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Literacy Bags

Compiled By: luv2teach77

A collection of ideas to use when putting together literacy bags for you classroom.

Take Home Bags
Posted by: Lori

This has been a HUGE success in my classroom. I have taught first and second grade, and the kids get so excited about it and the parents love it. I have never had a problem getting all my bags and "things" back, and I have worked in both the inner city for 5 years, and now I am in an upper middle class district for 6. I put some examples, but I would be more than happy to list all my bags if you want. I have added every year since I started using them years ago.

The bags vary a lot. They are decorated on the outside. I prefer to use canvas bags, since they can be washed and hold up well. They each have a few books and a two activities they can do with their parents. The children take home a bag on Thursday, and keep it until Monday. I do this because that way I have a few days to make sure everything is in order, and they have two extra days to get them back. I actually make a spread sheet to track who has taken which bag. The birthday bag and tooth bag go home on those special days.

Here is an idea of what is in a few of them:
Froggy Fantastic Fun Bag: Stuffed Frog, several Froggy books and frog tiddly winks and a tape measure. They use the tiddly winks and see how far they can make it jump and measure and record. (with their parents) Then they write about their weekend with Froggy.

Season Sack: I do all four seasons at once (But you could also do holidays or the season it is) There are a few books about the season a game to match the clothes with the season and then they write about something they do during their favorite season.

Birthday Bag: Birthday books, the Birthday game a packet of fun coloring, etc., activities and a small "gift" for them to keep.

Apple Time Bag: Several apple theme books (also Johnny Appleseed) an apple addition game and I have a finger puppet with a worm. The children write If I was __________ _______________________. For example if I was Lori Peachpit and write what would happen.

This year I decided to treat myslef and purchase some new bags. (I have made all the others) They came filled with ideas for about 35.00.


Traveling Bookbag
Posted by: TeacherLisa1st

Hi, I do these in my first grade room! I call it a Traveling Bookbag. I usually end up doing a new one every 2 months because some kids forget to bring it back the next day, so it takes awhile to get to everyone's house.
I include a book, sometimes a stuffed animal, several games/manipulative, a word search or cut-out puppets (something they can keep), a student journal, glitter crayons and a parent journal. For example, in October I send a Gail Gibbons book about pumpkins w/seeds for sorting and counting, special crayons and directions for students to draw their own silly pumpkin in the journal and write about it, a pumpkin card memory game w/ different sizes and shapes, etc.
I have directions on the baggies for all the games & seeds, I also have directions attached to the bag explaining it and directions on the student journal and parent journal.
Before I start it, I send home a letter explaining its purpose and the fact that its optional. I explain the rules for taking care of it and returning it on time. Then if they choose to use it, parent and child both sign the contract and return to me. I put the names of everyone who signed the contract on a clipboard and the children sign the bag in and out each day. Let me know if you want anymore specifics! Have fun with it - the families love it!! :-)


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Literacy Bags
Posted by: Petunia

What grade? I would put "Whisper Phones" in a couple. Get two pieces of curved PVC plastic pipe at the hardware store and glue them together (looks like a telephone receiver) Students whisper in one end and at the other end they can hear what they are whispering. *****I would buy a couple Walk-ems however you spell it at Wal-mart for five dollars each and tape a book for the students to read and listen. ******I would put a small stuff animal in some for the students to read to. ****read a book and put supplies in the bag to make a puppet... Send me an e-mail for more ideas and what grade you are making these for... How many activities do you plan to put in each bag? I would put a book in each bag to read.

Posted by: Lori

I teach first grade. I have used bags for years. Here are some ideas I came up with.

I have an estimation station bag that
the children take home. You could adapt that to third grade with more objects and have them problem solve how to make an
estimate easier, and even have them graph the contents.

Also I do a fact bag for + and - you could do a multiplication fact bag.

For everything we study like penguins and lady
bugs, we have a bag. You could use higher level literature and questions for your bags. (I put in stuffed creatures and stickers, but I bet third graders would like that too!) Our third grade teacher did a neat solar system bag and one of the projects was to make a planet using all sorts of materials. (She included a Styrofoam ball in the bag)

When I taught second I also did a famous person bag. I did Martin Luther King, Jr. George Washington, etc. The activity in the bag was to write a letter to the person, and it was really interesting to read them.

I also think bags based on the Magic Schoolbus might be good for third grade, since the texts are tougher.

Finally, you might try a poetry have some poems for them to read and them maybe have them try writing a certain form of poetry.

I do make most of my own bags, but this year I cheated and ordered some from the site I listed,
they can adapt them to any grade. You can buy them filled for under $35. Just an option, you could also get ideas from the site if nothing more. I hope I helped a bit. I think
third graders would love the bags! Lori

Here is the site I have ordered some from:

Here is a site with ideas K-8

PS I would be more than happy to help you think of things to include in your bags, if you want to email me!

