Favorite Classroom Projects Linky

I started writing this post and then decided to turn it into a linky party!! {I might be addicted} The Turn the Music Up Linky Party gave me soooo many new ideas for music that I thought this could be a great way to get new ideas for classroom projects!!  I've tried many projects with my classes in the past, both technology projects and more traditional projects.  I'm sure you have also, so let's share some of our favorite classroom projects!  If you want to join this linky party, just follow these steps:


1. Use the button above in YOUR post (copy and paste the code below the button to the top of your post).  This will link back to the linky party so others can find it and join in!

2.  Blog about one of your favorite classroom projects.  It can be an online project, one that involves technology, or a more traditional classroom project....your choice!

3.  Come back to this post and add your POST LINK using the button at the bottom of this post.  (Please do not post the link to your main blog page or it will be deleted.  The link needs to be directly to your music post so that new visitors to your blog can find it easily!)

 Pet Pal Project

Today I'm going to share with you how I plan to use the items in the following two pictures for a class project.
 Have you ever participated in a Pet Pal Project with your class?  A What?  Pet Pals are a mix between pen pals and a class mascot.  I'm sure you've heard of both of those!

I've used both pen pals and class mascots successfully in my classroom, but many years ago (gosh, probably about 10 years ago!) I started doing a Pet Pal Project with another teacher that I met online (you know through our class website and message boards...yeah, back before blogging!)

What is a Pet Pal Project?
It is a mix between pen pals and a class mascot.  Two classes will pair up for the year.  Each class needs a class mascot.  The classes will trade class mascots for several months, allowing students from the other class to take the mascot home and document his travels.  When everyone in the partner class has taken the visiting mascot home and "helped" it write about its adventures, it is sent back home so that each student in its class can take him home for a night and READ about its adventures!

I love this project because it is a mix between reading, writing, AND social studies!

How do I select a class as a partner for a Pet Pal Project?
I think it's best to select a class from another region of the United States (or another country!)  This really pulls in the social studies aspect and allows the children to learn about another area of the world.  My partner class is from Kansas.  It is in the Midwest region, so their weather, landforms, and industry is much different from ours.  The students love to find Kansas on a map and they perk up each time we learn a new fact about it throughout the year (tornadoes during our weather study, farming during our regions study, plains during our landforms unit, etc).  I'm sure it would be super easy to find a willing class in Bloggyville! :)

What materials do I need for the project?
You will need the following materials for a successful project...

1. A Class Mascot - This can be any type of stuffed animal.  I started out using just a teddy bear.  Then I moved on to use Schmooney, our city's mascot (and state's reading mascot).  But, this year I've decided to use a MONSTER to match our new class theme.  In fact, sometimes in the past, I've let the children vote on the mascot (after a persuasive writing project...see below).  This year, since I've selected the mascot, I think I'll let them vote on the name for the monster.  The more ownership they have in the project, the more excited they become about it!

 Traveling Mascot Resources from Teacher's Clubhouse

2. A Bag - The mascot will be going home with students nightly, so it will need something to travel in.  I have used just plain canvas bags from a craft store previously.  You can decorate these with markers, paint, or iron on a transfer (available in the set above).

3. A Journal - Since students will be writing about the mascot's adventures, it will need to arrive with a journal.  I've used composition books, spiral notebooks and binders in the past.  This is really the teacher's preference.  I find that the compositions books usually hold up the best for me.

Those are the only items that you MUST have for this project, but if you really want to have some fun with it, keep reading!

Optional Items to Include

4. Book(s) - I like to send my pet with a book (related to him or our state).  I've sent the South Carolina Alphabet book in the past, and since I've kept my pet pal partner class for years, I just asked the teacher to keep it for future years.  This year I will be sending Monster Boogie to accompany our little monster.  I always write a letter to the class in the front of the journal (from the pet) and I am sure to tell them that he LOVES to have the story read aloud to him before bedtime each night.  (Sneaky, I know...but just another way to throw some more reading in there!)

5. Camera - I often include a disposable camera in the bag, also.  This is great  because students can take their picture with the pet at their home or at other places throughout the city.  The only downside to this is that sometimes the camera is lost, or one family will take lots of pictures (not leaving enough for other students).  So, I have left this out in the past and opted to take pictures of the students with a digital camera at school.  Either way, we print the pictures off and glue their pictures beside their journal writings.

One year, I bypassed the pictures altogether and recorded my students saying goodbye messages to the pet.  I made those into a DVD to send along with him.

6. Souvenirs - We also love to include fun souvenirs from our state!!  We always find Kansas on a map and talk about it.  One of the first things the students notice is that it is a landlocked state.  Since they do not have an ocean nearby, we always decide to send them some things from the South Carolina coast.  Each summer, I'm sure to bring back a large bag of sand, plenty of sharks teeth we've found, and shells that I've purchased or found.  I create little bags so that each student in our partner class has a "little piece of Myrtle Beach, SC" and can dig through their sand to find a shark's tooth and a shell!  I also include a postcard with the different types of sharks' teeth so students can use it to discover what kind of shark their tooth is from.  In addition to this, I include other SC postcards with facts about our state, salt water taffy from the coast, a South Carolina license plate, some palmetto (our state tree) items, and usually some peach rings.
Other Tips:
* I require my students to write in the form of a friendly letter in the journal....just another great opportunity to review this skill!
* Sometimes I choose who takes the pet home by going through number order, but usually I let the pet "help" me choose.  It sits on a shelf or cabinet in the classroom throughout the day "looking" for someone who has done an exceptionally good job that day. ;)
* I do not send the pet home on Fridays since that person would get the pet for several nights.  Instead, the pet stays to guard our classroom over the weekend (often trying to get a glimpse of the Clean Desk Fairy for us!)
* I usually take the pet home first so that I can model my expectations...I provide lots of details and maybe even an illustration.


