All About Desk Pets
Have you heard of the popular TikTok craze called Desk Pets? These adorable and fun critters are being used in classrooms all over for classroom management and positive reinforcement.
It is a simple reward system that is simple to implement and can be used in elementary classrooms up to middle school. Read on to learn more about Desk Pets and how you can use and manage these with your students.
We will be sharing some great Desk Pet ideas including how to incorporate them into the curriculum and tips for management.
Desk Pets is a concept that originated on TikTok by a teacher named Marissa Begay.
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What are Desk Pets?
Desk pets are miniature animal erasers that are shaped like animals. Students can enjoy them like they would a real pet without the mess! They really do become a special pet that students care for at school.
Kids build these eraser pets small desk pet homes and collect food for them. Teachers are using these as a reward system where students have their little pets and are able to earn food, treats, and other desk pet accessories.
When they are not being used or at the end of each day, the pets will simply stay in or on an elementary or middle school student’s desk.
Desk pets are the perfect size for student’s desks because they are pretty small and allow students to have use of their workspace.
Why Use Desk Pets?
There are some great benefits to having Desk Pets in the classroom. Besides being a great incentive program for positive behavior, Desk Pets can easily be added to activities in the curriculum.
When you use students’ desk pets in their learning, they will relate to the content better and be motivated to participate.
Ideas for English-Language Arts
Desk Pets are the perfect topic for writing time. Students will want to tell you all about their pet–it’s name, favorite foods, favorite games, etc. Set aside some writing time for students to write stories or biographical writing about their pet.
Ideas for Math
If your Desk Pet store involves students earning and spending classroom money, you can incorporate math practice every time they visit the store. They can also keep a math journal where they document their earnings and savings.
Ideas for Art
You might not have the space for a large habitat to stay out on student desks, so have students draw their desk pet’s habitat on a piece of paper. They will love imagining where their pet is from and designing a space that is just for their special friend. They can use their own creativity to come up with fun ways to make their pet unique.
Ideas for Science
How much do your students already know about their pets? Have them add some research to their pet’s backstory. Where does their animal live? What does it eat? There is a lot that they can learn about their animals.
Looking for a brain break idea for your students that requires no additional planning and can be done spontaneously? Incorporate the Desk Pets!
Students will be thrilled to have 5-10 minutes where they can play with their pets, visit classmates’ pets and arrange their pet’s habitat.
Where Do You Buy Desk Pets?
There are lots of places to shop around for Desk Pets, many of them reasonably priced and inexpensive.
You will likely find the most variety on Amazon, in bulk sets that come with enough erasers for every child in class, with some extras. This is just one option, with 32 erasers and a variety of animals included.
At Target’s Bullseye’s Playground (also known informally as the “Target dollar spot”) you can often find packs of seasonal small animal erasers and a variety of mini erasers. Occasionally, Bullseye’s Playground items are listed on the Target website, such as these “Reward Erasers.”
Oriental Trading is also a great place to search, as they offer bulk classroom supplies at reasonable prices.
Dollar Tree, Dollar Store, or 99 Cent Only Stores are great places to check out for inexpensive Desk Pets and accessories.
Also buy small plastic containers for storage on your student’s desks.
Then create desk pet habitats. Make sure to label the containers with your students’ names.
Desk pet starter kit:
How Students Earn Desk Pets
The Desk Pets program in a classroom would replace other kinds of rewards systems such as class currency or marble jars. There are lots of ways for students to earn additional pets and other goodies.
Use a point system where students redeem their points in the Pet Store. Students can earn points for whatever you feel works for your class: completed homework, following directions, acts of kindness, etc.
For older kids, they should have a notebook or chart where they can keep track of their points and be responsible for their “Pet Wallet.” For the younger children, a physical item (such as a ticket) helps give them a better understanding of the concept.
Put together a little Desk Pet store and include lots of goodies that students can earn. You will want to rotate the items for sale to make the shopping experience exciting.
One way to do this is to set out collectibles–seasonal items that only come out in particular times of year. For example, in December, students can earn Christmas-themed collectibles for their pet homes.
Or in springtime maybe “Spring Buddies” are available such as butterflies or bunnies.
Desk Pet Ideas for Home
Kids who are homeschooled, participating in distance learning or independent study can also enjoy Desk Pets. I encourage having these available just during schooling time. If they are able to access their pet anytime during the day, children may lose interest.
Many students do not have a permanent workspace that is not used any time other than schooling, so you will need to put together some sort of jar or container for the Desk Pet and find a designated spot for it to “rest” for the night after school. You can use a small square container or a jar with a lid.
If you are unable or uninterested in purchasing a container a small box would work great as well. Students can then decorate the box with art supplies and place more permanent decorations.
Food for Desk Pets
Once students have their special Desk Pet, they will be responsible for taking care of it. One way to do this is to have them feed them. Use food erasers for this. Anywhere that you can purchase Desk Pets will likely have a different variety of food erasers.
You can incorporate some bonus lessons using the food:
History: Find some erasers that have a good assortment of foods from other cultures. Here is an example of some erasers that include Asian foods.
Health & Nutrition: Which of the foods are healthy? Which are fruits/vegetables? You can also discuss food groups and sort foods into categories (healthy/unhealthy, food groups, etc.).
Children can even purchase toys for their desk pets. The ideas are endless!
Desk Pet Tips
You might find that these novel little creatures cause a little bit of a distraction to your day, at least at the beginning. This is to be expected, kids can’t get enough of them! Before you introduce Desk Pets to your students, make sure you have a “Desk Pet Policy” planned out to go over with the students.
Establish clear boundaries. You’ll want to make sure that students know what the expectations are in order to have these pets.
For the younger students, it would be fun to read a letter written from the pets to the class. Write this on the whiteboard or large poster paper. You’ll be practicing literacy skills while introducing students to this new system.
Plan a shopping day into your schedule so that students know exactly when they will be able to shop for new pets, food or goodies.
Knowing that Fridays after lunch will be shopping time will minimize the questions and worry about when they will be able to use their pet currency.
Even kindergarteners can have a Desk Pet. You’ll just need to adjust the ways that they will earn rewards and modify your expectations to include these little learners.
Sometimes you will just have to give students a break from their pet. But it doesn’t have to be seen as a punishment, just a natural consequence. You can set up a fun “time out” area for the companions.
- Desk Pet Daycare Center–Designate a spot on your desk that is a dayare so the pets can be babysat while they take their timeout from the classroom. You can also call this an adoption center if you prefer.
- Island Vacation–Send the pet to an island vacation (again, in a special part of the room). Bonus, students can write about their pet’s vacation during free writing time!
Make sure that your classroom pet policy is posted in the classroom somewhere where students can view it easily. Include language that is just right for your students along with images.
Will you use Desk Pets with your students? Give it a try, these little guys are so much fun and kids just love them. It doesn’t take much time setting this classroom incentive program up and you will find that the time is well spent!
Get the Desk Pet’s Printable here!
Be sure to check out my Free Printable Stick Puppets: The Three Little Pigs for more fun ideas.