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Decisions about Family Story Backpacks

A Framework for Implementing a Family Story Backpack Plan


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Backpack Decision Graphic Flowchart

María Acevedo, Dorea Kleker, Kathy Short, 2012

1. Which backpacks would be of most interest to you and your families?

  • Time for Bed
  • Let’s Play
  • Celebrating Birthdays
  • Grandparents are the Best
  • Families Have Many Cultures
  • Rainy Days
  • Together as a Family
  • The Story of My Name
  • School Days


2. How do you want to introduce the backpacks to your families?

  • Letter home to introduce the backpacks
  • Back-to-school curriculum night
  • Could send home a survey about the backpacks if have concerns about participation or about families for whom a particular theme might be problematic.


3. What type of rotation system would work best for your classroom and families?

  • When will you send the backpacks home? What day of the week works best for sending the backpacks home and bringing them back?
    • Send home on a day that is already established for communications from school
    • Send home so that parents have both weekdays and the weekend to engage with the backpack
    • What type of communication needs to go home so family knows the backpack is coming?
      • Note or email to let the family know that the backpack will be coming home the next day or week.
      • Note in the backpack to let family know what to do and when to send the backpack back to school
      • Family story journals have a description of the types of entries that can be made in the journal. Is this sufficient for your families?
      • Are there other languages that this information needs to be translated into?
    • Does anything need to be added to your backpacks in terms of crayons, markers, or pen for writing/drawing in the journals?
    • Add additional tags or identifiers with the name of the school and/or teacher


4. What type of management system is needed at school to determine the rotation of who is taking the backpacks home each week?

  • May want to begin with 1-2 backpacks and the children whose families are most likely to engage with the backpacks to establish the routine.
  • May want to send home 3-4 backpacks each week rather than all 6 so that there are always a couple of backpacks in case of children who don’t bring them back on time and to make the exchange easier to manage.
  • Find a system that is easy to manage and fits with other organizational systems already in place in the classroom
  • Class chart or record of who has a particular backpack and when it is checked out and returned as well as whether anything is missing.


5. How will children share about the family’s interactions around the backpack?

  • Short conversation between child and teacher when child returns backpack
  • Short conversation with a parent/guardian when they drop the child off at school
  • Child shares with the class on the “sharing chair” or morning meeting
  • Small group lesson with the children who had the backpacks to have them share with each other. Could dictate a “story” about their experiences on large chart paper or in a class book.
  • Closing circle at the end of the day where child who had backpack shares and then passes it on to the next child who is taking it home
  • Possible questions include: What did your family do with the backpack? What was your favorite book? Why? What did you do with the books in your family? With the objects? What did you draw/write in the journal? Who helped you?


6. What kind of recording system would work well and be easy to maintain to keep track of children’s sharing on the backpacks?

  • Index card for each child to jot down quick comments on their experiences
  • Chart for recording quick comments on each child
  • Big book or class chart where to record children’s comments on their experiences


7. What do you want to do with the entries in the family story journals?

  • Class book of the entries for children to look through and share in the classroom
  • Create a bound book for each child with the entries from their family
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