Desk Pets (15 Creative Ideas to Try This Year)

desk pets adoption center

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Desk Pets (15 Creative Ideas to Try This Year)

Have you seen the new desk pet idea that is all over social media? In this post I’ll explain to you what desk pets are and then I’ll show you some fun ideas to introduce them in your classroom this year and where to get them. You may just have more fun than the kids with this one!

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What Are Desk Pets?

So, desk pets are basically a clever name for little animal erasers that you give your students for their desk. The original idea came from teacher, Marissa Begay on Tik-Tok and since then everyone fell in love with them. They can be used for an incentive, a classroom management tool or just for fun.

I’ll show you how some teachers are using their desk pets in this post to give you some great ideas to try it out in your class. At the end of this post, I’ll show you where you can get some for your class.

How to Use Desk Pets in the Classroom

Small animal erasers in container
Image Source | EMILYBUDZ

First step is to get a ton of cute mini erasers. A lot of teachers scored these in the Target dollar spot. But that is hit and miss.  You can sometimes find them at the Dollar Store as well.

They have them on Amazon too, my favorites are at the end of the post. You can also choose to get desk pet homes. I’ll show you some different options for that too.

Displaying Your Desk Pets

A great way to add an extra motivation for your students is to put the desk pets on display. I'm talking about a fun container that will get them excited about earning this incentive.  Check out some ideas below.

A Pretty Desk Pet Container

pretty container for desk pets
Image Source | MS_FOURTH

I love the idea of displaying your desk pets in a pretty container like Janelle, a fourth-grade teacher from Oregon. Then the label just takes it over the top. How excited would your kids be to see this display in the class? Here’s a similar plastic apothecary jar that they would look great in.

Repurposed Cookie Container for Desk Pets

desk pet containers
Image Source | HELLO_FIFTH

It’s all in the presentation, right?  Would your students love to see all the desk pets they can earn displayed in this cute cookie container?  That might just up the motivation factor.

Jill, a 5th grade teacher from L.A. repurposed a cookie container from Target, added some cute googly eyes and created this fun container to hold the desk pet collection.

Desk Pet Organization

desk pet organization system
Image Source | inspiring_minds_and_hearts

I love this idea from Kayla, a K-3rd SPED teacher.  She organized her desk pets in a pocket chart from the Dollar Tree.  This allows her students to easily see all of them at once.

When they find the one that they want they'll give her the number and they she can find the right one in the storage bin.  This simple solution keeps the desk pet erasers organized and saves her time!

Have a Home for Each Pet

desk pet homes

Brianna, a second-grade teacher has both the large erasers and the mini ones too. She lets her students earn a desk pet with a cute little home and then they can also earn as many as the mini ones as they want.

Individual Labeled Containers for the Pets

Individual containers for animal erasers

Another idea is to get these small plastic containers and then label them with the student’s name. It’s the perfect size to sit on their desk.

Perfect Desk Pet Containers

desk pet homes
Image Source | SASSYN2ND

I’m also loving the little containers that Ms. Luis has for her desk pets.  You can find similar little desk pet containers here. You can even secure them to students' desks with Velcro strips to keep them in place during the school day.

Desk Pets as a Behavior System

classroom behavior system

Desk pets can be used as a behavior system. Here’s what Emily, a Kindergarten teacher does. She sends this note home with the students and each student gets a desk pet and a plastic container for their pet.

When students follow rules in the class they earn points that they can use in the “Pet Shop.” The Pet shop has food for their pet, balls, accessories and more pets! If the student is not following the rules then she will have to babysit the pet for the day on her desk.

Desk Pet Rules

desk pet rules
Image Source | theenglish_labo

Tina a teacher in Greece realized the importance of providing a simple list of rules that are posted in the class.  This keeps order to this fun reward system.  If you want to add some desk pet rules here are some ideas:

  • Desk Pets stay in their homes while we are learning.
  • Desk pets must stay at school.
  • Do not touch others' desk pets without permission.
  • Only visit the desk pet adoption center when the teacher gives you permission.
  • Take good care of your desk pet.

Desk Pet Adoption Center

desk pets adoption center

I love the idea of creating an adoption center to get your students excited about earning their desk pets.  Mrs. Castro, a kindergarten teacher, created a ticket system.  When the students earn five tickets, they can purchase a desk pet.

The students are learning by practicing counting tickets and comparing with their friends to see how many they have!

Adoption Certificate

desk pets adoption certificate

Mrs. Castro’s students next get to fill out an adoption certificate.  This includes their name, the pets name, the type of pet and the date of adoption.  Then they can place them in their pet home.

Desk Pet Rescue Center

desk pet rescue center
Image Source | inspiredowlscorner

This teacher changed the name from desk pet adoption center to rescue center.  She did this because it occurred to her that it may be hurtful to children that are adopted.  So now she has her students rescue a pet instead of adopting one.

Limit Play Time

Most teachers agree that it's a good idea to have limits on when the students can play with their pets.  In Mrs. Castor’s classroom the pets can only come out to play on Fun Fridays.  At the end of the day the pets will go back to their homes and watch the class throughout the week.

Other teachers allow students to play with their pets during free time or when they are finished with their work.

Desk Pet Vet Clinic

desk pets vet clinic

Here's a brilliant idea from Miss Lower, a fourth-grade teacher.  If kids are misbehaving or if they have a messy desk the desk pets will have to go to the vet clinic for a short visit.  When the students are ready the desk pets can be returned.

