BROOKSVILLE — Six-year-old Thomas Imerson likes snakes just fine, so when the kindergarten teachers at Pine Grove Elementary School told students to select toy animals and create habitats for them, Thomas chose a plastic snake.
"We decided to find some (artificial) grass at Walmart, and we found these leaves at Walmart, and the stick in the woods, I think, and this bowl at Walmart, too," Thomas said.
All those items, arranged in a glass tank, were Thomas' rendition of a snake's world.
He had a lot to say about his choice.
"I like snakes," he said. "They don't look that scary. I already got one on my back porch and one on my front porch, too. Snakes live in the forest, you know, that's their home. There's more stuff to eat out there, and they make holes."
Thomas' snake habitat was among dozens prepared by students in the school's six kindergarten classes. A presentation was coordinated by kindergarten teacher/team leader Carmela Duncan for parents and guests.
Duncan identified some of the lessons the project provided.
"They learn creativity, responsibility (and) writing," she said, putting emphasis on the writing part — a report on the chosen animal or pet. The students also learned language skills by answering questions.
The students had to research their animals' habitats, and they learned about each other's during the finale.
There was a lot of imagination in evidence at the stuffed pet show, and some duplication. Thomas' wasn't the only snake exhibit. Other popular animals were dinosaurs, monkeys, tigers and domestic pets. More unusual ones included a lobster, an octopus, a flamingo, a duck, penguins and a whale shark.
Dolten Abbene, 5, said he liked "the big house" — a dog house.
Anmarie Rutter, 6, liked "the one with the cat and the cat toys. It's pink. Pink is my favorite color."
Some visiting parents recognized the value of the project.
"I think it's teaching them how to work with shapes, organization, coordination and writing skills," said Bernice Irizarry, whose son, Liam Irizarry, created a dog house for his toy dog, Biscuit.
Thomas' parents, Ryan and Joella Imerson, said they, too, were impressed with the activity.
The children "learn about the different animals and how to take care of them," said Joella Imerson, "and what they eat."