Posted by Joni, on 6/20/98
I do a few backpacks in my room and am going to work on adding more this summer. I
have a tooth backpack (for when kids lose teeth), a birthday backpack (for their birthday),
and a writer's backpack. I'd like to get in on the sharing if possible. I've gotten some good
ideas on the EC mailring and would share these and mine if you are interested.
Here's what's in my tooth backpack:
Tooth shaped cutouts that say "I lost a tooth today". These are used for making necklaces.
Books such as Little Rabbits Loose Tooth, Dr. DeSoto (and cassette tape), My Tooth is
about to Fall Out.
A healthy teeth game that I got from an old mailbox magazine.
A tooth journal where kids write how they lost their tooth. They can add a photo if they
Here's what's in my birthday backpack:
Books (I can get the titles but it's at school right now!) The only one I can think of off
hand is Little Duck's Birthday.
A birthday pencil for the child to keep.
Birthday stamps to make a birthday card.
A birthday report where the child tells how they celebrate their birthday, and other
important facts about the day they were born. They can include a baby photo here. The
children love to look at one another's pictures!
I'd like to get in on the sharing too, if possible. My email address is above.
Posted by Sandy, on 6/20/98
What about using a bucket. They come in a variety of colors and sizes.
They are strong and hard (good for protecting the books etc.)Make
interesting labels on the outside....Just an idea.
Posted by julie 3/CO on 6/21/98
My son, a preschooler, brought home a Corduroy (sp?) backpack. It had a
video, a book, a bear puzzle, a journal and of course a stuffed animal.
He loved it! I've been thinking about writing a grant proposal to do
mathbags that would include a literature book, manipulative, activities,
journal. I'm going to think it out and write over the summer.
Re: Backpacks What a GREAT idea!! Fabulous!!
Posted by Katharine, on 6/21/98
I found some really ugly small canvas bags with handles at the 98¢ store.
The kids don't seem to mind how they look and they work just fine. Point
being you never know where you might find something useable.
These ideas are great -- thanks so much.
Posted by Laura, on 6/22/98
Our Addison Wesley Math series has a series of "Backpack Math" games that go with
each chapter. The games are simple to make and maintain. They use many of the
manipulative that we use in the classroom. The games are simple to play, and can be done
in a few minutes or played over and over. I also include a parent's journal so the parents
can write any comments, let me know about missing pieces, etc...
I use canvas bags with zippers. At the beginning of the year I get a free bag from the
Highlights Magazine offer. (The one that even if the kids don't order anything, you get
free stuff!) I then decorate the bag with math symbols and pictures with fabric paint.
The response from the kids and the parents has been great. And it gives them a way to see
what the kids are learning at school, and a way to reinforce it at home.
Literature bags are a great idea. I would like to try some.
I would like to hear more specific ideas and share too!
Posted by Djinn on 6/22/98
I bought a book from Scholastic called
"12 Take-Home Thematic Backpacks" ISBN 0-590-49649-2
It explains how to make and use the backpacks - management techniques - how to build
your backpack library - etc.
The themes are: Bears, Fall, Families, Friends, Insects, Our Planet Earth,Penguins, School,
summer, Spring,Transportation, Weather. Each theme contains a newsletter,
Calendar,activities,Journal and books. What I liked about the format was that each theme
was not limited to one book so I could make several backpacks for each theme and
include different books for each one and since my classroom library is pretty extension I
have books already for most themes.. Anyway - another summer project along with file
Posted by Gisha on 6/22/98
I tried to find the book Djinn mentioned above only to find that it was out-of-print. I did
find one titled Home & Back With Books CTP3333 for grades K-1 which was full of
absolutely delightful ideas and projects. I hope someone will take this idea and run with it
and share with the rest of us. I agree--I'm almost looking forward to a new school year!! (I
did decide to use the book bags that our librarian gets from Upstart, instead of trying to
make them all--I'm not that excited about starting school! ;0)
Posted by Brenda, on 6/24/98
I have a similar idea that my 4th graders loved last year. I got 2
small interesting-looking old suitcases at garage sales and called
them "writing briefcases"(I couldn't find real briefcases) I
stocked them with: pens, pencils, colored pencils,
markers,crayons, a journal, a large envelope containing colored
paper with cute borders, and 3 different sized blank books -
teacher made. I had a volunteer restock them on Monday and send
back out with different kids. They LOVED this, even the kids who
didn't like to write in school couldn't wait for their turn. I
definitely need more this year, as well as the literature and math
packs I've been reading about. In the journals kids and other
family members wrote stories or just noted what they had done with
the case for the week.