  1. Your Pet Pal Project is awesome!! I need to find a bloggy friend to hook up with. How exciting!

    Hooty's Homeroom

  2. I love P is for Palmetto! I saw you're from SC! I miss home sooo much! Even though I'm smack dab in the middle of NC, it feels like home is so far away. Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

    Miss R's Room

  3. This sounds like a wonderful idea! I would love more information. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am your newest follower!
    Thanks for Sharing,

    Fancy Free in Fourth

  4. What a great linky! I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm your newest follower!

    There’s a Giveaway at Kinder-Craze

  5. Oh wow! I love your pet pal project! That sounds like so much fun! I am going to pin it so I remember to do it this year :) I will link up to your post soon. Thanks for stopping by my blog with some running advice... I am going to take it one run at a time!

    PS: How did you add a grab box in your post?! I didn't even know you could do that! I need to add one for my giveaway :)

    EduKate and Inspire

  6. What a cute idea! I would love to do something like this with my new class of 2nd graders (this will be my first year teaching!). Thanks for sharing this!! I bet your students live it!

    That's So Second Grade

  7. I love this pet pal project! I've been considering something like this! Awesome!
    I'm you're newest follower:)

  8. Oh love it! I need a pen pal class! I'm in NC!! haha networking on your blog! Honestly a great many of my projects come from you, Amanda. I always taught by genre in 4th grade and am thinking of going back to that this year. I cannot decide...time is ticking. I will be linking up! Glad you are back!

  9. I love your pet project. Very cool! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am your newest follower. Love your ideas!


  10. I LOVE this idea! This would be a great extension to the Flat Stanley letters that the kindergarteners send in my school. So now I need to find myself a partner . . . Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  11. This is a great idea! What a fun way for students to learn about other places and practice reading and writing. I love the part about telling the kids to read a book to the Pet Pal at night. So sneaky, hehe! Great idea!

    The Teaching Thief

  12. You may already know this, but I saw "MONSTER" duct tape at Target!
    I am in TN so if you don't have it your way let me know.

  13. I am in TN close to Knoxville -- if anyone is far enought away my 2nd graders would love to be pals.
    email basketsmg@aol.com

  14. Oh I absolutely LOVE this project!! What a fabulous idea!!

  15. I thought about doing this, but just keeping it within my classroom. I can only imagine the excitement that builds when a child knows it is his/her turn. Have you ever had a problem with a student forgetting to bring the pet back the next school day? How much writing do your students typically do to explain their adventures with the pet?
    Stories by Storie

  16. I love this traveling mascot idea! I am going to have to think hard about how I'd implement it for my kinders!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  17. Thanks everyone! It's one of my favorite projects that's always a "must-do"....requires little of me, but the children get so much out of it! I really think you could do it with all grade levels, too!

  18. I love your Pet Pal idea, sounds like a lot of fun with different academic subjects involved (geography, writing, reading, etc.)

    Question: Have you ever had a child not bring back the pet and bag, or damage it?

  19. I've never had anyone damage it, and it is VERY rare (because I stress how important it is to return it the VERY next day or someone else will be disappointed that they can't take him home) but he as been forgotten occasionally. Usually mom brings him to school when he's noticed at home, but if not, he's always been returned the following day.

  20. What a great project! We had a visiting Tasmanian Devil from Australia that was making his way to a bunch of spots in North America. Unfortunately he was only able to stay for a few days so he didn't get to go home with too many kids. Next year we have a snail and whale visiting from New Zealand for 3 weeks so we should be able to accommodate more kids. Thanks for sharing all the details about your project. I think it would be cool to do something like this - I guess I will have to throw a request out there.

    room 4 imagination

  21. These are so great! I'm always on the lookout for ideas for my future classroom.

  22. What a great project! I grabbed your button to put on my blog under favorites. :)

    I joined the linky party above and can't wait to read all of the different ideas! Thanks for hosting!

    Leah @ learning-4-keeps.blogspot.com

  23. LOVE your pet pal idea! Thanks for sharing and hosting this fun linky. :)
    iTeach 1:1

  24. What an amazing project AND. A brilliant idea for a linky!!!! I can't wait to link up!!!!! :-) thank you!!!!

  25. Amanda- I love this Linky idea. I can't remember how I cam across your blog but I was excited to see we are neighbors. I lie in Simpsonville too but teach in Piedmont. Just posted my American Revolution Postage Stamp project and linked back to you. Thanks.


  26. You can set up your very own DIY pet monitoring system by using any simple, off-the-shelf webcam. Even old, unused ones that you may have lying around will work. Decide on the number of cameras you wish to set-up (usually - one in every room that your pet may walk around in, with a maximum of 4 cameras). Once you're done with this, use a webcam software like GotoCamera that's easily available on the internet. Some of them even offer a basic version of this service for free. By paying a bit more ( usually, not more than $4 a month), you will get a whole bunch of added benefits such as motion detection, email alerts, mobile alerts, etc.

  27. Great idea!! Is there a way that those of us that would like to do this can put some kind of document together and maybe find pen pal classes?


  28. Amanda- I have been sitting here for 2 hours reading all of your posts in order thinking I have just hit the mother-load of second grade teaching!! Thank you for sharing so openly, you have SO many wonderful ideas that would truly impact students. I LOVE this idea and would love to find a pet pal partner of my own. Thanks again for all you do...and share!



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