Desk Pet Day Care

desk pet day care
Image Source | primaryandsunshine

Kindergarten teacher, Katie has the same idea as the vet clinic, but she calls her Desk Pet Day care.  If students are not being responsible pet owners, the pets will stay at the daycare for the day and can return to the owner at the end of the day.

She uses these magnetic tins to keep the little pets at the day care center.

Have Students Create a Desk Pet Habitat

desk pets habitat

As a fun extra project Emily encouraged her students to create a habitat for their pets with construction paper, Q-tips, cotton balls, popsicle sticks or anything else that they have around the house.

Desk Pet Habitats Science Project

animal habitat science project idea

Not only can creating a habitat be a fun activity you can also make it a learning activity. A science unit on habitats could involve students creating a habitat for their pet.

Food for the Desk Pets


As an extra incentive you can have your children earn food items for their pet with a reward system. Wouldn’t they have so much fun with this?

Desk Pet Shop

desk pets pet shop

Creating a pet shop is another way to reinforce positive behavior in the class.  You can find tiny erasers that are food, toys, treats and even decorations for their home!

Mrs. Castro’s students can purchase anything from the pet shop with 2 tickets that they have earned for good behavior.  Read on to discover where to get items for your pet shop.

Using Coins in Your Desk Pet Store

individual classroom reward idea

Here’s another super fun way to run your class desk pet shop.  Ms. Luis, a second-grade teacher, has coins that the students can earn for positive behaviors that they can spend to adopt a pet.  She also discusses the rules and responsibilities of adopting a pet with the class. (So important!)

If you love the coins, she uses for her class store you can find similar ones on Amazon.  Here are some realistic ones if you want to incorporate learning to count money and here are some generic ones.

Desk Pet Punch Cards

desk pet punch cards
Image Source | thirdgradefarmhouse

Third grade teacher, Stephanie gives each student a desk pet punch card.  When the first card is filled up, they earn a desk pet of their choosing and a home as well.  When they get the next card filled up, they will earn a trip to the desk pet store where they can purchase food, toys, bedding and other items for the desk pet home.

Desk Pets Creative Writing Activity

By now you know that desk pets work well as a positive reinforcement strategy.  But there are a few more creative ways that teachers are using desk pets in the classroom as well.

You can create a writing activity around desk pets. Have students write about the day in the life of their desk pet or a story of what their desk pet did before they became their pet.  Students will enjoy writing about something that they love!

Desk Pet Printables

desk pet printables

I created this fun set of printables to get you started with desk pets!  You can find it in my Etsy shop here.

This printable set includes:

  • Adoption Certificates (Available in 2 Sizes)
  • Desk Pet Dollars (Students can earn to use in the Pet Shop)
  • Pet Shop Printable
  • Grocery Store Printable
  • Adoption Center Printable
  • Vet Clinic Printable

Where to Find Desk Pets

If I’ve convinced you to jump on this bandwagon then below check out the best miniature erasers for your classroom that you can get on Amazon.

animal erasers on Amazon

mini animal erasers pack

If that last set just wasn’t quite enough for you, this one includes 62 little pets.

small food and animal erasers for classroom incentive

This one is fun because you can get a combo of small animal erasers and food too! There are 100 small erasers in this pack.

Desk Pet Accessories

If you want to create a pet shop with extra items that your students can purchase, then check out below links to my favorite desk pet accessories.

Desk Pet Accessories & Food

animal eraser accessories

This is a fun combo pack of 60 erasers, and it includes animals, food, toys and even musical instruments!

Desk Pet Food

mini food erasers

This pack has 60 small erasers and I love that it includes all that yummy food that will sure to be your students' favorites.  Plus, it also includes some healthy food too!

Desk Pet Homes

Below check out some options to contain the animals. They come in different sizes so be sure to check the measurements.

package of small containers






Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start desk pets in the classroom?

To start using desk pets in your classroom, begin by selecting small animal erasers. Introduce the concept to your students and create a set of criteria for earning desk pets and accessories.

These criteria can reinforce positive behaviors like staying on task, making a smooth transition, and working well with a partner. Consider using a punch card or desk pet money to help kids keep track of positive behavior.

What grade is good for desk pets?

Desk pets are an excellent positive reinforcement tool for primary classrooms, such as kindergarten through third grade. They help engage younger students and encourage them to develop good habits and behaviors during their early years of education.

What are some rules for having desk pets?

Establishing rules for desk pets is an important part of your classroom management strategy.  Here are some ideas for rules:

  1. Students must earn their desk pets through positive behavior.
  2. Desk pets must remain on students' desks and not be used as a distraction.
  3. Accessories and food for desk pets can also be earned through positive behaviors and achievements.
  4. Have a designated area or time for students to play with their desk pets, such as when they finish their work early or during break time.

How can my class make DIY desk pet containers?

Creating a DIY desk pet container is a fun and easy project for your students. You can follow these simple steps:

  1. Have students find small, transparent containers, like plastic boxes or glass jars, to serve as the desk pets’ home.
  2. Students can customize and decorate the container by adding decorations, such as stickers or paint.
  3. Fill the container with materials that simulate a habitat for the desk pet, such as small pebbles, sand, or colorful tissue paper.
  4. Place the desk pet inside the container, along with any earned accessories.

I hope you like this fun idea of adding desk pets to your classroom this year. I really think it’ll make a memorable experience and will be so much fun for your students. If you like this post, click on the social icons below to share it on your favorite social or click on your favorite picture to save it to your Pinterest boards!

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