Using Stuffed Animals in the Classroom

Kids love stuffed animals. I mean, they LOVE them. They are comforting, cute, and make the students happy. Here are three ways you can use them in your classroom.

reading buddies

Reading Buddies

This is my favorite way to use stuffed animals in the classroom. You're probably thinking that reading buddies are supposed to be human. You know, you pair a class of younger students up with a class of older students and every week/every other week they read together. But, did you know that stuffed animals can also serve as reading buddies? 

My second graders have fifth grade reading buddies, but they don't meet up with them every day to read. But, they do have their stuffed animal reading buddies that they can read with every single day (even when their fifth grade buddies visit). 

Keep your stuffed animals in a spot with easy access, like a cart shown below. When it's time for students to silent read/independently read let them choose a reading buddy to read to.  

reading buddies

Here are a few expectations you might want to consider:
  • Use one reading buddy at a time.
  • Read to your stuffed buddy or cuddle it as you read.
  • Do not play with your reading buddy or you will have to put it back.
  • Treat the reading buddy with care (we want them to last).
  • No arguing over who gets which reading buddy, they all need love and cuddles.
In my classroom, if a student decides to play with their reading buddy when they should be reading, they have to put it back, but just for that day. The next day, they are welcome to try again.

Students love reading to the stuffed animals. Honestly most of them usually just cuddle it as they read. I think it's comforting and sometimes, you just need to feel comforted/comfortable. 

Recognizing Students Throughout the Day

When you see a student making good choices, place a small stuffed animal on their desk. It can stay there all day or it can move from desk to desk throughout the day. I started doing this with my class last year and they loved having mini Pooh and Piglet visit them while they worked. Sometimes, they stayed on a desk for quite some time. Sometimes, they hopped from desk to desk. The students loved having them pop in for a visit and it was a great way to motivate them to make good choices.

stuffed animals in the classroom


Speaking in front of the class is nerve-wracking for some students, but we do have speaking standards to assess. Students can use the stuffed animals to practice reading their writing aloud, or practice whatever it is that they are tasked with sharing aloud. You could even allow students to bring a stuffed animal with them as they present if they are especially nervous about it.

A Few Tips

Acquiring Stuffed Animals

Most of my stuffed animals came from my daughter's over the top collection. I purchased a few here and there, but I never spent much on them. If you are looking to purchase your stuffed animals, check out Kohl's or Oriental Trading. They usually have lots of affordable options.

Small vs. Large Stuffed Animals

The smaller the animals are, the more you can store. Most of my stuffed animals are Beanie Boos, which are on the smaller side, so I can offer my students a lot of choices. I also have more than enough for each student to use one. There's nothing wrong with larger stuffed animals, just remember they will take up more space and you might not be able to house a class set if that is your goal.

Taking Care of the Stuffed Animals

Wash your stuffed animals, please! Preferably more than once a year. The frequency with which you do so is up to you and your preferences, but keeping them clean is a good idea. I simply throw mine into the washing machine and give them a good spin. After that, I let them air dry.

Stuffed animals are a great way to bring some fun and joy into the classroom. They can be used in so many ways too. 


Stuffed animals in the classroom

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