Saturday, August 22, 2009

Intro to take home activity bags

Homework for Kindergartner's is somewhat a controversial and tricky subject. I handle homework mostly through a series of backpacks that are sent home with each student that focus on a particular skill. The following are some of the backpacks that I created or made form ideas I received at workshops. I did my best to give credit where credit is due.

Here are some tips for creating and managing take home activity bags.
1. Make sure the bags are light enough for a child to carry.
2. Include a luggage tag on each bag so that if they are lost or left they can be returned.
3. Make sure that any items sent home are replaceable.
4. Make extra copies of the instruction sheets. They are most often lost or damaged. It is a good idea to protect them in a plastic sleeve or laminate them.

I keep a roster of which child took home which bag and when. This helps me rotate each bag fairly. I usually send home 3 different bags with 3 different students at a time so that only 3 bags are in the rotation. I check the returned bags as soon as the student arrives and check out their work and ask them how they liked the bag. I quickly restock and consumable materials so the bag is ready to go to the next student.

Unfortunately there are some students who can't handle the responsibility of take home activities. To prevent lost bags I use the following questions to determine readiness. Is the child's backpack emptied daily or full of papers and clutter? Has the family returned their forms in a timely manner? These give me a clue on the organization of the home environment. I also sent home the easy to replace bags early. If a child is late by more than 2 days in returning a bag or objects are missing, that child doesn't get to take home any more bags. If I can, I may ask a classroom volunteer to do the activities with the child so there are no hurt feeling.