Stuffed animals are a staple in childhood toy collections. They provide companionship and comfort for little hands, but they can also fill up entire playrooms and dominate your toy shelves. You might ask yourself, “What are we going to do with all of these?” as you gaze upon piles of Squishmallows or stacks of Cutetitos in your child’s bedroom. Never fear! I’ve come up with some fun educational ideas for stuffed animals, so they’re not just sitting around gathering dust. Let’s put those stuffies to work!
Asking your child to sort their stuffed animals is not just an educational task; it’s also a great way to clean and organize your space. Create a stack of task cards that suggest different ways for stuffed animals to be sorted. They can be sorted by color, size, animal type, age, or brand. Children can organize their stuffed animals into piles to complete each task card. If you’re sorting with your child, be sure to ask them higher-level thinking questions along the way, such as, “which group has the most,” “which group has the least,” and “are there more brown stuffed animals or blue?” If you want an added challenge, see if your child can alphabetize them by name or animal type.
DEAR STUFFY …
Grab those pencils and get ready for some old-school writing! If your child could use some practice with sentence structure or even handwriting help, then writing a letter to their favorite stuffed animal might do the trick. Have your child pen a note to their plush pal, telling them all the things they love about them. They can even create a little envelope and pretend stamps for their letter. If your child really enjoys this task, then creating a pretend post office for their correspondence can be an additional fun step!
STUFFED ANIMAL STORYTIME
Find a quiet corner or unique space for Stuffed Animal Storytime. Kids can pick their favorite stuffy or line up several as an audience. Then have your child choose a book to read aloud for the stuffed animals (they’re great listeners!) Reading to stuffed animals might seem silly, but it’s a unique way to practice reading fluency. It can also help children become more confident readers since they’re sharing with a non-judgmental audience.
STUFFY HIDE AND SEEK
Unfortunately, stuffed animals can’t play hide and seek on their own, so you’re going to need to assist with this game! Pick a stuffed animal to hide somewhere in your house, then give your child a list of written hints to help them locate the hidden stuffy. Written clues give this simple household game an educational twist. Your child will be using problem-solving skills as well as reading fundamentals. If your child is still in the early stages of reading, you can use picture clues to find the hidden stuffed animal as well.
STUFFED ANIMAL DATA
Every good stuffed animal collection starts with organization! Give your little Plush Executive Officer (PEO) an empty notebook (or a tablet for digital data) and have them record information about their huggable friends. Encourage kids to write down the stuffed animal’s name, style, color, and other important information they want to include in their record-keeping (i.e., brand name, price, size, purchase location, age, etc.). Learning to keep accurate data helps kids keep track of their belongings and actually makes a fun memento to look back on. Some kids might even want to add photos of each stuffed animal to their collection.
Stuffed animals can be so much more than just furry friends. With a little creativity, your child’s best plush pals can assist with basic learning tasks. Stuffed animals have been providing love and comfort for generations, and now they can provide educational support, too.