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  • Writer's pictureAlways Upper Elementary

Desk Pets: The Pros & Cons and Best Materials!

Updated: May 26

Last year, I decided to jump on the desk pet trend to use as a reward system in my fourth grade classroom. I actually waited to do desk pets until the spring to try something new and fresh during the “spring slump.”

If you are considering doing desk pets in your classroom, read below about the best materials to use and the overall pros & cons. Then you can decide if desk pets are a good fit for your teaching style and classroom!

Best Materials:

  • Desk Pets

    • The desk pets I purchased were from Five Below and came in a pack of 25 for $5. Unfortunately, they are now sold out, but these mochis could be a great alternative! Mochis are squishy little animals and they are very popular right now for elementary-aged kids! I bought these mochis for a different purpose than desk pets, but they would work for desk pets too. They are cute, durable, and kids absolutely love them!

  • Desk Pet Activities & Friends

    • Students can also earn fun treats and toys for their desk pet, like these cute mini erasers. There are also mini pets in this pack, which I referred to as friends or “pet pets,” which my students loved earning!

  • Home Decor

    • Students can also earn home decor for their desk pets and add these stickers to their mini muffin domes. My students loved these Minecraft stickers!

  • Velcro for Homes

    • Attach the desk pet homes to each student’s desk or table spot with velcro dots.

  • Adoption Certificates

    • Students get to name their pets and officially adopt them by using an adoption certificate! My kids felt like it was very official, which made the process of adopting their pet even more fun. I loved this certificate from Know It By Heart:

Pros of Desk Pets

  • Fresh & Fun!

    • Students loved desk pets and got very excited about them. It was the perfect thing to implement in the spring because it added something fresh and new during the “spring slump.” We really needed something fun during that point of the year, which worked out really well.

  • Creative

    • Students love to get creative with their desk pets. I teach fourth grade (aka 9 & 10 year olds) and they loved desk pets. They don’t have to be for younger students! They work for older grades too!

  • Kids get to be KIDS

    • My kids loved the chance to truly be KIDS. They got excited and invested in their pets and truly enjoyed this reward system!

  • Motivating

    • My students were motivated to earn items and additional things for their desk pets. Even the students that I thought wouldn’t buy into this, did! This is clearly extrinsic motivation, but the hope is that this extrinsic motivation helps them develop intrinsic motivation as they get older.

Cons of Desk Pets

  • Extrinsic Motivation

    • Desk pets are clearly extrinsic motivation. The hope is that this extrinsic motivation helps students develop intrinsic motivation too. My students were motivated to earn items and additional things for their desk pets. Even the students that I thought wouldn’t buy into this, did! However, it is undeniably extrinsic motivation. I personally don’t have a problem with using tangible rewards, specifically at the elementary level, but you should make the best choice for you and your students! :)

  • Money

    • I tried to spend as little money as possible, but the reality is that there is a cost involved in buying the materials.

Using desk pets in my classroom was a fun trend to try in my classroom and worked really well during the “spring slump!" This spring, I think I will try desk pets again with my class. If you end up trying desk pets in your classroom, let me know what you think by sending me a message over on Instagram @always.upper.elementary or tagging me in your posts! I would love to hear about how it goes! :)

Also, make sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers at this link! You will be the first to know about my sales, freebies, and newest products.

Happy teaching!


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