Pets in the Classroom

Do you have a classroom pet?  Maybe you have a guinea pig, fish, or a snake.  Maybe you don't have a pet, but you want to have one.  Did you know that taking care of a classroom pet can help teach your students responsibility and can also be an engaging motivator ("When you finish your assignment, you can pet Lulu").  The downside to having a classroom pet is that they are expensive at first: buy the pet, the cage, the treats, the accessories, the food, etc.  Once all of that up-front cost is taken care of, you may only need to continue purchasing food and litter, depending on the animal.

To help take care of some of those costs, you can apply for a grant from Pets in the Classroom!  You can choose from one of 5 pet stores listed on the website, or you can get a rebate to buy a pet that is not listed or from a store that is not listed.  I chose PetCo, because there is a store in Maui that I can go to.  Once I had selected my store, I got to choose the animal.  At PetCo, you can choose from these pets:

  • hamster
  • guinea pig
  • fish
  • bearded dragon
  • leopard gecko
  • crested gecko
  • fire belly toad
  • tree frog
  • mouse
  • gerbil
  • corn snake
  • ball python
  • tarantula
  • scorpion
In Hawaii, you cannot buy or own hamsters, geckos, snakes, or dragon lizards, so those were quickly crossed off my list.  I am not that adventurous, so I went with fish.  I used to have a fish tank in my old class and I missed it!  My hubby was afraid it would break on the container over to Hawaii, so I gave it to a former colleague.  

After my grant was accepted, Pets in the Classroom sent me a letter verifying that I had indeed won the grant and then some coupons to go shopping at PetCo.  I got a coupon for a free ten gallon fish tank, coupons for money off water conditioner and food.  I also got a coupon for $5 off a fish.  When I went, I was going to be staying the night in Kihei and taking the ferry home the next morning.  I was afraid a fish wouldn't make it on the journey, so I just got my supplies.  

The tank already has a filter system and came with a thermometer.  I had to buy rocks and I bought some plants and decor.  

Here it is all set up in my classroom.  My kids love the Spongebob pineapple house!  They think it's hilarious!  

Even without fish, it makes a soothing noise and I'm already enjoying it.  The secretary at my school has a freshwater pond in her yard with these pretty little guppies with red tails.  I'm hoping she'll maybe give me a few, then I won't have to worry about taking fish on the ferry.  Otherwise, one of the other teachers I work with vacationed on Kauai a couple of weeks ago and a pet shop there mailed a beta fish here to Lanai.  It went to the post office and all.  So, I could do that, too.  Since I got the tank for free and I got money off on all the set up, I would be willing to pay a little more for a fish.  Hopefully the secretary will just give me one, though :)

Are you thinking about having a classroom pet this year?  I definitely urge you to apply for Pets in the Classroom!  The application was easy and they were so quick to send over my stuff.  I'm excited to have this fish tank in my classroom this year!


  1. Nicole,
    Thank you so much for posting about this! I just applied for the Petsmart grant so I can get fish in my classroom too!
    Whole Brain Teaching in the Ladybug Club

  2. I had no idea there was a grant for pets in the classroom. I would love to have one! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  3. I didn't know about the grant either! I already have a beta fish and two hermit crabs for my classroom. I also have two guinea pigs that I debated bringing in but they take up too much room and my own children are allergic to the hay so I didn't want to chance it. I will keep the grant in mind if anything happens to my current pets. Thanks for sharing

  4. How exciting! I got a grant for fish a few years ago and my students LOVE having the aquarium in our classroom. Every year after your initial you can also reapply for a continuation grant for another $50 to purchase more filters, fish food, etc.

    Elementary School Garden

  5. Thanks so much for sharing the info. I've never had a pet in the classroom except the occasional spider that shows up. ha I alwaystell the kids not to kill it because it is our class pet, so each day we ill look around the room to see if we can find it. I'll have to read up on the different pets, I'm not to keen on anything ratlike. Fish would be a safe way to go. ;P
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  6. I've heard of this grant before and might actually apply this year now that I don't have to share a classroom. Part of me REALLY wants to try a snake.... I'll have to look into that. Might opt for the fish though.. :-)
    By the way..... I LOVE your blog design - beautiful!

    From Mrs. Allen's Teaching Files

  7. We applied last year (at my students' urging) and ended up getting a fish tank with three frogs. The kids love them!

  8. Thanks for the info! I've always wanted a classroom pet, but never seemed to have the extra money.

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been debating on whether or not I should get a class pet. Thank you for the grant info.


  10. WOW! That's awesome! Too bad my district banned class pets. I am THE only one allowed to keep mine because I was grandfathered in years ago. I thinks it's a HUGE disservice to kids NOT to have a class pet! I have a tortoise in my classroom and think it's the BEST pet to have! Super super easy to care for!!! Too bad I don't see one on the list. I've had many of the others and Bruce has been the best. I would actually not recommend a furry pet because of allergies...but to each his own.
    I'll spread the grant news to my teacher friends who don't teach in my district...
    Thanks for the great info!

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  12. I received that grant last year and our class decided on a Guinea Pig. They love him so much and since I'm the only teacher in the building with a class pet, I often have little visitors to see Rhino the Guinea Pig.

    Oodles of Teaching Fun

  13. I had no idea this existed!! :) I am so excited and I hope my principal says "yes" so I can hurry and apply!! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

    Just Keep Teaching

  14. Just filled out my application. Thanks for the info.