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Home Literacy Bags

  • 1.  Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-12-2021 02:07 PM
    Hi!
      I am a Pre-K teacher within a K-12 school district. We are in a rural area of Northern New York and many families face socio-economic challenges. There are two Pre-K teachers and three Speech-Language Pathologists who are creating a resource team to create and use home literacy bags/kits. Our goal is to support families who do not have access to resources and/or lack the understanding on the importance of early language and literacy skills that are developed in the home (oral language, vocabulary, etc.) through shared reading and simple activities.

    My question --- does anyone currently utilize home literacy kits/bags with their families? I'm hoping to connect with someone who can share what they've developed and procedures for implementing with families. Thank you!

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 2.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-13-2021 07:22 AM
    I highly recommend that you check out Raising A Reader's new Family Shared Reading Program. (FSRP) They have done all the hard work curating books & support resources and they are so great to work with!

    When COVID hit, they completely revamped their traditional RAR model and added this new way to connect with families.

    They just recently had a webinar on the new program... Which you can access using this link to the replay of the 30-minute FSRP webinar recording .

    It gives an overview of how it can help you and your families continue the learning while building their home libraries and enhancing the home - school connection.


    They also linked an FSRP Webinar slide deck, to share with other members of your team, and a 2-page FSRP flyer, to give your families and other stakeholders a quick look at what's included.

    If you have any questions about the Family Shared Reading Program, just reach out to rarinquiry@raisingareader.org.

    Another amazing support they started in response to the pandemic has been their Friday Town Hall Zoom meetings, during which they highlight different programs and organizations doing the RAR/FSRP programs across the country... So many practical tips,  creative ideas, and info on other resources get shared during those Zoom meetings. I truly look forward to them & tune in as often as I can. (Plus they always send the recording that you can watch later, if you miss.)

    Note: *They are not weekly anymore. I think they have backed down to once a month or every other week.

    I know this sounds like a paid commercial, LOL, but I am not affiliated with them in any way.  We have offered the traditional version of Raising A Reader in our county for several years, and I am just a really big fan of the program & everyone I've interacted with at RAR. 😀

    https://www.raisingareader.org/what-we-do/family-shared-reading-program/



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    Deborah Musika,
    Executive Director
    Montgomery County
    Partnership for Children
    Troy NC
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  • 3.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-13-2021 10:46 AM
    Hi @Kathryn Liscum,

    A local district offering public Pre-K has had success finding free resources from Reading Rockets: In Search of Free Books and Read Across America Free Materials. They send home bags on a monthly basis with books and tip sheets like the Mind in the Making Skill Building Book Tips and ​use digital strategies from the Raising a Reader Family and Teacher Resources.

    @Deborah S Musika, thank you for sharing all those RAR links - the new program and resources are amazing!




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    Erin Murray
    Education Consultant
    Moorestown, NJ
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  • 4.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-14-2021 10:23 AM
    Hi Kathryn,
    I created a series of my own home literacy kits for families that were sent out weekly in my KG - Gr 2 classes.  The first kit started with a class stuffed toy or mascot. Along with the stuffie, the kit included a journal, and 5 story books for read alouds, about sleep-overs or friends visiting (ex. Counting Sheep by Julie Glass)  The 'stuffie' accompanied 1 student on the weekend, as the "family visitor". The stuffie joined in on the fun/adventures with the families and parents would send me photos so I could share it with the class. The child would draw a picture/write about their adventure in the journal and Parents also added comments. The 2nd kit was a Cooking/Math theme (i.e., Mom and Me Cookbook, by Annabel Karmel; W Steig's Pete's a Pizza) with a paper chef's hat and plasticene. Other kits were Science investigations, Bug kits with 'tools' to help explore them. All kits included 4-5 storybooks about the theme and a journal.

    The kits were incredibly popular and enabled families to make connections with Math, Science, Art and Literacy.  By the middle of the year, there were at least 6 home kits a week going out.  My aim was to have the same number of kits match the number of students. This is not an expensive resource to develop but it does require a system of tracking kit contents.  Parent volunteers are happy to help.  On Mondays, children loved sharing what they had done at home - cooking, hanging out with the stuffie, making art, creating board games - all of these were intentional, engaging activities for parents and children.

    Hope this helps. Happy to share more specific details if needed.

    Kim Saunders
    St. John's, NL Canada

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    Kim Saunders
    St. John's
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  • 5.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-15-2021 07:28 PM
    I love this idea. Kim! Great minds think alike; I have a similar system for sending home picture books with a math theme. Each of my Take Home Book Bags includes a book and a laminated card with conversation starters and a simple math activity that can be done with items found around the house.

    You can find the black line masters for the laminated cards on my website (which is the same as my name).

    More math and more reading! A win for kids and their families!
    --Carrie

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    Carrie Cutler
    Clinical Assistant Professor
    University of Houston
    The Woodlands TX
    www.carriecutler.com
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  • 6.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-16-2021 11:28 AM
    Hi, Kathryn.

    I was a center director for 12 years and created take home literacy bags for my families.  The bags were developed around the letters of the alphabet and had the following items (I used the letter "A" for an example:
    • two to three children's books that went along with the letter "A"--e.g. "I am an Apple", "A Busy Year", and My "a" book
    • a small stuffed animal to go with the letter--Alligator
    • literacy journals--"what they enjoyed most in the bag", What words the child would read from the bag, How to improve the bag
    • literacy activities--alphabet tree lacing activity, reading and coloring in an "a" book, tracing and writing "Aa", reading simple word written on laminated apples
    • math--sorting apples of different colors, graphing the number of each color, counting the apples in the child's refrigerator at home, placing so many small apples on a tree and under a tree
    • science--seasons of the apple tree, parts of the apple, apple tasting party, planting apple seeds
    • music and movement--"A" fingerplays and songs, walking like the animals
    • cooking--making spiced apples, making candied apples, planning a menu with a parent to serve "A" items at dinner
    • Bible--(We were a faith-based facility so I included this as well) Reading about Noah's ark and doing ark activity
    • art--apple printing
    • Readiness Skills

    Many of the items in the bag were considered "reusable" and therefore were laminated for durability.  We included a vis-a-vis pen for the children to some of the activities so that we could "wipe them clean" when they returned them.  Others were items that we put in the bag upon it's return so that we could put it back to be checked out again.  I put that many activities in so that parents could pick and choose which ones they wanted to do with their child.  The parents and children were very excited to use the bags and they did get lots of use, believe me.

    I had these bags up front by where parents entered/exited the building.  On the outside of each bag was a plastic sleeve that contained a check out card for parents to check out and take home with the child.  We gave them around 3 weeks before reminding them to return the bag.

    The items in the bags were just brainstormed by me and some staff and we created them.  I used medium sized, canvas type bags that we colored the outside with pictures and letter with fabric paints.

    I hope this gave you some ideas of what could be put in a bag.  Please feel free to reach out to me with additional questions.

    ------------------------------
    Tamara Christofferson
    New Provider Support Specialist
    Child Care Connections
    Bozeman MT
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  • 7.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-17-2021 04:07 AM
    Well taking home literacy packets is a good idea. Although, you must know all your students individually before approaching approaching this method.
    Dr. Jones 
    BETA SCHOLAR 





  • 8.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-17-2021 07:27 AM
    Dr. Jones,
      Thank you for your feedback. It is something we want to integrate with families after connecting via home visits and getting to know our students and families. It is always a good reminder to provide resources and support for individual student needs and families.

    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 9.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-17-2021 07:30 AM
    Hi Tamara,
      Thank you for sharing your home literacy kits!! It is helpful to know how others have organized their items and managed the system for implementing.

    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 10.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-17-2021 10:43 AM
    I too started a book lending program many years ago for our preschool. We started out with the stuffed animal and a journal for parents to record the adventures of "Lucky" while he was visiting his "foster family."   We would read about his adventures the next day.  From there we create math bags, a traveling writing suitcase, a mystery bag, and so many more.  We sent the bags home as soon as they were returned. We had running lists of who got which one next.  Parents signed a "literacy agreement" or contract that they would partner with us to build their child's skills by using and returning our bags.  I'm not sure it meant anything to anyone but me, but it felt right.
    Then it was decided that the bags could be carriers of lice and bed bugs, so we stopped. Next we tried clear back packs. We purchased some pre-made  educational bags. This became expensive because pieces often were lost.
    Two years ago, we used clear plastic, zip-lock type bags with handles. Instead of trying to keep track of who had what, we found an app called Book Buddy.  The children would choose a book during class, get it scanned in, put it in their cubby and then take it home.  The books would be scanned in when they returned.

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    Kay Witmer
    Chambersburg PA
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  • 11.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 07:31 AM
    Kay,
     Thank you for sharing your insight --- the physical setup/management is a key piece we are trying to figure out. I like the idea of the larger plastic bags and handles to hold the kits.

    Thanks!

    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 12.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-17-2021 12:48 PM
    Three websites have ways of using literacy bags:

    www.talktomemama.com
    www.playsmartliteracy.org
    www.readyrosie

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    Tammy Steele
    consultant
    Talk To Me Mama
    Chicago IL
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  • 13.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 07:32 AM
    Tammy,
      Thank you for sharing the resources, I will be sure to share them with my team!

    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 14.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-18-2021 08:39 PM
    I found the book Story Stretchers to be quite helpful when creating take-home literacy bags. Teaching Strategies The Creative Curriculum has Learning Games which are broken up at one year intervals from birth to 5 - these are a wonderful resource for home activities that are done with easily accessible materials.

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    Joseph Murray
    Director
    El Mundo del Nino
    Hewitt NJ
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  • 15.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 06:28 AM
    This website also has some nice tip sheets to use with families: https://www.mindinthemaking.org/book-tips

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    Kay Witmer
    Chambersburg PA
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  • 16.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 06:37 AM
    More recently, because of COVID, we sent home learning kits to our families. We did not include books, but it would be possible to do that. We included lots of writing materials and supplies.  Each child had their own and we used them during virtual group and individual meetings.
    I often provide families with one or two books at the start of the year to demonstrate my belief that reading is important. I ask the families to read the book several times before school so the children are familiar with the story when they come to school. I encourage them to discuss the story and relate to their personal experiences and also to point out print concepts. In this way families have an understanding of ways to "read" to their children that they might not have used before.  Then, in class we have this commonality and can use the book for deeper discussions.

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    Kay Witmer
    Chambersburg PA
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  • 17.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 06:48 AM
    Hello Kay,

    Excellent suggestions for parents in terms of how to read to children. I recommend videos found on YouTube for dialogic reading as examples for families.

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    Joseph Murray
    Director
    El Mundo del Nino
    Hewitt NJ
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  • 18.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 07:35 AM
    Joseph,
      Thank you for sharing the idea of using YouTube videos demonstrating dialogic reading ---- explaining and demonstrating to parents is one aspect I wanted to include, but to provide a resource they can reference as needed will be helpful!

    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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  • 19.  RE: Home Literacy Bags

    Posted 03-19-2021 07:33 AM
    Kay,
      I really like your idea of having all students read the same books at home, discuss, and come to school with having read the same story but be able to add their personal experience.

    Thank you!
    -Katy

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    Kathryn Liscum
    Canton NY
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