Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writing and Reading with aTake-Home Buddy!

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. 

Inside the bag there is the stuffed animal, a journal (I use primary lined composition notebooks - there is room to draw on the top of each page), and a small backpack (purchased from Build-a-Bear) which contains pajamas and a disposable camera.  I tell my kids that they are allowed to take TWO pictures each and a parent needs to help them.  When they camera gets full, I get the pictures developed and attach photos to the pages that are finished.  I have pictures of my animals getting worked on by our local dentist, in a jail cell, riding a horse, at the river, and SO much more.  I teach the kids to write on the right side fo the journal and save the left side for pictures.  This also works well if somebody uses a pen or marker that bleeds through the page- it won't ruin anybody else's writing. 

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. 

Once the year is over, each animal is retired.  They sit on a shelf with their journals and a class picture from their year.  Kids can read to them, but they don't leave my room.  It is really fun to see 7th graders come back to my room to see their old stuffed animal. 

This is such a fun program to do with your class.  Let me know if you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions about it!


Susan Efseaff said...

Autumn, I enjoyed reading your post! I have done this same type of activity in my room over the years. We are the froggies, so the mascot is usually a frog! I like the idea of having the animal retire after the year and being available in the classroom. Great post! Thanks.

Autumn Morrison said...

Thanks, Susan! Our school mascot is the saguaro cactus - NOT so fun to sleep with! :)

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