Friday, August 14, 2015

5 Ways to Engage Your Students Using Stuffed Animals

Hello, It's Christina from Hanging Around In Primary.  I am happy to be guest blogging here at Who's Who and Who's New.  Today I want to share with you some great ways to engage students in the classroom with stuffed animals. Here are my top 5 ways to use stuffies in the classroom.



Classroom “Pet”
Meet Ellie – she is our classroom mascot and in the past she has visited my student’s homes on the weekends.  She traveled in a brightly colored bag and had a travel journal with her.  Each student would have a turn to take her for the weekend and then write about what adventures they had with her.  They loved having the chance to take Ellie home and it gave them an opportunity for some authentic writing at home.  I always took her home with me on Monday and gave her a bath just to be safe. 


Classroom Management  

When my students meet Ellie they learn that, although she has very small ears for an elephant, they are very sensitive.  She likes it best when everyone is working and using indoor voices.  She will often sit at the tables of students who are working well or sit on the laps of kids while listening to a story.  A hush falls over the room every time I remind them that Ellie is looking for somewhere to visit.  She really motivates my students to stay on task and try their best. 


Stuffed Animals are also a great way to make covering the curriculum more fun. These are some of the ways I use stuffies during my teaching time.  

        Reading Buddies!  

      Over the years I have collected beanie baby sized stuffed animals to use in my classroom.   I store them in my crate stools.  My students love to read to stuffed animals.  At the beginning of the year when we are building our stamina during Read to Self the students work towards reading with a stuffy.  Getting the opportunity to curl up with a stuffed animal on a carpet square is highly motivating. 
  

      Math Lessons

      I use my stuffed animals as manipulatives during math mini lessons are often as I can.  We have used them for sorting and patterning.  They are great for creating large concrete graphs at the carpet as well.  Stuffed animals can easily be used to show an addition/subtraction problem.  Using them makes math more playful and engaging for my students.  
       



      Guided Reading  

      I love to use my stuffed animals to help teach my students decoding strategies.  I have a Tryin’ Lion, Skippy the Frog, Stretchy Snake, Lips the Fish, Chunky Monkey and Flippy the Dolphin.  The only one I can’t find is an eagle for Eagle Eye - if you know where I can find an eagle stuffed animal I would love to hear about it.  When I teach each strategy I have the stuffy right at the table with us to reinforce the strategy.  I created a new poster set to use with my students while teaching these decoding strategies.  It includes posters to display with your stuffies, decoding wands as a visual reminder during the guided reading lesson and bookmarks that students can keep in their book boxes to refer to during independent reading.  If you are interested in checking it out you can find it by clicking {HERE}.   


I hope you have found these tips helpful and will start a collection of stuffed animals to use in your classroom.  If you already have stuffies perhaps you picked up a new idea here.  Thanks for stopping by! 




16 comments:

  1. I love your sorting activity! What an excellent idea for Science too :-) Bryn

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    1. Thanks Bryn. You could definitely use them a lot when you are studying animals - habitats, food, predators - prey. Lots of possibilities.
      Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  2. Such great ideas for integrating with Science and Math! I also LOVE the reading buddies - how motivating! :)

    ~Erin
    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

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    1. Thanks Erin. Keeping the kids excited and motivated is the key!
      Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  3. Great ideas! I have a bunch of stuffies. Now I know what to do with them!

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    1. I am glad to hear that! I know your students will enjoy using them.
      Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  4. Love these ideas, Christina! I have had stuffies as pets as well. The journals were sent home with them too.
    I have an eagle. It is a Beanie baby. If you ask around, maybe one of your families might have one.

    Charlene
    Diamond Mom's Treasury

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    1. Thanks Charlene. I will start asking around now about an eagle so hopefully I can have one ready for the fall. I always have to explain my choice of bird when we discuss eagle eye as it is not very eagle-like. Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  5. I love these ideas. I just inherited a huge box of beanies and was planning on expanding our story bag collection but I think I may incorporate some of your ideas instead. Thanks!

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    1. Do both Josie! I have never used them for story bags. That is a great idea as well!
      Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  6. I love the Venn Diagram activity! Great post!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. My students love working with the stuffed animals. Anything we do with them is a hit!
      Christina
      Hanging Around In Primary

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  7. I love your idea of having a stuffed animal to curl up with during Read to Self! I am going to implement that one next week! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! My students love to read to their reading buddies. I hope your students enjoy it too!

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    2. Thanks Michelle! My students love to read to their reading buddies. I hope your students enjoy it too!

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  8. I love your ideas! I am going to use your sorting idea to help with elaboration and descriptive factors in their writing "Animals with wings" "Animals with fins" "Animals that are blue" "Animals with big eyes", etc. Then I'll make a center where they pick a stuffed animal and write as many descriptive factors as possible. They can use those to create a paragraph about their animal.

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