If your school mascot happens to be available in bulk as a stuffie, this one's for you! (Psst: check out the unstuffed animals resource links below to see if your mascot is available as a stuffed animal.)
One of the coolest events we've seen happening at elementary schools across the country is Stuff (or Build) a Mascot, where families come out to the school for a fun mascot-building workshop. Many groups have shared that this event is well-attended and easy event to execute, requiring just a few volunteers. The way it works is simple: picture Build a Bear, but instead of stuffing a bear, students get to stuff your mascot, name it (with an official birth certificate), and take it home with them. While many schools do this as a fun event to build school spirit (and really cute stuffies) or as an add-on activity during another event (like making "reading buddies" during Literacy Night), some also run the event as a fundraiser, charging a set amount for each mascot kit. You can also incorporate a stuffie sleepover as an incentive or a fundraiser, too (more on that below!).
FWIW: If your PTO isn't already using your school mascot to build community spirit and get families participating in school events and fundraisers, this is your why:
@tylerrakay Day in the life if a PTO President and my willing volunteer! #schoolmascot #elementaryschool #ptomomsoftiktok ♬ Background Fun Music - Memusic
How it works:
- Pick a date: Google to find out if your mascot has an official appreciation day. For example, Bear Appreciation Day is March 23, National Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day is April 21, National Colt Day is June 10, Jaguar Appreciation Day is Nov. 29, and Lion Appreciation Day is August 10.
- Decide what you'll charge families to make their stuffed mascots - enough to cover the cost of supplies, or more to raise funds (in which case the event is also a school fundraiser). For instance, some schools will charge $20 - $25 per mascot kit and realize a profit of $5 - $10.
- Order your supplies. You'll need unstuffed no-sew animal kits and stuffing (shirts are cute, but 100% optional); full shopping list and resources below. Many groups ask families to preorder ahead of time.
- Event set up: each student receives an unstuffed mascot to stuff at the "Stuffing Station". You'll also need a "Naming Station" sign and birth certificates (all available below as Canva templates). Some schools have set up a "mascot adoption day" photo backdrop, where students can pose for photos with their stuffies.
- Promote your event: if you don't already have a mascot costume or an inflatable, now's a good time to think about it! A school mascot builds school spirit and can even serve as a PTO role, helping your group shout about upcoming fun events on social media. Film your mascot doing fun things around school to build up the excitement around your event and post on social media for families to watch. Invite your school mascot to attend for a special "signing" to welcome each student's baby mascot into the school community!
Keep the fun going with a stuffed animal sleepver!
A stuffie sleepover is a fun, low-cost fundraising incentive, but also works as a standalone fundraiser, too. (We even heard from one school that fifth graders were excited for this event!). Invite students to bring a stuffed animal (with their name tag on it) to school to spend the night. What you charge per "guest" is up to your group, but we've heard the going rate these days is around $10/animal and $5 extra for a printed souvenir photo.
After saying their goodbyes, volunteers place stuffed animals around the school doing fun things and snap pics of them working in the computer lab, reading during circle time, taking a trip down the playground slide, and even waiting in line for the copy machine. Enlist the help of a few older middle school student volunteers (filming TikToks of stuffed animals at school sounds right up a seventh grader's alley, doesn't it?!). Before the night is over, have volunteers place stuffed animals at desks in classrooms, eagerly waiting for students' arrival the next day. Invite students to wear their PJs to school!
Photo credit: Audubon Elementary School in Foster City, CA
Stuff a Mascot Supplies:
- First, find your no-sew mascot (in unstuffed animal form) online; here are a few companies worth checking out that school parent groups use: Bday Bears Unstuffed Bears and Animal Kits, The Zoo Factory, Plushie Pal Factory, and A Dolly's World
- Stuffing (this 50 ounce bag is enough for 8 stuffed animals)
- Optional, but kinda cute: Stuffed animal t-shirts (also available for purchase on Amazon) or cut scraps of flannel or fleece to use as scarves
- Birth certificates, a "stuffing station" sign and a "naming station" sign (Canva templates linked below)
- Photo booth supplies: set up a photo station where students can pose with their stuffie for a pic. Hang a tablecloth as the backdrop (here's a banner you can customize), use a foil fringe curtain in your school colors, or display a balloon arch for kids and their stuffies to pose under.
Editable Canva Templates: