Who would’ve ever guessed that a toy animal and some accessories would become such a fantastic tool for classroom management with children? This idea of allowing students to have pets on their desks has become something of a phenomenon in the classroom. These small erasers in the shape of a pet are helping teachers to teach all kinds of skills, including empathy, self-regulation, money management, etc. Any resources that can help students and teachers in this capacity are worth looking at.
What Is a Desk Pet
Desk pets are miniature erasers that are in the shape of various animals. Some teachers even use tiny plastic animals in lieu of animal erasers. Either way, these little animals are essentially watching your students and their behavior from their tiny homes during the day. If teachers see that their kids have done great during the day or week, kids can remove their pets from their habitats to play with.
Who Introduced Desk Pets?
We all know that social media can spread good (and bad) ideas like wildfire. However, this is not the case with desk pets. Marissa Begay was the first to introduce desk pets on TikTok back in the summer of 2021, and quickly they became all the rage in the classroom! Marissa allows her students to purchase accessories and collect desk pets as a reward for good behavior. Ultimately, desk pets and various pet accessories are a brilliant way to manage her classroom.
Where Can I Find Desk Pets?
If you don’t mind waiting a couple of days to get the best deal on your desk pets, Amazon is the place to go. There are so many different options available and (I think) a lot more bang for your buck.
Target Dollar Spot
I never met a teacher who doesn’t automatically levitate to the dollar spot at Target upon entry! This is a beautiful place to find desk pets and any little accessories or storage that you might be able to use throughout the school year.
The Dollar Tree (or any other dollar store) is a great place to find these mini erasers or plastic animals that can be used in place of the mini erasers.
How Can I Use Desk Pets?
Desk pets have a ton of different ways to benefit your classroom community. These adorable erasers can be used in various capacities for your students to have fun and enjoy learning in your class. You may be wondering, “what if I have a virtual class”? Considering all that is going on in the world, everything educators do needs to be used both online and in-person! Teachers can use resources, such as Google Slides, to create pet homes, choose animals, and share with other friends.
What teacher doesn’t love a great classroom management tool? Good behavior is the ruling factor in what desk pets a student can choose or determine trips to the classroom pet store!
I know some may think, “well, isn’t classroom management the same as behavior management?” Yes and no. Some students need a little more incentive to behave the way they should in the classroom. For example, all students work together to have their desk pet time as a class, but maybe that student who needs a little more push can earn additional points to spend at the pet shop to get their pet accessories (or even more pets!).
Create a Desk Pet Store!
Who knew you could have your very own pet shop right inside your classroom? You could even let students adopt from your in-class pet store! Allow each child that visits the adoption center to receive actual adoption papers. Students who “save their money/points” could even visit the adoption center more than once and have a few desk pets.
Learning how to care for another living thing is practiced in early childhood. This often takes the form of a child caring for a doll or a stuffed animal. In this case, children will care for their desk pets as though they were real, assisting in the teaching and practicing empathy. This is especially important now, post-Covid when children have been far removed from needing to consider others over the last two years.
Desk Pets as a Brain Break
Having a little bit of free time in the classroom to clear your mind and relax is never a bad thing. Using desk pets for this purpose works beautifully.
Use Desk Pets For a Writing Activity
Teaching persuasive writing? Have your students persuade the others in the class why their desk pet is the best! Maybe you’re teaching creative writing? Have your kids make create a fantastic story about their little desk friends.
Create Desk Pet Habitats
Kids will have a great time getting creative and building their desk pets a little home. Have your students create tiny habitats out of small plastic containers or cardboard. These can also double as places for your students to store their pets when not in use.
Create Desk Pet Rules
Before you implement desk pets in your classroom, you need to make sure you have some classroom rules in place. These rules allow for desk pets to be a great incentive program for kids to work towards.
1. When Is It Time to Play?
Pick a time when it is ok for desk pets to be out and be consistent. If the purpose of the desk pets is to provide a brain break, ensure that you use desk pets for that purpose alone. I would suggest that you allow time daily to play with pets and additional time should you decide that students have done well during the day.
2. Desk Pet Homes
Ensure that each student’s pet has a home! This allows your students to have something fun to design for their animals while keeping their space clean. Further, a home for their small animal erasers is an excellent classroom management tool. For example, “Ok, it is time to take your pets out of their home for a brain break!” and, “ok kids, it is time to put your desk pets back in their home until tomorrow.”
3. Establish a Way to Earn “Money.”
If you have established a pet store within your classroom, make sure you also have a way for your students to earn a currency to purchase accessories for their desk pets. Using a type of currency is also a great way to incorporate math.
4. Will You Allow Additional Time?
Allowing students to earn additional time to play with their pets is a great way to encourage further positive behavior. Further, if you decide students can earn extra time, how will they do this, and how much time can they earn? As stated in #1, allowing additional time during the day or week is an excellent way for teachers to reward students.
5. Where Will You Store Desk Pets?
While using desk pets can be a ton of fun, there has to be a place established in the classroom for students to put their tiny creatures. Other teachers that have used this positive behavior tool have allowed students to place their pets within their desks or in one other designated area in the classroom.
Desk Pet Home Ideas
Here is where you have the chance to get creative and have fun with your students. I suggest that your kids’ habitats are also their storage for their pets. I LOVE the idea of using these inexpensive plastic containers as desk pet habitats. They are inexpensive to purchase, students can decorate them up, and they serve as a great way to distinctively say when it is time for students to play with their pets and then put them up.
Final Thoughts on Desk Pets
It is not often where you find great innovative ideas for classroom and behavior management in education. However, this one is awesome! Teachers, I cannot express to you how excellent this idea is. I even broached the subject with my high school students, and even THEY want their desk pet. I couldn’t help but laugh. Also, I asked my child’s kindergarten teacher if she uses desk pets, to which she said, “No, but now I want to!”.
Not only will your students love their little pets, but as a teacher, you will love them too! Plus, students can take their pets and accessories home when the year is over! You’re welcome, parents. Overall, we have already spent money on our classroom. Personally, something that could potentially be incredibly effective in my classroom is definitely worth the money and effort to make it work. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!