My daughters had two days off of school this week, so we took one morning and made stuffies with scrap fabric.
We got the idea from the book Sewing School (http://sewingschool.blogspot.com), which I highly recommend for teaching kids to sew. Everything is kid-centered, doesn't focus on appearance, and it even tells you what size needle and what type of thread to buy. This was my 5-year-old's first time actually sewing, and I thought she did a great job!
Next time I'll probably have them draw their own animals, but this time, since the instructions call for tracing from paper to fabric anyway, I let them pick coloring pages online, which I enlarged for them and they traced. They also did the coloring, cutting, sewing, and stuffing with only a little guidance.
I learned cross-stitch as a kid but never the more practical sewing skills. I had to take a machine sewing beginner's class at the local community college with a friend a few years ago in order to learn even the most basic things.
I'm hoping that giving the girls creative license in this arena will foster a long-term interest in developing sewing skills. It's also the perfect outlet for my crafty girls.