I did literature backpacks that were very successful this year. My first
attempt at it.
A parent of a former student donated about 150 gently used and age appropriate
books to me. I themed them and had parents in my class donate used backpacks
from their children (this was very popular because the kids who donated their
old backpacks were very proud to be a special part of this program. I loaded
each backpack with 3-5 books depending upon size(in a specific theme) and
accompanying it was a manila folder with an inventory sheet listing books and
supplies. Enclosed in the folder was drawing and art paper, other art
supplies like recyclables, a list of suggestions for extension activities, a
parent comment card, and literature for the parents to read (educational,
informational, developmental--articles from professional and magazines of
interest). In each backpack is also a stuffed animal for the child to cuddle
while enjoying the books. Backpacks go home filled on a Friday and are
returned for sharing and refilling on Thursday. I keep an inventory list at
home and also have the one attached to the folder so that I can check the
returned contents to the actual list. I have had a few items that, sadly,
didn't come back in the bag (books, toys). A gentle reminder note and
eventually the items found their way back to us. The books were often too
difficult for the kids to read by themselves. However. they were always age
appropriate and very enjoyable a shared reading between parents and children.
Even some older siblings took part in this experience. What my backpack
program accomplished (happily) was that it encouraged parents to spend more
quality time with their children doing something other than watching TV or a
video. As my kids built their reading skills, I added easy reader backpacks
with blank audio tapes so that they could enjoy hearing their own voices on a
recording. They love this!!!!! I can give you some ideas of backpacks and
ideas within if you are interested. Many times, the parents didn't have time
to do the extension activities with their kids but,at the very least, they did
read most of the books to their children. Parents have given me very positive
feedback about this program. I began it in October (end) and it is still
going strong! 16 different backpacks have rotated through my class. When a
child goes home with one of the
backpacks on Friday, you can only imagine the glow on his/her face! Smiling
all the way!!!!! I hope this helps!
I have sent home the Button Bag and the Bubble Bag. The Button Bag had a
tin full of buttons, a sorting tray, the book Corduroy, and The Button Box.
There was a journal for the child to write or draw in and one for the person
who used the bag with the child. There was also a list of possible
activities that the parents could do with the child. I'll send the list
along if you are interested. The Bubble Bag had bubbles, a variety of
materials for bubble wands, a book(cannot remember which one is in there)
and a list of activities.
You could also do one with pasta for sorting, making necklaces etc
I use the backpacks also. I picked mine out of the end-of-the-year
leftover lost and founds never claimed. Good place for lunch boxes for
I use one for sending home our classroom buddy with a journal. Sometimes
we also have a travel buddy and journal going home in one. The students
write in the journal about the things they did with the buddy that evening.
The travel buddy usually has a one-use camera in it so parents can take a
picture of the student and the buddy.
Non-writers could draw pictures in the journal and have parents write a
sentence they dictate.
I also have a math backpack. The activity changes on the first of each
month. One student takes it home each night and plays the math game inside
with parents or anyone old enough to play.
Occasionally, I'll send home the science backpack for a month or so. This
usually has one of the easy science activities from Mailbox magazine.
At other times, I send home a geography backpack. This might have an
activity like sorting a group of postcards into the 5 themes, following
directions to fill in an empty map, or drawing a map of a story with
several locations, such as _Lost!_ by David McPhail or _Worse Than Rotten
Ralph_ by Jack Gantos.
