Most people love animals. Some teachers are even allowed class pets. But what about the rest who aren’t able to host a class pet due to administration rules, allergies, or even inexperienced students/parents?
How about classroom pet pals instead?
Why Should You Introduce Classroom Pet Pals?
This activity is wonderful for establishing responsibility and confidence. Many students will not have ever had the opportunity to have a pet, much less be responsible for taking care of it.
Getting their very own animal that they chose – even if they aren’t “real” – is still something that is fun for students AND won’t have to be taken home on the weekends or have someone else watch.
Pet pals also help students boost their confidence levels, especially extra shy children. They can use their pet as their voice until they are brave enough to use their own.
They can “speak” through their pet in their writing assignments or journal entries. Perhaps they are even allowed to have their pet present a research project in front of the class.
You just may find that even the most timid students start to come out of their shells just from having a pet as a friend. It puts an end to not having any friends in your class with those students that really struggle with socialization skills.
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What Supplies Do You Need?
Are you ready to get started with classroom pet pals with your students?
You will need the following:
- animal figurines – any really will do. Mine are THESE.
Some teachers use mini erasers. Personally, I would be worried about certain students picking eraser bits off others’ pets, and that would create a whole event, but you know your students the best.
You could also not limit it to household pets, but any type of animal.
One other option is to print off pictures of animals and use those. It’s not quite the same, but with some classroom budgets that might be the more economical choice.
- Classroom Pet Pals Packet – grab it below
- small jewelry boxes
Now that you have your supplies, let’s get our pet pals ready for student adoption day!
You start by placing all the animal choices out for students to pick from.
The optional small jewelry boxes are perfect for this!
Place one half the jewelry box on its side and place the animal in the rim. Continue until you have an entire table, bookshelf, or window ledge filled with choices for the students.
Have small groups of students take turns checking out the animals up for adoption to see which they would like to adopt. They could even have a list of their top 5 choices.
Now from this point, you could pick for the students based on their choices – or – randomly pick students to choose. I would suggest having more than one of some of the more popular choices, so that way everyone gets something they are happy about.
Once students have their new pet, they get to name their animal, fill out their adoption certificate, and take it home!
Of course, with any new activity in the classroom, you’ll want to have established rules in place from the start.
I know some teachers like allowing students to have their pets on their desks throughout the day. Knowing my last group of children, this would have equalled constant stopping during my teaching.
But again – you know what your students can and can’t handle.
So, if it were me, I would suggest having the pets hang out in a pet corner.
Something fun would be to use optional shoeboxes and have the students use magazines and recycled items to make their pet’s new home. Then the shoeboxes could be stacked on one another (maybe secured with hot glue) and they wouldn’t take up as much classroom space.
Once they have their pet homes ready, they can make a fun nametag to hang from the front so everyone knows the pet name.
Another fun piece to classroom pet pals is having a classroom economy system.
Students can do classroom chores to earn “best friend funds” so that they can properly take care of their pets.
Print off the checkbook registers and give students a starting balance.
They could earn more for anything you want to encourage in the classroom: stellar hallway behavior, awesome group work skills, homework turned in, or a great report from a substitute.
You can also print off the additional cards to have more chances for students to practice their math skills in their registers.
Those cards have some things where the students will “Pay” and others where they can “Earn.”
Have students pick one card once a week (or more if you prefer). The items will solidify the idea that taking care of pets is not free and can actually add up quite a bit. It just might be an eye-opener for those that have been asking for a pet at home.
Of course you’ll also want to have some built-in time weekly, if not daily, for your students to just play with their pets. After all, they are toys. And real pets do need play time too.
How Else Can You Incorporate Pet Pals into Your Curriculum?
There are so many ways to add in learning skills with your pets, but here are just a few quick ones:
Writing – Student will write which pet they want and why; creative writing scenarios; management role-playing with the pets; persuasive writing as to why their pet is the best
Math – Token economy for adding and subtracting with checkbooks; make your own story problems using your pet
Science – Use recycled items to make homes and habitats
Researching – Research your pet’s needs and facts
Presenting Orally – Present their facts aloud with their pet
Ready to get started? Download your Classroom Pet Pals Packet from Organized Classroom below.
How else could you use pet pals in your lesson plans? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!