Rockin' and Roll-in Family Literacy Program Kits
Tanis Harms, Community Learning Network
What is a Rockin’ and Roll-in Family Literacy Program Kit?
A Family Literacy Program Kit is a convenient and containable package where supplies for family literacy programs and events can be stored and transported in an efficient and practical way.
Why Make a Kit?
Many CALP locations do not have the facilities needed to offer family literacy programs within their building. For those that do have space available, they may or may not have a place that easily stores their “staple” family literacy program supplies. The benefits of investing in a “Rockin' Roll-in Family Literacy Program Kit” mostly come in the form of appreciative facilitators who have the supplies that they need for their program with them and therefore feel much more relaxed and prepared for their programs.
Who Uses the Kit?
Family literacy program facilitators (depending on funds…make one per program or facilitator).
What Should I Buy First?
First of all, get a kit!
- My recommendation would be getting something that rolls well (it can be heavy to carry) and zips closed (for those beautiful blizzardy and windy days…as well as curious little hands that like to explore).
- A rolling sewing machine or scrapbooking bag with lots of pockets work great (Michaels or Fabricland online often sells these for around $75-$100). Another option is of course a rolling suitcase!
Here’s a fun one that was purchased for approximately $100 online from Fabricland (http://fabricville.com/en/sewing/sewing-accessories/) and is called a “Sewing Trolley”.
What Should I Put in the Kit?
Some ideas for what to include in the kit:
Scissors (stored in a small tub or hard pencil case)
- Safety Scissors: Did you know that “Melissa & Doug” and “Crayola” make scissors entirely out of plastic that do not cut hair or skin, only paper? It is great to have a couple of pairs of these to show parents who may be leery of allowing little ones the opportunity to learn the important developmental skill of cutting. Be sure to include some “real” kid-sized scissors as well for those who are open to using them.
- Adult Scissors: It is very handy to have a couple of pairs of large adult scissors for any bulk cutting or thicker cutting needs.
Washable Markers (stored in a small tub or hard pencil case)
- Washable, washable, washable…..need I say more?!? (My suggestion is go with “Crayola”)
- Feel free to have a tub of crayons too, especially extra fat crayons which help with early childhood development in the area of writing.
Glue sticks (stored in a small tub or hard pencil case)
- Glue sticks allow kids the freedom to “go wild” with glue, without having a huge mess to deal with (especially if you’re using a location with carpet).
- This does not rule out the use of traditional “white glue” in certain program times, but glue sticks are definitely a good staple to have in your kit.
- Pick a light blanket that can fit in your kit if possible (Jysk or Dollarama are good places to buy light fleece blankets for a few dollars)
- Quilts are lovely if you have one available, it may not fit in your kit though.
- Be sure that whichever blanket you choose is washable as it will get dirty.
- A blanket is great for those “wide-open-spaces” in order to provide the children a clearly defined area where circle times will occur in the program.
- Regardless if there’s a baby in the group or not, baby wipes are always handy to have around to wipe up a dirty face or hands after a craft!
- Be sure to get wipes that do not have alcohol in them for those that have sensitive skin.
- As opposed to wiping down body parts, these are for wiping down tables and surfaces before and/or after they are used.
- Since most family literacy programs include a healthy snack time, it’s important that we are putting our food on clean surfaces.
- These are excellent to use as “plates” for snack time.
- These are also very helpful for those “Oops I spilled!” moments at snack time.
- Dixie Cups (or something similar) are helpful to have for snack time drinks.
- These cups can also be very versatile to help with small craft supplies or to put white glue or paint in.
- For areas where a kitchen may not be close, it’s handy for snack time to have this available.
- Sometimes containers for juice, milk, etc. are hard to pour or transport as easily, and using a jug is much more practical.
Sealable Sandwich Bags
- Stick extra craft supplies into these at the end of the program for storage or for the kids to take their treasure home in.
- Use these to send home some extra snacks with families that you think may need them.
- Encourage kids and adults to wash their hands with soap & water in the bathroom, but when that is not available (for example: your program is being held outside), it’s great to have this on hand.
- Let’s face it, after holding many little and big hands as well as wiping noses, etc., sometimes it’s just nice to have some sanitizer for the Facilitator’s health needs!
First Aid Kits
- Having a small emergency first aid kit is always helpful – “just in case.”
- Always be sure to have lots of extra Band-Aids which seem to “magically” heal an abundance of wounds.
- Costco, Canadian Tire, Walmart, London Drugs….usually they are not too hard to be found.
- Having a “First Aid Log Sheet” is helpful to document any serious medical needs for your own organization’s protection (for example: Who Administered First Aid? Date? What was Done?).
Important Note: Be sure your facilitators and volunteers are familiar with your organization’s policy and procedures regarding administering First Aid at your programs.
Organizational Brochures and Literacy Information
- It’s wonderful to have information on the importance of family literacy (the Centre for Family Literacy website has some great handouts for parents)
- Be sure to have information about other programs your organization offers (family literacy programs provide a great bridge into other Foundational Learning)
The Kitchen Sink (just kidding)…surprisingly all of these supplies neatly fit into the kit and you are ready to “Rockin’ and Roll-in” to your program!
Where/When Is the Kit Used?
The great thing about these kits is that they are so versatile – bring them to a larger family literacy event or to a weekly program! All of your “staples” for a program are with you, and you can customize as needed for each individual family literacy session.
How Much Does a Kit Cost?
This really varies. My estimate is that it costs about $100-$200 to make a kit. The cost depends on: (1) How much of the above list you include; (2) How many additional items you include; (3) What you choose to purchase as the kit itself; (4) The quantity of the above items that you need in a kit. Though it might be a bit expensive the first time you make a kit, keeping it maintained throughout the year(s) with items as they need to be replaced is much more affordable.
A Special "Thank You" to South Peace Family Literacy for giving me permission to use their Kit & contents for my blog photos.
What else would you include in a “Rockin’ and Roll-in Family Literacy Program Kit”?
Regional Support Staff
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