Having had so many kids go through elementary school – we have seen all sorts of different ideas to motivate great class behavior, and most of them revolve around some type of “class store”. Some years they’ve earned money that they can visit the store each week where parents donate items. Some have collected points where they have an auction every once in a while. I have a love/hate relationship with these motivation systems. I love that it motivates, but then having to constantly donate to the class store little trinkets that I throw away once my kid gets home gets exhausting. My favorite things teachers offered for sale were homework passes, or lunch in the classroom with the teacher.

But this year, when I sat in Cannon’s curriculum night classroom, I was intrigued by the teachers approach to the classroom store. She created a fictional “desk pet” that the kids would spend their classroom money on. I initially thought the teacher was a genius because it was something I had never seen done before. And then I was even more impressed when I saw it in action.

I volunteer in the classroom and I happened to be working a Friday morning when the class store was open. Kids came to the back of the room one at a time with their money to make their purchases. To start, kids bought a little pet and with it came a little plastic dome house. But as kids earned money they could upgrade their house to a plastic box. They purchased rugs and blankets (fabric squares) and pillows (little pom pom) and food (also erasers). They can even purchase decorations for different holidays. Not only that, but their desk pets can have their own little pets. The kids were so into this little desk pet. It’s like the little tomagachi pets we used to have as kids.

Even better is the fact that this little desk pet has become a part of their classroom learning experience. They write paragraphs about their desk pet, they learn descriptive words with their desk pet and they draw habitats for their pets.

Cannon loves his little lion and works hard to make sure he’s comfortable and well fed. As a parent I’m grateful for an innovative teacher who is changing up the way “classroom stores” typically operate.