I inherited Iggy the Iguana in 1993, as a 4th grade public school teacher in Philadelphia. At that time, Iggy was about 4 inches long. Thirteen years later, Iggy is almost 5 feet long and has been a classroom pet at 5 different schools from third to 12th grades. Iggy has been the focus of many student projects and areas of study, from the native habitats and locales of iguanas, to the study of reptiles, to the nature of cold blooded animals. Iggy has even received presents from 4th grade penpals in Japan! In our experience though, the best thing about Iggy is that he is just there - big, green, and exotic. It is even a loud raucous event when Iggy goes to the bathroom! In our experience, classroom pets like Iggy have a beneficial effect on student behaviors and classroom climate, and help to create a good learning environment. Year after year, we have observed students having difficulty academically and socially be transformed just by Iggy's presence as "their" classroom pet, especially when such students are given some responsibility for the pet's maintenance.
Currently, Iggy is working his scaly magic in a multi-purpose classroom and is seen (and cared for) on a regular basis by special needs students from k to 6th grade.
If you have any classroom pet stories, we'd love to hear from you!