Adopting a reading buddy stuffed animal is a fun way to encourage students to read both in school and at home. A reading buddy can help to make reading more engaging for students. Kids can pull out their reading buddies during read to self time or keep them at home for homework time. You may even have students who keep their reading buddies nearby for comfort and security at school.
Setting up a pretend pet adoption center for Open House or Kindergarten Orientation is a great opportunity to bond with students and their families. Kids will have fun choosing their pets and filling out their adoption applications. This activity sends families the message that teachers care about their kids and school is a fun place to be.
Where do you start?
First, choose what your students will adopt. If you have a school mascot, that may be a good place to start. Are you the bulldogs, dolphins or maybe hedgehogs? Perhaps you can find your school's mascot as a stuffed animal. We went with inexpensive puppy stuffed animals from Amazon (affiliate link). You could ask friends and families to donate their stuffed animals or ask companies to donate to your school. Oriental Trading Company is another place to look if you need to purchase small pets.
How will your students transport their new pets home? We chose to create travel crates for our puppies. We purchased small white, party favor boxes like these (affiliate link) for students to use as crates to take their pets home. These are great because you can add our own logo to the box or have students decorate the boxes.
How will you set up your adoption center?
You can set up signs to make your classroom look like a pet adoption center. Add your school name or create a fun adoption center name. If you are setting this up for Kindergarten Orientation or Open House, you'll want written directions for parents, too. This will save you time and sanity as you greet all your new families!
Will someone be in charge of passing out pets and crates or carriers? Or will you set up a station in the room that students may choose their own? We set up a station with a crate full of puppies for students to choose from and white “crates” for them to decorate. That worked well because their parents were helping them. At the next station, parents helped their children to fill out their adoption application.
What forms will students complete?
You'll want to decide how your students will adopt their pets. Will they fill out pretend pet adoption applications? Will their applications be completed with parents or independently? If students will complete their applications independently, you'll want to be sure to offer a form that students can complete without help. For example, can your students write sentences or only draw pictures? What would be appropriate for your grade level or ability level?
How will you handle adoption certificates?
Finally, you'll want to print adopt certificates to make it all official! Kids will love the fancy paper that says their pet belongs to them. We preprinted adoption certificates with each child's name on them so that they were ready to go. But, you could also print them and fill them out on the day of your adoption. It depends on how much time you have and how many extra adult hands you may have to help you.
You can extend the activity with a writing component and have students journal about their adventures with their new pets. There are endless possibilities! Ready to get started? This pack has editable templates for everything covered in this post. Have you tried a reading buddy adoption in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it!
If you're looking for more, easy ways to engage families and build positive relationships? Read more tips here!