10 Genius Ways to Incorporate Those Pets That Keep Interrupting Class

10 Genius Ways to Incorporate Those Pets That Keep Interrupting Class

Online classes are our reality – at least until this pandemic is over and kids can safely return to the classroom. One silly reality of Zoom is the presence, invited or not, of your students’ pets. While it can be disruptive to suddenly see a dog jump into the screen or a cat try to snuggle during a lesson, it doesn’t have to derail the lesson. Here are ten ideas to incorporate those Zoom pets into lessons while also encouraging your students to learn something new.

1. Adjective pet show

Adjectives are a key part of any elementary grammar curriculum and many teachers have their students put on fashion shows using adjectives to describe each other’s outfits. Since you can’t have an in-person fashion show, have a pet show instead! Have each student show off his or her pet, and then let the rest of the students come up with adjectives to describe each pet. It’ll be a blast for your students to get to see all the fluffy, soft, scaly, colorful pets!

2. Persuasive paragraphs

Your students probably don’t all have the same pet, and chances are, they all think their own pet is the best pet. Capitalize on these opinions by having your students each write a paragraph trying to persuade their peers to also think their pet is the best pet. After the students read their paragraphs out loud, they can each show off their pet to further prove their point.

3. Directed drawing

Ask students to describe, in as much detail as possible, their pet. As the rest of the students hear the descriptions, they will draw what they think the pet looks like. When finished, have each student show their pet. Everyone can compare their drawing to the real pet to see how close they came! This is a great way to teach visualization.

4. Tally and graph

First, ask you students to make a prediction of what type of pet will make the most appearances on Zoom in a week. Have your students keep track of how many times a pet appears uninvited on a Zoom session. After a week, your students can graph their data and see if their predictions were correct.

5. Classify types

Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets your students might have, and you can use that to your advantage to teach a science lesson about different types of animals. Review the characteristics of different kinds of animals, such as mammals having fur or hair and reptiles having scales. Students can introduce their pets to the class and then work together to classify each pet into the proper group.

6. Read out loud

Early and emerging readers need all the reading practice they can get. Ask your students to mute themselves on Zoom and read out loud to their pet. Even fish and lizards would probably love to hear a story!

7. Zoom backgrounds

Encourage your students to take several pictures of their pets and use them as their Zoom background. Their pets can make a daily appearance without causing a constant disruption. If you have a couple minutes at the end of a class, students can share something about the photo of their pet.

8. Write a fantasy

It’s different having pets on Zoom than it would be if pets really came to school as students. Get your students thinking creatively by having them write fantasy stories about what school would be like if pets could be students alongside the humans. Your students can share their stories out loud on a future Zoom session.

9. Pet BINGO

Ahead of time prepare BINGO cards with images of your students’ pets. Send them digitally to your students. Every time a pet makes a surprise appearance in your Zoom session, the kids can put a marker on the proper place on their BINGO card. Winners could win virtual prizes like digital stickers.

10. Pet check ups

Teach your students about the proper care of animals by inviting the pets to a Zoom session just for them. Your students can check their pets’ ears, teeth, skin, fur, beaks, and tails. Students can share how their pets get exercise and have a class discussion about why it’s important to take proper care of our pets.

If you have students without pets, stuffed animals are also welcome!

The pets are likely to interrupt whether you want them to or not. Use those interruptions as learning opportunities and they’ll be far less disruptive and annoying.

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10 Genius Ways to Incorporate Those Pets That Keep Interrupting Class

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Sara Ipatenco

Senior Member

Sara is a 1st-grade teacher at a private school in the Rocky Mountains. She loves to read, sew, and travel. She spends most of her time away from the classroom with her husband and two children. They love taking long walks, watching movies, and playing board games together.

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