Only you will know whether your 2nd semester kinders are able to do either
of those backpacks.
I never send anything home in the backpack unless it is something we have
done in class first. The backpack is for extra practice, not for parent
One year, I had a spelling backpack. I used alphabet pasta and old
tagboard charts with one side already written on. I cut up the tagboard to
be about 8 x 10 and students and parents worked together to paste the
spelling words on the unused side, using the pasta. This was a popular
activity with students. You could also use the alphabet cereal. (Do they
still make that?)
Perhaps this would be good with your number words, color words, or matching
Thanks for all the great ideas from this list since I joined. I've enjoyed
sharing with and borrowing from all of you. I'm out of school, but I'll
still be here most of the summer.
Ok here's what's in the backpacks.
Birthday Backpack: birthday pencils for child to keep, birthday bookmark
for child to color and keep, birthday concentration game (I used stickers
and index cards), a cassette tape with birthday songs from Sharon, Lois and
Brahms, a birthday journal where the child can tell what they did with the
backpack, and birthday report sheets (the kids really got into these!)
where each child told about the birthday traditions at their house and how
they celebrate,etc. They could also include a baby picture. These are
compiled for all to see when it's their turn to take the backpack home.
These are the books in the backpack: Pinata Party, Jimmy's Boa and the Big
Birthday Bash, Happy Birthday Dear Duck, A Cake for Jake, and Xavier's
Birthday Surprise. Also, I put some fun birthday sheets for the kids to
Tooth Backpack: a game about healthy teeth (came from a mailbox
centerfold, I think), a chart that they can make at home to keep track of
how many times they brush their teeth for the week, tooth necklaces for
each child to make ( I bought small tooth shaped cutouts and wrote "I lost
a tooth today" on each one. I then include some yarn and a hole punch for
them to make the necklace.) and books such as Little Bear's Lost Tooth, A
Quarter from the Toothfairy, and Dr. DeSoto book and cassette. A journal
is also included in this backpack and is to be used to tell the story of
how the tooth was lost. These are hilarious and the children enjoy looking
at what their friends wrote! I also loop with my kids and they enjoy
looking at last year's journal entries. Lastly, next year I'd like to add
instructions and materials for the little tooth pillows I have seen, where
you decorate a little tooth shaped felt "pillow" and put your tooth in
there for the tooth fairy to pick up.
I hope this is not too long winded. Please email me back if you have any
questions. I know it sounds like a lot in each bag, but I just collected
all the things I had and it worked out great! Also, a question for others
who use the backpacks, how do you manage the system of who takes home what,
etc.? I would think with a lot of backpacks, this would be an
organizational nightmare. Any thoughts?
Here are a few ideas for take home bag activities
magnets, butterflies, concentration games using their favorite characters, I
used Dalmatians, put numbers to dots, capital to lower case letters. I always
put some kind of book in each bag for them to read.
insects.. include 2 toilet paper rolls, construction paper to cover,
stickers, and have already punched a hole in each tube and a piece of yarn.
Give the directions for making binoculars.
Magnifying jar for viewing then letting go.
Book.. Back yard Insects
1. draw a picture
2, discuss when you see rainbows
3. guess how they are made
4. what colors are there
Book.. Tom's Rainbow Walk by Catherine Anholt.. there are many to chose from.
Make a rainbow
fill a jar with water
place in direct sunlight close to the edge so the light will hit the floor
place white paper on the floor. (If you don't see the rainbow hold the jar
directly over the paper)
1. What happens and why
2. Record the colors in order starting with the outer curve.
Repeat to see if it is the same each time.
( colors in order from outer curve.. red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
Make a rainbow sun catcher
Clear plastic lid from deli
markers or cellophane in rainbow colors. Make the rainbow then hang in a
Color by number page
books.. Cliffords numbers
Mouse paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
color in the room scavenger hunt
find 3 things of each color listed.
Draw or write what they found
Books I Spy
Hope these give you some ideas to take off with. :-) Let me know if you need