I found a little “tree/branch” on a base in the second hand shop a few months ago and turned it into a “who is here to play today” tree. The tree would be pretty easy to make – just finding a nicely shaped branch and fixing it onto a base, light sand and varnish would do the trick. For the picture discs I printed and laminated a picture of everyone and fixed them to wooden curtain rings from the hardware shop.
Every morning the children never loose excitement to go and find their picture and hang it on the tree! During circle time its a great tool to use to count how many friends are at school, discuss who is not at school and why and generally get everyone participating. Even the quietest child is happy to find their picture and join in the discussion and action.
I even find the children playing with the tree during the morning – identifying all their friends and chatting away to each other – turning it into a great social tool and even a fine motor exercise!