Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy the Home- Ideas for School to Home Activity Bags

I love sending resources home with my students and CCD kids!  However, sometimes you can't send those resources home for the families to keep.  When that is the case, use a School-to-Home Activity Bag.  You can come up with a fancier name, but the basic idea is that you collect a bag of books, activities, movies, etc. and send them home to a specific family for a specific amount of time.  They then return the bag and it is passed to another family.  Not only does it save you money because you don't have to purchase enough for each family, but there is also an element of "specialness" because the kids only get it for a limited time.
The Way of Light Story Bag

No matter what you choose to send home, here are a few basic tips:
1. Communicate with the parents that the resource bag will be coming home.  Explain at the beginning of the year, send home an email, etc.  Create a pattern for returning the items- for example they are given out and returned every Wednesday.
2. Include in the bag a note explaining what is in the bag, suggestions for using it, and a date to return.
3. Make a list of all of the items in the bag so that it can be checked before returning.
4. If necessary, also send a survey for some kind of feedback- what the student learned, what was the favorite item, overall comments or questions, etc. so that you know that it was used.
5. Pack it all in a bag that is labeled so that it makes its way back to your classroom.  A few kinds of bags I have used include canvas ones like this from craft store, donated cloth bags from a local organization, and even free convention totes.
Marian Family Shrine

St. Maximilian Kolbe Shrine
I do recommend that you make the bag easy to recognize. This can be easily done by simply writing the name of the activity on the side of the bag with fabric paint, or can be more elaborate and decorative.  You also can make the bags multi purpose by decorating them all the same with the name of your classroom or something more clever than "School to Home Activity Bag."  My classroom is decorated with owls, so I made these bags to use universally.  It will be easy for the kids to recognize that they belong back at school.  Because they are general, I can send home any activity that I need to with a student- I don't need a specific bag.  I like that flexibility.
 I have this set hung on an accordion hanger in my classroom so that can be quickly grabbed and loaded to send home.

Now what to put inside?  Here are some ideas:
-Books.  Varying levels both above and below your students' normal reading levels.  It is nice to send things that can be enjoyed my many different members of the family.
-Music CDs
-Cards with website suggestions, or even activities that require computer use
-Statues or icons.  Click on the pictures of the traveling shrines above for more ideas on that.
-If age appropriate, special stuffed animals or "reading buddies."
-Simple crafts with all supplies included.
-Coloring or activity pages
-Prayer journals or group writing notebooks

For Chrismas, I think it is especially nice to send home a bag of books, maybe even with some hot chocolate mix.  A collection of stories can be a nice way to spend a snowy day. 

 I also like the idea of sending home special things during a Sacrament preparation time.

For example, I might send these items home with a student preparing for their First Communion:
 Fr. Juan Pablo from Wee Believers with companions book (learn about the priesthood)
A journal/activity book about First Communion
The Weight of a Mass by Josephine Nobisso
Bible story books about the Last Supper
Bl. Imelda Lambertini story CD from Glory Stories
Bread of Life Bread of Heaven music CD from Rose of Sharon Media
Fr. Joe Kempf First Communion DVD

I might send these items in a First Reconciliation Bag:
You are Special by Max Lucado
A Little Book About Confession for Children by Kendra Tierney
A journal/activity book about First Reconciliation
The Giving Tree Stories & Scripture Activity
Bible story books about the Prodigal Son and the Lost Sheep

Fr. Joe Kempf First Reconciliation DVD

The possibilities are endless!  There are so many ways to use this idea to strengthen the connection between home and school.


  1. Did the families actually use them? How many items got lost during the transitions? This is a great idea, just thinking about some logistics! :D

    1. Hi Amy! I am slowly using this idea, and I have had good luck so far. So far, I have not had anything broken or lost. I have had them returned late, and so that delays getting them to another family. As for if they are used, I always ask the kids, because they are honest :). The family might not have used all of the resources, which I wouldn't expect, but the kids will tell me where they displayed the shrine, or if they watched the movie, or who read the books, etc. It might not be perfect, but getting resources in their homes is worth it!

  2. I love this idea and would like to implement it into my kindergarten ccd class. Do you have any ideas for a Lenten theme (besides kid size rosary and a book about Easter)? Thanks so much!