Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teacher of the Year Creates Model for How To Host A Drawing Contest for Your School

When Mary Schoppy heard that Budsies turns kids art into custom stuffed animals, she immediately wanted to get her school involved.  She decided to throw a drawing contest and asked us if we would donate a Budsie for the winner.

We immediately said "Yes!" and within days, she organized a giant drawing contest that rallied an entire elementary school and will serve as a template for other teachers around the world!

Mary's 1st grade class at James K. Polk elementary school outside of Arlington, VA became instantly excited by the contest concept.  They couldn't stop talking about it.  In fact, when the 5th graders got wind of the buildup to the big day, they too demanded to be involved.  The project quickly blossomed from the initial 22 students in Mary's class to 120 students gleefully drawing.

What to Draw?

Mary wanted to tie the activity back to the class's recent trip to the National Museum of Natural History.  So for a theme, she skillfully asked the children to draw a creature they would want to see in the museum.  This gave students inspiration from all of the creatures they recently visited yet also provided them the creative freedom to let their imaginations soar.

The children had a blast making their artwork.  They made everything from butterflies to robots, with one student even drawing a red donut-man with arms and legs!  The slight hint of competition engaged even the typically disinterested kids to pour their hearts into their crayons.

How to Pick the Winner?

Mary used the winner selection process as an opportunity to show her children how a fair, democratic selection system works.  She assigned each picture a number and gave each student an index card.

Each child stepped out into the hallway and wrote down their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place choices.  She also ensured that the artist's name was only written on the back of each drawing.  This was a great technique because it avoided any issues of popularity.

She then tallied up all the votes.  A first place vote counted as 3 points, a second place vote as 2, and third place vote as 1.  Winners were to be announced the following day, so the whole school was buzzing with anticipation over who would be declared winners.

Prizes for Everyone

After tallying the votes, the class had agreed upon 3 winners, each of whom received a prize pack with crayons and a coloring book.

The grand prize winner is also set to receive a free full-size Budsie of his rendition of the class's owl mascot:

Here'e Sam meeting his Budsie for the first time:

Mary took it upon herself to ensure every child felt like a winner.  She awarded every participant a packet of flower seeds and a certificate in honor of their imaginations sprouting to life.

We are so proud of Mary and her class for organizing such a wonderful art contest and inspiring dozens of children to express their creativity.

On behalf of the children, their parents, and all the thousands of children's imaginations your work will inspire, we'd like to say THANK YOU!

Other Ideas for Your Class

Mary inspired us to do more outreach and support teachers around the world to run similar contests for their schools.  In addition to providing your class with a free Budsie for the winner, we're committing to providing you with:

  • Storybooks that can be used to inspire themed drawings
  • Blank or templated drawing paper (see our templates section for examples)
  • Crayons or similar drawing instruments
  • Index cards for gathering votes

Interested in hosting a drawing contest for your classroom or group?  Contact us at

About Mary

Mary grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Millersville University in Pennsylvania.  She initially worked at a school within an emotional support classroom, providing extra help to kids who had trouble in regular special education classes.  After going to back to school to receive her Master's in Reading Specialist and English as a Second Language certifications, she taught at a school in Wilmington, DE before making her way to Alexandria, VA where she currently inspires and educates a culturally diverse group of 22 2nd graders.  This summer, Mary will be moving back to her roots in Upper Dublin, PA.  If you know of anyone hiring teachers, please let us know and we'll put you in touch.  We've never met a woman so dedicated and heartlessly devoted to her students and wish Mary all the best in her future journeys!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Budsies Trends Spring 2014: Selfies!

Each season, we at Budsies witness spikes in specific types of art submissions to be made into stuffed animals.  Last winter, there was a large number of mermaids and unicorns.  For Spring 2014, we're seeing SELFIES!

Yes... the lovely word that was just added to the Oxford dictionary and became 2013's word of the year has taken on a whole new meaning.  We've had folks make Selfie Budsies for themselves, for their significant others, and for their friends.  We love them all equally and can't wait to make more!

If you want to make a custom stuffed toy of yourself, simply submit your photo at!

Here are some of our favorites: