Every year, I buy my class a new stuffed animal from Build-a-Bear. They take it home every night and write about what they did. Anything that gets my little guys writing and reading is worth doing! They just LOVE this!
I usually get a "boy" character. Girls still love it and boys like it more than having a girl. I have had girl animals when my room was very girl heavy. The characters come in a tote bag with instructions written on it. "Please have fun with our buddy tonight. Don't forget to write in the journal about what you did and read him a goodnight story. Please return to school tomorrow." Also includes all contact info - in case somebody finds him at the part or something. I just used fabric paint on the bag to write the directions.
I write all the kids numbers (I assign them numbers before school starts). As they take them, I circle their numbers. Once everyone has had a turn, I make a forward slash through their numbers. We usually have time to take him home at least 3 times each. I do not send him home on Fridays. It would not be fair for some kids to get him 3 days and it increases the chances of losing him and his belongings. I tell the kids that he comes home with me on Friday. He doesn't really! SHHHH!!! Don't tell them I lied!
After lunch, the student who took him home read to the class about what they did and shows their pictures. I give him to the next student at the very end of the day. I do not send him home in alphabetical order or anything like that. The very first time, you want to send it home with somebody who will do it RIGHT and set a good example for other kids to follow. I choose somebody that I have had their older brother or sister or I try to find a mom so I can explain where to write and what to write. I have had some goofy stuff come back and I don't want parents to think that is what it is SUPPOSED to be like.
This is such a fun program to do with your class. Let me know if you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions about it!