Desk pets. They are all the rage and for good reason! Here is all you need to know to effectively use desk pets in your classroom or homeschool.
What Are Desk Pets?
Sometimes a teaching idea is so brilliant, you wonder how you ever got along without it. In 2020, teacher Marissa Begay shared how she used mini erasers as class prizes. She called them “desk pets,” and her students went crazy for them! They made little habitats for their desktop pets and clamored to collect the different types.
How to Use Desk Pets for Classroom Management
When you list the reasons for using desk pets, classroom management should be at the top of the list. Every teacher wants to positively incentivize her students to follow classroom rules. Here are several ways to use desk pets as classroom management tools and beyond:
You give each child a desk pet, but tell your kids that desk pets are shy creatures and only like to come out when it’s quiet. When your students are working diligently (and quietly!), tell them their desk pets can come out of their habitats. If a student is disruptive, have her put her desk pet away until she settles down.
Point System Shop
Give each child a desk pet at the start of the year. Turn the classroom rules into a point system. When you notice good behavior, award your students points to be redeemed at the “pet shop.” Stock the pet shop prize bin with desk pet accessories (like food, balls, pillows, or habitats) and additional desk pets for the students to purchase.
Why not take 5 with the desk pets? You can have your students take their pets on a walk around the classroom, hold a desk pet dance party, or simply give them a few minutes to play with their critters.
Math problems are much more exciting when the subject of your math problem is your very own desk pet, Fizzy the Whale. Leverage your kids’ interest in their pets to make classroom teaching riveting!
Read to Your Pet
Reading aloud is beneficial for kids, but it is hard to encourage a struggling reader to practice this skill. Have her practice reading to her desk pet, the ultimate nonjudgmental audience.
Using Desk Pets in Homeschool
Desk pets work equally well in the homeschool setting. Save them for school time only. These little guys can make an appearance to cheer on your child during his hard subjects (like writing or math). They can serve as brain breaks (“Can you make a leaf den for Tippy the Tiger in the backyard?”). They can also be the subject of stories, sentences, or math problems.
Types of Desk Pets
You want to buy some desk pets for your kids, but which ones should you get? Here are the best desk pets in every category:
These tiny rubber creatures come in many different species (Can you have species of desk pets? Let’s just go with it.). Their details are so fun.
I love these little guys because kids will enjoy squishing them during brain breaks. I think I want one too…
Every pet needs a home, right? These little building block houses are adorable, and your students will enjoy putting them together. Sure, they are a little pricey for a prize bin, but the kids will go nuts for these as holiday gifts.
These plastic toys look like the real deal. This is the house pet collection, but these are not just your average house pets. This set includes an iguana, hedgehog, and a parrot, among others.
You don’t have to purchase desk pets–you can make your own! Check out this post for ideas on how to make your own desk pets!
These tiny clear containers work great as homes for desk pets.
Classroom Management and Desk Pets
Desk pets are a powerful motivator and a child’s delight. Start using desk pets as a classroom management tool, and bring out the best in your students.