“Every October we have the Blessing of the Pets and because of more parents working it seems to be harder for them to come to school that day. Mrs. (Kristen) Stoll and I thought about how we could make sure all the children had a pet to bless, so we came up with the pet rock idea,” said Keri Zendejas, who teaches preschool for 4-year-olds.
“With that one little idea came a flood of other activities to include. We decided that the children will be adopting their rock. Adoption is something that is near and dear to my heart as my youngest son is adopted.”
The Blessing of the Pets is held Oct. 4 in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists. Gail Reynolds, interim director of the center, said St. Francis is known for his boundless love of animals and plants.
Both of the classes for 4-year-old preschoolers participated in the pet rock project.
“Each child had to pick out a rock, bathe their rock and then put their rock in the nursery until they had time to paint and decorate their rock. After their rocks were painted, eyes added as well as some hair and ‘bling.’ We had to name them, figure out their favorite things and weigh them using a balance scale,” said Zendejas, whose preschool aide is Stoll.
The students also created a habitat for their pet rocks. Reynolds said the preschoolers drew on shoe boxes and included items to make the rocks “more comfortable,” such as yarn and blankets.
After decorating the homes, each child was given a Capri Sun wallet. Zendejas said the students “counted out six rock dollars which they had to use to purchase a leash and a blanket for their pet.”
“Then it was time for the official adoption,” she added.
NCS President Martin Linder finalized the adoptions for the morning class while local attorney Brian Lonz handled the proceedings in the afternoon.
“Each child was presented an adoption certificate,” Zendejas said.
The Rev. Francis Mariadas, of St. Mary Mother of the Redeemer, blessed the pet rocks.
“It was a great lesson that we all enjoyed,” Zendejas said.
Reynolds said the unit taught the students how to care for a pet and with each one creating a pet rock, every 4-year-old could participate in the Blessing of the Pets.
“Everyone had something to be blessed,” she added. “I think it was awesome. I think they really enjoyed it. … It was a very fun unit.”