Literacy Backpacks

Literacy Backpacks

“Language is essential to society, forming the foundation for our perceptions, communications, and daily interactions with others” (Kostelnik et al., 2014, p. 243).  Oral language in early childhood is fostered through many things such as conversations with adults and peers, pretend play, singing, questioning, etc. Oral language is also fostered through the daily reading of different genres of literature.  Children who are lucky enough to have lots of experience with nursery rhymes for example, “will have more highly developed phonological awareness” (p. 245).  Phonological awareness is the ability to hear the similarities and differences in the sounds of words or parts of words.  Also, allowing children to have fun with words through poems, music, rhymes, “silly words (goopy, soupy, boopy) and even nonsense words (anana, tabana, fanan)” will lay the strong foundation they need to connect language to literacy (p. 245).


Utilizing different genres and creating language and literacy activities that are engaging, interactive, and fun is an important part of the early childhood classroom. The concept of a thematic literacy bag, sometimes called a story sack, or backpack, has been used within the classroom, as well as an at home activity to support positive literacy experiences. These thematic bags include several language and literacy activities that support children’s learning. Literacy backpacks are often used to introduce literacy at home. The home-school connection is important, and having children share literacy that they are reading at school with their families is a great way to form this connection.  How to Make Awesomely Effective Literacy Bags (Links to an external site.) not only explains in detail what a literacy bag is, but provides useful tips on what should be placed in a literacy backpack before it is sent home. Below are two useful videos that demonstrate the benefit of literacy backpacks.

Hug That Book — A Literacy Programme Ups the Ante (Links to an external site.)

Do Your Ears Hang Low, Story Sack (Links to an external site.)

Initial Post: For your initial post:

· Create a plan for a literacy backpack that can be used within the center, classroom or at home. Your post must include:

· A visual of what your bag might look like. You can use whichever graphics program you choose to create the visual (e.g., the drawing tools in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint). Be sure to attach your visual to your initial post.

· Instructor Tip: Your visual should be something that attracts your age group but also promotes literacy. Could you spell out each child’s name on their literacy bag or add a design that signifies their reading level? How can you make your literacy backpacks unique?

· Instructor Tip: To display you image you can take a screen shot of this image and upload it. Please visit How to Take a Screen Shot of What’s on Your Computer (Links to an external site.) for details.

· A description of the theme of your bag and introduction to the bag (e.g., Back to School, Seasons of the Year, Animals, Apples, Feelings and Emotions).

· Instructor Tip: When choosing your theme, choose theme topics that cover a wide variety of things. For example, if you choose the season of Fall, you have limited your book choices, and the children in your classroom may have no interest in Fall. By choosing a wider topic such as Seasons, you have allowed for a wider literacy selection that may be appealing to more students.

· An explanation of the developmental level/age that you would use the activities with.

· Instructor Tip: What age would best suit your theme and literacy choices? Keeping in mind everything that we learned about DAP, what do you feel makes your activities appropriate for your age group?

· Three developmentally appropriate literature selections that could be read to the child, including the title and author.

· Instructor Tip: Checking out your local book store or websites such as Barnes and Noble (Links to an external site.)Scholastic (Links to an external site.), and Amazon (Links to an external site.) will help you choose from a wide variety of children’s books. Use this information as a resource when selecting literature.

· Three open-ended questions that the child could discuss after reading the stories.

· Instructor Tip: Open-ended questions are questions that leave room for interpretation. An example of an open-ended question would be, “What did you think about the two characters in the story who were crying?” This question allows you to engage your student in further discussion. A close-ended question is a question with a definitive answer. An example of a close-ended question would be, “Did you like the story?” This response will not allow you to have further discussion with your student. Be sure to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.

· Three activities which reflect reading/writing for the developmental level.

· Instructor Tip: This will depend on the age group you have chosen. Remember that DAP is based on what your age group is capable of. Refer to your text to review developmental milestones. Once you have reviewed the milestones, match your activities with each milestone. This will help you ensure that your three activities are age appropriate.

· Three language activities that could be done with the child.

· Instructor Tip: How can you raise phonological awareness? Can you add songs, use poems, or chant while marching? How can you increase language in your classroom?

· Three manipulatives or additional items that could be added to the bag, with a rationale of why they are important. For example, you may wish to include a puzzle or a stuffed animal that is related to the theme.

· Instructor Tip: This is a chance to create that home school connection. What could be added to your literacy backpack that is meaningful to not only learning, but also enhances the home school connection? Could you add a note to the families explaining the book choices for the week? Could you provide a sticker chart that can be added to each time the child reads a story? What can you add that serves as a tool both at school and at home?

Guided Response: Review several of your peers’ posts. Respond to two peers, offering a reflection of the bag from the perspective of a family member who used it with their child. Describe what the strengths are about their bag for addressing the concept of literacy development. Is there anything you would do differently? Constructively provide that feedback for your peer as well. For example, you might say, “The questions were well written and help extend the content in the story,” or, “The story was engaging, however it was rather difficult and long to read. I might recommend a story that fits the developmental level more appropriately.”  Additionally, suggest one way that the peer can supplement their bag by including an activity for a non-English speaking child and family.

· Instructor Tip: As you engage with your peers, take some time to reflect on their ideas. Was there anything you felt was missing? Could you think of anything to add to their literacy backpack? By providing suggestions and thoughts you are helping your peers grow as learners.

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