The Master of Disaster, Fred
I won Fred during a NaNoWriMo writing contest in the fall of 2012. They had a silent auction and one of the items was a "Mystery Bag of Awesome". Being a person who quite likes suspense, and knowing it was for a good cause, I bid $30 on the bag and no one else bid at all. It was chock full of uber cool items--many related to writing, many not--and Fred was among them.
He hung out at my house for a couple of years and last year when I learned about Restorative Circles, he came to school to serve as our talking piece. (I have no idea why I named him Fred. He just kind of looks like a Fred, don't you think?)
Restorative Circles, in case you didn't know, are a community building routine that you can use in your classroom. 80% of all of the circles are just fun stuff, but you can also use them to address classroom problems such as bullying or many students not turning in work, etc. My favorite part about teaching 3rd grade is that they are just young enough to possibly believe me when I blame all of the nosy questions on poor Fred! Fred is also a tough guy and a spy! He lets me know what goes on when I am not in the room. After 7 full weeks of school, even the kids say "Oh that Fred!" when we detail some of his antics. He is kind of like a Flat Stanley but SO. MUCH. COOLER.
The kids are just silly enough to let me blame everything on Fred and they roll with it. Usually in circle (which we do standing up because there are 30 of us and it's too hard to form a circle on the floor without moving all of the furniture), we do two questions per day. Usually, I blame the uber nosy questions on Fred (that's when you'll hear "oh that Fred!" from some of the kids). Once, Fred wanted to know if we would rather eat bugs or have 2,000 spankings! Oh that Fred! (The answers were quite interesting though!)
The kids are quite hilarious and try to take such good care of Fred. You aren't allowed to talk in the circle unless you are holding Fred (except for me because sometimes I have to ask the kids to speak up so we can hear or will ask a clarifying question if I know the other kids are confused). If someone drops Fred, 27 little people gasp in horror. If someone holds Fred too tight, the other friends in the class will gently remind that person to be more careful with our friend Fred. If someone holds Fred by his head (which he does not like by the way), the other friends in the class correct that person.
It. Is. Hilarious.
I never knew how much I needed a Fred in my classroom. Plus, the kids are just okay with me blaming MY annoying and nosy questions on HIM so it works.
(It's even funnier because my former student teacher, who now teaches 1st grade at our school, posted a picture on Facebook of some of her students' writing and they both had written [student name] is a good fred and she wrote "a good fred is hard to find" :D)