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Parent/Teacher Engagement

  • 1.  Parent/Teacher Engagement

    Posted 10-07-2020 06:32 PM

    Because of the global pandemic, the challenges that today's early childhood educators and their families face are endless.  The unprecedented pandemic crisis has forced programs to make changes regarding the use of curricular materials, space, time, etc. This is happening while teachers are constantly trying to build and strengthen relationships with families in spite of physical distancing, distance learning, the following of state mandates, teaching online, and adhering to developmentally appropriate practices for young children.  In this new educational paradigm, parents may find themselves more involved and are playing a central role. To help support parental engagement and encourage hands-on activities to do with their children, the parent needs to look no further than their recycle bin! There they will likely find a variety of materials such as empty boxes (think cereal boxes, cardboard boxes, and other food packaging), tubular potato chip cans, paper bags, envelopes, etc.

    "Books" of various sizes and shapes can be made from these free and upcyclable materials! The resulting creations are collections of information and creativity though rarely resemble the books in media centers or on bookshelves.

    A parent may inquire, "Why create a book using common reusable materials?"

    • Books from reusables extend and enhance basic components of literacy.
    • Using reusables provides fun, creative hands-on sensory experiences
    • Reusables easily adapt to the developmental skills of the participating child
    • There are many more uses for reusables in the classroom and home than "meet the eye"

    To help reinforce the enjoyment and understanding of a favorite book, parents can provide opportunities for its extension and enhancement through bookmaking experiences. The child can create a book which amplifies what the child likes best about a favorite "real" book.  The attraction is personal to the child and he may emphasize the book characters, the plot, the theme, expressed emotions, and/or the illustrations in the book.  Parents can be engaged in book making with their child or provide opportunities to do this by using upcyclable materials commonly found in the recycle bin.

    Suggested resources for constructing books from used and recycled materials:

    Front and back cover of book, and/or pages of book

    • Variety of different paper (white, construction, etc.)
    • Variety of index cards
    • Various sizes of boxes (gift, cardboard, food, etc.)
    • Cans, or tubular potato chip cans with plastic lids (no sharp edges)
    • Paper lunch bags

    Book Binding

    • Round head paper fasteners
    • Yarn
    • Ribbon
    • Various sizes of silver rings

    Decorating Books

    • Buttons
    • Glitter
    • Movable, wiggle eyes
    • Various sizes of pom-pom balls
    • Ribbon
    • Rick Rack
    • Pieces of fabric

    Materials for Writing and/or Illustrating Books

    • Colored markers
    • Water colored paint
    • Crayons
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Easel paints

    The components of early literacy can be supported by engaging parents in bookmaking experiences with their child. Reusable materials can be redesigned into literary treasures with educational value. The book activities are fun, unique, and in addition they help preserve the earth's resources!


    Have fun making books and stay safe!


    Dottie Ports, M.S.
    Indialantic, Florida
    Retired ECE University Instructor, Public School Teacher
    Past FLAEYC President


    Dorothy Ports
    Indialantic FL

  • 2.  RE: Parent/Teacher Engagement

    Posted 10-09-2020 08:52 AM


    Thank you for these lovely ideas.  They can be stretched developmentally upwards for older children and downwards for toddlers and can be used for home or the classroom.  When I was teaching we made books often, and your addition of the recycling element is great.  Children can write or draw on their own and/or parents, teachers and other caregivers can write in the book while a child dictates their story.  For a toddler, even "Mommy" or "Green truck" is a whole story.

    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA

  • 3.  RE: Parent/Teacher Engagement

    Posted 10-09-2020 09:47 PM

    Hi Aren!

    Bless your heart! Thank you for responding to my post and sharing your "stretched upwards and downwards" thoughts regarding bookmaking from recycled materials. I totally agree! As a side note, a teacher friend who taught high school science assigned her students to 1) design a project using only recyclables to help any facet of saving the earth's resources and 2) to present a written report about the project in book form using recyclable materials. To do this, her students used old signs, a variety of old boxes (cigar, tin, etc.), cans, etc., for the book-making part of the assignment. Not only is bookmaking for our youngest students, but it can be effectively incorporated into curricula for our older students. This required assignment is an example that illustrates there is no age requirement or limit to making books from upcyclables. The reusable materials are all around us, in the garage, attic, pantry, junk drawers, etc., AND in the recycle bin, just waiting to be creatively used to make lasting treasures, books.

    Thanks again, Aren!

    Stay safe!


    Dorothy Ports
    Indialantic FL