Friday, July 27, 2012

Take Home Bag Activities

Last year my students really struggled with the science vocabulary Texas wanted them to know to be prepared for STAAR.We would isolate words in class, talk about the definitions, but some students still needed more practice. I created a collection of Take Home Bag Activities that focused on two objectives -

1. Reviewing the material - Students were expected to remember material from August to April. I would try to review old material with spiral reviews but they didn't have another lesson on it until the month before STAAR. These activities allowed students cycle through the topics all year long.

2. Immersion - Students were continually seeing the science vocabulary in the classroom and then at home with the activities. They were able to see the function of the word along with other words and topics to associate it with.

So, how do the Take Home Bags work?
Each activity is created on a file folder and all the pieces are kept in a zip lock bag labeled with the activity name and topic. Every Monday I would assign a student an activity bag that they kept for the week. They were expected to complete the activity each night that week and return the bag on Friday. I was also able to use these activities in the classroom as warm up reviews the weeks leading up to STAAR.

What are the key points to making the activities?
I made sure to title each file folder with the activity name. This allows the student to know what they will be working on and it made it easy to organize the activities. I also laminated everything for durability.
Inside I would include simple instructions and the activity board. Most of the activities were matching so I kept all individual pieces in a smaller zip lock bag. It was important these activities were simple enough to do at home and quick so they weren't dominating the student's afternoon. Some of the activities were ones we had done together in class and others were originals I made specifically for this assignment.
I had answer keys on the back of the folder so the student could instantly check their work on their own.
All of the pieces of the Take Home Bag Activity were kept in zip lock bags labeled by topic. These are hard to find but Target has always been a successful trip! I kept all of the bags in a tub in my classroom over the weekend till they were checked out on Monday.
Before I began the system, I sent home a letter to all my parents explaining the expectations for the students and for the parents.
I kept a log each Monday of which student checked out which bag. Then on Friday I would check off each name as they turned their bags in. This made it easy to find a missing bag if someone forgot to bring it.
I also sent each student home with a signature page. They were asked to get a parent (or whoever is at home with them at the time) to sign the slip each night once they have completed their activity. This was turned in each Friday with their bag and used for a completion grade.

At the end of the year my AP asked if I would do this whole process over again. YES!! I actually have now created 40 Take Home Bag Activities for the upcoming year. The students were responsible with the bags and many improved after the start of the system.


  1. I LOVE your Take Home Bag idea! Do you have these for sale anywhere? I have nominated your blog for an award! Stop by my blog to pick it up!!

    Teaching without Tears

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  3. Unfortunately I am unable to sell the activities due to copyright restrictions. However you can make any matching or sorting activity a Take Home Bag activity! The easier, the better :)

  4. Those look wonderful!

    You have such a cute blog! I am happy to be your newest follower and a Texas teacher too! If you get the chance, I would love for you to hop over and visit me. =)

    Heather's Heart


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