Updated: Nov 17
In October, we distributed 21 backpacks to Glenpool Elementary School with books,
activities and instructions focused on social-emotional topics such as learning to wait, learning to handle strong emotions, perspective-taking, fear, thankfulness, bedtime struggles and various other emotion-laden topics.
The Backpack Project was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic as more deficits were identified in parents' struggles to meet their children’s educational needs and reduce their stresses. The project provides age-appropriate, vocabulary-rich books and family activities to assist children in better understanding social/emotional issues, facilitate parent-child learning and serves as an extension of distanced learning family fun.
21 backpacks are cleaned, restocked, and rotated with changing topical content each week
Each backpack contains a parent guide, discussion prompts and vocabulary to be discussed, and hands-on enrichment activities, with all necessary materials to complete each activity provided, for the 3 books included in the backpack.
Books focus on central social and emotional lessons promoting positive feelings and about self and negotiating positive relationships with other
All activities are designed to reinforce concepts in the books. Within the backpack is a list of items to be ‘kept’ and ‘returned’ that the family is responsible for while the backpack is in their possession
Items to be kept are meant to encourage deeper investigation by the child into the various topics presented as well as to sharpen both fine and gross motor skills, critical thinking skills, verbal skills, and give them a deeper understanding of themselves from a social/emotional perspective
Parents and children are guided through important lessons such as waiting, handling strong emotions, anger, fear, growing up, thankfulness, perspective taking, bedtime struggles, kindness, perspective taking, knowing I am loveable, feeling grumpy, trouble in relationships, relationships with parents and exploring the world with all my senses
Parents are provided developmentally appropriate methods of reading with their children, experiential learning through hands-on parent-child practice, and building positive family relationships
Daily reading reinforces not only important learning goals, but fosters parent’s understanding of age-appropriate topics important to their child, and guides them through these conversations in an atmosphere of play
Backpacks will be dispersed weekly and filled with consumable materials (provided and organized by theme) before being sent out again!
An example of backpack contents and their use is looking at the issue of ‘growing up’ where the child is provided a retractable tape measure to keep so they can continue measuring items around their home after that topical backpack is returned. The ‘anger’ backpack contains a pillowcase to decorate and a flannel board to recreate stories that children keep to remind them of lessons learned. In the backpack that teaches the skill of “waiting”, waiting games are given to them on a clipboard so these games and ideas will be handy for practice in the future. Examples of other items each child will receive and keep are scissors, watercolor paints, crayons, various food items for experiments, magnets, puppets and sorting games.