So many teachers were interested in how I made these at home learning kits for my students. Let me walk you through what I included, how I delivered them, and what I would do differently now.
School Ended Too Fast
Our school was canceled on a Thursday night around 6pm. We had home learning kits ready to go home on Friday along with supply bins. Sadly those packs are still sitting in my classroom, unable to be picked up or handed out. This meant I needed a plan B, another way to get things to my students.
At Home Learning Kits Idea
While starting to hunker down at home, I started tackling some home projects like painting and organizing. My home office was first on the list. As I starting organizing my home office, I came across some of my teaching treasures. I had a lot of great things at my house! I could not allow them to sit in my home office while I know my students needed these in their hands. The idea for at home learning kits began.
What Was in the At Home Learning Kits
First, keep in mind that I took the things that I had at my house to make these at home learning kits. This meant all these things were already paid for and cost me nothing at the moment. I had these SnapWord AlphaMats on hand. They were already laminated but I grabbed some scrapbook page protectors and slipped them into the extra protectors. (You could easily substitute for any handwriting sheet desired.) Then, I also had a stash of kid meal toys I use for a treasure box rewards. Next, I also had Target Dollar Spot math counters or finger flingers. Students could either have math counters to help with math or finger flinger to fling and compare how far they went. I put these things in a gallon size baggies and included this little note.
Things I Had to Purchase
I wish I had everything, but I did need to purchase a few things. Sadly, I did not have dry erase markers. Therefore, I made a quick stop to The Dollar Tree. I could grab 4 markers for $1, meaning that it was 25 cents each child. I would prefer the all black ink pack, but the multicolored packs were all they had. While I was there, I did see their $1 magnetic boards. I decided to grab those too just because I could.
Once I had these simple packets ready, I told parents I would be making porch drops. I would not come in contact with any student but I would be happy to see them from a safe distance. My goal was to give each student these open ended learning packs and to let them know I was thinking about them. Parents knew I was coming and they were on board.
Porch Packages Drops
The next day, I went to each house and made porch drops. If students had camera door bells, I recorded a message for them. Once I knocked on the door, I backed wayyyy far out and waved ONLY at students. Many I saw as I was leaving in my car. Some students were waiting on me! They were playing outside and looking forward to my visit. I did not come close to them either. I was always a SAFE distance away.
Family Feedback on At Home Learning Kits
The feedback I got from my families was wonderful. They were so glad I made those porch packages. Any door bell cameras messages were loved by my families. I heard my students played them over and over again. Families that were not doing digital work were now able to work on some things with these at home learning kits. Most importantly, I pray each child felt loved.
Every teacher across the country is going through some growing pains with this new digital learning push. Some schools are pushing for paper learning packets. Other schools are setting up supply picks up for their students. We are not allowed to enter our rooms. Still other schools said no contact with students. My school didn’t say this. Please don’t do anything that will get you in trouble. But do what you can do to show your students you love them and that you are thinking about them if you can.
What I Would Do Differently
First, no one knows what is going to happen this school and what hurtles we will have to jump as educators. Then, we simply do not know if we will even return this school year. If I had more time and more resources, I would have added a few materials to these at home learning kits. I would have included reading strategy cards and number lines. I could have included a password sheet for each student to they would have all their log in information in one place.