Please tell me I’m not alone in having a giant bin full of Beanie Babies… I asked for these little stuffed toys for every holiday for years and years of my childhood. Now… over 20 years later I’ve moved these stinking Beanies from place to place. Classroom to classroom thinking… “I’ll use these someday.” Push came to shove and I found them just sitting in the bin in the back corner of my classroom for so long. Finally I decided… I needed to use them or they needed to find a new home. After all, I don’t want to be like Andy, putting my toys in the attic, I’d rather give them a good home!

So I got to thinking and planning. Here are 5 fun ways I learned to use my Beanies (and other plush stuffed animals) in the classroom.

1- Buddy Bin- This is really a bin of items that students can bring to and from school. It helps them to make home-school connections. Whether it’s like a “class pet” that makes its way around the entire class, or something that stays with a student who needs a little extra, this is one great way to use your Beanie Babies or stuffed animals in the classroom!

I wrote more about this in my post about helping hesitant learners start their day. Check it out here!

2- Reading Buddy – If your students like partner reading, but sometimes there isn’t a buddy available to read with… they can grab a reading buddy. Reading to a Beanie or stuffed animal is loads of fun for kiddos.

3- Research Buddy – This is a really fun way to get students interested in research writing. Whether it’s a whole class unit or individual research, having a little buddy go with the topic they’re researching can help students have that hands on engagement they’re looking for. One cool thing about the Beanie Babies I have is that there are tons of unique animals… bats, spiders, ducks, platypus, anteater, walrus etc. Since my students always loved to learn and write about animals, this was a great way to make the connection!

4- Class Mascot – I used a class mascot when I was teaching first grade and my students LOVED it! The first year I taught first grade it was a little frog puppet that would “ribbit” when his mouth moved to sing songs. We named him together and we “showed” him our work. I even included him in pictures on our lesson presentations etc. and they just loved it.

5- Beanie Book Bags – When I unboxed my Beanie Babies at home and saw a couple of them that reminded me of characters from some of my favorite stories to share with my class!  I sorted these out and placed them with the books. Again this is just another great way to engage your students!  (more about this process coming soon!)