The cuddly teddy supporting student well-being and communication in Miss Orrin’s 2/3 Class.
CLASS STORY by Miss Orrin
Sammy the Sloth came into our space prior to our year as a team commencing. Sammy was introduced to Team O on ClassDojo over December so that on day one of our year together, the students felt welcomed by familiarity. This was done with the intent of lessening anxieties that can sometimes be found in classrooms, particularly on first days.
Sammy joined a tub of soft toys known as our ‘cuddle buddies’. Some of these buddies are weighted; some adhere to the sensory needs of our team as they have tactile elements to them whilst others are just soft and soothing. These buddies are not only used to comfort students when they feel challenged but are typically squished in the arms of our team during our ‘building stamina’ time, a part of our daily routine where team members strive to improve their reading ability.
Initially I introduced Sammy to our learning environment, not only to be used as a tool to support student wellbeing but also to encourage writing and communication. Each Friday, Sammy goes home with one of our team members with the expectation that over the weekend a recount is written of the adventures that Sammy has been up to. The recounts are then shared in our community circle on a Monday morning. Reading Sammy’s journal has become a treasured part to our morning routine and has been greatly accepted by the Team O community.
One thing that has been really special for me to see is how students have used Sammy as a way to nurture members of our team. If a student is unsettled, someone will always find Sammy and take him to that person, showing skills in kindness, empathy and team work.
This lazy lad has been a gateway to a number of learning opportunities in our space. Sammy moves around our classroom, finding places to hang from or hide in arousing giggles. His movements provide opportunities for students to summarize and sequence his actions whist also developing their ability to inference, all skills used in reading comprehension. Sammy has been the focal point for a number of student driven investigations, which has led to deepened understanding between living and non-living within the science curriculum. He has driven discussions in writing, as our team have provided examples of verbs and adjectives based on Sammy.
Term one was crammed with change but Sammy provided consistency for our team and eased anxieties triggered by uncertainty. He was a companion that allowed our onsite team to feel grounded whilst continued to be the buddy that communicated and checked-in with our home schooling team.
“Sammy makes me feel really safe and happy” —Axel and Violet
“Sammy makes me feel happy and I can’t wait to take him home so that I can show him to my new house!” —Makesha
“Sammy is snuggly, funny and makes me feel happy.” —India
“Sammy makes us smile and feel good.” —Blake and April
“Issy likes introducing Sammy to all of her furry friends. We like to try something new with Sammy when he comes to our home, so that we can all experience it together.” —Keri, Issy’s mum.
“Noah loves Sammy and can’t wait to bring him home so that he can spend the weekend hanging with Ella (Noah’s sloth).” —Karen, Noah’s Mum
“Coby absolutely loves Sammy, even mentioning his name made Coby smile. Sammy has comforted Coby on many occasions when he’s been feeling anxious. Cobys highlight was the evening he was able to take Sammy to his first night at OSHC. He said it made the world of difference.” —Skye, Coby’s Mum