This is part 1 of a 3 part collection of bookbag ideas. Please note - these are not my ideas. I collected them from the mailring and chatboard. Hopefully, all of the names of the original posters are included. I apologize if any are omitted! There are lots of good ideas here - BUT I have not organized them yet. Sorry!
Natalie Thomas wrote:
My homepage is
Many of you asked me for a copy of the grant I wrote to be funded for the traveling buddy backpack project. I have put it on my homepage as a link. Please scroll down to
the bottom of the page and hit the three links. Two are for two different
grants I wrote. The first one is for a grant just for my class and my
individual project. The Lighthouse Technology grant was written by me so
that I can extend the project to the whole school. The last link is for
the budget I set up. Someone asked me for that. So I hope this
information can help you.
> Anyway, I decided the best way to organize my bags was NOT trying to
> match what anyone else had done and going and buying all those books,
> but rather looking at the books I already had and dividing them into
> topics. Basically, I wanted 3-5 books in each packet. I wanted to mix
> fiction and non-fiction if possible. I wanted various reading
> levels...some my first graders could read and others the parents would
> read to them.
> Another question was WHAT do I put the books in? Well, I'm a
> penny-pincher most of the time. I would rather spend money on the
> contents of the bags than the bags themselves so...I use LARGE manilla
> envelopes. You know, the kind with the string clasp. I had a parent
> volunteer color and decorate the outside of the bags based on the topic.
> (I gave her some clip art and some stickers and asked her to use her
> imagination!) I typed the labels for them. When she sent them back
> decorated I glued on the labels and laminated them. Voila! instant,
> CHEAP bags! Do they tear up easily? Sometimes, but a bit of clear
> packing tape works wonders and is invisible! Best of all, it doesn't
> cost me anything! By the end of the year if they are too messed up, I
> just cut around the pictures, glue them onto another envelope, laminate,
> and they are ready to go again! I have seen bags done different ways:
> one teacher I know ordered vinyl zippered duffle bags for her books (she
> must be an heiress who only teaches because she loves children!) A
> principal in our district bought a bunch of canvas bags (the kind you
> get at craft stores) and had people in a retirement home decorate them.
> Again, a lot of money, those bags cost about $4 a piece, undecorated. I
> guess it just depends on how much you are willing to spend on them. For
> me, the envelopes work fine.
> The children are very enthusiastic about them and that's what counts,
> Several people asked what are in my bags. Well, I'll give you a list of
> my topics in a moment. EVERY bag contains 3-5 books, a student journal,
> a parent journal, and some sort of prop OR game. I do NOT provide
> specific activities for all the bags for two reasons. 1) I don't want to
> have to replace the materials every week and 2)I want the parents and
> children to use their MINDS and imagination to think of creative things
> to do together.
> They may read all the books, or just one or two. They may play the
> games or not. They may use the props to make up an activity or not. The
> whole purpose of these bags is to provide quality literature on a
> specific topic of interest that they can enjoy together at home! I do
> not want to make the parents or the children feel that these bags are a
> homework assignment. I don't want specific activities completed and
> returned to me for grading! Time together, enjoyment, interest,
> reading...that's the outcome!
> One thing I have ASKED the parents to do is to fill out ONE page in the
> parent journal to give me feedback...what did they like or not like
> about the pack? What are some interesting things they did with the pack?
> Which books did they like the best or the least. I have asked the
> students to fill out one page in their journal as well...tell me their
> favorite story or character. Tell me something they learned from the
> pack. What book did they like the best? What sort of things did they do
> with the pack.
> If the pack comes back to me on Friday and the journals aren't filled
> out, I don't punish the child in any way! They still get to choose
> another pack the next week. I ask them about the pack to see if they
> even got a chance to share it. I encourage the children to write in the
> journals if they can. I think the journals themselves are motivation
> enough because the parents and children see the entries written by
> parents and students that had the pack before them. They enjoy reading
> those entries and then they add their own! I have some parents and
> students that fill out a page EVERY night they have the pack! The
> journals HELP me because that's where I get the feedback. That's where I
> get ideas to make the pack better!
