The Story of Flache the chinchilla

Fifth-grade students at Étoile de l’Acadie School read to their class pet Flache the chinchilla. This is important because it allows students to have the opportunity to read to a trusted pet. This creates a safe space without judgment and can sometimes unblock students who are struggling with the skill to read. Often times this is helpful for students to practice and read without the pressure of reading in front of others.

Creating a positive learning environment that provides opportunities for students to have real-life experiences and to become engaged and excited about learning is at the core of education. Experiential learning with opportunities for students to create and contribute to their learning environment creates a sense of ownership which allows impactful learning to occur.

Creating opportunities to implement art, creativity and entrepreneurial experiences helps students realize their abilities. Students used a classroom art project to create crafts they would sell at the local Christmas market to raise funds to help feed and care for their classroom pet. This gave students a sense of responsibility, allowed them to problem-solve and created a sense of pride and satisfaction that they were the ones to come up with this solution. Problem-solving and entrepreneurial experiences are essential skills for the future. These lifelong skills help develop the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

The students write about their experiences having Flache in their classroom and their comments reinforce the importance of creating these positive learning environments. See some of the students’ comments (Grade5) below:

  • Flache has changed our class. Every Friday we do an exercise called the Bridge where we join hands and walk in a circle around Flache before we leave for the weekend. We also helped raise 500 dollars for Flache when we rented a table at our local Farmer’s market.
  • I like reading to Flache. He has also helped with how loud our class is because everyone has to respect that he has very sensitive ears and we cannot speak too loud.
  • I love having an animal in the class it makes me happy.
  • Having Flache in the class has made me calmer I like him very much.
  • I love reading to Flache. We also really like taking turns bringing Flache home on the weekends.
  • For me Flache is extraordinary. I like reading to him and taking him home when it is my turn on the weekends.
  • I enjoy Flache in the class we get to give him his sand bath and let him run around the class in his special ball. He has a larger cage now that we were able to buy him this with the money we got from the grant and the money we helped raise at the Farmer’s market.