Remembering Molly, Beloved Classroom Pet

01 August 2011
Molly, my classroom pet, died on Saturday.  She was 9 1/2 and lived an extremely long and happy life for a guinea pig.  Guinea pigs live to be between 5 and 8 years old.  So, I would say she would be about 105 if she were a person!

I knew this day was coming soon and had been preparing myself for it for over a year now.  I even had a retirement party in my classroom for her in June.  She was not handling the heat well and I was afraid she would die in front of the students.  We wrote her advice on her retirement.  I have scanned a few of the super cute ones and placed them below.
Molly enjoyed the simple things in life up until the very end. She would squeak for food whenever I walked past her cage.  Then she would purr after I would give her some of her favorite summer treats: watermelon, strawberries, grape tomatoes, and corn.  I am deeply saddened by her loss, but find comfort in the fact that she brought me and over 200 students who came through my classroom such joy.  There is a quote by Dr. Seuss that I love: "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened."  I want to remember and celebrate all of the special things about her life.

Molly was left in a box in front of Petco early one March morning.  A class mother knew that I was looking to rescue a pet for the classroom and told me about her.  I teach Humane Education in my classroom and thought this would be a great way to teach my students about compassion for animals.  Through the years, Molly not only taught them about compassion, but about so many other important life lessons.  Here are some of the lessons she taught my students and even me:
  • Fresh Fruit and Veggies are the Best - She encouraged healthy eating, as the the students were only allowed to share their snack with her if they had fruit or vegetables.  
  • Responsibility -She taught the students responsibility, as each month it was one student's job to be pet helper.  When she was younger, she went home with students for the weekend.  For some students, this was a stepping stone to getting their own pets.  On Mondays, we would share her journal entry and photos.  This was also a great way to enhance the "Home-School Connection."  
  • It's OK to Laugh in School - Oh she made us laugh!  One time, it was dead silent in the room and she just burst out squealing at the top of her lungs.  The students asked if she was having babies; turns out she just really wanted some lettuce.  Another time, I replaced her well chewed wooden house with a new one.  She tried to fit through the window like she always did, but this window had not been widened by her chewing.  She got stuck in the window like Winnie the Pooh, with her behind hanging out.  It was hysterical!  
  • Write About What You Know -Molly was a source of inspiration for Writer's Workshop and was a always on my students' "Things Inside My Heart" lists.  
  • Always Dress Your Best - She was the leader of the Halloween parade every year.  She tolerated anything I put on her!  
  • Animal Safety - I showed the students appropriate behavior for interacting with domesticated animals, such as the proper way to approach an animal and pet an animal.
  • Be On Your Best Behavior - When my students got a bit to noisy, I would tell them that Molly was trying to nap and that they were disturbing her.  She also became a positive behavior reinforcement for the ABA students in my building.  The students would earn lettuce from the cafeteria for good behavior.  Then they would get to feed Molly the lettuce.  
  • Say Thank You - Molly always offered a friendly purr or "chud chud" sound every time someone gave her food.
  • Greet Your Friends In the Morning - She said "hello" to me every morning by running to her her cage and squeaking.  
  • Y can Sound Like a Vowel - Whenever there was a y that sounded like long e at the end of the word, I would remind the students of Molly's name.  This really helped them remember that y could sound like long e!
This school year will be hard for me.  I have not taught first grade without her.  Thanks for reading this post and helping me celebrate her wonderful life.

Click {here} to view photos of Molly.

Click {here} to read my previous posts about Molly and Humane Education.

If you are thinking of getting a classroom pet,  my advice is that you must think of the classroom pet as your own.  It will essentially be your financial and physical responsibility.  As always, make pet adoption your fist option, go to Petfinder to find local rescue groups.
My favorite site about Guinea Pigs is Cavy Spirit.
Click {here} for a post by Erin Klein on classroom pet grants.  Click {here} for Kristen of First Grade Bridgade's post on pets in the classroom.


