Tips, Tricks & Resources to Send a Furry Friend Home With Little Worries
When I think back to my FAVORITE thing I did in second grade, I can vividly remember the excitement each week that came when my teacher would pull out a blue sparkly backpack, with a stuffed animal Arthur the Aardvark inside of it. Every weekend, someone would get a turn to bring him home and take him on adventures with their families. I simply could NOT wait until it was my turn to bring this beloved friend to my house! And now, I am so excited to bring that excitement into my own classroom with our own version of a traveling class mascot! Continue reading below to see how I am implementing this with my own second graders.
Before starting this project, I highly recommend sending home a permission slip to parents.
I think this is very important for a few reasons. First, parents might not want their child to participate in this project for a variety of reasons. They might not want the responsibility, they might not think it is hygienic, their child could have potential serious allergies, etc. It is also nice to send home a permission slip so that parents can request dates. This is a perfect project for students missing a day of school to go on vacation, as this makes for a perfect trip for your classroom mascot!
You also need to pick a mascot!
This can be a class vote, a favorite book, something easy that you find, a school mascot, etc. It can be a stuffed animal, or a plastic toy if you want to avoid having a cotton animal. There are so many great options! In our classroom, we have Kelp. He was affectionately named by my class, even though Kelp from Not Quite Narwhal is technically a unicorn.
Set a Schedule
Set a schedule so you can keep track of requested dates and you can make sure every student who has signed up has a turn and knows when it is.
Be the Example
When teaching elementary school, you know the importance of MODELING, MODELING, MODELING and MODELING SOME MORE. This is no different. Model the exact type of writing you expect your students to be capable of producing and model how you want them to present it. I do this during my morning meeting each Thursday. I give students 2-3 minutes to share about their weekend, and 3-5 minutes to answer questions from the class about the weekend. Then, we “unveil” who next weeks’ babysitter will be. Above is the bulletin board I use to display work on. Students’ work is displayed for one week, then put into our shared class binder to be kept forever. I encourage to use their best handwriting and to add real photographs to their writing if possible so that it looks great in our shared class binder forever.
What to Send Home
Here is what I put in the bag:
– Books that relate to our mascot
– Games from class that students either know how to play or can easily learn. I also like to add fun games that students can play with their families. This is more about community building for me than making sure students are doing extra work at home.
– Modeled writing expectation, blank paper for their writing, an editing checklist, “rules” to keep Kelp safe//to remind parents when things are due, and a list of things Kelp LOVES doing and does not like doing. I laminate the top three things so that I can save on making copies. You can also laminate the letter to parents and just fill in the days of the week instead of exact dates. This way, all you need to copy are the publishing pages.
– Writing reinforcements – it might be a good idea to send home a personal word wall, a personal thesaurus or any other writing tools your students use in class so that they can use them at home too. I laminate these too and keep them in the folder.
– I do NOT send home the shared class binder. The reason that I do not is because I do not want to run the risk of not getting that back. The rest of the materials are replaceable, but that one is more important to keep at school. However, it could be a good idea to send it home so parents have more examples to look through. I keep ours in our classroom library and students can look at it as a read to self option.
– I send all of this home in a small tote bag, but a small backpack would work well too.
A closer look at some of the resources:
I absolutely love doing this project with my second graders and hope that you found what you were looking for too! I think this could be easily modified for any younger grade, and could also be used with third graders. Snag all of the resources featured in this blog post here. Have you had successes with a similar project? I’d love to hear about it or to answer any questions below. Check back each Monday in 2018 for a new post on my blog. Enjoy!
Thank you for sharing all of your work! My class adopted CSU Monterey Bay so we are the Otters. We can not wait for our class otter to arrive. I feel more prepared now that I have seen your excellent example. Thanks for sharing the resources too.