We all have that teacher who we will never forget because of how he or she went above and beyond and made learning so fun and meaningful. Let me introduce you to Ms. Shannon Anderson. I guarantee she will be that teacher for numerous students.

Ms. Shannon teaches third grade at Van Rensselaer Elementary School in Rensselaer, Indiana. But she’s doing more than teaching her students reading, writing, math and science. She is inspiring our next generation and making learning fun!

Just how fun? Take a look:

Book Characters Come to Life with Budsies

Those aren’t just any stuffed animals in that box. They are Budsies – custom, handmade plushies created from each student’s drawing of their main character from the book they wrote! That’s right…these eight and nine year old students first came up with a book idea, then wrote the book and made an illustration of their main character! Ms. Shannon then sent those photos to Budsies which brought their characters to life as one-of-a-kind stuffed animals! She also had each student’s book hard-bound.

Ms. Shannon said it takes about a month to go from idea to the final draft of each student’s book. When the Budsies characters arrive, the class holds a big “reveal” – which you saw in the video above – where each student takes a turn coming up to the box to see what their illustration turned into. “They are always very happily surprised to see how cool their characters look,” said Ms. Shannon. “The kids hold their characters during reading time each day. They absolutely love them.”

stuffed animals for students

The teacher also hosts a publishing party for students along with their parents to celebrate their accomplishments. Each student’s book and character plush is on display so everyone can see them. After the party, the kids finally get to take their books and Budsies home to enjoy.

How the Special Publishing Project was Born

Ms. Shannon is also a children’s book author. She has been having students write books for many of the 24 years that she’s been teaching. However, when she saw Budsies for the first time she knew she had to find some way to make these amazing custom stuffed animals part of her special publishing project.

“This is a very special keepsake these kids will cherish,” said Ms. Shannon. “They get to see this character they created come to life as a three dimensional being. It’s a great feeling!” The third grade teacher says she takes advantage of several grants to help with the associated costs for each student to have his or her own book and Budsie.

teacher inspires students

Getting Kids Excited to Learn

Ms. Shannon said one of her favorite things about teaching is bonding with her students and seeing how they grow emotionally and academically. She says she loves creating experiences like her publishing project to get her students excited to come to school each and every day. “I love it when I see students believing in themselves and encouraging others,” said Ms. Shannon. “Thank you (Budsies) for creating such a personalized product that makes kids feel special and talented. You help kids make wonderful memories.”

If you’re interested in creating your own Budsies get started here.

For more information on Ms. Shannon’s creative teaching ideas go to her website.

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My name is Melissa Headley, and I am a blogger for Budsies. I'm a mom of a toddler and two fur babies. You'll find me with a cup of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine after 5 o'clock and covered in dog hair always! I love sharing heartfelt stories and any tips to help make life easier.