I've always had my students sign in when they get to the classroom each day. When my students were younger, I just had them move their name card from the 'absent' board to the 'present' board. Now, they are way beyond mere name recognition - they all recognize each others' names, as well as their own - and I've still got the sign in boards up but don't bother having the kids do it anymore.
Time to change it up, then. I tried this out this week and it's worked well so far. Now I have a sign in notebook, and the kiddos have a choice of whether they'd like to cut and paste their name into the book, trace their name, or use alphabet stamps to stamp their name.
To help the kiddos make their choice of signing in method each day, I have an "I Can" poster on the wall above the notebook...you can download that freebie here (I have two versions in this download - the first is the one I use and the second includes "I can write my name" for those kids who are past needing the support of tracing):
(graphics from http://www.clker.com/)