It's in the bag!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful HeatherAre you at that point where your kids are just bored with sorting words? Do you need a hands on way to keep those bored students engaged? Well, today's post will be just what you need. My students have loved making these books, and I know yours will too!
Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach. This post explains how they're made and used.

It's in the bag!

Using simple paper lunch bags you can create meaningful study guides for your students (I also call them bag books).  Your creativity is your limit!  I find this activity most helpful in small differentiated groups.  In my first grade classroom I currently use these bag books to make sight words, sentence knowledge, and word families.  My students cannot wait to add to their bags.  These bag books are kept inside student pencil boxes and used multiple times daily.


You won't need much to make bag books!  For each student I use 3 paper bags.  You can buy already designed bags, white paper bags, or the original brown paper bags.  Grab your hole punch, some string, yarn, or ribbon, and decor!  I use leftover name tag labels, stickers, and markers.  3x5 cards will be used inside the bag (so make sure you have some handy for later). 

How To

You can be creative here but this is how I make my bag books.  Using three bags, alternate the way the open end faces each time you place one on top of the other.  Fold all three bags in half (creating the book shape) and make a crease.  Take your hole punch and place a hole at the top and bottom of the book's spine (on the crease).  Now students can decorate their own bag by choosing colorful string to bind the book.  The book is ready to be personalized. 

How to Make a Bag Book Video

How You Use the Bag Book

Sight Words

On a chosen page of the book bag I have my students write "sight words".  We discuss that there are words that we each have to work on and know quickly to make us awesome readers.  I choose three words at a time and the student is allowed to pick two that they are having difficulty with.  They write these words themselves on 3x5 cards.  If they need a picture clue they can draw it on the other side of the card.  These store beautifully inside the pocket made from folding the bag.  As students master their words we add more (and send the others home to continue to practice). 

Word Families

This is my absolute favorite way to teach word families!  Before I present the books to the students I cut the bottom bag flap.  In the picture above I cut four times to create five small tabs that can be flipped back to reveal a letter.  In preparation I also write the word family boldly on the left.  When the students come to small group we have a conversation about rhyming words and the word family that we are working on.  The students that were working on the "at" family chose the words cat, fat, rat, mat, and bat.  Other students were working on the "ip" family and they wanted to use the words hip, rip, sip, lip, and ship.  Students are then guided to write the beginning letter (c for cat) and draw a picture to match.  When they are working with this activity the illustration gives them assistance in remembering the word family words.

Sentence Knowledge

 How many times do we make an anchor chart teaching editing skills that go completely ignored?  This is a fun and engaging way to have students actively pay attention to sentence structure.  Your students will need to pay attention to capital letters, punctuation, and spacing.  The above pictures show that you can manipulate and differentiate to fit any student's needs.  For my present class I use the center pictures.  The headings remind them that sentences should "start with an upper case" and "end with .!?" (punctuation).  They write an example on the page and draw arrows from the rule to the portion of the sentence where it is shown (above top right).  Inside the pocket (created by the bag) we keep editing sentences we have been working on.

Adjectives and More!

It's fun to use a bag book for parts of speech.  The example to the left is used for adjectives.  They could write their name and draw their picture (or add a school picture).  Inside the flap they can describe themselves.  Think about the possibilities........ students could describe the regions of Virginia, states of matter, list proper nouns!

What will you do?

This is an inexpensive way to get students excited about work!  A pack of 100 bags can be found at any dollar store.  Think ahead and ask parents for a pack on your supply list.

So.... how will you use a bag book?  Please share your ideas and let everyone know what is working for you?  How many pages will you try?  What grade(s) do you teach?  The sky is the limit with these bag books and I'm so thrilled to hear how you choose to create and implement!  Have fun.... because it's in the bag!!!

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Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach for teaching sight words and word families. This post explains how they're made and used.

1 comment

  1. OMG...What a great idea and it's so cheap. Such a cute way to keep kids engaged. Can't wait to share!