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Monday, July 16, 2012

Classroom Pet Without the Mess?

Well, after my first week of blogging, I really wanted to link up with 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It, however, I have been too busy blog stalking!  Having a 2-year old and 5-year old to chase around doesn't help matters either.  I did buy my owl fabric today for a table skirt and coordinating colors to make for the window valances.  I went to my classroom and measured a bunch of things looking for ideas based on all the great ideas I have read from everyone!!  So, while I was in my classroom, I took pictures of our class pet, Lilly:

She has been the 4th grade class pet for four years going on number five!  I know she shares the name of my daughter but my class four years ago came up with a bunch of names and voted on it.  I love it (of course) and thought it fits with the frog theme anyway:)

I hesitated sharing my little class pet with the blogging world because I always think the things I do are so boring and mediocre compared to the AWESOME ideas I see from all my fellow bloggers.  Then, I thought....."There are some teachers out there somewhere that might get inspiration from my little class pet," so I went for it!

She travels in a bag with a journal and students sign her out on a calendar I have posted in my room.  I thought Lilly or the journal would probably end up lost or ruined and she has lasted!!  The journal is still surprisingly in great shape after four years and I will be sad when I have to get a new one.  It is so fun for the students to look back at several years of entries when they take her home.

Lilly started with one skirt four years ago and slowly students added clothes to her bag and made things for her:

It is so cute watching how excited students get to take her home and PLAY...kids being kids even at age ten.  I LOVE it!!  Students are supposed to free write in Lilly's journal.  They write their name, date the entry, and then describe whatever they did with Lilly.  As I have been reading the Daily 5, this seems more along the lines of the free choice students have when working with writing.  Students ENJOY writing in this journal because they are writing about what they choose, even though they are doing it at "home".  Many students also include pictures of their travels with Lilly:

As with any activity, there are always those couple students who are reluctant to take part.  I made sure everyone signed up for at least one overnight with Lilly this year.  In the past, I didn't really monitor it.  Students always share their travels with the class when they return with Lilly and I felt it was good practice for public speaking.  It should be something they are comfortable sharing too.  So, here is an entry from one of my reluctant students that I had to strongly encourage to take Lilly home:

At least it is something:)  So, if you are reading this, please share any ideas or similar stories you have regarding a traveling class pet.  "Real" pets scare me (not literally, but the maintenance, mess, etc. scares me!) but I would love to hear your story.  Thanks so much!!


  1. Hi Holly. I love your blog! It has great ideas and info. I tried the take home pet a few years back and I also used a journal that travelled with him. It is a fantastic idea and I have to say the writing that the kids did was so genuine cause they loved him (the pet, he was a coyote) so much. They actually became protective over him. Your journal turned out beautifully:) Love the photos with it.

  2. I love this idea! I might have to give it a try. It's really cute that the kids added clothes to Lilly's wardrobe.

  3. Oh I love all the pictures you were able to add! The journal turned out amazing! I think its a great idea and awesome writing practice for your students! The fact that they are making clothes and adding to Lily! ADORABLE! It's amazing how cute 4th graders can still be :)

    Reaching for the TOP!

  4. Hi Holly, Thank you for the Liebster Award!! You made my day!! My class pet was Curious George. Each week the previous Top Banana would pick a new name from the basket. They took the travel bag home along with TB bio sheet, journal and a Curious George book. The got to spend the weekend with CG and write about what they did over the weekend. Some of my previous students would take picture showing the different things they did. Now that I have a western theme I have been trying to find a horse to replace CG.
    Ms Jones Junction

  5. Thank you for your comment. I know I wrote to you yesterday but I am trying out the new "reply" on my comment form that I just added. Do you get a notice in your email when I reply from here? Thanks again!!
    @The Groovy Teacher

  6. I love the clothes idea and that the kids really got into it! I always did class pet journal buddies like this when I taught primary grades. I didn't think it would go over once I moved up to fourth! Thanks for proving me wrong!!

    One Teacher's Take

  7. What a great idea. I saw something like this before on another blog at another time--but you have some great details about it. I am really thinking about using this in my class this year. Our school is in the "No Excuses University" program and my classroom is decked out in the University of Hawaii logos and lots and lots of green. I am thinking about taking our UH Beanie Bear and doing the same thing. Wish I had seen this sooner--I would have started this summer with a few little trips around California.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. This is a great idea! I've seen kindergarten teachers do something similar with a teddy bear, but I love seeing how it works with older students as well. Pete the Cat may be traveling this year!
    Still Teaching After All These Years

  9. I love that your students added clothes to the bag over the years! That is so sweet!

    I just found your blog :)

    T.G.I.F. (Thank God it's First Grade!)

  10. Hi Holly!

    I LOVE, LOVE your idea with your class frog. This will be my first year teaching 4th grade, after 3 years in Kindergarten, and I love when I come across something that I know I can use in my classroom! I even have the perfect pet to use. I am your newest follower. I found you on the newbie blog hop.

    Tales From Rm 17!

  11. I too am a first time 4th grade teacher so it is great to see ideas like this that let me know what 4th graders still aren't too big for. You know sometimes you have an idea but you think "Will that be too childish for them in 4th?" Glad to know they aren't too old for stuffed animals. :)

  12. @Jen.MDK-Thank you for your comment! I tried replying to you in email but found it was noreply-comment@blogger. I would like to correspond with you by email if you send me your address. If interested in removing the noreply default see this tutorial:

  13. Can you tell me where I could purchase a stuffed frog that can wear clothes? Thanks!
    my email is rogersa16@gmail.com

  14. Do you think this would work for 5th grade?

  15. Thanks for sharing this, I have 4th grade this and wanted to try the class pet journal but was not sure about the age! I was wondering, do you correct their mistakes? All my kids are EAL as I'm in an international school in Spain and I don't want to discourage them by correcting too much! Thanks!

  16. I will be teaching fourth grade for the first time this coming school year. When I taught first and second grade I had a stuff bee I sent home with the students. I have a couple of questions about your pet. Can students sign up to have the pet for more than one day? Do students get to have the pet more than once during the school year?

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