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Desk pets are all the rage in elementary education right now, and I can totally understand why! My students LOVE their desk pets almost as much as this 90’s kid loved her Tamagotchi! The best part about this whole concept is that the possibilities are endless, not only for classroom management, but also for utilizing them academically and socially.
So How Does It Work?
In my class, community and building relationships is a priority. We start out the school year brainstorming expectations together and creating a class contract. The first week of school, students adopt a desk pet and are given a dome for them to live in (I like to Velcro these to their desks). They name their pet, fill out a certificate, and make it official. I use this FREEBIE by Kinder and Kindness. Throughout the year, students can earn points on Class Dojo and then spend these in our class store each Friday.
The first thing they must purchase for their desk pet is a HABITAT! Where will their pet live? I created these Desk Pet Habitats to give my students plenty of options, both realistic and imaginative. They can buy a new habitat later on if they decide their pet would like to move, and I always give every student a birthday habitat on their special day.
As students continue to earn points, they can move up the ranks – from fruits and veggies to junk food to accessories (a desk pet’s most prized possession). Depending on how tight you are with giving points, you could base your store prices on your own personal behavior management style. I tend to be pretty tight with points, so here is what our class store looks like:
*Tackle boxes are perfect for keeping your desk pet store organized!
Other Ways to Use Desk Pets
One thing I noticed about desk pets last year was the social benefits. If students had any free time, many of them would choose to get their desk pets out and get together with friends to create a pet hospital, zoo, or more. They work so hard all day, and those few minutes where they were able to use their imaginations, interact with one another, and have fun were awesome to watch!
Often times, students would want to read to their desk pets, which definitely helps with fluency and oral language development. This year I also plan to utilize desk pets in my students’ writing. I’ve seen so many neat ideas across social media where students keep a desk pet journal or create fictional stories using their pets as the characters and their habitat for the setting.
The desk pet store also provides an excellent lesson in financial literacy (Check and check for Math and Social Studies standards).
No matter how you choose to utilize desk pets in your classroom, I hope you have fun with it!