Saturday, March 29, 2014

There's No Place Like Home: Making a Literacy Connection

Hello there!  It's Tamra and Sarah here from First Grade Buddies!  We hope your weekend is off to a great start!  

Over the last couple of years there have been many changes in terms of rigor and expectations in the classroom.  We feel a lot of these changes are seen most in the vocabulary used and higher order thinking skills required.  We got to wondering, how will the parents help their kiddos at home when they themselves are unsure of what we are teaching?  We were especially concerned with reading.  Starting at an earlier age kiddos are asked to answer questions about the main idea, to make connections, and they are also expected to use summarizing and inferring skills. 

We know when we were young these were certainly not the expectations.  If we weren't teachers ourselves, would we know to ask these questions of our own kids when reading?   

We wanted to find a way to help parents and families understand reading comprehension vocabulary at home.  We created monthly take home reading strategy packets called "SPARK Bags" to do this. 

The premise is that each student takes home a packet of "parent friendly" information and activities for each of 8 of the reading comprehension strategies (one SPARK Bag is sent home each month). Our goal is for the child to get extra practice with each strategy while parents and families can become familiar with language and vocab used in the classroom.  We feel this is a win/win!

We created a SPARK Bag for each of these reading comprehension strategies: 
Mental Images
Main Idea
Story Elements

In our classrooms we have had great luck with them.  We find that the kiddos enjoy "showing off their knowledge" when working on the strategies with their families and the parents have a better glimpse into what reading comprehension means in classrooms this day and age.  
{Families SPARKing Together can be found here in our store.}

Another way we make Literacy Connections at home is to send literature that we've been reading in the classroom home with the kids and other special activities or projects to go with them. This way the students can share a familiar book from school with their families.  We try to do this quarterly.   

 Currently, students are taking home our classroom bunny, Hopper!  

Our kiddos enjoy sharing their love of reading with their family and we love that they are practicing their literacy skills while having fun! 
{Adventures with Hopper is part of our Spring has Sprung packet and can be found here in our store.}  

Next quarter, our students will take home "What a Wonderful World:" 

This is a great way to celebrate Earth Day in your classrooms.  We have kept our books from year to year and they serve as a great memento of the kiddos we teach. 
{What a Wonderful World can be found here in our store.}

How do you make a literacy connection in the homes of the students in your classrooms?  We are always looking for more ideas, as we know it is SO important!!!

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 Enjoy your weekend!


  1. Great ideas! Thank you for sharing!!! I know that parents are struggling to understand what we are teaching and why... Common Core can be puzzling. I have the best parents this year but it is still difficult for them so all suggestions are appreciated!
    Dirt Road Teacher