children will learn about life systems, respect for all beings, personal safety around animals, responsible citizenship, and more! Field trip content is adaptable based on the age and learning needs of the group.

Please note that animal visits cannot always be guaranteed, as they are dependent on staff availability and the temperament of the animals in the shelter at the time.

Field trips are offered in either a 2 hour or 3 hour format, as outlined below. Currently, we can accept a maximum of 30 children per group.

Option 1: This tour will include a brief introduction to the Toronto Humane Society: who we are, what we do, and why we are here. Then there will be a comprehensive behind the scenes tour of our facility, and an educational workshop. Larger groups will be split into two as shown below.

2 hour tours are offered at the following times: 11am – 1pm, 12pm – 2pm, 1pm – 3pm, 2pm – 4pm

2 Hour Format
  Group 1 (10-15 students) Group 2 (10-15 students)
1 hour Tour of Shelter (group 1) Tour of Shelter (group 2)
50 minutes Educational Workshop (together) Educational Workshop (together)
10 minutes Wrap-up & Questions Wrap-up & Questions

Option 2: This tour provides a more extensive introduction to the Toronto Humane Society, and why we do what we do. In this introduction, children will also learn about how to be a responsible pet owner, and how to make a difference for animals. Then, there will be a comprehensive behind the scenes tour of our facility, followed by a half an hour break for lunch. Lastly, children will participate in an educational workshop. Larger groups will be split into two as shown above. Please note that for this tour, children will be required to bring their own lunches. Lunch space will be provided.

3 Hour Format
  Group 1 (10-15 students) Group 2 (10-15 students)
10:30 - 11:00am Introduction to Toronto Humane Society Introduction to Toronto Humane Society
11:00am - 12:00pm Shelter Tour (Group 1) Shelter Tour (Group 2)
12:00 - 12:30pm Lunch Lunch
12:30 - 1:20pm Educational Workshop Educational Workshop
1:20 - 1:30pm Wrap-up & Questions Wrap-up & Questions

To book a field trip, please fill out the Field Trip Registration Form and email it to education@torontohumanesociety.com. Please note that it is best to book a minimum of 2 - 3 weeks in advance to ensure availability on your preferred date.

In-class Lessons

If you cannot visit us at the Toronto Humane Society, let us come to you! We have a number of in-class lessons that are aligned with the Ontario curriculum for grades K - 12! These lessons incorporate themes of health and safety, compassion for animals, and responsible citizenship. Classroom lessons are not just for schools! They are suitable for camps and daycare groups as well! For a description of the lessons available, please click on the titles below! You can also review the Ontario curriculum connections here.

If you are interested in having our education coordinator visit your group, please fill out the Classroom Visit Request Form and email it to education@torontohumanesociety.com. Classroom visits can be scheduled between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday (Saturday visits may be available upon request). Please note that it is best to book a minimum of 2 - 3 weeks in advance to ensure availability on your preferred date and time.

Kindergarten to Grade 3

  • Decoding Animal Behaviour

    This lesson will teach children how to safely interact (or not interact) with animals they don't know. They will learn to interpret body language and behaviour of an animal to assess whether it is safe to approach. They will apply this learning through a number of hands-on activities, such as animal charades.

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Important Themes/skills: Personal safety, relating to others, needs and characteristics of animals

  • Empathy for Animals and Each Other

    This lesson will teach children the importance of having compassion and respect for all beings. Children will compare and contrast the needs of animals with the needs of humans to arrive at the understanding that we all have the same basic needs (i.e. to have food, safety, love).

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Important Themes/skills: Respect and empathy for others, differences between humans and animals

  • Taking Care of My Pet

    This lesson will teach the basics of responsible pet ownership. Children will learn what pets need to be happy, healthy, safe, and comfortable, and what future pet owners must think about before deciding to get a pet. They will further learn empathy for animals through a role playing writing exercise.

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Important Themes/skills: personal responsibility, planning for the future, empathy for animals, considering different perspectives

  • Wild About Wildlife

    Children will understand the habitats of wild animals in Toronto. They will learn how they can respect wildlife in their area. This lesson will teach compassion for wildlife through an interactive game in which children act as wildlife and must avoid obstacles such as buildings, cars, and litter. Please note this lesson requires an open space, and may require moving of desks and chairs, or going to a gymnasium or outdoors.

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Important Themes/skills: personal safety, compassion for animals, understanding local environment

  • Mini-Vet

    In this lesson, children will learn what a veterinarian is, and what they do to care for animals. They will become mini veterinarians, and practice taking a history, performing a physical exam, and bandaging a leg with stuffed animal "patients". Please note that children will be required to bring a stuffed animal from home to practice on. No real surgical equipment (with the exception of bandaging material) is used in this lesson.

    Suitable for: Grades 1 - 3

    Important Themes/skills: using imagination, understanding animal characteristics, planning for the future, fine motor skills

Grades 4 - 8

  • Understanding Our Relationship with Animals

    This lesson will teach children how to safely interact (or not interact) with both domestic and wild animals. Students will apply their learning by creating a "rule book" for interacting with strange animals.

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 6

    Important Themes/skills: Personal Safety, ordering and summarizing complex information, considering different perspectives

  • Pet Health and Safety

    This lesson helps children to understand what hazards exist for pets in everyday life, and how we can avoid them to keep our pets safe. This lesson will focus on seasonal hazards (for example: not leaving pets in hot cars during summer, or being careful to not let your pet eat candy at Halloween). Information learned will be consolidated with a poster making activity.

    Suitable for: Grades 3 - 6

    Important Themes/skills: Pet safety, understanding the environment, conveying information to a specific audience, reflection on existing knowledge

  • Finding Forever Homes

    This lesson is based on the concept that pet homes are forever. Children will consider how long of a commitment it is to own a pet, and will learn the basics of what a given pet might need in a year. Children will demonstrate their learning by creating "adopt me!" posters that feature animals in our shelter, and tell future owners about what the animal will need from their forever family.

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: Personal responsibility, animal care, ordering and summarizing complex information, compassion for animals, considering different perspectives

  • Too Many Cats!

    This lesson introduces children to the importance of spaying and neutering animals. Children will examine the issue of cat overpopulation through a series of multiplication exercises. They will further discuss the health, behavioural, and societal benefits of having pets spayed and neutered. For older grades, the multiplication exercises will be completed more independently, and will be complemented with a graphing exercise.

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: understanding overpopulation, mathematical reasoning, drawing conclusions from evidence

  • Adopt Don't Shop!

    This lesson teaches children about the importance of adopting shelter animals. Children will learn about the dangers of puppy mills, and purchasing animals from unlicensed breeders. They will further consider what we, as a society, can do to promote the ethical treatment of animals. The lesson will culminate with children coming up with creative ways to promote the concept of "adopt don't shop!"

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 8

    Important Themes/Skills: rescue animals, animal welfare, responsible citizenship

  • Making a Difference

    The purpose of this lesson is to teach children that everyone has a role to play in making the world a better place. Children will learn about injustices facing animals, and come up with ideas on how they can make a difference. They will present these ideas in visual, written, or oral formats. Older children will focus more in-depth on a particular issue by examining fact sheets and creating an informational poster/radio or television advertisement script.

    Suitable for: Grades 5 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: animal welfare, responsible citizenship, understanding messaging in media, writing for a specific audience/purpose, ordering and summarizing complex information

  • What Pet Should I Get?

    This lesson focuses on responsible pet ownership. Children will understand that you must choose a pet that matches your lifestyle. They will complete a budgeting exercise in which they are assigned fictional lifestyles and incomes, and must determine what type of pet is most appropriate for them, based on the information learned in the lesson. Children will then pair up and act as each other's "adoptions counsellor" to decide whether they have made a good choice based on their lifestyle.

    Suitable for: Grades 7 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: personal responsibility, budgeting and understanding personal finance, considering different perspectives

  • What is One Health?

    This lesson examines the concept of "one health" which theorizes that the health of animals, humans, and the environment are all interconnected. Children will understand the deep connection that humans and animals share, and explore a number of case studies that illustrate the many ways that animals improve our health and wellbeing. The lesson will culminate with presentations of the children's findings from the case studies.

    Suitable for: Grades 7 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: empathy for animals and each other, critical thinking, considering different perspectives, ordering and summarizing complex information

Grades 9 - 12

  • An Inquiry into Toronto's Feral Cat Population

    This lesson introduces children to Toronto's growing feral cat problem, and the concept of "trap-neuter-return". Children will consider the environmental and societal impacts of both feral cats, and TNR in Toronto. They will further engage in an activity in which they role play as "colony caretakers" and are responsible for "trapping, neutering, and returning" all the cats in their colony.

    Suitable for: Grades 9 - 12

    Important Themes/skills: spay and neuter, environmental impact, responsible citizenship

  • Animal Related Careers

    This lesson is ideal for students in Grade 10 Careers class or as part of a unit on careers in science! It will profile the jobs of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal care workers and more! Children will learn about the education and extracurricular requirements to obtain these careers. Where possible, guest speakers from each profession will present to the class.

    Suitable for: Grade 9 - 12

    Important Themes/skills: animal welfare, science, education and career planning

  • How Vaccines Prevent Illness in Pets and Us

    In this lesson, children will learn about vaccines and how they work to protect us against illness. They will further explore the concept of herd immunity, and how disease outbreaks happen if herd immunity is not achieved. The lesson will examine a number of zoonotic and animal specific diseases that are vaccine preventable, and will shed light on the anti-vaccination movement.

    Suitable for: Grades 10 - 12

    Important Themes/skills: medical technology, health and safety, animal welfare

  • Animal Welfare and Equity

    This lesson will examine prejudices and inequities that exist in the animal world. Learners will be asked to critically assess different perspectives on particular animal welfare issues, and consider where these perspectives come from. The lesson will culminate with a group discussion about animal welfare issues such as breed specific legislation, the use of animals for entertainment, or cosmetic testing on animals.

    Suitable for: Grades 11 - 12

    Important Themes/skills: animal welfare, social justice, responsible citizenship

  • World Issues: Animal Health and Welfare Around the Globe

    This lesson is specifically designed for the Grade 12 Canadian and World Issues course (both university and college streams). It will profile animal health and welfare concerns in different parts of the world (i.e. rabies outbreaks in Southeast Asia, welfare of street dogs in South America, dog meat trade in South Korea) and will examine the social, cultural, and political reasons for these concerns.

    Suitable for: Grade 12

    Important Themes/skills: animal welfare, health and safety, considering different perspectives

Reading Buddies

The reading buddies program is a new initiative that pairs new readers with shelter animals who are "all ears" to listen to them practice their reading skills. This program is mutually beneficial for both children and shelter animals. Children are able to build confidence in their reading skills by practicing with a non-judgemental "reading buddy", and the animals receive more human interaction which improves their sociability, and therefore increases their chances of being adopted!

Reading sessions are approximately 30 minutes in length. On your first visit, we ask that you come to the shelter about 30 minutes early to allow for a brief training session on reading animal behaviour.

Books for this program have been generously donated by First Book Canada.

If you are a teacher with a group of young readers who you think would benefit from this program, please email education@torontohumanesociety.com to book a session!