  1. So sorry for your loss. I had a guinea pig as a class pet. Always during math, he would zoom around his cage. Oh, and that little squeak for food. Good times!!

    First Grade Factory

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. My class hamster died earlier this year and I was devastated. Everyone told me to lie to to the kids, but I couldn't. I wish I would have thought of your retirement idea. Take care.


    Camp Kindergarten

  3. So sorry :( Sending good thoughts your way :)

  4. So sorry for your loss. I had a classroom pet rabbit that passed away during the school year. everything that you sad Molly taught you my classroom rabbit taught me. His death also taught my students that it is OK to grieve and it is especially good to grieve together. Thank you for sharing that and reminding me of how wonderful pets are in our lives!

  5. This is so touching. Animals are amazing and teach us so many life lessons. Your kiddos were lucky to have such a wonderful class pet and you are so blessed to have had Molly in your life. Sending you big hugs!!
    Curls and a Smile

  6. Sorry for your loss. Just think about ALL of those first graders that will remember Molly as an awesome thing about first grade! I looked at the pictures and she sure did have some great hats......


  7. Sorry for the loss of Molly. I looked at the pictures of her. She was a cute little guinea pig!

  8. So sorry for the loss of Molly. You made a wonderful tribute to Molly and the joy that she brought you and your students is evident. Loved looking at the pictures of her. Great memories of a significant part of your class.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Robin (Bigbird)

  9. Sorry for your loss. Your post is a great way to remember her. I'm sure she will be remembered by many of your students. I have had fish in my classroom each year. Your are right they do greet you each morning and the students love them. Maybe you can get a new pet.

  10. I had two piggies in my class one year and the kids loved them! They enjoyed everything about taking care of them. Each day, they gave them veggies and changed her water.


    Who while in the midst of reading this, of course broke down because of the two pigs, there is only one left and he is a senior citizen as well. However, as tears were coming I am reading about her eating corn- and all I can picture is you giving her a whole ear of corn and I chuckle :)

    I have been searching for a while to get some more piggies :)

  11. So sorry, Erica. I also have a class guinea pig, Pumpkin. He brings my students and me so much joy, and he has made quite a name for himself at my school. :) I hope you find comfort in the great memories you have of Molly and all of the joy that she brought to your students.
    - Kelly Campbell

  12. I'm sorry for your loss. I loved hearing about what Molly taught your students and enjoyed looking at her adorable pictures.

  13. I am so sorry to hear about Molly. I remember earlier in the year being very impressed with your "retirement" idea. The day she was left on that doorstep was her ticket to a wonderful life! You have given her a wonderful life!
    Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas!

  14. Erica! I'm so sad hearing about Molly! Your ideas for ways to extend and make having a class pet a learning journey are truly amazing!

  15. I'm so sorry, but also happy that you posted about all the positive that came with having Molly in your classroom and life. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  16. I'm so sorry for your loss. My guinea pig Raven died in the spring, she was old and blind, but my kindergarten students loved her (she was at home this year as she was getting up there in age as well). We had trained her to come to the front of the cage when we rang a certain bell. If we rang a different bell she would just keep sleeping lol. I think pets add so much joy to the clasroom. Unfortunately, my new principal is against pets in the classroom, so I will not be having one this year. If you haven't read it yet, my new favorite book is "Houdini Was" which was written and illustrated by a 2nd grade class after their class hamster died. I am sure your students gained so much from Molly, what a wonderful life for her.
    Herding Kats in Kindergarten

  17. Erica, I am so sorry to hear about little Molly. She sounds like a blast! I wish we could have pets at our school. Look at all she helped teach your 200+ students! Hope she is enjoying her retirement sipping lemonade poolside! :)

    A Day in the Life of a 2nd Grade Teacher

  18. Erica, I am sorry to hear about Molly, my class was very inspired by Molly's dress, we even had her as the background picture on our smartboard for a few days, my kiddos thought that she was a good friend for our Willie to look at!
    They were sure that it could be his girlfriend and when we had visitors that's what they told them..Willie's girlfriend. I loved reading your post and if it is ok, I would love to print it out and put in the front of Willie's journal. I have added a pal for him as the school year starts, Bo and Willie are looking forward to meeting our new class next week!

