Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting Literacy into the Home

Back in college, I learned about something called Literacy Bags. These themed bags were a way to get books and activities into the homes of students. I spent many hours putting my Literacy Bag together for an "A" in the class. At the end of the semester, I put it away and never thought of it again until.......

this past school year. I always wanted to do Literacy Bags but as you know, time slips away. I start every year with great, inspiring ideas. Then, before I know it, the year is over and if I am lucky, I implemented one new thing into my classroom. Literacy Bags just never got off the ground. 

My colleague, Mrs. C, and I worked on a version of the Literacy Bag for our ESL students. We called them Learning Suitcases. I think when we hear the word "literacy" we think reading. However, literacy is so much more than that. Yes, literacy is the the ability to read and write. However, it is also the competence or knowledge in a specified area. Mrs. C and I wanted to include reading, math, science, and social studies activities. This is why we called them Learning Suitcases. 

Now I am not going to preach about the importance of learning in the home. We all know this. What I am doing is suggesting a practical way to get it done!  

I don't have pictures of the actual product, but try to follow along. Basically, I ordered these amazing plastic briefcases from Amazon. Then, I created activities in reading, math, science, and social studies around a specific theme. I focused on Weather since it was a Kindergarten and First Grade unit of study. Some of the activities were letter matching games, sight word games, number recognition activities, etc. I also included books that went along with the theme. Everything I designed was appropriate for grades K-2.  

Each week, one student took the Learning Suitcase home. The parent letter explained what the Suitcase was and how it was to be used. I also explained it to the students. They were super excited to share the Suitcase with their families. Here is what the families gained from the Learning Suitcase:
  1. Parents and children engage in meaningful, vocabulary rich conversations.
  2. Students practice and build mathematics and reading skills.
  3. Siblings interact with each other.
  4. Families have fun TOGETHER.
  5. Students gain ownership as they are responsible for the materials.

Also, thanks to the wonderful paraprofessional, Mrs. L, I was able to have all the directions translated in Spanish.