Every once in a while I’ll have a family ask me why I don’t send home homework in Kindergarten. My reply is “They are 5. They will have a ton of homework when they are older. For now, they need to be kids!”.
Because of this belief, I don’t really send homework. What I do send home are Take Home Bags throughout the school year.
You may be asking, what’s a take home bag (THB)? It’s exactly what it sounds like! Through out the year I have different activity bags that visit each students home for a night. Some of the bags are just a way to share a book we’ve made in class, others are guessing bags (more on this later), and others are activity bags.
I started doing THB in my first year teaching and have always (well, mostly) had a great experience with them! The kids love when it’s their turn to bring home a bag and the parents often tell me they enjoy doing the activities or reading the books with their kids. Families are so busy, that these are great because they only require a little time and creativity on the part of the families and are free!
I have several different bags I’m going to share with you (mostly with pictures…but not all because I forgot to take pictures before my last set of bags went into circulation, and hopefully these will inspire you to try some THB with your class!
Take Home Bags:
Can You Guess Bag?:
This is always one of my first of bags the year. The idea came from my first teaching partner Jen! And it’s so simple. The task for this bag is for families to find an object that starts with the same first letter as their child’s name. In the book, they come up with/write 3 clues about the object and put the object in the bag. When the child brings the bag back to school, they read their clues (with help if they need it) and the class tries to guess what’s in the bag! At the beginning of the year we talk a lot about what letter our names start with, so this fits perfectly with that! I will admit I’ve had a few mystery items that’s didn’t make sense – the student who brought Spider-Man but whose name started with A or times when the clue referred to one thing, but what was in the bag was totally different. But generally it is a fun start of year project!
All About Kindergarten Bag
Prep for this bag starts on the first day of school! I send each student home with a little homework (I know I said I don’t “do” homework, but I guess I kind of do – but not in the traditional sense of work that is done every night and returned for credit). With their families, students record some information about themselves on the All About Kindergarten book recording pages Kindersmartens 2018 sheet I send home and add a picture. In recent years, most families don’t have printed pictures of their kids (they’re all on their phones!) so I often tell families they can email me their pictures and I will print them at school (just on regular paper, but in colour). Once I’ve received everyone’s pages, I compile them into a book. In past years I would laminate the pages, but that gets expensive! So lately I’ve been putting them into page protectors. I usually put the pages into a binder, and then a drawstring bag. The bag goes home with each child for a night and then comes back to school the next day. This is a great way for kids to show their families their child’s new friends! Kids are always so excited to introduce their parents to the kids in their class. When the book has visited everyone, it joins our class library. My kids loved looking at this book so much, the binder completely fell a part! So we had to improvise (binder rings sealed with electrical tape!). If you are going to do this activity, I recommend adding a page about yourself in there too! It’s nice for the families to know a bit about you beyond the fact that you are a teacher!
The Peace Bag
This is nice way to share student writing with families and goes really well with our Social Studies curriculum (0-KC-006 Identify Remembrance Day as a time to think
about peace and war). This activity is based on the book The Peace Book by Todd Parr. It has simple kid friendly language that illustrates how peace looks and feels for a variety of people. I’ve actually used this book and activity for every grade level I’ve taught and it’s always worked really well!
Before the students go to work on their Peace is pages, we brainstorm all the different things that are “peace”. Then, they get to create their own pages! When the book is done, I bind it and put it and a copy of the original Peace Book into a drawstring bag. I have to admit this is my second copy of the Peace Book. Sadly, my first (hard cover) copy met it’s demise at the hands of someones two year old brother 😦 .
The Gingerbread Baby Bag
I love doing a Gingerbread theme with my class every year! However, while most people do theirs in December to go with Christmas, I do mine in January. We actually do a whole Jan Brett author study. or as I like to call it we do January Brett (hehe). Part of that is talking about the story of the Gingerbread man. We look at different versions of the story through out the month and compare them. One of our favourites is always Jan Brett’s The Gingerbread Baby (and it’s sequels Gingerbread Friends).
