Desk Pets are a new craze taking over TikTok and teacher blogs everywhere. The original idea came from Marissa Begay, and at first, I didn’t get it. How could animal erasers possibly benefit my students? After some research, it turns out Desk Pets are actually a positive reinforcement strategy I can get behind. Plus, you can use them to practice writing and during a science unit on habitats!

Desk Pets are simply 3D animal mini-erasers students keep at their desks or workstations (you can start with a 32 pack, 60 pack, or even 100 pack!). They can be turned into a fun reward system and a great incentive. Students adopt a pet and can earn food and accessories for their Desk Pet.

Desk pets arranged on desk

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Check out these tips for using Desk Pets in any classroom:

1. Establish rules

As with anything in the classroom, setting perimeters is important. Whether teacher-created or co-created with students, come up with a simple list of rules for Desk Pets that all members of the classroom community agree to and understand.

Desk pet class agreement

Get an editable copy here.

2. Create criteria

You will need criteria for how students can earn a Desk Pet and accessories. Accessories can include food, habitats, toys, and “friends” (all of which are other mini-erasers). Even better, students can set their own goals or incentive plan!

3. Introduce the pets to the class

One of the cutest ways I’ve seen to introduce Desk Pets to the class is to set up an adoption center (by @thirdgradefarmhouse). Students browse the pets and then write about the pet they want to adopt and why. A great way to incorporate those writing skills!

Desk pet adoption center

4. Keep a stash of pets and accessories handy at all times

Pick a specific day or time during the week that students can visit the Pet Store to buy food, accessories, etc., for their Desk Pets. This will minimize interruptions to learning. For storage ideas, consider jewelry or craft supply organizers.

5. Be sure to give students time to play with their pets

Whether built into the day or earned, students will want to play with their Desk Pets. Identify times students can get out their desk pets and simply play with them.

6. Decide where and how to store pets

At the end of the day, I want my students to put their Desk Pets away to minimize the risk of them getting lost or “disappearing.” I love the idea of “Animal Control” coming around at the end of each day to take the pets to the Pet Hotel for the night. My simple solution is to put a bin labeled Pet Hotel by the door where students drop their Desk Pets (in their individual labeled containers) on the way out.

7. Let them build habitats

Another alternative to a pet hotel is to let your students build habitats. Options include bead storage cases, beauty product containers, or even baby food canisters for everyday homes. Be sure to label them with each pet owner’s name to avoid confusion. Long term, why not tie in those science standards and challenge students to build their Desk Pets a habitat! Some teachers make this part of a whole group lesson, and others have students earn the pieces to create their habitat.

8. Go digital!

Yes, Desk Pets can be used virtually! You can use Google Slides or Seesaw to create pet habitats and assign them to students. The actual pets can be digital stickers or animal clip art. Or, check out these pre-made templates.

Desk Pets aren’t just for rewarding students; they can also be manipulatives and subjects for creative writing! Creativity knows no bounds with these cute little creatures. Get your Desk Pet Starter Kit and check out the following eraser bundles to get started!

Do you use these adorable erasers? Share in the comments below!

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Desk Pets: the Positive Reinforcement Strategy That's Taking Over TikTok