Literacy Bag Topic - Mail inventory
Posted by: Sandy

I am also working on literacy bags this summer. I have one that I'm starting on right now - its called Mail Inventory. I got this idea from the IL reading conference and I am adapting it for second grade. I'm using the books Dear Mrs. LaRue, Detective LaRue, and First Year Letters. The activities I have so far are: Activity One: Create a postcard from a favorite place. Draw a picture on the blank side and write a letter to your class describing this place. Be sure to include the school address on the postcard. Activity 2: The post office makes stamps that show important people, places, or events. Think about something that is important enough for everyone to see every day. Draw a picture of what you think that stamp should look like. Write a 2 or three sentences about why you think it is important enough to be on a stamp. Activity 3 Play Detour ( a game from the book Instant Math Games that Teach by Creative Teaching Press)

These are my ideas so far. I hope it helps.

book bags
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

First book bags.

I just use zip lock bags for my book bags, but I'll have to check out Superstore when I'm back in Edmonton as it would be nice to have better bags too.

Thankfully my school gave us lots of money to buy leveled books for our classrooms, so these are the books I use for sending home. I tend to start everyone off around the same level until I have a chance to see where they are all at. I usually send home 2 books each night and sometimes 3 for the weekend. The students are supposed to return the bags daily even if they didn't read the books.

I also include a sheet that is simply a form that has a place for the name of the book, date and parent comments. At the beginning of the year I have a letter that goes out with the first bookbag that explains why I am sending home the bags and how I use the form.

I have these as word documents, so if you would like to see them just send me an email. I wouldn't be able to send them until late next week as I'm in Colorado right now visiting my brother and sister-in-law.

Sometimes I will send home a reading sheet as well for them to practice at home or a list of sight words.

For me the most important part is to get them reading daily at home which in my community has not always been the easiest thing.

I keep track by using the sticker charts you can buy. I put them up on a wall and every day I check to see who has read their books - so the parent must fill out the form or I don't put up a sticker for the student. I used to just put up a sticker if they had their book bag at school and then I found a couple of students were simply leaving their book bags in their lockers every day. When they fill in the chart (20 stickers) they get a trip to my prize box.

As far as "Primary Success" goes - I say YES!!!

I've been getting it now for about 3 years and I enjoy every issue. There are tons of ideas and poems and hints which I have used quite a bit over the years. I'd say try it for a year and see how you like it. I think she will send you a sample copy as well.

I'm on her grade one email list serv as well which is a lot of fun. There are quite a few teachers on it and quite a few Canadian ones so that is also nice. I have the instructions on how to join as well so if you want that information too just let me know.

Help with BAGS!!
Posted by: Third Grade Teacher

Here are some themes that I have thought of.
If you could help me with what to do with my
Literacy Bags for these themes (3rd grade) , I would really appreciate it!

Explorers and/or Columbus/Lewis&Clark
Quilts and/or Underground Railroad
Fairy Tales
Apples (Johnny Appleseed)
TALL Tales
George Washington / Abe Lincoln (Presidents)

Frogs (life cycle)
Butterfly (life cycle)
Water Cycle
Rocks (and Minerals)

I have numerous books for these subjects so that is covered. What about activities?

Here are some books that they love that I could make bags for:

Amelia Bedelia
The Teacher From The Black Lagoon
Magic School Bus (any!!)

Authors we study:

Patricia Polacco
Tomie dePaola
Steven Kellogg
Kevin Henkes
Jan Brett

ANY AND ALL IDEAS WELCOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re literacy bags
Posted by: Patty

Hi Heather. Literacy bags are bags( cloth or whatever you have) with several books that are theme related. For example, a bag on seasons might include the books Frederick, A Busy Year, In for Winter, Out for Spring, The Four Seasons, etc. Also, there would be a journal of some kind so the child could write responses to some questions you want answered ( put your favorite story in sequence, find 10 descriptive words in a book,etc.) and some sort of activity, like a leaf stencils. Some of the activities could be for skills or just for fun. They are wonderful to use but I guess I wanted some new ideas for mine. I hope this helps. Oh, the child would take the bag home say on Monday and return it completed on Thursday. Then you would send it home with someone else the next Monday. You could have several bags going at the same time.

Traveling Animals or Bags
Posted by: linda

I have done a Teddy's Adventures in my class. Each child gets to take Teddy the bear home for the night. They take care of him and record what they did together. Teddy has his own back pack (small crayola backpack) with pj's, a toothbrush, storybook for bedtime, his journal (which is a copybook) and a camera. The children were allowed to take three pictures on his visit. The stories are always interesting. The children loved it. I only have 21 last year so Teddy went home with the children on three different occasions. When Teddy came back to school the next day, we shared his adventure with the class. The who take him home always love to see the pictures from the other children. When Teddy was in the classroom, he did everything with us- from going on class trips to doing centers with the children. It is a great project. I also had story bags. They were cloth bags with props that go along with a specific story. The child read the story with their parent and then illustrated their favorite part of the book. We put all the response in a class story which we shared each afternoon.
I hope this helps, if you have any other question, feel free to email me. Good luck!

