I always make these bags at the beginning of every year. I leave them on the students' spots during "Meet the Teacher Night." There's always excitement in the air at this event, and this just adds to that. I've had many parents say that their child agonizes over what to bring in the bag because they want to bring so many things and they're limited to just five. This activity is great to help create your class community and it gets your students working on speaking and listening as well.
It's important for students to get to know their classmates at the beginning of the year. I want my students to work well with each other throughout the year so students will need to get to know and trust each other. I also know that my students need to work towards achieving the listening and speaking standards. This lesson is a great way to address both.
As students introduce themselves and tell more about themselves by pulling items out of the bag students will address standard SL1.1. Classmates will have to wait their turn to respond by raising their hands. This addresses standard SL1.1a. As students pull items out of their bag, classmates can make comments such as, "I like to play that too!" or, "I have one too!" They also have the opportunity to ask questions if a classmate takes something out of their bag and they have no idea what it is. This addresses standards SL1.1b and SL1.1c.
All you need for this activity is the letter template I've given you as a resource and some brown lunch bags. Copy the template and cut them in half because you have two letters on the page. Staple your letter to the lunch bag and lay them out on your students desk or spot at their table and you are ready to go.
There is no possible way for everyone to have a turn each day. When I do this activity, I choose 4-5 students a day. You can complete this activity by the end of your first week. Not only is a great way to establish rules such as "raise your hand if you have something to say, look at the person speaking, and listen carefully" but you are also teaching the listening and speaking standards.
I bring my students to the carpet. I model with my bag first. Not only do I want to get to know my students, I want them to get to know me too. I told the students, "When you are showing your bag, I want you to speak using a complete sentence. I am going to show you how to do that now." I bring out a picture of my family, I also have a child's toy of a play pan from a cooking set because I like to cook. I have pictures of Harry Potter books ( I'm a big fan), a flute (I do play) and a movie ticket because I like to go see movies. Each time, I use complete sentences when explaining about myself.
I am having students engage with the speaking and listening standards because they are following agreed upon rules for discussion. Students are also building upon each others sentences because they'll start to make connections and say things like, "I like to play baseball too." or, "I go to gymnastics with her too."
I've also had students ask each other questions before. I've heard students say things over the years such as "How is Tae Kwon Do different from Karate? How old is your brother? I've never heard of that food. What's it made of?"
This activity really benefits new students. Once they see a connection they have with another student they can talk about that on the playground. It's an icebreaker when they want to start talking to another student. You can see snippets of some of my students sharing their bags in this video here Getting to Know You Bags.mp4.
To close our lesson I ask students certain questions about things they had heard about their classmates. I ask questions such as, "Where does Drew like to go on vacation with his family? How many brothers and sisters does Ayda have? What sport does Andrew participate in?" This is a quick assessment that allows me to see how well students listened during our lesson.