Last week we read a great book called You Can Read by Helaine Becker (as we practiced Read-To-Self and talked about the 3 ways to read) and it was quickly a first grade favorite.  The kids in the story are reading in all sorts of (funny) places, including the bathroom, the backyard, the bus, the car and maybe even in a tree.

If you’ve been around 20somethingkids for a while, you know that reading and books and literacy is a BIG deal for me and my students.  So what better way to spend our first 1/2 day of the year than enforcing that YOU CAN READ EVERYWHERE idea by making take-home t-shirt book bags??

We had been collecting t-shirts for a couple of weeks and finally we were ready to do something with them!  Because we are on this co-teaching journey together, Ms. Turken and I had planned that both rooms would be doing this today, and that we’d use both of our rooms for the work.  Kiddos spread out and got busy knot tying!  Besides being fun, the job of creating this bag for themselves enabled them to practice some important fine-motor skills and also helped get them SUPER EXCITED about filling up their new bag with books to read at home!

The smiles when they were done, as well as the SILENCE in the room as they worked (alone and by helping friends!) was inspiring! 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DIY T-Shirt Book Bags!

Over the summer, at a ELA/STEM learning institute we attended for our district, Ms. Turken and I were talking about what we could do to better encourage at-home reading this year in 1st grade.  While we do not necessarily require homework, being a better reader (and becoming a reader at all!) happens by reading.  Lots of reading.  We brainstormed how we could do more to get loads and loads of books in kids hands so they could practice each night with their families.  We remembered a connection we had to books at school, but we needed a way to get them home…

So I sent out a call to my friends on Twitter and Facebook (because that’s what teachers do when they have a question, right?), and very quickly I had lots of suggestions.  Mrs. Horn, a friend and teacher at another school in our district, suggested this DIY t-shirt book bag from Mommypotamus.  It’s a no-sew project, so we figured it would be easy, and since we planned on having kids make their bags, we knew they’d be really excited to use them every day!

Ms. Turken’s class was able to make their bags ahead of us, and came to show off/model them as they were finished.  Boy was I excited when a friend of mine asked, “Hey–do we get to make those, too?” and when I said yes, she smiled so big and did a little cheer.

Friday was finally our day. 🙂

And so of course I left ALL OF THE T-SHIRTS WE WERE GOING TO USE FOR THE PROJECT at school on Thursday night.  Nice, right?  Luckily, though, I was able to find just the right number of unused shirts to upcyle into beautiful book bags.  Double nice, right?  Whew–saved by the big pile of junk in my closet. 🙂

FullSizeRender 20-min

Before we could make our bags (which required lots of knot-tying), I had to do a little bit of prep work:

In order to better facilitate such an involved project (it was simple, but still required some supervision to make sure the knots ended up in the right place), Ms. Mimlitz and I (remember her from our Outside Adventures?  She is the totally amazing TA who works with all of our first grade friends!) pulled small groups while everyone else was working on must-dos and can-dos for the morning.

And I MUST give a shout-out to my small friend Keira, because she took to this project so quickly and ably that I gave her her very own group to lead!  She was truly a gift that morning and helped so many friends get their bags finished.  WAY TO GO, kiddo!

The plan once we are all finished (there were a few kiddos not there on Friday) is to fill our book bags every week with lots of great titles and read, read, read!  Until then, check out how PROUD and EXCITED these first grade makers are with their creations!

I am SO GLAD we decided to take on this project, and once again–first graders rock!!