Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beanie Baby Centers

I was browsing around Goodwill a few weeks ago when I came across a table full of these.
A table full of Beanie Babies that were in super condition.  I think they must have been purchased by someone who collected them back when they were all the rage as opposed to a child because they really were in new condition. There were tons of them for just a dollar each.  On top of that, it was 50% off day, so I couldn't help but scoop a bunch up for just fifty cents each.  I immediately knew what I wanted to do with them and  went out and purchased a bunch of pencil bags from the dollar store.
I wanted to make some Beanie Baby center activities.  Tell me a stuffed animal is not a perfect way to trick engage your friends into doing a little work?  As I don't really have need for the centers this year, I've been sitting on this project for a few weeks.  However, I did work on a few and thought I would share.

This one is centered on creative writing.  It asks my friends to write a narrative telling about Rizzo Rooster's exciting and adventurous day.  The great thing about the Beanie Babies is that you can use them for any activity.  I think Rizzo would also be great for a description activity.  He is not your ordinary rooster!

Here's Rizzo tucked away in the pencil case.  I do think the fact that my friends can have that stuffed animal sit on their desk as they work will be motivating and fun.  And, possibly a distraction?  Maybe at first, but I predict overall it will work well in capturing the interest of my friends and motivate them to do the work.

Here's another.  This one includes two easier books I already had on the topic of penguins.  It asks my friends to identify some interesting facts and make a teaching poster.   If you have younger kids, have them read aloud to the stuffed animal.  Makes for great fluency practice.  My 5th graders, especially at this point in the year, think they are a bit too "cool" to read to a stuffed animal.  Insert eye roll here!
These books were a bit larger than the pencil cases I purchased, but they would fit in an over-sized pencil bag.  I just need to run out and grab a few.  Of course, a Ziplock bag would work just as well.

One more.  This one is a word making activity.  And, yes! I noticed the missing words in the second paragraph only after I uploaded this picture. I promise I will be fixing that before my friends get their hands on this it. :-)  Can you spot what I left out?

Those Beanie Babies are the perfect size for the pencil cases.  I also plan to laminate the task cards for durability.  Just place the Beanie Baby in the pencil case along with your task card, and your center is ready to go.  A basket full of these  is sure to grab their interest. I also love that you can change the task cards to do just about anything.  As I was working on the snake activity, I contemplated doing a math measurement center where they had to unroll the snake and measure it followed up with some other measuring tasks.

If you have some of those Beanie Babies stashed in a box somewhere, you might consider creating some centers with them.  If not, try the dollar store.  In the first picture, I did pick up the lady bug and skunk at the dollar store.  They probably won't be as durable as the Beanie Babies, but they are cute!

Update! (3/16/13)  I have been thinking about this project since I posted it and was thinking how it could be differentiated for your friends and/or provide some choice.  I'm a big believer in task choice, When your friends have a chance to pick what they can do, they usually are more engaged.  For choice, you can simply put more than one task card in each pencil case.  Students can then pick the task they would like to complete.  If you were looking to differentiate for different abilities, you could glue the task card on three different colored index cards.  Students can be assigned a color for center work, and when they take the center they complete the activity on their colored card. Just a thought!

Before I go, let me just apologize for the picture quality.  I can't seem to find my camera anywhere.  I think there is a black hole somewhere in my house because I've also recently lost my watch and eye glasses.  So, until I find my camera, we're going to have to suffer through with my iPhone pictures.  Sorry!

I should also mention that I'm still working on the blog design.  I am hopeful to really make some progress over our upcoming Spring Break.

By the way, if you have any ideas for centers for the other animals in that first picture, feel free to share!


  1. Such a cute idea! The kids must love it!

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

  2. You are so creative! I love your ideas for the beanie babies.

    "Seal" could go with ee/ea sounds or something like that.
    The jellyfish could be reading a book and filling out a bubble map.
    Butterfly could go with a character changing through the story.
    The monkey can be a "chunky monkey" and work with breaking bigger words into smaller chunks.

    I hope that helps! :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  3. I was so into Beanie Babies when I was a kid... I had a flashback of my hoarding days when I read your post.

    Ostrich= Short O station
    Giraffe= Long vowels (Because it has a long neck?) ;)

    Good luck!

  4. I love this idea!! I have 2 bins of them up in my attic!!! This could be dangerous...ill be creating so many activities!! Thank you for the idea!!!

    1. Go for it, Jessica! They will be happy to be out of the attic! :-)

  5. LOVE this idea! I literally have a 5 gallon container full of beanie babies that I don't know what to do with. I have given them as end of the year gifts, animals around the world, and for a few other classroom managmenet things but this idea is the BEST! Thank you so much!! I am putting that on my list of summer projects!! I hope staples puts those pencil bags on their penny sale this summer!!
    Laura ~ First Grade Spies

  6. I also have gallons of beanie babies stored at my parents house.... I bet they would love for them to disappear... the best part, they also live in NJ... I'd be happy to share the wealth for free if you are looking for some more ;)

    Diary of a First Year Teacher