Skip to main content

Make an Animal Softie (lesson plan)


In this lesson, students will learn about the Xoloitzcuintli sacred to the Aztec people and make their own animal comfort objects.

Grade Levels
Subject Areas
Visual Arts
Culture, Function
NC Standards Correlations
Visual Arts
Approaches to Play and Learning
APL-1, APL- 4, APL-8
Language Development and Communication
LDC-2, LDC-3, LDC-5
Cognitive Development
CD-4, CD-5

Artwork Related to this Lesson

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Learn the role of the Xoloitzcuintli in Aztec culture.
  2. Make a comfort object in the likeness of an animal.
Use left and right arrows to navigate between tabs.



Introduce the Dog Effigy with the following questions and information.

  • If you were to meet this dog while walking on the street, what would you think about this dog?
  • Do you have a dog at home? How is this dog different from your dog or a dog you know?
  • This dog is also known as Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced show-low-eats-kweent-lee) and is a ceramic representation of this Mexican hairless dog. The Aztec people of central Mexico, a vibrant culture and community that lived between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, believed Xolo (pronounced show-low) helped many people’s souls travel safely to the underworld after their physical bodies died on Earth. Xolo was their guide, companion, and protector through the underworld. 
  • Do you have a special animal that helps you feel safe and protected?


Prepare a space where the students can make their softies, their own comfort object. Pre-cut fabric and felt into circles and triangles for students to make a face and ears for their softie. Thread large needles (plastic or metal with big eyes) for students to use who want to sew. 

Start with a wool sock. Fill your sock with rice or batting. Invite the students to include a special message or small object inside the softie before sealing the sock. Tie the sock in a knot at the end or use a running stitch to sew the opening of the sock closed. 

Child holds a sock in hand with a needle to begin creating an softy.

Ask students to choose felt and fabric scraps to make the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and tail for their animal. They can hot glue or sew the felt on the wool sock.

Collage of the process to create a softie

Encourage students to use their softie like a stuffed animal and even share their thoughts and worries with this softie before bedtime.

Finished softie

Extension Activities:

  • If you want to make a reusable hot or cold softie to use for bedtime or to soothe, make sure to fill your softie with rice and do not use hot glue, synthetic fabric, or buttons. Place the softie in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to make warm or keep in the freezer. 
  • Read Cuauhtémoc: Shapes and Formas written by Patty Rodríguez and Ariana Stein and illustrated by Citlali Reyes. This is a bilingual book inspired by the last Aztec emperor of Tenochtitlan that teaches shapes from forms in Aztec culture.


  1. Ask students how Xoloitzcuintli helped the Aztec people and evaluate their responses.
  2. Ask students to identify the attributes of their animal that they made.

Lesson Resources









Wool Sock

Rice or Batting

Fabric Scraps


Sewing Needle with a Big Eye 

Thread or Yarn

Hot Glue Gun


Reading List

The Lizard and the Sun by Alma Flor Ada

Musicians of the Sun by Gerald McDermott

Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes/Los perros magicos de los volcanos by Manlio Argueta

Related Content