Sunday, September 8, 2013

Take-home Book Bags!

I have a fun project to show you tonight!  I am so excited because I have my homework set up for the rest of the school year.  That's right, the rest of the school year!  (Well, the next 25 weeks, anyway.)  Read on to find out what we're doing...

This summer as you all know I was a crazy grad student mama and took not one, not two, but THREE classes.  It was insane.  I learned a lot, though!  For one of my classes I did a research project on fostering a strong home-to-school literacy connection.  As part of the project, I read up a lot on take-home literacy kits.  (They're called all kinds of cute things.)  By the end of the project, I knew this was something I wanted to take on!  Why?  Well...for starters...let me vent about homework.  HOMEWORK, ugh!  It is a pain in my patootie.  I know, I know, it gives them a chance to practice at home the skills they are working on in school.  That SOUNDS good, doesn't it?  But, consider the following items:
1.) More than half of my students (that's a rough guesstimate) do not have strong parental support in the classroom.  Traditional homework-those lovely, neat packets that I so painstakingly put together on Monday-often are still in their agenda pockets on Friday morning.  Waste of paper, am I right?
2.)  If it's too hard for them in school with MY help, what are the poor strugglers to do at home without the certified teacher?
3.) (and this is really the heart of my argument) We have an extended school day.  My kiddos are with me from 8:15-4:15.  As a mama myself, I just don't have the heart to give them work to take home to do.  Their hours of daylight are already numbered.  By the time some of these babies get off the bus, it's 5:00.  That's dinnertime...and at our house, dinner is followed by bathtime and bedtime is not too far away.  Math worksheets?  Yeah, not a priority.

So...enter the take-home literacy bags.  How perfect, right?  You send home a little bag with a book in it.  Their only homework is to read the book with somebody else.  HOPEFULLY, the grown-up at home (Mom, Dad, Grandma, Auntie, whoever) will take a minute to do it...but if they can't, then an older sibling probably will.  (I hope.)  And if that doesn't happen, well, I see zero harm in that plucky little first grader looking through the book solo.  It's a win-win-win, pretty much!  (As long as the book makes it out of their bookbag...but the books I picked out are pretty interesting and I have faith in my first graders that they will!)

Tonight I put my baggies together.  This is what my dining room table looked like:
 Inside each bag I put a book (picked carefully from the classroom library) and a tip sheet for parents:

Tomorrow the kids are also getting a letter that explains Book Bags in greater detail as well as the "accountability" piece (AKA, what I could share with administrators if they are wondering why I am not doing homework the TRADITIONAL way)...a little bookmark.  I got the idea from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.  She offers it up as a freebie! 

And speaking of freebies...if you want what I made for my book baggies...well, here ya go!  There are two is for the regular bags...but for some bags I actually had duplicate copies of texts so I'm sending them both home (twinsies!) for some partner-style reading.  There's a different little insert for those.  (I taped mine to the inside of the bags.  I am sure they will need replacing.  Ideally, I would have laminated them and put them in the books themselves...but I am ALL OUT of laminating sheets for my little Scotch laminator and I was in a hurry to get these in my kids' hands tomorrow!)

The parent letter is here.

I am so excited to let my kiddos pick their bags tomorrow!  I will let you know how this little project goes.  Also, if you are interested in take-home literacy bags, I created a Pinterest board of some of the fabulous things I see other teachers are doing.  Some teachers are really creative and make theirs very FANCY!  I am sticking to plain and simple for now, but we'll see how it goes!


  1. This is really cool! I am trying to send home books for my kinders as well... I'm not sure if I want to do it daily, or send home one bag with 5-7 books for the whole week. What kind of activities do you send home (if any)?

  2. I would send just one or two books a week so they can read it many times. It encourages fluency, word recognition and confidence.
    I'm trying this method in my resource room. I learned about it through our reading interventionist who uses a specific reading program.