August 1, 2011

Pets in the Classroom

Every year I find myself with various pets in my classroom. There are so many benefits to having pets in the classroom, that I feel that more teachers should do it. I understand that some school districts no longer allow pets in the classroom, and I do agree that a teacher should not have class pets if they do not feel that they can care for the pets year round, but I feel that more teachers should take time to look at the advantages of having a class pet. 

In my own classroom this year we have a hamster, 2 African Dwarf Frogs, and a Beta fish. There's really very little upkeep from myself to care for these animals after the first few weeks of school- my students do almost everything! One of our weekly class jobs is our Zookeeper who is in charge of caring for all of our class pets for the week. We have a list by the animal supplies that tells students which animals get fed on which days (Hamster: Monday, Wednesday, Friday  Frogs and Fish - Tuesdays and Thursdays).  The zookeeper also helps clean our hamster's cage every other week, and helps clean the frog and fish tanks as needed (usually once every month). My students really enjoy the responsibilities of caring for the pets, and there are many ways that I incorporate them into our lessons as well!

I created a letter for my parents and permission slip that explains some of the benefits of having pets in the classroom, as well as our class rules and expectations for our pets. I go over this in class with my students, and then send it home so they can review it with their parents and sign it. It helps me to be sure all of my parents are aware that we have class pets, and it also helps me to find responsible families to care for our hamster over long holiday breaks. Feel free to download it to use in your own classroom by clicking the hamster picture below!

In past years I've found two great resources to help me with pets in my classroom, both with getting funding to buy and care for them as well as information for my parents and students. 
The first site is Pets In The Classroom. This fantastic site is filled with resources and information about different pets in your classroom as well as their benefits. It also provides GRANTS to help K-6th grade teachers purchase or maintain pets in their classroom. Click the logo below to find out  more!
Another great resource I found is from Petco. They provide a Lesson in a Box kit that provides resources for up to 30 students to teach them about pet care for small animals! It also comes with some useful coupons for teachers as well. The kit is FREE including shipping. Click the photo below to get more information and order yours!

Petco stores are also a great place to check if you're looking to get a small animal or fish for your classroom. They're really knowledgeable at helping teachers select the right items for their pet that fits into their space and time constraints. They also sometimes offer adoption days where you can get the pet for free if you buy their cage. The day I got my class' hamster I was really only stopping in to buy a new beta fish, but they were having one of the adoption days and I fell in love with the little guy. 

Do you have pets in your classroom? Have you found any sites or stores particularly helpful in your quest for the perfect pet?


  1. Thank you for your kind comments about Molly. I added your link to the post.

  2. One of my blogger friends, Erica (see above), just lost her classroom pet of over 9 years- a Guinea Pig named Molly. Be sure to take a moment to read her inspiring post about what a wonderful classroom addition she was and leave a message for Erica.
    Remembering Molly, Beloved Classroom Pet

  3. Hi Karen! I work with Pets in the Classroom and want to thank you so much for posting this information on the grant program! We appreciate your help in getting the word out to other teachers on both the grant program as well as the advantages of having a classroom pet. I hope you don't mind, but I reposted your post on our blog: Thanks again!

  4. Thanks for the letter home to parents. I actually just applied for the classroom grant this week and I'm hoping to receive it. I'm going to go sign up for the teaching kit now. Do you send your classroom pets home every weekend or only over extended weekends?

  5. Rachelv- Thank you so much! I'm flattered that you liked my post enough to repost on your blog! Thank you so much for everything you and the Pets in the Classroom program do!

    EFranklin- I only send my pets home over extended weekends and holidays- unless I have more volunteers to bring them home than we have long weekends. I like to make sure that everyone who signs up gets a chance to be a "pet sitter" at some point throughout the year.

  6. Thanks! That's what I was planning on doing, too! I have another question- do you know the name of the font that you used for the top of the permission slip? I love it!

  7. You're welcome! The font is called Pea KT Polkie Dot. I found it on "Fonts For Peas" :)

    The link to download it is:

  8. Thanks for the letter to parents and permission slip! It is exactly what I was looking for. I also applied for the grant! Great information!