Getting the Beanies... FOR FREE!
The great thing about Beanie Babies is that they WERE really cool for a long time but that craze is OVER! There are moms out there with empty rooms filled with these critters that their kids will never want again. I needed to tap that market somehow. I decided to follow one of my favorite sayings "you'll never know until you ask." I return to this little piece of advice any time I post a DonorsChoose project or talk to colleagues about what they do with a specific concept or resource. You'll never know what can happen unless you put your question out there and ASK for help.
Now, if you try this and you're not quite so successful right off the bat, never fear! Check thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, and the internet. Ask at your church, ask your friends with older kids, put up a flier in your school work room. Think about all the people who might have an idea for you. Never pay too much for these little guys. They're hiding free/cheap somewhere. You can find them!
Beanie Buddy activities for K & 1
One of my favorite kindergarten activities is to use the beanie buddies to help keep steady beat. After going through steady beat and practicing and learning and listening I tell the kids that they're doing so well with the steady beat that I'm going to ask them to help some other people with steady beat. I pull out a beanie buddy and I show them how he can't keep the steady beat (and they laugh as this beanie friend jumps around to no particular beat on my knee). Then I show them what happens when I help him with the steady beat (and miraculously the little beanie starts to bounce on my knee perfectly in rhythm). Then I tell them that I have a lot more beanie friends who need help too! I toss them out to kids and we bounce the beanies on our knees, our hands, our heads. We bounce to music, we jump them on the floor, we hop them around on the carpet. The possibilities are endless, but because the kids are helping someone else it's easy to redirect a kiddo who's getting off task "Oh, Charlie! Don't play around! That little ostrich needs help with his steady beat!"
Any time that my 1st graders sing "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn around..." we pull out these little teddies. I teach the song with some cute little actions and then I tell them that I have some beanie friends who need some help. "Do you remember the beanie friends from kindergarten who couldn't keep the steady beat?" Well turns out that those original beanie friends have some other bear friends who need some help too. We get out the bears and we transfer our dance actions to the bears (and this is incredibly cute to see 1st graders delicately making their beanie bears bow). Then we use the bears to do a steady beat to the song. Then our bears get very close to our ear to whisper to us that we need to remember to use our singing voice. Then I clear a spot off on the piano and kids in groups of 4 or 5 get to bring their bear up to dance and sing on the special "stage" that I've created on the piano (all the while I get to listen and assess singing voice and if the kid is singing the correct intervals). And it could go on and on. These little props add another dimension of fun to our space. The kids know that it's not real but in their heads it's still a fun part of the game and they're willing to do whatever the beanie bear needs!
How do you use beanie buddies? Share your comments below if you have ideas that I haven't mentioned! I'd love to hear what you do and how you use these guys!