Large box (the boxes that reams of paper come in with lids are good)
Markers or crayons
Stuffed panda bear (or any animal character)
1. Beforehand, decorate a large box to make a “home” for the stuffed panda.
Cover the box with construction paper and draw windows, a door, flowers,
and so on to make a house.
2. Introduce Penelope Panda as the classroom “friend” or mascot. Explain to the
children that Penelope can only come out during circle time if they are very
quiet and are being good listeners.
3. Bring out Penelope and speak for her. (The children will know it’s you talking,
but will also think it’s Penelope!) Say hello to the children and let Penelope
“tell” the children what the plans are for the day. Sometimes Penelope sings
and sometimes she might tell them a funny story!
4. If you have a theme for the week, dress Penelope for the part. For example,
at Halloween, put a piece of white cloth over her with the eyes cut out. This
is her Halloween ghost costume. For Christmas, dangle ornaments from her
ears. For Teddy Bear Day, give her a teddy bear and for Pet Week, give her a
stuffed puppy. The possibilities are endless!
5. Collect miniature things for Penelope to use. For example, collect small
sunglasses, Frisbees, a small beach ball, baby items, and so on. Another good
idea is to collect miniature toys from fast-food restaurants.
6. You will be amazed at how the children are so surprised by what Penelope
keeps hidden in her “house.” Only she can get into it and bring things out
(with your help, of course).
7. Penelope can come out any time and sometimes the children like to play
with her at non-circle times. This is okay as long as they know she is special
and circle time is her special time.
8. This special classroom friend is VERY REAL to three-year-olds. Sometimes
when a child is sad, Penelope can come out and sit with her. Penelope loves
to be hugged!
More to do
As mentioned in #4, you can use Penelope to introduce any theme. Be creative!
Literacy: Penelope can begin a story, and the children can finish it. Write down
the children’s story and encourage them to illustrate it.