5 Ways to Use Stuffed Animals in the Classroom

Students LOVE stuffed animals so why not capitalize on that love in the classroom.  I use my stuffed animals to help me teach Math, Language, Science and help with classroom management.  Read on to find out how I do it.  

Meet Ellie!

She is our classroom "pet".  When I first started teaching, I would send her home with a student every weekend.  She travelled 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.  My students loved the chance to take Ellie home and I loved that it gave them a chance for some authentic writing at home.  Ellie always got to visit my house on Mondays to take a bath just to ensure that she was clean and ready for her next adventure.  

Classroom Management  

Now Ellie has a whole new purpose in my classroom! 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.

Reading Teaching Tools

Reading Buddies

Over the years I have collected beanie baby sized stuffed animals to use in my classroom.  I have found them in thrift stores and garage sales and I even raided my own children's collections.  I store all of them in my crate stools.  My students love to choose one to read to when we have our read to self time.  They are very motivated to sit and read with their stuffed buddy.  

Teaching Decoding Strategies

You might be wondering how you can use stuffed animals to teach reading.  Well, they are a great hook to help teach decoding strategies.  I have one animal for each of our decoding strategies - stretchy snake, chunky monkey etc.  When we are working on a strategy, I bring the stuffy to my guided reading table as a visual reminder of the strategy.  I have created a set of posters, bookmarks, wands etc. that use the animals to teach decoding strategies.  If you would like to check it out click on the picture below or {HERE}.  

Writing Teaching Tools

I use my animals a lot at the beginning of the year to get my reluctant writers writing.  We often start with lists.  My students choose an animal and then list all of the characteristics they notice.  Having the animal right in front of them really helps them to be descriptive.  Our animals are almost always the inspiration for non-fiction writing. Students choose their favourite animal to research.  

Manipulatives for Math Lessons

I use my stuffed animals as manipulatives during math lessons as often as I an.  They are great for making a concrete graph, for sorting by various attributes and for addition and subtraction problems.  Incorporating stuffed animals really get my students interested in what we are doing.  They love to be the person chosen to manipulate the animals during our mini-lessons.  

Science Lessons

Over the years I have been really thoughtful in the animals that I have purchased/acquired.  I wanted to make sure most of the animals were accurate reflections of the real animal i.e., no pink horses!  As a result, we use our collection a lot to talk about animals in our science units.  We have sorted them according to their habitat, their diet, where they live in the world.  They have also been a springboard to writing about various animals.

I hope you are inspired to start growing your stuffed animal collection or to perhaps incorporate the stuffies you have into your lessons. If you found the post helpful take a moment and pin the image below.


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