Plush toys are more than just cute classroom decorations. They are a wonderful tool for creating a space where kids are excited and motivated to learn.
First Book educators are using plush toys creatively in their classrooms to spark enthusiasm and excitement about reading and learning.
Using plushes as a tool for English Language Learner students is one way that educators are incorporating plushes in 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’.”
Similarly, plushes 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.
Plushes are also great reading buddies! Kids love to read to their favorite characters. Our educators have shared with us the excitement for reading their students express when they can read to characters like Pete the Cat, Rosie Revere, or Elephant & Piggie. First Book educator Shona T’s students “love to read ‘to’ Elephant and Piggie while they’re reading about them.”
First Book educator Da’mber G.’s students like using Pigeon as a reading buddy–“They especially like that he talks!”
Plushes make reading out loud fun and encourages even the most reluctant readers.
Educators can use plushes to build narrative skills in their classrooms as well. Finger puppets are especially a great tool to encourage students to tell and retell stories. Students can engage in imaginative play with plushes in the classroom or recall their favorite stories with the help of their favorite characters.
First Book Educator Mika C. uses Narwhal and Jelly plushes to comfort and motivate students. “[They are] A nice, big size to put on library shelves and big enough to hug. The kids love them!”
Melissa Elgersma, Creative Director of Vendor Partnerships at First Book, suggests using Narwhal and Jelly to make classrooms fun and inviting by using them for your line-leader and caboose. “You can give your line-leader Narwhal and your caboose jelly as a fun reward for good behavior in the classroom.”
Educators and students alike love using adorable plushes as readings buddies, lesson props, and learning tools.