Can you even imagine? Those little mini erasers that teachers have given out to their students for years are suddenly a TikTok sensation. They are a must-have for many primary classrooms! Marissa Begay introduced Desk Pets in a video on TikTok. Now, teachers are begging, “Tell us All about Desk Pets!”
Well, are you looking for a fun, engaging incentive activity for your classroom? Are you hoping to spark some learning regarding caring for others and being responsible? Maybe you are like me, curious to know whatever you can about Desk Pets before you take the plunge for your classroom. We did some digging, asked our Fearless Firstie Members some questions, and are now happy to bring you the scoop that is All about Desk Pets.
What are Desk Pets?
- Desk Pets are mini erasers in the shape of animals, including sea animals, pets, zoo animals, etc.
- They are available at stores such as Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby.
- Many people have found some great deals for their Desk Pets on Amazon. I like this large set the best as I don’t want to search for them continually!
- It is essential to have a variety of animals and multiples of the same animals so that your students have choices! And, so they also can have the same pet as their besties!
How are Teachers Using Desk Pets?
- Teachers have students earn tokens, punches, or money to exchange to purchase their desk pet and, later, the accessories.
- “It promotes positive behavior (they get money for making good choices, etc. rather than me always pointing out those that are making bad choices).”
- “My students do teacher vs. student. At the end of the day, if they have more points than I do, they get a point towards going to the ‘pet store.’”
- “They earn tickets for positive behavior choices and can exchange ten tickets for a pet.”
- “They foster them for a month and are allowed to adopt them to take home forever at the end of the month.”
- “In this day and age, teachers need to use whatever methods that work for them to manage classroom behavior.” “Teachers need to be creative. If having a little pet on their desk helps a child, then do it.”
- “They can also earn desk pets throughout the week for pretty much anything I decide (kind words, helping me or others, good behavior, cleaning the classroom, etc.). I give them out when I feel certain kids need a boost.” By finding multiple reasons for giving out the pets, all children receive a pet within a short period.
- “I might be in awe of their writing, or it might be some wonderful improvements with academics or behavior.”
Most teachers seem to be recognizing all of their kids in positive ways, focusing on individual strengths. I love that these teachers acknowledge all of their kids and do not attempt to revert to a visual clip chart mentality where some kids receive many items with their desk pets while others receive very little.
Establishing Rules and Guidelines
- I cannot believe all of the thought that most teachers are putting into Desk Pets for their kiddos! Teachers are coming up with rules for obtaining their initial pet, rules for using their pets, rules for getting the accessories, etc.
- Desk Pets may seem a bit overwhelming and time-consuming. If you’re going to have Desk Pets, remember that they may involve a lot of work!
- For example, will everyone just be given a Desk Pet to start?
- Do they need to do something to earn their Desk Pets, such as so many tickets, tokens, or an amount of money?
- How often will your adoption center or store be open?
- Where will your students keep their pets?
- Will the pet eventually go home?
- Are you doing Desk Pets for a brief period of the year, or for as long as it seems to be positively motivating your students?
Setting Up Your Adoption Center or Store
- Our teachers are having lots of creative ideas for how kids access their pets!
- Some teachers create a pet store where their students can ‘purchase’ their pet using their earned tokens or money.
- Other teachers have decided to focus on pet adoption, setting up an adoption center. Students not only choose their pet but receive adoption papers once chosen!
- Now, a few teachers are limiting the selection choices for their students and simply putting a few options out in their usual treasure boxes. Kids can choose a typical treasure if they want, or they can choose a Desk Pet.
Homes and Accessories for the Pets
- There are endless ideas for homes for these Desk Pets, from shoebox habitats to pencil boxes to purchased cupcake containers.
- Some teachers are going all out and allowing their kiddos to research their pets’ needs and having them set up a shoebox to correspond with those needs.
- Teachers also allow students to have the Desk Pet out at their desk without a home, leaving plenty of desk space for their school work.
- If you wish to be creative and spend a little money, cupcake containers from Amazon or pencil boxes from Wal-Mart also serve as perfect homes for these little guys.
- Did you know that those mini-erasers can be in the shape of just about anything? Students are getting food and supply erasers for their pets based on positive behavior. Some teachers are making mini-books and mini-toy shapes for their students as well.
Suggestions to Consider for Desk Pets
- Money is a massive consideration as teachers purchase enough already for their classrooms. How much classroom budget or personal money are you wanting to invest in the Desk Pet craze?
- Consider doing Desk Pets for only portions of the school year, as the enthusiasm and value that your students have may wane if you attempt to do them all year.
- Storage on the desks, on a table, at the back of the room? Where will your students keep their Desk Pets? If you decide to keep them by the students, you must remind them not to touch them during teaching and work times. For some more impulsive students, the urge to feel all day may be too much! If you keep them by you or on a table or shelf, how will you ensure they don’t get swapped or ‘accidentally’ placed into the wrong habitats or pockets?
And Final Thoughts on Desk Pets
- What about access to the Desk Pets? When will the students get to play with their habitats and supplies? The students will want to touch and play with their pets and habitats daily. And, you will want to encourage this play to keep the momentum high.
- How about shopping or adopting time? Will this take place every Friday or on the once-a-week schedule? Or, will you allow this to occur more frequently? It will take a bit of time for your students to look at all of the pets and supplies as littles struggle with making fast decisions! I suggest shopping once a week and utilizing a timer to limit the length of time a student may decide!
- If students are getting into their Desk Pets when they are not supposed to or not listening to proper use of the Desk Pets, some teachers are coming up with pet sitting ideas for the items to sit at the teacher’s desk until students can use them correctly.
- A few teachers have chosen to have pets visit the pound nightly (turned into the teacher). Putting them away allows for safe-keeping and away from other little hands!
My verdict for Desk Pets is still a strong maybe. How about you? Will you be taking the plunge and trying this as an incentive this year? Please let us know! Are you already using Desk Pets? Reach out and tell us how Desk Pets are working for your classroom! We would love to hear from all of you! Or, maybe we will see you starting the next must-have craze on TikTok!
WRITTEN BY – SUZANNE KELLEY
At Education to the Core, we exist to help our teachers build a stronger classroom as they connect with our community to find trusted, state-of-the-art resources designed by teachers for teachers. We aspire to be the world’s leading & most trusted community for educational resources for teachers. We improve the lives of every teacher and learner with the most comprehensive, reliable, and inclusive educational resources.