American Poet Mark Van Doren hit the nail on the head when he said: “the art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery”.
This page is a resource to those teachers who influence their students by opening up their possibilities and expanding their vision of the world from a very young age.
This page has two sections, the first one contains downloadable materials with activities and games based on Plushkies to awaken curiosity in students about diversity and the second one is a blog for teachers from all around the world to share the fun and creative activities they do with their students to assist this discovery.
Plushkies Teacher’s Playbook
Katie’s Favorite Animal, Day, Food, Game, Art Piece, Place & Custom
Pepe’s Favorite Animal, Day, Food, Game, Art Piece, Place & Custom
Fabio’s Favorite Animal, Day, Food, Game, Art Piece, Place & Custom
Mei Mei’s Favorite Animal, Day, Food, Game, Art Piece, Place & Custom
I am a 3rd grade teacher and I am always telling my students that reading is very important. It makes them a better writer, expands their vocabulary and builds their base knowledge. I think that reading is so important to student success and educational development that I even assign it as nightly homework.
Several kids are eager to do it and didn’t mind the short response that must accompany it. I noticed that my students gravitate toward the same books and series. I wanted to challenge them try books outside of their comfort zone and see what other options there are besides the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series and other popular books that have either been turned into a blockbuster or due to their popularity are headed there in the near future. The books are always better than the movies. Anyways, I wanted them to try new reading experiences. Enter Plushkies.
I was introduced to Plushkies a few weeks before state mandated testing was to occur, so needless to say my Plushkies sat on top of a book shelf for a few weeks collecting dust while we reviewed and practiced test taking strategies. Not what I would have chosen to use that time for, but I must prepare them for a test I take no stock in but greatly determines the “type” of school I teach at. But it didn’t fail, everyday my kids asked me what they were and if they could play with them. My response was, “Ask me at flex time and we will talk about them”. That happened for 9 days in a row before I wised up and decided to use them to trick my kids into trying new books.
I introduced each Plushky to my class and briefly went over the country they represent. Then asked them to share their knowledge about each country with me. It was funny to hear what they had to say. I even learned a few things about a typical day in a Chinese school from a student who’s family just moved to the U.S. After that I told the students that each Plushky likes to hear stories that are either set in their home country, or stories where the main character shared the same cultural heritage as the Plushky. When they found a book, they brought it to me and if I approved they got to take the Plushky to the comfy reading chair or home to read to. That way they are experiencing new books and working on their oral fluency. I was surprised to see the diversity of books they brought me that in my 5 years of teaching I have never seen.
Plushkies have been very successful in expanding my students reading interests, but also had an unexpected side effect…by reading books related to the Plushkies’ country my students were becoming globally aware and culturally curious! Thank you Plushkies!
My bilingual students love to use Plushkies as reading buddies. I’m teaching a class of kinder and first graders during the summer and as a reward, they get to read to a Plushky. They enjoy reading in the language of their choice to either Pepe or Katie.
In addition to reading to them in the classroom, students get to take the Plushkies home for one day as an incentive.
I’ve just recently started incorporating Plushkies into my classroom and I’m sure I’ll find many other uses for them as I go along. I encourage other teachers to use them as they do carry a certain star power with the kids.
I have already incorporated Plushkies in my classroom in Spain and my students were more than excited with them. I used them in a class to teach student English. I divided the classroom into 4 groups for each group to do a presentation about each of the 4 countries represented by Plushkies (Italy, China, Mexico and USA).
The fact that I was able to provide them with some initial background of these countries using the different elements of the toys (shape, capital, hat, flag colors, etc) made it really exciting for them. After this they were very excited to do more research on their own and present their findings in English. Rather from students being shy to present in English there was a very fun and positive energy in the classroom.
Students really liked Plushkies and took turns to take them home for a day or weekend. Katie was their favorite, and as parents saw them, they asked us where they could buy them.
I think the same way this worked in my classroom, it could be successful in any classroom around the world.
For my Pre-k students, Pepe is one of our friends. I introduced Pepe since before 16 de Septiembre (Mexican Independence Day). We’ve been using our Pepe plushkie to have many discussions about our Mexican heritage and culture. In math, we made graphs about where students are from, and in this activity, we made a graph to tallie how many of our mothers come from Mexico and how many are from the U.S. Im sure we will keep using Pepe in many more activities. Thanks Pepe!