Thank you! My Literacy Bags
Posted by: AmberM

Thanks for all the replies and for the ones still to post!

I Teach First Grade... and love it!

My Bags are the plain cavas type bags, I get them in the craft department at Wal-Mart or Michaels. I sew three large snaps across the top.I design the bag front on my computer with print artist 12.0 or I scan in a related book cover, then I print it on iron on paper and then transfer onto the bag.

My students all must have their parents sign a form at the beginning of the year so the parents know the bags will come weekly and the rules and care for them. If items are missing or the bag is not returned the child may not get another one until its returned or replaced. Since they have a signed form we are allowed also to hold report cards until its return, however I never have had to do that.

My kids favorites are The Berenstain Bear Bag. I have three books in it. "Report Card Trouble" "Homework Hassle" and "Bears on the Moon" There is a folder with a maze to the bears home and color sheets of Sister Bear playing Baseball and Papa being chased by bees. I drew in Word bubbles on the pages so the kids could write in captions. When they bring these back I put them up on the wall by where we line up so they can be read. See for patterns for color sheets and puppets!

The other one that is a favorite is the Popcorn Bag. I have the story The popcorn Shop and it has an open ending so the students can write what happens next at the pizza shop. I also include a bag of microwave popcorn that the pop and then use to design popcorn art, which also turns out cute. They use glue, paint, markers, glitter and create. I also have in the bage a worhsheet where they count and write how many groups of ten popped and how many are unpopped.

All my bags have at least one book. I do have whisperphones made like decsribed above,except I sratched the surface with fine sand paper and then painted them. Some have books on tape and Walkman HeadSets.(I never seem to replace batteries, I guess the kids have their parents put new ones in!) Some of my other bags topics are:
Bumble Bees
Teddy Bears
Napping House
Cat in the Hat
Rainbow Fish
Junie B.Jones
Moon and Stars
I can't remember any others right now!

Thanks again for the suggestions!

home reading programs
Posted by: Cathy-Dee

I have had both success and failures with home reading programs. As the other post mentions it is often the parents we are encouraging more than the children. Here are some things we do to encourage reading at home.

- availability of books - some families do not have books at home, especially books that the students should be able to read as well

- I send home books in a book bag with a sheet that the parents sign - it is quite simple - title of book(s), date and a space for comments. The students get a sticker on a chart for each day they bring back their book bag AND their sheet is filled out. I had too many children this past year who would take their bags back and forth and yet no one was reading with them.

- I hold a parent meeting first thing in the year and talk about why reading at home is so important. I also go over reading strategies and how the children do not need to know every word in the books that they are reading. As well as the benefit of being read to.

- The children receive prizes for filling out so many stickers on their charts. At the beginning of the year I may do it for the first 10 stickers and then the next 10 stickers, after that it is per reading chart (each chart has room for 30 stickers). The kids get to go in my prize box. At the end of the year they also earn prizes depending on which sticker chart they are on.

- To encourage the book bags coming back and forth I put in little surprises every week or two - a bookmark, a sucker, a pencil, an eraser, a sticker, etc., to make it fun for the kids.

- We tried some of the more extensive programs - school wide - sticker charts in hallways - earning "big" prizes such as pizza parties, bowling field trips, movie afternoons, etc., After two years what we discovered, is the kids who read on a regular basis and are supported home read and those who are not do not read that much more. We might get them for one of the prizes, but then they lose interest or their parents simply do not support them. So we moved it back into classroom programs with each teacher planning.

- some of the incentives I've seen used in other classes and schools
- lunch with the teacher
- decorating cookies
- pencils and erasers
- a field trip
- a "fun day" - making bubbles, doing outside games or indoor games, centers, etc.,
- a certificate
- extra computer time
- a book
- bookmarks
- crayons or pencil crayons
- prizes from a prize box

- The sticker charts are ones that I buy from a teacher supply store - I use Autumn leaves in the Fall, then a snowman, etc., so each one is different. These are displayed prominently in the room. I find that after the first parent-teacher interviews where I can point out the charts (especially for the students who are struggling and not participating), the parents seem to get more involved and better at participating. But even this year I have 4 students who still have the Fall leaves chart. I phoned parents, I raised concerns at both interview times, I wrote comments in their report cards. And yet these children love to read in class even if they are weaker in this area - so it is the parents who are not supporting the reading.
And I only ask that the children read for 15 minutes each evening (and in the first few months they can be read to for most of that time).

I guess my advice is to try an initial program or idea and then modify it as necessary. You may have a wonderful year with 100% participation and the next year it just doesn't work. I like to begin with less "prizes" and more homework based as I want the reading to be the "prize". Then I add prizes or incentives if the families need more encouragement.

upstart literacy bags
Posted by: readerabbit

I buy my literacy bags from They are double plasitic draw string bags. They have a good selection of reading logos. I service 50 kids a day and the bags hold up very good. You can order from the site or they will send you a catalog that has some neat logos that can be used for bull. bds. I have found clearance sells sometimes. Last year I orderd for my whole district that wanted bags

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