Do you need a class pet?

  1. The Question:
    I feel like I could take in a classroom pet!  Any suggestions on what works best for kindergarten? I would like to use it in some lessons or have it serve a purpose other than just being cute and feeding it. 
    Anemarie Stanczak Hall
     A hermit crab is my choice.
    Teresa Brown
     Well, I had a rat for two years and she was WICKED smart. Rats can learn all KINDS of things. I’ve had friends who have had guinea pigs and they are bright as well! Lots of ways to integrate them into lessons…
    Fiona Glass Pike
     I always have a tank of fish. I had a hamster for a few years. Very popular but a little more upkeep.
    Diane Smith
    I have a turtle, and a giant fish that the turtle refused to eat and is now they are  buddies.
    Gretchen Palmer Irons
     Hermit crab….
    Emily Ray
     Don’t forget to check for allergies!!! 😀
    Peggy Seidel
    Fish are great cause they can draw a child into the classroom, they are interesting and not too high maintenance. If you are lucky they will reproduce (guppies are good) and you don’t have to worry about them over weekends or holidays. Don’t go too big or flashy, kids appreciate plain, inexpensive fish. If you want to get fancy, algae eating fish or snails are interesting but sometimes not together as the snails will eat the fish if they catch them.
    Kristin Charpentier 
    I love my Beta fish. Each year I get a new one and let my class name it. They love taking care of the fish and they are very easy. I may also add a hermit crab this year!
    Cindy Branam Boyer
     Hermit crabs are inexpensive, easy, educational, and they’re not so cute and cuddly that you get over attached to them. Not as many tears when they pass on.
    Lisa Roberson Bagley
     We aren’t allowed to have pets at our school. Double check with your principal to make sure they allow you to have a pet.
    Amber Monson Schaefer 
    Hermit crabs. Not stinky. Easy to care for. And if you want to see them move, you have to be really quiet. A great lesson for the kids!
    Janet Auer Baird
    We had a turtle until the district said no. Next we had a rat, which was wonderful for the kids. The allergy kids didn’t take her out. The rats have a pretty short life span, so be ready for “the Circle of LIfe”  bit. Now we have guppies and goldfish in separate tanks. Believe it or not you can train fish when they’re hungry. They’ll come to the top or follow your finger. Good Luck!
    Sabrina Wilson I had guinea pigs when I taught K. There are so many cute books about them: One Guinea Pig is Not Enough, The Guinea Pig Alphabet, etc. They are very interactive and,  if handled a lot , are very tame, but you do have to clean out their cages pretty often. I also had a hedgehog that read the Jan Brett Hedgie books with us. I couldn’t let the kids touch him, but he was awfully cute!
    Sarah Ferns 
    I love guinea pigs!! I’ve had them throughout the years and the children love them! I had one for 7 years until he passed on. We just got a new one. She is a baby and I had the k class name her. They voted on the name and came up with Buttercup. We also just studied pets and I let my students bring in 1 stuffed pet from home. They got to paint shoebox “crates” for them and make collars and leashes and food bowls out of paper, yarn, and recyclables. The kids loved it!!! I suggest a baby guinea pig because they get used to being around children. Good luck!!
    Chasity Wade-Sharp
     I had a bearded dragon. For a reptile, they are pretty low maintenance and interactive 🙂
    Jill Staley Hanson
     I’ve had African water frogs in my kindergarten classroom. I ordered them and they arrived at school as tadpoles. The kids loved watching the transformation. Not all of them survived but the 3 of them that did were well loved and easy to care for.
    Jenifer Richards Orthmann 
    I have a gray tree frog in my K classroom. Truthfully, I caught him in my backyard. We feed him crickets weekly. We don’t get him out but watch him move and can listen to him croak. I am bringing him with me to PreK in the fall.
    Sarah Hudson
     Here’s the crotchety old jaded teacher saying “Don’t do it!’ I have had rats, a rabbit, a guinea pig, fish…all were a pain in the neck for various reasons and life is easier without a classroom pet. Sorry but I have to say it!!!
    Megan Hopkins Dunkel
     Hermit crabs are super easy. I forget he is there at times!
