After doing an incentive reading program for years (Pizza Hut)
and making sure that the class got the reward that was offered, I began
to tire of the process. It did not seem to have a lot of positive impact
on the majority of the kids. The process was a chore for me, the kids,
the parent helper, and the parents on the home front. The children did
not seem to be developing a desire to read. Last Spring I was playing with
the idea of not participating in the Pizza Hut reading program again. Yet
I knew I had become famous as the teacher who had the Pizza Party every
year. Cheryl's Article 27 -- Motivational
Reading Programs: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly convinced
me it was time for a change. In August Cheryl came out with Article 33
Planning, Home-School Connections: A Bit of a Story. I began
to think about how to implement this into my classroom. I developed the
form because I wanted something tangible to see how the children
and their parents were responding with this new way of interacting with
books.The results have been wonderful. The responses are informative, positive,
don't require any record keeping, and are non-graded. I have learned so
much about my families and how they discuss things. I know the parents'
educational level, and the level of conversation that has gone on between
parent and child. I also know how much the child has remembered or did
not remember. Many of my parents comment on how much they got out of the
story. I cannot say enough about how positive this experience has been
for my students.
The principal came into my room one afternoon as the children were finishing
a bit. She inquired about it so I explained. She was impressed enough that
she took some of the bits and parent responses to her principals' meeting.
I guess it went well because she said the other principals wanted a copy
for their schools. A big load of thanks to Cheryl for her articles 27,
The following are samples and answers to the many questions that have been
asked about the hows and whys of Souvenir Bits.
Some things to think about before starting
I went to the "99" Cent Store and bought juvenile gift bags with a handle
for each of my students. Then I made a sign, My
Souvenir Bit Collection Bag and taped it on each bag. I told the
kids to put it on a hanger in their closets and when they bring their bits
home they can place them in the bag.
I do this weekly.
I keep it simple.
I elicit the children's ideas for souvenir bits.
I am not sure if I have used the books on the list from article 34
because I use the books from my classroom Library.
I try to have a mix of fiction and nonfiction, simple to more complex.
Some books I have done that have been very successful for my class
are the following:
The Crayon Box That talked--(Souvenir Bit - a crayon) Responses
were great. Parents feel very compelled to tell me what they think as well
as what their has child learned.
Spider's Web--(Souvenir Bit - a spider pattern the kids traced
onto black paper and took home) This is a non-fiction book about the
how and why spider's build their webs. It is simple but factual. To my
surprise, the children retained some incredible info and the responses
from parents were also incredible. (8 of my kids have limited English and
their responses were very telling). This whole process has given me some
great insights that have helped to drive my instruction.
Round and Round the Money Goes--(Souvenir Bit - a penny ).
Again the responses were great, and I could really tell the comprehension
level and the time the parents took with their children.
More Than Anything Else--(Souvenir Bit - Application for a public
This is a story about George Washington Carver (the peanut
man) telling how much he wanted to learn to read. The kids really enjoyed
The Giving Tree--(Souvenir Bit - the children decided to draw
a boy and a tree on a 3X3 piece of white construction paper).
Even Steven and Odd Todd--(Souvenir Bit - a 3X3 piece of white
construction paper). On one side they put two dots and the number 2.
On the other side they put three dots and the number 3.
We have done these weekly and the children really do look foreword to
this assignment. In fact, the other day my Non English Speaking child came
after school to get the latest Souvenir Bit book so her parents
could read and translate it at home.
I cannot say enough positives about this activity. If you try, I hope
you and yours will enjoy it as much as my class and I have.