Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

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You’ve heard of busy bags, but do you also know about literacy book bags? These are bags with a picture book and playful toys, games, or other related hands-on activities to do. And you can easily make your own!

Literacy book bags help children go deeper into the story. The bags encourage a child to retell (reenact) the story. This helps with sequencing as well as understanding story structure. The toys will prompt kids use the new vocabulary from the story as they pretend play something from the story. Not only that, the bag’s items can also be a jumping off point for children to tell their OWN version of the story — maybe with a different ending.

The toys and activities enrich the story experience. Not to mention it’s lots of fun for children — no matter what skills are being gained or reinforced.

The good news is you can easily make your own literacy book bags.

Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

First, you need a wonderful picture book.

Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

Next, you’ll want to find related toys, games, or activities. Look for what you already own. Pilfer through the kids stuff to see if you already own what you need. If you don’t, either try a different picture book, or check Target’s dollar section or the Dollar Store itself.

Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

I just reviewed a delightful counting book called The Pickwicks’ Picnic A Counting Adventure by Carol Brendler, illustrated by Renee Kurilla. Here’s my review:

Enticing cartoon-like illustrations invite you into this delightful counting adventure. The Pickwicks leave the city in their trusty pickup towards the shore. As they do, they’re passed by 2 blue scooters, 3 squeaky jeeps, and more vehicles until they all get to the box-girder bridge.  Which is closed! But not to worry, the Pickwicks unload their picnic on the road and have a wonderful time. Fantastic gumption, counting practice, and a great storyline is sure to make this a new favorite for the preschool set.

Since I loved this book so much, I thought it would be a fun literacy bag book.

We already had lots of cars and some number clothespins. I figured that with very minimal directions from me, kids could use the cars to count and match up with the written numbers.

Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

After I gathered my supplies, I stuck everything in a gallon plastic bag. That won’t work for all literacy bags though due to size. Use a favorite tote bag or buy a special new one.

Easily Make Your Own Literacy Book Bags

6 More Literacy Book Bag Ideas

Here are six more ideas for book bags you can put together yourself. They’re appropriate for preschool through first grade — about 4 to 6 years old.

Also, you may be able to get these picture books on CD or iPod download which can make this even easier for you to let your child be independent with the literacy bag.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom:
Preschool STEAM shares an activity where kids build their own alphabet tree with just a few the supplies. Directions here.
Or you can simply add magnetic letters and a cookie tray for a letter play literacy bag.

Is Your Mama a Llama:
Add plastic animals to the bag with two bowls or small buckets for the kids to sort which animals do and do not appear in the story. Be sure to include a bat, a seal, a llama, and a kangaroo.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt:
Provide blank paper and markers so the kids can draw all the settings in the story. Add puppets or small toys to represent the family. (This also works for The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.)

The Pout-Pout Fish:
Put toy sea creatures in the bag, a game of Go Fish or a magnetic fish puzzle into this literacy bag.

Harold and the Purple Crayon:
You already know this, right? A purple crayon and paper are all you need for this particular literacy bag. I wonder what your kids will draw?

Caps for Sale:
Hope you don’t mind the mess but for this one, you’ll need all the hats or caps you have and a barrel of monkeys or monkeys from a game like Tumblin’ Monkeys.
(Keep the monkeys out and later add them to the picture book Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.)

Now you’re practically an expert on this!

Soon you’ll be seeing toys and finding picture books to match and vice-versa.

I hope you and your children have lots of enriching reading experiences.

DIY Literacy Book Bags (Books plus Activities & Toys Using What You Already Have)

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2 Responses

  1. Linda Mills says:

    Hi Melissa. I am a retired Early Childhood teacher. I had used a similar concept in my class over the years called Take Home bags. The contents were based on the theme in the class and the children just loved them all. I would have 3 bags with always a book (fictional or nonfictional), a toy a soft toy, game, puzzle or diary with crayons and pencils included., that would go home Monday’s and Wednesdays. I involved parents as teaching partners. Let me give you some examples of our favourites.
    1. In the first weeks of the school year, a bag went home with a Pooh Bear soft toy( class mascot), a story book based on on our little character and friendship and a classmade book,’Pooh Bear, Pooh Bear, who do you see?’. In this book there were photos of the children and teaching staff in the class. This certainly helped our little ones to settle in.
    2. During our Feelings theme, the children took home a teddy who the children found lost and lonely in the playground one morning. In the bags were selected stories on Teddies. One of our favourites was’Dogger’ by Shirley Hughes.
    3. During our Minibeasts theme Eric Carle was a favourite and so in our bags we would put one of his wonderful books, a bug catcher, a butterfly net, containers and microscopes. One year, one of our little ones brought in a chrysalis she had found and the children watched a butterfly hatch.
    4. When we did the Dinosaur theme, we made two large papier mache eggs with a soft dinosaur toy enclosed in each. When the children arrived at school one day, the eggs had been discovered in the drama corner which we had set up as a paeleontologist’s camp. Oh, the excitement! They thought they were real. So we set some rules as how to care for them when we take them home, and the adventure began. In the bags were nonfictional books about dinosaurs and rugs to wrap the eggs to ensure their safety. The word ‘extinct’ did not exist at this time. The parents were wonderful support and they had many tales to tell about their egg sitting experience. So a class made diary was created to document each visit. Just before our specialParents’ Night the eggs ‘hatched’ and the contents displayed in a nest in the drama corner. The children thought it was wonderful and played with them until the change of the theme and yes we did discuss the word ”extinct’.
    5. When we did the letter’s’, the children took home bags that had non fiction titles of the sunflower’s lifecycle, sunflower seeds, recycled planter container, potting soil mix, a miniature watering can, child size gardening gloves, a pop stick for digging and illustrated sequencing cards to show how to prepare and plant the seed. This activity was completed in class first as a group activity and then the children had the opportunity to show their parents what they could do. The children would show us photos of their plants as they grew and flowered.

    So, these are just a few of the Literacy book bags that I used. We had baking themes, the five senses and even a physical activity bag. The children loved them and the parents often asked what was coming home next. We never lost any items and if we did the parents always replaced what was damaged or lost. I think in the 18 years that I taught Kindies, it may have only happened twice.

    I miss teaching the little ones. Learning can be fun!

    1. Oh, you sound like an amazing, passionate, & gifted teacher! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. What fun!!

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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