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Five Freedoms for Animals



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Learning area: Science
Years: 1-3
Curriculum levels: 1-2

Achievement Objectives
Students will:

  •   Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.
  •   Appreciate that scientists ask questions about our world that lead to investigations and that open-mindedness is important because there may be more than one explanation.

Key Competencies: Thinking, relating to others.
Estimated time: 60-75 minutes

Lesson outline

Students will learn about the Five Freedoms for Animals, which outlines five aspects of animal welfare under human control. Formalised in 1979, the Five Freedoms have been adopted by professional groups including veterinarians and organisations like the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and are a part of New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act 1999. Students will collaborate to design a poster demonstrating the five freedoms they have learned about.

Learning outcomes

Students are learning to

  • Understand that living things, including animals under human control such as pigs, cows and chickens, have unique
  • Identify the needs of farmed animals that need to be met by human carers.
  • Understand that farmed animals require humane treatment and care through all stages of their

Materials required: Whiteboard or Smart Board, large sheets of construction paper, coloured pencils or crayons.

Corresponding Worksheet: “Animals have feelings”


1. As a class, discuss the differences between the needs of animals and plants. Ask students to think about why these needs are different. Talk about how animals are sentient like us (they can feel pain, hunger and emotion) and plants are not.

2. Brainstorm the needs of animals raised on farms, including pigs, cows, chickens and Invite students to suggest ideas and write them on the board. Some suggestions may include: food, water, shelter, warmth, space to roam, cleanliness, safety from predators, companionship and protection. Ask students what they think might happen if these needs weren’t met. Answers may include: animals will feel sad, scared, lonely, cold, hungry, thirsty or uncomfortable. Talk about how all animals under human control need to be cared for properly, just like companion animals. Explain that unlike wild animals that can meet their own needs, domesticated animals rely entirely on their human carers.

3. Display the Five Freedoms for Animals on the board using the provided link:
Read each point one by one, relating each to the suggestions provided earlier.

4. Organise students into five groups and give each group one of the five freedoms. Provide one large sheet of construction paper and coloured pencils or crayons. Assign each group one of five animals: pig, hen, cow, sheep and goat.

5. Instruct groups to draw a picture describing the freedom and animal they’ve been given. Help students research the natural behaviours of each animal. You can find information using the provided link:
Students may draw hens performing natural behaviours like dust bathing, pigs enjoying the sun outdoors, sheep grazing in green pastures, and cows allowed to feed and nurture their

6. Gather each piece on construction paper and piece them together to create a large classroom display showing all five freedoms for

Wrap-up & discussion questions: Talk about how humans can monitor and study different animals to better understand how to meet their unique needs. For example, in recent years scientists have learned that pigs are highly social and intelligent, and are happier with companions. Hens like to dust bathe, scratch in the earth and perch, which means they’re not happy living in small cages. Cows develop strong bonds with their calves and become highly distressed when humans separate them.

Can you think of any ways in which humans can better meet the needs of farmed animals?

Can you suggest other freedoms you’d like to see added to the current Five Freedoms?
Animals Have Feelings Colouring Sheet