Family Story Backpacks Description of Family Story Backpacks

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Maria V. Acevedo & Kathy G. Short, 2011

Family Story Backpacks

Description of Family Story Backpacks

  • Transportable curriculum to encourage families to share stories around themes that are significant in their lives.

  • 4-6 children check out the backpacks on a rotating basis for one week to share with their families at home.

  • Each backpack contains 3 books (1 nonfiction and 2 fiction books), 1 related artifact, and a family journal. The purpose of the artifact is to encourage the family to share oral stories around the theme.

  • The journal can take two forms. Each family can have their own journal that is moved from backpack to backpack so they can keep adding to the same journal, or each backpack can have a journal on the theme that stays with that backpack and each family adds an entry and reads past entries from other families.

  • Entries in journals can be a family story related to the theme, responses to the books, or descriptions of what the family did with the backpack. Any member of the family can add to the journal and the entries can be drawings, writing, photos, etc. Families can make multiple entries related to each backpack.

  • A digital recorder to record the family’s stories can be included in the backpack.

  • The child should have a chance to share briefly about the family’s interactions around the backpack with the teacher or the class when the backpack is returned.

Examples of Family Story Backpacks

1) Time for Bed Artifact: Baby blanket or lullaby gloworm

  • Henderson, Kathy Hush, Baby, Hush! Lullabies around the World,

  • Fox, Mem. A Bedtime Story - Australia

  • Braun, Sebastien. Back to Bed, Ed! - United Kingdom

2) Let’s Play Artifacts: Plastic ball/La Lotería cards or Old Maid

  • Stewart Konrad, Marla. I Like to Play - Global

  • Colato Laínez, René. Playing Lotería/El juego de la Lotería - Mexican

  • Tafolla, Carmen. What Can You Do with a paleta? - Mexican-Am.

3) Celebrating Birthdays Artifact: Birthday candles

  • Hutchins, Pat. Happy Birthday, Sam – United Kingdom

  • Schuette, Sarah. Birthday Customs around the World – Global

  • Gonzales Bertrand, Diane. The Party for Papá Luis/ La fiesta para Papá Luis - Mexican Am.

4) Grandparents are the Best Artifact: Photo album *

  • Stewart Konrad, Marla. Grand - Global

  • Brammer, Ethriam. My Tata’s Guitar/La guitarra de mi tata - Mexican

  • Smalls, Irene. My Nana and Me - African American

*Album has photos of grandparents with an invitation for the family to add a photo
5) Families Have Many Cultures Artifact: Skin Color crayons/ Paper Doll

  • Ada, Alma Flor. I Love Saturdays y domingos – Mexican Am.

  • Mandelbaum, Pili. You Be Me, and I’ll Be You - Belgium

  • Rotner, Shelley. Shades of People. Global

6) Rainy Days Artifact: Small plastic play umbrella

  • Keats, Ezra Jack. Clementina’s Cactus - US

  • Cotton, Cynthia. Rain Play - US

  • Germein, Katrina. Big Rain Coming - Australia

7) Together as a Family Artifacts: Family Finger Puppets

  • Zamorano, Ana. Let’s Eat - Spain

  • Gonzáles Bertrand, Diane. We Are Cousins/Somos primos - Latinos in US

  • Kerley, B. You and Me Together - Global

8) The Story of My Name Artifact: ABC wooden blocks

  • Costanzo, Charlene. A Perfect Name – US

  • Colato-Laínez, René. René Has Two Names/René tiene dos apellidos - Salvadorian

  • Sanders, Marilyn & Eve. What’s Your Name? From Ariel to Zoe - Global

9) School Days Artifact: Small white board and markers

  • Jackson, Ellen. It’s Back to School We Go – global (Ages 6-8) OR School in Many Cultures, Heather Adamson (Ages 3-5)

  • Forward, Toby, What Did You Do Today? - UK

  • Ancona, George. Mi Escuela/My School – Bilingual, US

Go to for more information about the backpacks and examples of forms that can be used to support the use of the backpacks in classrooms.

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