I introduce my students to my friend, Sheldon the Sharing Sheep, at our gathering time. I tell the students that Sheldon got his name from his MaaaMaaa, but he got the title, The Sharing Sheep, from his friends with whom he loves to share his adventures. I show the children the contents of Sheldon's tote bag: his folder, Nursery Rhyme and word book, and most, importantly, Sheldon's Journal. In his journal, Sheldon's adventures are written by whomever takes him home for the evening. I open the journal and share the story I wrote about when Sheldon came to my house. This way I can model my expectations to my students. We have a conversation about things that would be appropriate to do with Sheldon (go to soccer, play a game, etc.) and what would not (take a bath or wash him). I generally choose the student who takes Sheldon home by going alphabetically through my class list. This helps me keep better track of who has or has not had an opportunity to take Sheldon home.
Sheldon the Sharing Sheep is a stuffed lamb who travels from one student’s household and back to school to share his adventures, and then off he goes to another student’s home. Sheldon travels in a tote bag that contains a little booklet about him, word cards to practice that relate to his story, copies of Sheldon’s favorite nursery rhymes (Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; Mary Had a Little Lamb; and Little Bo Peep), and most importantly, Sheldon’s Journal. In the journal, the children draw a picture of themselves and Sheldon, and write about activities they did during the home visit. Children have taken Sheldon to the grocery store, the ice cream parlor, swimming lessons, soccer practice, and into their living rooms as they watch TV. There are activities in the bag (with the materials provided) that encourage parents to practice language development, reading and writing. The children bring Sheldon back to school the next day so that they can share all that they did with our adventuring sheep. Each day I make sure I set time aside to listen to the story that the child has written in the journal, describing his/her adventure with Sheldon.
This activity is one of the most memorable for students because they get to share a piece of their school life with their families. It is fun for all types of families and the children cannot wait to share. Sheldon crosses all boundaries of socio-economic status, family make-ups, reading and writing abilities, etc. The children get two pages in the journal to share the events of Sheldon’s visit. Children may draw, write or add photos to their two pages, so no matter what academic ability, all children have something to contribute. Family members are also welcome to add to the two pages, if they like.
The assessment piece in this situation is the public sharing of the activity with the class. Each child who takes Sheldon home will present their journal contributions to the class, and then, the child is asked three questions about the experience by classmates. This gives the child opportunity for language development.