The Rapidian

Literacy Backpack Program links teachers, parents, students, curriculum

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Weekly themed backpacks help kindergarteners and parents engage with classroom material
Students in Mary Frey's kindergarten class at Kettle Lake Elementary

Students in Mary Frey's kindergarten class at Kettle Lake Elementary /Peg Cramer

Interested in getting involved with the Literacy Backpack Program?

If you would like to see the program at your school or would like to volunteer, please contact Peg Cramer at [email protected].


Help spread the word by liking the program on facebook!

Children with Literacy Backpack materials

Children with Literacy Backpack materials /Peg Cramer

As a kindergarten teacher, Peg Cramer saw that her students' parents always wanted to help their children learn, but they often didn't know which materials to use. She started offering them books with questions to ask their children at home. It was a step in the right direction, but something was still missing.

It took retirement for Cramer’s idea to become what it is today: The Full Bloom Literacy Backpack Program. Drawing on her education background and expertise as a family literacy consultant, Cramer created themed backpacks that kindergarten children can take home on a weekly basis. Each backpack contains reading material and Big Idea Student Journals, interactive workbooks that include music and movement activities as well as a recipe. In addition to providing a fun way for families to learn together, the journals follow the new national core curriculum for kindergarten reading, science, and math.

The 2012-2013 school year saw the launch of the Full Bloom Literacy Backpack Program pilot in kindergarten teacher Mary Frey’s classroom at Kettle Lake Elementary, part of Caledonia Community Schools. Frey said she would recommend the program to all kindergarten teachers.

“It was a great extension to my classroom,” she said. “This program offered families a chance to immerse themselves in age appropriate literacy activities at home.”

On average, parents and children spent a little over two hours per week working on the backpack activities, whose topics range from dinosaurs to rain to woodland animals. Families welcomed this one-on-one learning and playing time.

“We both love the Literacy Backpack,” one parent wrote on a survey. “It is a fun way to spend time together. We both learn new things!”

Each backpack also contains a letter to parents with tips and ideas for reading and playing together at home, helping to bridge the gaps between child, parent, and teacher. Through the program, everyone becomes part of the learning process, and learning doesn’t stop when the school day is over.

Interim Kettle Lake Elementary Principal Rex Hansen said, “This was a great way to reinforce many of the concepts that were being taught in the student’s classroom.”

Cramer is currently introducing her program to other schools in the community and envisions taking it one step further. She hopes that businesses will take on an integral role, sending volunteers to engage with students through transferring backpacks, reading with students, and sharing about the work they do.

Cramer is confident that the Full Bloom Literacy Backpack Program is more than just things in a backpack, and the positive response the program has garnered reinforces this conviction.

“It's the connection that parents and students and teachers have,” she said. “It's a catalyst for corporate social responsibility.”

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