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Connecting school, home and literacy

The "Mr. Bear Backpack Activity" is described below as a way to promote literacy among your students and their families and to involve them all in your community of learning.

What: Mr. Bear Backpack

Why: To facilitate a connection between your students’ families, your classroom community and reading and writing

Materials:  A stuffed bear (or other animal/toy), backpack, pencil, notebook

How to get started:
Introduce Mr. Bear (or whatever name you give the stuffed animal*) to your class. He/she will go home each night with you or one of your students. While there, someone (the child, a parent, a babysitter, you, etc.) writes in the journal about what takes place at home during Mr. Bear’s visit. The journal entry is then read by the child or the teacher during the next morning's opening activities.

This home-school connection could be modified to meet any age level or to meet the changing needs of you and your students throughout the year. For example, if your class is studying a certain concept (community helpers, electricity, etc.) then the journal entry could be focused on that concept. If the initial visit is to help students get acquainted with each other, the journal entry could focus on a “souvenir” that the student brings back with the backpack to share with the class.

Things to think about*
How will you set up the rotation of the visits?
Will the backpack go home on weekends?
What will happen if Mr. Bear gets lost?
What other modifications might you plan throughout the year?

*These are things you can decide ahead of time as a teacher. However, these decisions could also be discussed and negotiated with students in order to share the decision-making with them.

Key words: parents, families, literacy, homework