Do you have a class mascot?
I’ve always had a class mascot and a different one for every new class. They tend to be of the cuddly variety and living puppets have been the most well received.
A mascot can give your class a unique identity and they can play various roles that enhance learning experiences.
You might think that a stuffed toy or puppet can’t really add value to a class but think again, they add enormous value. They take on an identity and personality all of their own and children take ownership of their mascot and bond with it. I’m not just talking about younger children either but all ages.
A class mascot acts as a guardian of the class in many ways and strikes up a relationship with everyone’s imagination. My favourite mascot was Benny, a blond haired living puppet that was the centre of the children’s world. I was teaching Year 4 at the time.
Benny was a puppet that I was able to use and give a voice to so and so would regularly engage with children and take part in lessons and conversations. Sometimes he just sat and watched a lesson to ‘keep an eye on us’. Other times he would get hands-on himself and join in. He made comments about what the children were doing and joined in activities. There were occasions where he would be naughty or fall asleep. He always made children laugh and smile.
His views, opinions and ideas were often fuzzy. I purposely made his voice heard and that gave me the opportunity to present misconceptions and alternative worldviews in order to play devil’s advocate and challenge thinking. It worked!
Children were always fascinated to find out what Benny had to say and how he thought about things. They would correct him, agree with him or Benny would get them thinking about something from a whole new angle. Benny loved to collaborate and offer his tips, advice and ideas but also ask for help as he was often unsure, muddled and lacked confidence. This gave children enormous power to shape his learning and their own. He would share his feelings and private thoughts and this helped children do the same. Benny became a great learning partner and friend.
If you still don’t think they work, then take this – I had a class once who all bought the class Mascot (another living puppet called Eliza) an end of year present and card!
Every class mascot I’ve had always appears on the register too. If the mascot isn’t there one day (at home ‘sick) then the children get concerned and want to know what has happened. I’ve had a class write Get Well cards to Benny before and the quality of the writing has been superb with real outpourings of concern.
Having a class mascot is more than just having a cuddly toy sat on your desk and they go way beyond PSHE. A mascot becomes an integral ‘member’ of the class and a cross-curricular teaching support. They are full of fun and full of life and children really invest in them even though they know perfectly well that they aren’t real.