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Students See Book Come to Life Thanks to Teacher

We all have that inspiring teacher 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:

Ms. Shannon isn’t handing out just any stuffed animals from that box. They are Budsies, custom plushies created from each students’ 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 students’ book hard-bound.

Ms. Shannon said it takes about a month for each student to go from idea to the final draft. When the Budsies characters arrive, the class holds a big reveal party 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,” she said.

The teacher also hosts a publishing party for students along with their parents to celebrate their accomplishments. The books and plushies are on display so everyone can see them. After the party, the kids get to take the books and Budsies home to enjoy.

Ms. Shannon is also a children’s book author. She started the book project about 24 years ago. However, when she saw Budsies for the first time she knew she had to find a way to include these amazing custom stuffed animals in  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. There is no cost to the families for the Budsies or the book. 

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.”

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