  19. Erica,
    I am sorry to hear about the loss of Molly. I absolutely love the idea of having a class pet!

  20. Erica- I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your pet. I know how hard it can be to loose a beloved animal friend. I just did a post yesterday morning on my own blog about pets in the classroom explaining some of the benefits as well as resources. I'm posting the link to it below, and will add a link to your post on my page as well. It's so wonderful that Molly could touch the lives of so many of your students!

    First Grade Brigade: Pets in the Classroom

  21. I am sorry for your loss. Pets really are members of your family.

    First Grade School Box

  22. Sorry for your loss. I loved seeing the pics of her all dressed up!

  23. Oh no! I'm so sorry. There are many days that my classroom feels more like my home than my house even does so I know it'll be sad to go in and not have her running to greet you. I hope you get a child this year who has a new pet to share!

    Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten

  24. What a great way to remember Molly!

    3rd Grade Gridiron

  25. So sorry for your loss! It sounds like Molly (with your help) touched a lot of lives and taught some pretty great lessons! Your blog post is a beautiful tribute!

    On another note, another resource for those looking for classroom pets is It is a grant program that provides funding for your to purchase a classroom pet and pet supplies.

  26. OH NO! I am so sorry, Erica. Molly was adorable. Isn't it amazing how much joy pets bring to our lives? I bet it won't be long before your caring heart will reach out to another needy pet.
    Finally in First

  27. Thank you for sharing Molly with us!! I am so sad for you and your loss! I love the way you have documented her wonderful life through both pictures and your stories. Animals are truly such a blessing and add so much joy to our lives. I had a little black rabbit who came to live in my classroom at 2 months of age and he passed away after the first week of school last year just after his eighth birthday. The lessons he taught all those groups of children who loved him are endless. He knew that after the recess bell it was snack time and who stand up and beg for his snack too. After he passed I waited a couple of months and then found myself the cutest little white bunny ever who is now spreading the love in my classroom. I can't imagine classroom life without my bunnies. I know that in time you too will find a new love for your classroom.

  28. Oh Erica - I am so, so very sorry to hear about your loss. Molly sounded like a fabulous friend! Thank you for sharing with us her fantastic life. I know she will be missed!

  29. Again, I was so sorry to hear about Molly. :( A couple of years ago I lost my cat that I grew up with. She was almost 20 when she died. I really would love to get a guinea pig (or two) for my classroom this fall. I'm waiting to see about student allergies and such. Molly was lucky she was so loved. :)

  30. Aaawww. Blessings to Molly and you, too. I LOVE guinea pigs and have had a few myself. After reading about your sweet Molly I might have to get another one.

    Grade ONEderful

  31. Oh my goodness... I am so sorry. I just sobbed when I read your sweet post. I know we all understand that a pet's life is limited, but it just stinks when it comes to the end. I have absolutely no words of wisdom, but I will miss seeing her dressed up photos. She was one well dressed pig!

    She was so fortunate to have a wonderful friend like you take care of her... AND the love of your students.
    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

  32. So sorry:-(.We had a hamster die and we were so sad.We brightened up when a guinea pig arrived.My students decided they will name her Ms.AshleyI.Then she died.We got another guniea pig-Ms.AshleyII.She is in our classroom,and I see why you were sad.When Ms.AshleyI died we weren't very happy.But all of our class pets are lively.Hope you get another guinea pig!P.S.-Molly is a very cute guinea pig!

  33. Molly is so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. Ahh...loved seeing and reading about Molly! We had 2 adorable guinea pigs, Fuzzy and Cocoa, after we babysat my daughter's class' guinea pig, Daisy. They are wonderful pets!


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