Piscataway preschoolers are drawing on their skills to help homeless dogs. Here's how (2024)

PISCATAWAY - Adorable children and adoptable dogs − what could be a better combination to bring attention to the importance of pet adoption?

Pre-K students at the school district's Children’s Corner Preschool have been using their talents to draw portraits of dogs in need of a home. The young artists have been creating their artwork based on photos from the Edison Animal Shelter.

Art teacher Paige Berkowitz initiated the project, as well as a pet food drive, to allow her students to work on their drawing skills while making a special connection with the animals waiting to be adopted."I was inspired to create this project because my students are learning about the Pet Vet theme, so one of their centers is pet adoption," she said. "I thought it would be a great idea to have them draw pictures of actual dogs in our area who need to be adopted. There are so many amazing animals right here in our county that need a loving home, so I wanted to raise awareness about that."

The art project is a way for the preschoolers to learn to draw what they see, while making a connection with the dogs at the shelter.

"My students loved drawing the dogs," said Berkowitz. "They thought all the dogs were cute and renamed them to whatever they wanted. Some students drew multiple dogs on their papers so each dog had a friend. Other students made their dogs rainbow because we have been learning about the colors of the rainbow."

Children’s Corner Principal Jennifer Sernotti said that Pet Vet is one of the school’s theme-based centers that allows students to learn about the world and their place in it. During this theme, students learn about different pets and how to take care of them.

She credited Berkowitz’s unique project for supporting the students’ learning while also working toward a wider objective.

"It’s inspiring to see our students learning the value of kindness and giving back," Sernotti said. "Even our youngest learners can help our community."

Rebekah Sterlacci, Piscataway’s supervisor of visual and performing arts, also praised Berkowitz’s work.

"I think this is an amazing way to build community connections and tap into our department's belief that art changes everything,” Sterlacci said.

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Berkowitz, an animal lover who has an adopted pit bull/lab mix named Teeq, also started a pet food drive at Children’s Corner to benefit the Edison Animal Shelter. Students and families can bring in dog and cat food, treats, toys, blankets, or towels until April 12.

"I’m a huge animal lover so being able to help our local animals and animal shelter was important to me," Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz reached out to the Edison Animal Shelter because she wanted to help a local pet adoption center. The shelter gave her the photos of the dogs waiting for adoption.

And now the shelter plans to use the children's drawings on its website and social media.

"I loved this art project and am excited to have full boxes of pet food donations to give to Edison Animal Shelter," she said.

Piscataway preschoolers are drawing on their skills to help homeless dogs. Here's how (2)

Berkowitz also hopes the project could instill in the preschoolers a lifelong love of animals and of helping others.

"I hope my students go home and tell their families about dogs and cats that need homes in our area, and I hope that they will have a passion for helping out in our community by giving back, whether it is food for animals or people in need," Berkowitz said.

Children’s Corner has expanded in recent years thanks to New Jersey Preschool Expansion Aid, and now offers free preschool at three locations, serving more than 600 3- and 4-year-olds. Classrooms are designed with learning centers that focus on literacy, blocks and puzzles, science exploration, dramatic play, music and art.

"We have a very robust preschool program in Piscataway," said Superintendent Dr. Frank Ranelli. "It sets that foundation of understanding so many areas of communication. It helps teach interaction, problem solving, teamwork, and really an understanding of socialization. Ms. Berkowitz’s unique project fits in perfectly with that mission, helping our youngest learners develop their art skills as well as empathy and a sense of community."

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Piscataway preschoolers spotlight shelter animals

Piscataway preschoolers are drawing on their skills to help homeless dogs. Here's how (2024)
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