Leopard Gecko. Photo via the Pacific Science Center

Pets Enhance the Classroom Experience for Kids of All Ages

Shepherdstown. W.Va., – During this time of remote learning and everyday changes, teachers are constantly trying to find new and effective ways to keep students interested in learning.

Teachers are adopting pets for their classrooms to create a unique environment for students that are attending classes both in person and online. With a pets in the classroom students now have something to look forward to interacting with when they are at school. 

Class pets enhance a personalized learning experience for students by making an activity more engaging. It doesn’t matter the subject being taught, a class pet can be beneficial.  

An example of how pets can stimulate learning is in the math class. A math teacher can use the pet to teach measuring with its food, weight, and size as well as teach the importance of problem solving. The students will be more engaged in the topic because they are watching their furry friend become a part of their learning. Also by having the class pet, students are more energetic and driven to complete the task at hand. 

Class pets are rewarding for the students and the teacher. A teacher might put rules into place where a student gets to feed the animal for a week or take the animal home for the weekend to establish responsibility and students get to learn how to care for something that relies on others to survive.  

When a student interacts with the pet and finds inspiration by having the class pet, the teacher will feel a sense of accomplishment and they will feel they are helping the students grow. 

A math, science, and social studies teacher from Winchester Public Schools, Angela Nine, uses a leopard gecko in her class of sixth graders.

“I would have never thought a leopard gecko from PetSmart would impact my students so greatly,” said Nine.  

She uses the leopard gecko in her science classes the most. In social studies, she dresses up the leopard gecko in outfits that correlate with the topic they are discussing.  

“My students absolutely love when they see Irwin, who is my class pet all dress up as a former president or person from history,” said Nine.

“It really gets my students more involved and it actually helps them remember what happened to a certain person in history.” 

Nine used an education grant through PetSmart to obtain her classroom pet. This grant is for pre-K through ninth grade teachers and it gives teachers the list of animals suitable for a classroom and everything needed for caring the pet.  

The grant covers the cost of the tank or cage as well as half of the cost of the animal and then gives you $50 a year to sustain the pet. The website is www.petsintheclassroom.org and there are six retailers you may choose from and three different grants allowing teachers to choose the best for their class.

Classroom pets can be anything from a hamster to a lizard, however, they can all provide a unique learning experience to a student and be rewarding. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make the best difference. 


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