Take this fun and cute idea to get your students reading at home! Set up an adopt-a-pet reading kit in your classroom to encourage kids to read.
When it comes to wanting our students to love to read, we teachers will pretty much bend over backward. So, when we come across an idea that has a great hook to help our students want to read more – we share it!
In fact, that’s just what happened when this teacher’s idea went viral on facebook:
It was fun to see teachers love the idea, share it with others and make plans to do this next year with their teammates.
So – to help you create your own adopt-a-pet reading kit in your classroom – I’ve put together a free download so you can simply add your own little stuffed animals and be set to go.
Your students will be excited to adopt a pet and commit to reading 20 minutes every night to help care for them.
How to Set Up
To set up an adopt-a-pet event in your classroom here’s what you need:
- Adopt-A-Pet signs, pet collar tags, and certificates to go home (all included in your free printable below)
- Stuffed or plush animals – any kind will work
- A basket
- Some ribbon or string
- Hole punch
First – print off the signs, collar tags, and certificates you like for your classroom. I’ve made 3 different sets: a colorful, a black and a white set.
You simply pick which look you like and which signs you’ll want to put out with your adoption display.
There are 84 pet-friendly names in this free set! You can print them all off and then just cut out the collar tags for the names you like. Remember to pick a few girly, a few boyish and a few neutral names to help round out your pet selection.
Next – grab your stuffed animals. You’ll need at least one for each student, but perhaps a few extra would be nice so all students get to have options.
Here are some stuffed animals I found online that would be just right size-wise for a hand-held pet and economical to purchase for an entire class. These are affiliate links for your convenience:
- Adopt a Pound Puppy – all dogs (comes with 24)
- Set of 50 assorted mini animals – comes with to/from tags so you *might* be able to just glue your printable collar tag on top
- 50 mixed animals
- Oriental Trading’s pet shop assortment
Name the Animals
Next, fill out the certificates for each of the name collar tags you picked. So if you picked Rosebud, Apollo and Tank be sure to pre-fill out their name on a certificate.
Then – hole punch the collar tags for the names you picked and tie them on with string or ribbon around each stuffed animal’s neck.
You can also hole punch and tie a certificate on too or leave those off to fill in after students choose their new reading buddy.
Set Up Your Display
Last – fill up your basket with these newly tagged little reading buddies!
Make your display feel official and complete by using the folded tent sign or glue the smaller plaque sign onto a clothespin and clip it to the basket.Download the Adopt-a-Pet Reading Kit
Introduce the Animals
When you’ve pulled your reading buddy adoption kit together it’s time to introduce the animals to your class.
How you do this is up to you, but here is an idea:
Start by just introducing one or two pets a couple of days in advance and let students take turns holding the new pet while you read aloud to the class. Introduce the pet’s name, explain that he doesn’t have a home but he loves to read.
Your storyline could be that the principal knows how much your class loves to read and thought that they might like to come to and read while they are looking for a home. Then mention later on – before you bring in all the animals – that the word has spread and ALL the animals now want to come into your class… but of course they couldn’t just stay in the classroom all the time, now could they?
What can be done for all these pets that need a home and need to be cared for by kids who love to read?
However you introduce your pets and your adoption station, lead your students to want to take them home and understand that reading is what they need to feel cared for.
Then let them select their new pet to adopt and take home – complete with a certificate to help parents understand the adoption.
Keep it Going
This is a fun hook to get kids reading at home regularly and building a routine. But, what about after the novelty wears off after a few days or family schedules and life kinda get in the way?
Because, let’s be honest, it’ll happen.
Of course, you can also do none of these things and just let it be a fun little adoption event and be done! But in case you want to – let’s brainstorm out loud here.
Invite the Animals Back
A quick way to keep the encouragement going is to invite the animals back into the classroom.
Host an animal “play-date” day – they all get to bring their stuffed animals back into class. They join in for reading time and can even go out for recess with your students.
Create a Story
Help your students bring their new pet a little more to life by writing stories about their new pet.
During writer’s workshop students should write a book that is all about their pet and eventually read it to the class (and bring their pet in as a guest listener). Have them write about their pet’s favorite things and their favorite type or genre of book.
Encourage students to bring in photos (or have parents message them to you) of them reading to their pet, taking their pet on vacation to read with, or sharing a new book that they just finished reading at home to their pet.
Find creative ways to connect with the pets over the remainder of the school year!
Bring the animals back into view at the next Holiday. Here are some ideas.
- Halloween? Give students a half-hour and some paper scraps and craft supplies to create a mini-costume for their reading buddy.
- Christmas? Have your students write the world’s tiniest book (on tiny stapled pages) just for their animal to read as a Christmas present.
- Valentines? Create a mini-Valentine to give to another classroom pet from yours.
- St. Patrick’s Day? Send home green stickers so they won’t get pinched by any other stuffed animals.
To Wrap It Up
There you have the free download to make your own adopt-a-pet reading kit along with tips on how to pull yours together. We hope this fun idea shared by one teacher can inspire you and hook your kids into reading every day at home too.