Teaching resources usually come in the guise of story books, text books, or TV shows if you’re lucky. But what about if they came as toys?
One mum has realised the power of mish-mashing education with stuffed animals and created the brilliant Crafting Characters series.
Using cuddly ladybirds, chicks, eagles and even trees, Dani LaBriola has devised a two-week programme that she promises will give kids a pivot in thinking to master new habits.
These habits can range from gaining a clearer sense of self to liking and appreciating another person to boosting traits such as thoughtfulness, kindness, and empathy.
But how does it work?
Each toy (known as a ‘plushie’) comes with an illustrated book and 14 foam accessories. As kids begin to read the story, they will be encouraged to plan and carry out specific daily acts and record them on the accessories which can then be attached to their animal day by day.
The accessories are unique to each plushie, so on the ladybird they are its spots, while on the tree they make up its leaves, and on the chick they are decorative feathers.
By the end of the two weeks, each spot, leaf or feather will have a declaration of a daily act that has been completed by its owner.
Dani – who is mum to 11-year-old twins – says it can be helpful to give little ones choice in their random acts of kindness as this encourages autonomy going forward; so this could be letting friends go ahead of them in the queue, making a short call to grandparents to say hello, or helping mum or dad cook the dinner one night to lighten the load.
Once the fortnight is completed, the plushie is plump with gratitude sentiments or acts of kindness that Dani says help young people form new habits that will stay with them forever.
Dani explained: “While we find that 14 days is the right amount of time for kids to begin to form the habit with their new character trait, character development is a life-long commitment. It takes practice, and like anything else in life, if you stop doing it, you will lose the habit you have created.”
Dani continued: “Once you complete the two weeks and your plushie has collected all of its accessories, you can and should continue to practice.
“Continue to ask kids about any intentional acts they are going to complete that day. These sets are meant to be used over and over. They require love, attention, and use.”
While the toys are aimed at age 4-10, we kinda fancy the ladybird to help with our self-care plan.
To grab a plushie, click here: Crafting Characters.