Kindergarten Tradition Continues Even Through the Pandemic

Students Enjoy the Build-A-Bear Tradition Through A Virtual Experience this Year


Kylie Lamm

Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Jeanna Soper celebrates a virtual field trip to Build A Bear with her students.

The annual Kindergarten field trip to Build-A-Bear Workshop has been a tradition students anticipate each year.

This field trip has evolved over the past twenty years. Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Robin Pryor said, “The first few years we first went to the Stonebriar Mall Build-A-Bear, then to the food court to have lunch at Chick-Fil-A, followed by riding the carousel. But that took up most of our field trip budget money for the year. So, now we only go to the Build-A-Bear store and come back to school to have a Teddy Bear Picnic in our classrooms with our bears.”

It may seem like a whimsical and fun experience for the Kindergarten students to begin their school year, but the Build-A-Bear experience has a far more significant impact on students. The Kindergarten teachers continually want to connect their curriculum to align with biblical principles. “Students start off the year with a teddy bear unit,” said Mrs. Pryor. “Teddy bears are familiar to young students and help to make them feel comfortable starting a new school.” At the same time, the students are taught about the names of God. “In the first chapter lessons we learn that God places significant emphasis on His names as well as the names of His people,” said Mrs. Pryor. “Students learn the spiritual meaning of their name.”

Students are given the opportunity to name their bears. Mrs. Pryor said, “Students are given a list of names grouped by its spiritual meaning. They choose the name for their teddy bear based on the attribute they would like their teddy bear to possess.”

Mrs. Pryor also shared about her own Build-A-Bear experience over the years. “I name mine according to what is going on at the time. I have three named after my grandchildren. In addition, I have ‘Luke’ from the Star Wars anniversary, ‘Chocolate Mint’ from the Girl Scout anniversary, ‘Republic’ from an election year, and ‘Michael Phelps’ during an Olympics year.” This field trip allows students to connect both their unit and biblical curriculum in one experience, and it is a fun memory for everyone involved along the way.

Obviously, there have been multiple changes in the way that school is being done due to the global pandemic, but this year’s Kindergarten students were still able to experience this adventure. Their teachers, determined to continue traditions, figured out how to make the Build-A-Bear Workshop happen.

“We contacted Build-A-Bear Workshop to discuss options. We settled on ordering the teddy bears, complete with the birth certificate, t-shirt, and housing box. Our aides drove to the store and picked up 81 teddy bears! The morning of the event, our students watched videos on how teddy bears are manufactured. Then, we distributed the bears to students. We went through the whole ritual similar to how Build-A-Bear Workshop does it, ending with our Pledge to the Teddy Bear,” said Mrs. Pryor.

The teachers wanted to fulfill the academic and biblical goal of this adventure. “Our teddy bears ate lunch with us at our tables. That afternoon students completed their bear’s birth certificate having chosen a name with the attribute they wanted for it. At the end of the day students took their bears home,” said Mrs. Pryor.

Kindergarten student, Nathan Bradford said, “My favorite part about Build-A-Bear was when we got to get the teddy bear. We got to have the teddy bear close to us when we had the picnic. I picked the name ‘N’ for my bear because I have two n’s in my name.”

“I loved getting the bear. I got to play with her. I liked brushing her fur,” said Kindergarten student, Annabelle Rethwisch.

Kindergarten student, Lelaina Henley added, “I named my bear Twilight Sparkle. I wanted her to be a princess and all of my toys are princesses and they all start with Twilight.”

Finally, Kindergarten student, Shepard Swope said, “My favorite part of Build-A-Bear was putting the clothes on my bear. It (t-shirt) was blue with a zebra. I still have it.”

In spite of some difficult hurdles, our Kindergarten students were able to experience the Build-A-Bear tradition and start off the year in a memorable way.