Souvenir Bits A Developmental Process
Marti Plumtree
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 Summer 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, 33 and 34. 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 library Card) This is a story about George Washington Carver (the peanut man) telling how much he wanted to learn to read. The kids really enjoyed this book.

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.


Note: Adobe Acrobat Reader is needed to open the Souvenir Bits Response Form and the Souvenir Bits Collection Bag Sign.

From Kelli Roberts, Souvenir Bits Response Form in Spanish

If you don't have it, get it here