teacher holding Mo Willems' Piggie and Elephant book and a piggie plush toy

Creative Ways to Use Plush Toys in the Classroom

Plush Toys are much more than cute classroom decorations. They can be powerful tools for creating spaces where kids are excited and motivated to read and learn! The First Book Marketplace is home to a large selection of educational resources available at affordable prices to the members of our Network. We strive to address the equity gap by providing brand-new, high-quality items for children in low-income classrooms and communities. Find all the plush toys we love on the First Book Marketplace!

Hear from First Book educators that are using plush toys creatively in their classrooms to spark enthusiasm and excitement about reading and learning below!

Creating a Safe Space and Building Confidence

Using plush toys as a tool for English Language Learners is one way that educators are incorporating them into their classrooms. First Book Educator Mary P. uses her Giant Pete the Cat Plush as a way for her students to feel comfortable and confident when speaking English.

“Several of our children have English as a second language and are shy about speaking. We have found that these children are better able to communicate when they ‘become’ a puppet or stuffed animal and ‘speak’ through the plush item. If I ask, ‘What color is that banana?’ and they are holding Pete they would hold up Pete and give him a voice by answering, ‘Yellow’.”

– Mary P

Similarly, plush toys are a great tool for student’s with Individualized Education Programs for speech. Students can embody their favorite characters and not feel embarrassed or judged. This builds the confidence and comfort students need to become life-long, avid learners!

Reading Buddies

A plush toy is the ultimate reading partner! Get kids excited about reading silently or aloud with a patient, non-judgmental, and always attentive friend. Our educators have shared with us the excitement for reading their students express when they can read to characters like Pete the CatLola from Islandborn, or Elephant & Piggie. First Book educator Shona T.’s students “love to read ‘to’ Elephant and Piggie while they’re reading about them.”

Plush toys make reading out loud fun and encourages even the most reluctant readers!

The Perfect Book Club Mascot

Educators can use plush toys to build narrative skills in their classrooms as well. Enhance small reading groups with a plush book club mascot. A plush toy can serve as a talking stick, a sounding board, or an imaginary book club member! Students can engage in imaginative play with plush toys in the classroom or recall their favorite stories with the help of their favorite characters.

Practicing Classroom Routines

Melissa Elgersma, Director of Vendor Partnerships at First Book and former pre-K teacher, suggests using plush toys to help young learners practice classroom routines. For example, the day’s line leader could hold Elephant and the last student in line could hold Piggie, or CJ from Last Stop on Market Street could indicate a special spot where bus riders gather at the end of the day.

Educators and students alike love using adorable plush toys as reading buddies, lesson props, and learning tools.

Join The Network

Becoming a First Book member is free, takes about five minutes, and gives you access to an incredible selection of low-cost (and sometimes free) resources like plush toys! Eligible educators and practitioners can sign up for free today. 

This blog was last updated on March 6, 2023.