    Susan Parker Lauer
     We have animals come in to visit for a couple of weeks. I have had different kinds of fish, snails, worms, a bunny and chicks. Only having them for a short time keeps the students interested. My team swaps them around. When they have made the rounds to all the rooms, we put them up for adoption.
    Nancy Carr Dunnagan 
    My first choice would be a dog! But that is hard for some people! I have had guinea pigs and they are great! Teaches responsibility, empathy, and they have a cute personality!! My school now does not want them so I am thinking of fish or a hermit crab. I think it is so important to have a pet!
    Stephanie Gault Albarez 
    I had a hamster and it ended up that I, the teacher, was allergic to it. So next was a series of Beta fish, which I found out like dirty water!
    Karla Lynch Haddock 
    I agree with Sarah…although I do have a rabbit in my classroom. The rabbit was a gift for my daughter. We live in Colorado and I would have had to let it in my house, or buy warming lamps to keep it alive in the winter. As a compromise, my daughter agreed to let it go to my classroom. I didn’t have to have it at home or buy heating lamps all winter. The rabbit is still my daughter’s responsibility though.
    Tara Farrell 
    Dust bunnies! Easy to care for. No pets for me!
    Amy Bennett
     Our school mascot is a lizard. I had a bearded dragon in my class. Then we hatched them and had babies. 🙂 It was a lot of fun, and this is coming from someone who hates reptiles! We couldn’t have any animals with fur due to allergies.
    Maggie Beattie 
    Don’t … sorry, but with allergies, cleaning, parent/admin complaints-not worth it. Try to do a virtual “adopted” pet from local zoo or farm. Lots of activities/ideas
    Amy Kress
    A rat. They rock.
    Shannon Cope Lougee
     fish
    Sharon Bohn 
    Instead of a “live” pet, I had a stuffed animal. The children named it at the beginning of the school year and took turns taking it home with a journal each night. If they brought it back the next day, they got their name in the box for a drawing at the end of the school year to take home the pet and the journal. The kids love it!!
    Kathy Ferrell Morgan
     I have had gerbils for several years. Kids love them! I also do the above mentioned with stuffed raccoon (Chester) from “The Kissing Hand”. Send him home with the book, journal, and bag. They take pics and love to share what they did with Chester in the journal.
    Suzanne Ebling Gerczynski
     We have a beta and a snail. The fish’s name changes with the letter we are learning…. Miggles. …Siggles….Biggles….when we learn a vowel we change the vowel sound.
    Arlene Paxton
     I didn’t think a fish would be much of a class pet but I was wrong. Not only has the goldfish been alive for 6 years, she is quite loved by all the students. The older students will drop by to say hi and are happy to know “Princess” is still alive. We study the parts of the fish, write about it, draw it, one student feeds it daily and all just enjoy watching it swim. Easy to handle and perfect for the K classroom. Enjoy! PS I have a 20 gallon tank so Princess is quite large! Older students love to clean the tank for you. I have a magnet that cleans the side of the tank.
    Barbara Hutchison
     You name it, I have had it as an animal in our classroom. All are nice and it depends on you as the teacher and what up-keep you want to do. Gerbils and fish are the easiest. I currently have a rabbit, gerbil, and a toad in our room. The rabbit is now 8 and all my former students return to see the rabbit, not me ;-( , but make sure rabbit is fixed to have a calmer, nicer bunny.
    Elizabeth Powers Paul
     I think a Beta fish is great and easy to care for. I had a hamster once and that was not fun.
    Sara Steward Cooper
     I am a believer of a pet that cannot outrun me should it escape or one that stays in its home…fish or hermit crab. Easy to replace too.  I loved my guinea pig but just so messy…
    Brenda Smith Browning 
    Never thought of a hermit crab. Thanks for the idea. At this point, we cannot feasibly have a class pet. Our school temps vary so much, especially in the winter. It’s hard enough for the kinders.
    Cheryl Dycio
     Our principal would not let us have things with fur because of possible allergens. So I got a beta. The kids love “Sammy” and the older ones will come back and visit. I keep him in a 5 gallon tank and there is very little to do other than feed it and I do partial cleaning 3-4 times a school year. Otherwise the filter keeps it clean.
