With another holiday on the horizon, I’ve been doing a little gift browsing. Of course there are all the usual pinks and purples and hearts this and hearts that, but I stumbled upon an enterprise called Child’s Own Studio that claims to have perfected the art of “softie-making” from children’s drawings.

In other words, they can take your child’s drawing and turn it into a plush toy … but I like the term “softie-making” better. And why might you be interested in one of these softies? I learned that young children draw from their imaginations with pure self-expression, and it’s based on an understanding of what is being drawn rather than on observation.

Around the age of 5, children develop a visual vocabulary, or their own unique symbolism. When they draw a cat, it will always be the same basic image, maybe altered with stripes or color. It’s not until around the age of 9 or 10 that children begin to be influenced by realism and often lose their passion, frustrated that the object being drawn doesn’t look exactly like what it represents. From what I can gather, there’s a sweet spot of self-expression from about 5 to 9 years of age, and these plush toys serve as an excellent way to preserve that.

Snail Softie via

Inspired by a drawing from her 4-year-old son, Wendy Tsao started Child’s Own Studio in 2007 as a home-based art venture in Vancouver, B.C., but she’s had so many orders that she’s had to expand. The softies start at $70, but that seems like a small price to pay for such a unique and personalized gift that was hand-stitched just for you. The average size of a toy is about 16”, but they also offer super sizes up to 5′. And to top it all off, Child’s Own Studio is enthusiastic about helping fundraising campaigns for non-profits and schools.

Scorpian Softie via

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Megan, this is really interesting. I did not know about the self expression symbolism of children’s art between ages 5-9 either. It would be a great idea to take your child’s art work and turn it into a softie toy. Such a unique way to celebrate the child’s creativity and one that they could share as a gift to others as well. I hope you will post a photo of what you choose to have made for your daughter’s upcoming birthday. I want to see!

  2. Krista says:

    This is such a cool idea. I remember when I was a teacher and how proud the children were of their work. I always made sure to hang their work up on the walls for display. When their parents came to pick them up they always had to show off what they made that day. I would have loved to have given each one of my students one of these plush toys of their most prized artwork. It would also be fun to have your child draw a picture of themselves each year and turn it into a softie and see how much their vision of themselves changes over the years.

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