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Book-A-Trip Literacy Event

Written by Jessica Suarez
June 08, 2021

Hi there! We are the Austin Elementary Panda Fellows; Jessica, Jennifer, Hayley, and Sierra!

When we first learned about putting on a family literacy night, we were a bit intimidated due to COVID-19 restrictions on our campus. It took lots of brainstorming to solidify a project where families could participate without being on campus. Our initial idea evolved from lots of browsing on Pinterest, collaborating with other Panda Fellows, and then we brought our own personal ideas to the table. We started with the idea of a Memory Jar, where students could write about special memories and have a place to keep them. From this idea, we went deeper into the literacy aspect with a Memory Box, that would include several tools, i.e. notebook, Scholastic book, writing utensils, etc. Our idea was to have the students personalize their box so they could keep their memories in the box forever. This idea had to be adjusted when we started planning our budget. Who knew 320 boxes would cost so much money! We then had to regroup, and figured out that craft bags would be the most cost effective choice. Students could still decorate their bags, and keep all their supplies that we had initially planned to give them.

Our final product became a “Bulldogs Book-A-Trip Bag”, where students were given a craft bag to decorate, a brand new Scholastic book that was grade-level appropriate, a list of generic writing prompts so they could reflect on their reading, a notebook to write their writing pieces in, writing utensils, erasers, colored pencils, and bookmarks. Ultimately, our goal was to facilitate the practice of literacy in the home, where the whole family could get involved. Our school is a Title 1 school so we have families that struggle financially, it was very important to us to get these literacy materials in the hands of each family. We ended up giving 320 Bulldog Book-A-Trip bags to the families within our school. Overall, our project was received very well by the staff, students, and their parents. Our hope was that in giving them these resources and tools, they would utilize them throughout the summer to bridge learning gaps.

To set them up for success, we provided the families with instructional video explaining what the Bulldog Book-A-Trip bag was, the resources that come with it, and how imperative it is for literacy to be practiced in the home. We provided a handout that informed parents of the importance of reading and writing, and a QR code to share their experience while away from school. Since we did this at the very end of the year, the students responded in such an appreciative manner, we were so pleased to hear how many students were excited to be taking home these resources over the summer. We couldn’t have thought of a better way to kick off summer!

Happy Summer!

Jessica Suarez

Jennifer Bahamon

Sierra Anderson

Hayley Saverance