Literacy Bag Activities

This is our final blog on the literacy project but we wanted to share with you some additional ideas given to us by Jan Eggert, who has worked for Head Start in an administrative position for 20 years and was instrumental in getting a literacy project started in her hometown. Literacy does make a difference in a child’s future so it’s important to start it early. Getting books into the hands of kids is the first step but teaching parents about the value of reading to their child and showing them how to use the activities provided to reinforce the learning experiences at school is also important as parents are a child’s first teacher.  Reading isn’t something that is just picked up like a language, it has to be taught.  Having the tools to work with is also a necessity if kids are to reach their developmental stages on time.

I talked to Lisa at Head start this week and she told me that all HS students were that tested and the results were half the class have learning disabilities and the other half are below average for their age group.   Needless to say they need our help and Lisa is excited to start implementing the program for next year’s class.

Jan and her sewing group have volunteered to put together 15 learning bags for the program.  Way to go Jan and friends!  Following are some of Jan’s suggestions.

“Literacy Bags for Families”

“Literacy Bags are a fun way to provide children and families with activities they can do together at home.  Many times the activities supplement the teaching that’s happening in the classroom.  The activities can help children develop language, improve writing skills and increase their fine motor skills. Remember to include instructions for parents on how to use items in the bag, what may seem obvious to us might not be to the parent.

There are many websites that can be accessed to get literacy ideas.  I like to use ideas that are easy and quick for the teacher to put together, or even better, give parents ideas that use commonly found items around the house.

Here are just a few of the many ideas that can be incorporated into literacy bags.

File Folder Games

  • Alphabet:  run off a ditto of the alphabet or write your own. Glue it inside a file folder and cover with contact paper or laminate if possible. Give the child a dry-erase marker and they can trace over the letters. Wipe off and reuse.
  • Shapes: do the same thing as the alphabet only make shapes to trace.
  • Colors: draw shapes and color them on paper (green triangle, orange circle, red square, etc.) Then cut out the corresponding color shapes from colored paper. The child will match the paper shape with the paper in the file folder.

Traveling Teddy
Is a fun literacy bag to send home with a child. Put a stuffed animal in the bag, a teddy bear, dog cat, (whatever is available) and also include a journal book. This can be as simple as some paper stapled together or an actual book if available. Put in a couple of pencils and some crayons.  The child takes the bag home for a few days and together the child and parent write about what happens to the animal while in their home. The child can then draw a picture of what they did with the animal. When the child returns the book, the teacher can read it to the class and ask questions of the child, giving him an opportunity to tell about his adventures with the animal.

Here are some ideas for literacy activities that can be found around the house and can also be given to parents.  These don’t cost anything and help improve skills that are needed to become proficient readers.

Puzzles
Cut an empty cereal box apart and cut the front into puzzle pieces.  The age of the child will determine how many pieces to cut and how intricate. You may want to only cut 3 or 4 shapes for a 2 or 3 year old child, but cut a larger number and more difficult shapes for older children.

“I-Spy”
Play a game with your child looking for colors and shapes….”I spy something green”  or “I spy something square” then have the child look for that color or shape. Maybe a stripe on his shirt, a tree outside, a green crayon.  Encourage the child to answer in complete sentences ….if he says “a tree”, repeat “the tree is green”. This helps their understanding of language.

Any activity a child does, whether it’s reading a story together with a parent or older sibling, doing a puzzle, writing or coloring on paper, drawing shapes in the dirt outside, stacking blocks or playing with play-dough is laying the foundation for skills needed to become a successful student.” Jan

We want kids to have fun learning. The act of playing teaches a child so many new ideas and concepts and can be done without fancy or costly toys. Day to day living offers so many learning opportunities if we as parents and educators take the time to teach to the moment.

When you complete a literacy or skill bag share a photo with us here on the blog or our Facebook page as an inspiration to others.  All donations for the program whether it is books, empty bags, finished bags, craft supplies, etc. should arrive by June 1 so we can get the program ready and shipped for the new class starting in August.  Contact Carol here for the mailing address.

Here are a few of the folders I put together. I still need to laminate the files so they can be used with the white board crayons or pens and reused. I also need to add envelopes to store the pieces and to state the number of pieces to the folder project. Please give credit on the file folder to the person who made a worksheet if you did not design your own. I decided that Corduroy would be a good “traveling teddy” as he likes adventure so added him, a Corduroy book and a folder with lined and plain paper so that mom or dad could write down the adventure and the child could draw a picture to accompany the story.

Have fun designing your folders and bags. Thanks to all of you who are helping to make this project a success. And many thanks to Jan for her suggestions for the bags.

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