> Okay, what packs do I have? I'll tell you the topics. If you want to
> know what is in a specific pack just e-mail me. The reason I'm not
> listing every book is because, as I said at the beginning, I think the
> packs should be based on the literature you ALREADY have...that's the
> inexpensive way to do this! I will tell you some of the "props" I have
> in them...
> Colors Everywhere...color card matching game and WATERCOLORS!
> Space...file folder game, rocket work job (from Math Their Way)
> Let it Snow...file folder game, pair of mittens
> A Trip to the Zoo...plastic zoo animals, zoo sponges and paint
> Monster Fun...file folder games
> Down on the Farm...plastic farm animals, finger puppets, workjob
> Whatever the Weather...file folder games, outdoor thermometer
> Pink Pigs...work job, finger puppet, lacing pig
> Dinosaurs of Long Ago...dino stamps, ink pad, plastic dinos, game
> Puppy Love...file folder game, lacing puppy
> Beautiful Butterflies...game, lacing butterfly, magnifying glass
> Slithering Snakes...folder game, real snakeskin, rattlesnake rattle
> "Moo" Goes the Cow...finger puppet, audio cassette of one of the books
> Ducks in a Row...folder game, rubber duck bill mask, rubber duckie
> Feathered Friends...bird nest, feathers, plasic eggs
> Spinning Spiders...plastic spiders, fake cobwebs, workjob, song
> How Many?...foam dice, number game, magnetic numbers
> A Rainbow of Colors...colored cellophane, prism, bottle of bubbles
> Aminals Galore...animal stencils, file folder game, tangram puzzles
> Shapes...geoboard w/rubberbands, pattern blocks, shape stencils
> Favorite Foods...Cheerios with Cheerios counting book, recipes, games
> Dog Gone It!...plastic dogs, Milk Bones work job, game
> Under the Sea...seashells, fish workjob, fish crackers, game
> Perky Penguins...penguin workjob, finger puppet
> See My Teeth...teeth workjob, file folder games, dental floss
> Days of the Week...blank calendar sheets, copies of calendar songs
> Mixed-up Fairy Tales...finger puppets, game
> My ABC's...magnetic letters, card game, folder game
> Count With Me...counting card game, dice
> Happy Birthday...party hat, file folder game
> Trees and Leaves...leaves, bark, cross-section of tree, tree stencil
> Teddy Bears Everywhere...lacing bear, puppet, small teddy bear
> How Does Your Garden Grow?...seeds, plastic shovel, baggie of soil
> Into the Bear Cave...bear mask, game
> How Sporty...miniature basketball with goal, ball erasers, game
> Mouse Tales...finger puppet, game, workjob, recipe for candy mice
> Cuddly Cats...plastic cats, game, lacing cat
> Bug Alert...plastic bugs, bug stickers, game
> A Little Seasoning (4 seasons)...tape of Vivaldi,matching game
> Jumping Frogs...plastic frog, frog workjob, filefolder game
> "Tick Tock" Goes the Clock...plasic clock, directions for grandfather
> clock, telling time card game
> Deep in the Jungle...plastic animals, animal stamps, workjob, monkey
> Someone asked which ones were the favorites and which ones were duds.
> Well, so far the favorites seem to be...
> Dinosaurs, Favorite Foods, Let It Snow, Whatever the Weather, A Trip to
> the Zoo, Perky Penguins, Under the Sea, Dog Gone It, Cuddly Cats, Bug
> Alert, Mixed-up Fairy Tales, Space, Colors Everywhere, Slithering
> Snakes, and Down on the Farm.
> As far as "duds" go, I'm not sure if they are really duds or that there
> are so many packs to choose from. The ones that haven't been chosen as
> much are...
> Monster Fun, Feathered Friends, Ducks in a Row, Count With Me, A Little
Well, sorry to be so long winded. I hope this helps some of you. If you
> have any other questions, PLEASE feel free to e-mail me. Or if you want
> to know the specific books I have in each, I would be happy to tell you!
> Thank you for taking an interest in what I have to say by reading all
> the way to the end!!! :0)