    Leischen Celsur
     I teach kinder and we have had guinea pigs, the giant goldfish, hermit crabs and those giant snails. The kids had loved them all.
    Amy Rhine
     I’d say a snake (if they don’t bother you) I have a corn snake and the kids LOVE him! VERY easy to take care of, feed him once a week (I thaw frozen mice). When we talk about snakes. It is great, all of the other teachers bring their class down and when he sheds it’s great for the kids to see. Of my 6 years, I’ve only had 2 kids not want anything to do with him; and A LOT of parents won’t come in my room because I have him. lol That can be a plus sometimes. hahaha Turtles stink! Literally I’ve also had hermit crabs in the past. They are very easy to take care of. Last April I got a rabbit. The kids love him too. I’ve never had a guinea pig but a 1st grade teacher does and the kids take care of him; brush, clean the cage, & feed him. I would not recommend fish unless they’re in a container/bowl you can take home over the weekend or during the summer. Everyone at my school calls me the animal lady. lol I wish I could bring my dog.
    Beverly Anne Slamin White
     I’ve taught K 30 years, and yes pets take time and money, but they are WELL worth it, if you capitalize
    on them. They are GREAT motivators. Shy kids come out, rough kids are gentle, reluctant writers bloom and parents assume you’re the really cool teacher…and you are! I’ve had all kinds of pets. Guinea pigs are my favorite. They’re much easier to hold and poop a lot less than rabbits. They’re too big to lose (unlike mice, rats and gerbils) They are faithful eaters- my kids picked dandelions, clover etc and hand fed them for treats. Another teacher and I put ours together at night for a planned litter of babies at least once a year. THE BABIES ARE BORN WITH ALL THEIR HAIR, EYES OPEN, running around in minutes!!! 2 1/2 month gestation, 1-6 babies. I’ve never had trouble finding excellent homes. ENJOY! Don’t be a crotchety old jaded teacher, ever!
    Holly Bertram 
    I know that you are all going to freak out,  but I’m on my second pet rat. They literally are amazing class pets. My students will hold her and she is cuddly and sweet. We do all kind of research on her and use her for science observations when talking about five senses.
    Cindy Tuisku 
    I love having a tortoise! We can go for weeks without feeding him, he’s very clean, the kids really can’t hurt him and he doesn’t hurt them, and they love building homes and mazes for him with blocks. Okay, he doesn’t really race through the mazes, but he also doesn’t run away very quickly.
    Missy Gannon Kacy 
    I’ve had MANY pets over the years (rabbit, rat, Pixie frog (giant sized!), little lizards, garter snake, fish, ducklings, etc). Our MOST favorite to have in the room is my parakeet! I’ve had a few, and they are wonderful to have in the room! A very soothing presence, and sassy and funny as well! He isn’t finger trained now, but I have had some that were. :0)
    Donalee Preston
     We are discouraged from having pets so we adopted a donkey from Walkwithdonkeys Crete. We went on the site to see all of the sanctuary and the class got to see each one. Then they each wrote a “persuasive” writing piece on the one they wanted to chose and we voted. We learn about another county, support a rescue sanctuary, and visit a special page she set up just for our donkey. She also sent us a letter and other correspondence. She has different options for providing hay for your donkey, etc. I was very happy with this, no upkeep and actually cheaper in the long run I think.
     Oh, and for this year’s pirate theme we have Pete the Repeat toy parrot. Does he count? LOL
    Laurie Chvatal 
    Fish. It used to go along with our science curriculum. Or you could also do tadpoles/frogs and caterpillars/butterflies
    AND we appreciate it so much Donalee – will be posting more pictures of Loukas in his special group page soon!
    Sue Kroll
     Pick some animal that is awake during the day. Hamsters are bad because they are nocturnal and being continuously awoken to play actually shortens their life and makes them all-round grumpy. Rats are good. They are affectionate  and awake during the day.
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4 thoughts on “Do you need a class pet?

  1. Wen I was in kindergarten we had caterpillars and when they turned to butterfly’s we let them go. It was really cool cause we got to learn all about them and their cycles as we saw them happen

  2. I’m with Amy Rhine. I teach third grade, but our kindergarten reading buddies love our low-maintenance corn snake as much as my home room students do.

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