Published Online: November 19, 2014

Your Classroom Creatures: A Photo Project

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In classrooms across the country, mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and fish thrill students while also providing valuable lessons. Children may care for eggs as they wait for chicks to hatch, observe a monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, or welcome dogs or cats as reading buddies.

Education Week and Education Week Teacher are asking educators to share photos and strategies around using pets or animal visitors in the classroom to engage students in content matter, to teach lessons in responsibility and empathy, and to provide enrichment.

Submit via social media (#ClassroomCreatures) or by using the form below. More information on how to participate.

  • Submitted by: Nicole Taylor

    Darwin, Cornsnake
    Classroom: 7th grade science
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    “We talked about damage people have done to ecosystems by killing off species they don't ‘like.’ Darwin teaches everyone (even our assistant principal!) there is nothing to fear, only more to learn.”

  • Submitted by: Linda Graham

    Carl, Bearded Dragon
    Classroom: 4th grade
    Location: Philadelphia, PA
    “Carl helps out the classroom in many ways. He is held on a daily basis during silent reading and writing. He provides support and warmth to the scholars during that time. They love him and are gentle and caring towards him which helps them treat each other in a gentle and caring way. He helps to reduce testing anxiety and provides comfort to those around him. There are not many challenges, mostly keeping up with his feedings and shedding.”

  • Submitted by: Erica McIntire

    Leo, Lizard
    Classroom: 1st grade
    Leo helps teach about caring, habitats, characteristics, adaptations,etc.

  • Submitted by: Brenda Cate

    Theodore, Guinea Pig
    Classroom: K-2 Special Education
    Location: Harriman, TN
    “This guinea pig speaks autism. He can calm the most distressed, over-stimulated child. He has so much patience and is so sweet and loving.”

  • Submitted by: Angela Abend

    Smarty the Snake, Corn Snake
    Classroom: 5th and 6th Grade PROJECT EXTRA Program
    Location: Oceanside, NY
    “Smarty the Snake teaches us about connections in nature — food chains, food webs, ecosystems, and more!”

  • Submitted by: Angela Pace

    Peanut Butter Jelly Tyme (PBJT), Teddy Bear Hamster
    Classroom: 8th Grade Science
    Location: Marion, OH
    “In order to hold the hamster, you need to earn its trust, respect, and love. It's a great jumping off point for a classroom built on those three ideas.”

  • Submitted by: Laura Lambert

    Speedy Jones Turbo, Garden Snail
    Classroom: Early Childhood Special Education
    Location: Bellevue, NE
    “We have three garden snails living in our classroom. We have read many books about snails to learn how they develop and how to care for them.”

  • Submitted by: Jennifer Gentry

    Fluffy, Dwarf Hamster
    Classroom: Reading/Language Arts, 3rd Grade
    Location: Porter, TX
    “Fluffy helps the classroom environment. We all work as a team to create an inviting learning environment where everyone is welcome.”

  • Submitted by: Tomi Violett

    Spots, Guinea Pig
    Classroom: 1st Grade
    Location: Plattsburgh, MO
    “We will be able to use Spots and her home in our science unit on habitats and how animals live.”

  • Submitted by: nowakeland

    Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael, Turtles
    Classroom: 6th Grade Talented and Gifted Science
    “Pond water provides us with a plethora of protists!”

  • Submitted by: MagistraJJ

    Saxum, Rock
    Classroom: High School
    “Our Latin class pet rock. (Saxum means rock in Latin.)”

  • Submitted by: mrs_garneau

    Hedgie, Hedgehog
    Location: Bannockburn, IL
    “Hedgie teaches us about nocturnal animals, the needs of living things, and animal defenses.”

  • Submitted by: otownteacher

    Classroom: 4th Grade
    Location: Orlando, FL
    “Love our hedgehog. [He helps students] learn about nocturnal [behavior] and defenses.”

  • Submitted by: Harvey_Middle

    Nemo, Bearded Dragon
    Classroom: Middle School
    Location: Katonah, NY
    “Our bearded dragon Nemo (means ‘no one’ in Latin) has taught us responsibility and compassion.”

  • Submitted by: MsArlMiddle

    St. Louis, MO
    “We love our #ClassroomCreatures in the tech lab. Thanks to @PetsinClassroom for our grant!” And these are “Mollies”.

  • Submitted by: MsArlMiddle

    Fluffy, Crocodile
    Location: St. Louis, MO
    “Our first class pet, Fluffy! She was so excited when we got our little mollies.” (See previous photo.)

  • Submitted by: catalinaschool

    Classroom: 3rd Grade
    Location: Monterey, CA
    “Part of a ‘Structure of Life’ science unit, 13 crayfish joined the 3rd grade class last week. Students will observe and write about them and their habitat.”

How to Participate:
  • Share any photos of pets in your school on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ClassroomCreatures, or submit your photos using the form below.
  • Be creative with your photos, and try to capture the role your pet plays in your classroom.
  • Include a caption that tells where the photo was taken (school, city, and state) and describes how your creatures fits into the classroom curriculum.
  • Be sure submitted photographs conform to your school media policies regarding publication of identifiable students. And please read the fine print below about how your images might be used.

Questions or comments? Email us at

The Fine Print:
Submitted photographs must conform to your local school media policies regarding publication of identifiable students. By submitting photographs to us, you are giving Education Week permission to publish the photograph. Editors at Education Week will review all submitted images, then select suitable and appropriate photographs for an online gallery that will appear on Education Week staff may choose a representative sample of these photographs to appear in a future print issue of Education Week as well. While you maintain the copyright to submitted photographs, Education Week may reuse these photographs to promote and/or advertise this project.
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