Children come to the library for a storytime and craft in the evening. They wear pajamas and bring a stuffie. They leave their stuffie overnight at the library. Library staff takes photos or videos of the stuffies, appearing as though they have come alive and are doing silly things. The next day kids can pick up their stuffies and see the images.
Every Children’s Librarian has heard of this trendy program, and there are countless ways to run it! I’ve run over 30 Stuffie Sleepovers – some massive (over 75 attendees!) and some tiny (2 families).
It’s adorable, engaging, and if you’re not convinced yet, CNN wrote about a Japanese study that tracked the effectiveness of Stuffie Sleepovers on encouraging children to read more. After attending Stuffie Sleepovers, the preschoolers in the study showed more interest in picture books, and even read to their stuffies. Adorable and meaningful!
Some librarians create take home photo books for each child. I prefer editing together photos and videos with music and captions. Families can check the library’s social media the next morning to watch what they stuffies did. I also put the videos up on the digital display in the library’s children’s area, and used them for promotion during class visits.
While I was at my previous system I ran Stuffie Sleepovers monthly at our smallest branch. I was able to produce some more advanced style videos, and do more difficult crafts. At my new position, I ran a one-off Stuffie Sleepover and made a simpler photo book. After many videos made, stuffies returned, and crafts completed, I’ve decided to put together a list of ideas for other librarians.
Simple Photo and Video Ideas
- Photocopying their butts or faces
- Provide the stuffie owners with the photocopy!
- Inside a book fort
- Sliding down the book drop OR climbing outside through the book drop
- Making a phone call to order a pizza
- Sitting on the recommended Staff Reads display
- Reading books that relate to them
- A firefighter teddy could be reading a book about firefighters, Chase from Paw Patrol could read a Paw Patrol book, etc
- Hanging off of high up signage
- Racing on book carts
- Sitting in the lost and found
- Reading picture books
- Checking out books to each other
- Hanging upside-down on the coat rack
- Hosting a group storytime
- This is a must! Makes the cutest group photo to print out for everyone.
- Colouring in a page.
- Send the page home with the stuffie!
More Advanced Video Ideas
- Playing hide and seek
- You’ll have to input some captions to make the storyline clear. Have one stuffie covering its eyes and counting, then have a clip of it discovering each other stuffie in their hiding spot.
- Hiding spots could be under tables, on the high shelves, inside cupboards
- You could have one giggling stuffie who is in a very good spot and is never found!
- Flying around the library
- Hold the stuffie underneath and place the camera on top of it’s back. Take a video walking down the shelves in the library, moving the stuffie + camera up and down as though gliding
- Stop motion conga line
- Take 30 – 50 photos of the stuffies, moving them a couple centimeters each time, to make it look like they are doing the conga line dance. Edit it so each photo stays on the screen for 0.2 seconds.
- Knocking books off the shelves in excitement
- Be gentle with the books! But it makes a very entertaining video.
- Around the holidays, wrap every stuffie up in gift paper, labeled with the owner’s name! It is so fun to watch kids pick up and unwrap their stuffies.
- Print out a Pin the Tail on the Donkey-eqsue game, and take photos or videos of the stuffies playing.
Below are some of my favourite crafts from my Stuffie Sleepovers.
- Glow in the Dark Galaxy Jars
- Relaxing Glitter Jars
- I haven’t made a post about this yet, but it’s a great, useful craft! It’s similar to a sensory jar.
- Valentines Day Slime
- Colour it red, pink, or purple, and provide heart shaped sequins
- And yes I was able to get the slime off of that stuffie’s fur.
- Capes and Masks for the Stuffies
- I made the capes using plastic table cloths. I precut a variety of small sizes, and let kids decorate them using washi tape and stickers.
- We made the masks to size using foam sheets, scissors, and pipe cleaners.
- Tie Dye Bookmarks using watercolour tissue paper
- Jar Collage Vase for flowers
- Tiny No Sew Pillow for the Stuffie
- Decorate a tiny fleece or flannel blanket for the stuffie (fabric paint, be-dazzler)
- Paper bag puppets
- This is an easy hit of a craft.
- DIY Stamps!
- Just carve your image into a piece of foam, dip in paint, and press onto cardstock. Remember to carve in a mirror-image way, as the stamp will be reversed. Create a masking tape tab on the back of the foam for easy stamping.
Honestly, any picture book that you love reading is probably a good choice for this event. But there are a lot of great stories involving bedtime or stuffed animals:
- Knuffle Bunny
- Brave Enough for Two
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
- Llama Llama Red Pajama
- How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
- The Dinosaur vs Bedtime
- Goodnight Already!
- Where’s My Teddy (this is an older book that I remember reading as a child. I might be biased towards it, but I love it.)
Bring Your Stuffie Sleepover Above and Beyond
Have a baby section, with foam pads and developmentally appropriate toys. I noticed a LOT of families with a toddler, a kindergartener, and a new baby were attending my all ages Stuffie Sleepover, so I added The Baby Zone to keep everyone engaged. Parents really appreciated it.
Pose the stuffies in a way that makes them look like they’ve really come alive and moved that way. And take photos that make you laugh. Have fun with it! Like this photo I took of The Little Mermaid dreamily reading the Super Shark Encyclopedia.
Everyone should already know this but: if you’re taking videos, make sure your hand doesn’t appear in the image! Kids will see it immediately, and it makes the whole video look like you didn’t try. You can always zoom in on the footage to cut it out. Or delete it. Just don’t include it.
Reference events directly from your Stuffie Sleepover event in the video. In the above video you can see that I had all the Stuffie singing Baby Shark, just like we did in the program.
Add games to your Stuffie Sleepover event. Each month, after we read stories and made our crafts, we played freeze dance. It became a favourite part for many kids.
Include music in your videos! And make sure that you have the correct permissions to do so. I used the YouTube Audio Library for most of my songs, and gave credit in the proper way when required.
In the end, Stuffie Sleepover should be as fun for you as it is for the kids. Get into it. Use your creativity, and go all out. I hope you were able to find some useful ideas in this post.
Leave a comment with your suggestions for more photo, craft, or picture book ideas!