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 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 or animal themed activity, and maybe even a visit from one of our shelter animals!

Our educational workshops are aligned with the Ontario curriculum expectations. For example, children will learn about respect for all beings, personal safety around animals, responsible citizenship, and more! Field trip content is adaptable based on the 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.

2 HOUR FIELD TRIP Includes:

  • Introduction to the Toronto Humane Society: who we are, what we do, why we are here
  • Comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour of our shelter
  • Educational workshop or animal themed activity
  • Visit from a shelter animal (when possible)

Two hour field trips are offered at the following times: 11am – 1pm (option for nutrition break), 12pm – 2pm (option for nutrition break), 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)
15 minutes Optional nutrition break (together) Optional nutrition break (together)
35 - 50 minutes Educational Workshop (together) Educational Workshop (together)
10 minutes Wrap-up & Questions Wrap-up & Questions

3 HOUR FIELD TRIP Includes:

  • Introduction to the Toronto Humane Society: who we are, what we do, why we are here
  • Introductory activity about responsible pet ownership
  • Comprehensive, behind-the-scenes tour of our shelter
  • 30 minute lunch break (children to bring bagged lunches)
  • Educational workshop or animal themed activity
  • Visit from a shelter animal (when possible)
3 hour field trips are offered from 10:30am – 1:30pm

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 (together) Lunch (together)
12:30 - 1:20pm Educational Workshop (together) Educational Workshop (together)
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 4 - 6 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 is designed to foster compassion and respect for all beings by helping children personally relate to animals. 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). Children will demonstrate their understanding of how to show respect for living things by interacting with a shelter animal (when possible) or through a drawing activity.

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

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

  • Best Friends for Life

    This lesson is intended to teach children about the responsibilities involved in owning a pet. Children will learn that pet ownership is a long-term commitment that must be carefully considered.

    Suitable For: Kindergarten to Grade 3

    Important Themes/skills: personal responsibility, planning for the future, empathy for animals.

  • Wild About Wildlife

    Children will understand the habitats of wild animals in Toronto, and will test their knowledge of local wildlife by deciphering wildlife myths and facts. They will further learn what they can do to be respectful of wildlife in their daily lives.

    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

  • 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. For example: safe and not safe foods for pets, avoiding pets in hot cars during summer, and holiday pet hazards. Information learned will be consolidated with a poster making activity.

    Suitable for: Grades 3 - 6

    Important Themes/skills: Pet safety, understanding the environment, needs and characteristics of living things.

  • 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 benefits 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

    This lesson will teach children about the humane care of animals, and the role that they can play in making a difference for animals. They will understand the laws and by-laws that protect animal welfare, and will further learn how to recognize and respond to unkindness, neglect, or abuse of animals.

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: Animal welfare, responsible citizenship.

  • What Pet Should I Get?

    The purpose of this lesson is to illustrate that pet ownership is a large and lifelong responsibility that prospective owners must prepare for. In junior grades, students will add up the monthly cost of owning various types of pets, and use problem solving and mathematical skills to determine what pet they should get based on fictitious lifestyles and budgets. In intermediate grades, students will create their own pet budgets and figure out the lifelong cost of pet ownership.

    Suitable for: Grades 4 - 8

    Important Themes/skills: personal responsibility, budgeting and understanding personal finance.

  • Exploring the Human-Animal Bond

    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: animal welfare and human health, empathy for animals and each other, critical thinking.

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.

    Suitable for: Grade 9 - 12

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

  • Preventing Illness in Our Pets

    This lesson will examine a number of zoonotic and animal specific diseases, and discuss the importance of vaccines in preventing illness in people and pets. Students will further explore the concept of herd immunity, and how disease outbreaks happen if herd immunity is not achieved.

    Suitable for: Grades 10 - 11

    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, such as breed specific legislation, and consider where these perspectives come from.

    Suitable for: Grades 11 - 12

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

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 one hour in length. Every session includes: an introduction to the Toronto Humane Society, a brief tutorial on animal behaviour, and 30 minutes of reading time with a shelter animal.

There are Reading Buddies opportunities for both class groups and families!

Reading Buddies for Class Groups

Class group sessions are booked by request and take place on weekday mornings. 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!

Reading Buddies for Families

Reading Buddies sessions for families take place approximately one Saturday morning per month. To learn more about this program, or to be added to our email list for upcoming sessions, please email education@torontohumanesociety.com!

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