To compliment our learning, we make a Gingerbread Man book! The kids come up with places they think the Gingerbread Man has run away to and write draw about them on a run away gingerbread from Kindergarten PLUS recording sheet. Then, we glue in little paper Gingerbread Men (which I made using my Cricut!). This activity is from the series Kindergarten Plus – which I love! I use a ton of their resources and activities. It’s especially great if you need activities for a sub – as everything is explained for you to leave for your sub and the black line masters are easy to copy!
Our class book, a simplified version of the Gingerbread Man (which I printed on card stock, laminated, and coil bound), a Gingerbread Man puppet (which I made out of two cheap brown face cloths, some pom poms, and puff paint), and a book for students to write in all go into the drawstring bag. The bag “runs away” to someones house each night. At home, the students (with help from their families) record (writing and drawing) what they did when the Gingerbread baby was at their house. Then next day, they bring the bag back and get to share what they did! They are all so excited to share their adventures! Sometimes parents will even send me pictures of what they did together.
If you want to make your own Gingerbread Baby Bag, here is the recording sheet I made: Recording sheet for GBB bag Kindersmartens 2018
Beep Beep Vroom Vroom Bag
This one is SO fun – but also a bit of work and money to set up! It is based on the book by the same name, Beep Beep Vroom Vroom by Stuart J. Murphy and is a part of the Math Start series. These books are great! I have a bunch of them (I have another bag that is out right now that is based on a different book) and they are perfect for combining numeracy with stories! All the materials I send home with this bag are in the picture above.
In this bag there is:
- Beep Beep Vroom Vroom by Stuart J. Murphy
- Pattern Parade by Harcourt School Publishers (I’m not sure where I picked this up, but it is a part of a larger set of early readers)
- 9 toy cards (3 each red, yellow, and blue)
- 30 unifix cubes (also red, yellow, and blue)
- 24 crayons
- Car Patterns Recording Sheets Kindersmartens 2018
I like to use this bag after we’ve been been learning about patterns for a while. I always read Beep Beep Vroom Vroom to the students before the bag starts going home. When the students take the bag home, they get to play and build patterns using the materials in the bag. Their “job” is to make 3 different car patterns and record them in the book. When they bring the bag back, they get to share their patterns with the class. I always like to ask them to show which pattern is their favourite.
When I Grow Up Bag
If you ever have a conversation with a Kindergarten child, you will inevitably talk about what they want to be when they grow up! Part of our curriculum in Manitoba relates to people in our community/community helpers. Talking about what we want to be when we grow up is a great way to connect to that learning. As a part of that, we created a class book! In case you haven’t noticed, we looooooove class books! I like to start off by reading the book When I Grow Up by Weird Al Yankovic (yes, Weird Al! It’s a great book). It’s a hilarious story about all the different things you could be when you grow up (added bonus – it’s a rhyming book!). Then we talk about different jobs and things we could be when we grow up. Then the students create their own page for the book. Some are pretty standard, police officer, teacher, fire fighter, etc. Others are a little more interesting – like my little girl who wanted to be a ninja or the one who wanted to be a vegetarian…turned out she mean veterinarian!
In the bag, I put a copy of the Weird Al book, our class made book, and this little “When I Grow Up” book I found I here. This is an easy bag to put together and is fun to share with families!
This is the recording sheet I made to go with this activity: When I grow up recording sheet Kindersmartens 2018
I have more bags that I’ve done, but I’m going to stop here for now! Perhaps I’ll do another post of Take Home bags. I hope you found something you can use or a little inspiration to make your own THB! There’s a little work in the beginning, but the benefits of doing this is amazing! Such a fun and simple way to connect learning at school to home. And because it’s not “homework” and not something they have to do every night, the kids are always so excited to do the activities!
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions leave me a comment!