This year I came across a fabulous website where students can create their own personal avatar which you can find here: http://myavatareditor.com/ (they love it because these are the Wii avatars).
I used the avatars to go with our Acrostic Name poems project. Students used their name to write an Acrostic poem. Then they went online and created their personal avatars. Once we saved their avatars to a drive, they created a power point slide where they typed their poem and inserted their avatar. They were allowed to customize their slide to integrate technology skills.
Here's a quick snapshot of their finished product.
These avatars could also be used to create characters in stories written by the students or also for character education when working with emotions and feelings.