One treasure that early childhood teachers love is paper bags. I am so thankful to Charles Stilwell for his invention of the first machine-made paper bag. We know paper bags are for carrying items but they are so useful for teaching young children in the early childhood classrooms. 

July 12 is “Paper Bag Day” and I would like to share some ideas that early childhood teachers in the classroom can share with families of young children. 

1. Have children pack their lunch or dinner in a paper bag for a summer picnic. You can use the paper bags for a family nature hunt as you collect different items for summer. I love it when children pick up little flowers, leaves and grasses to give to their teacher. With bigger paper bags, children can decorate and make back packs with straps. I have used paper bag backpacks for the children to keep books, art materials and letters. 

2. I love having children make paper bag puppets by drawing faces, cutting clothes out of construction paper, using googly eyes for eyes and more. Homemade props like paper bag puppets include young children more in the story telling process. 

3. Children can express art creativity by drawing, coloring, painting and using stickers on paper bags to use as gift bags to share special gifts with their friends and families. 

There are so many ways that sturdy, recyclable, strong paper bags can be used in carrying, collecting and decorating. 

As July 4 has come and gone for this summer, many times family vacations or outings are planned before we start to get ready to go back to school. Half of the fun with vacations and outings is the planning. It’s even more fun when young children are included in the planning. Meeting the needs of young children can be a joy. Relationships and togetherness is what counts in family trips and outings. One does not have to spend a lot of money when planning a family vacation or outing. Try to choose places that are “child-oriented or child-friendly” places. 

Children do better when they are kept on a schedule. A routine gives them security of what to expect. I know early childhood teachers experience this daily with children. When you are traveling in a car, train, bus or plane, make allowances for your child to eat on a schedule, take their daily nap, to stretch and get out of the car and run when making stops. 

As I travel to Michigan to visit my son and his wife, in the airport I am so intrigued with young families who keep their children on a schedule with eating together, playing games they have packed, reading, strolling and napping before they embark on the plane. 

As we get back to planning family trips with children, include them in packing what is needed. Children love to be part of the preparation of going on a trip. They can help choose what clothes they will need to wear, a few favorite toys, favorite blankets, pacifiers for infants and toddlers, toothbrushes, brushes and more. The kind of trip or vacation you are taking, such as camping, staying in a motel or joining extended family, will determine what you pack. 

In meal planning with young children it’s good to plan ahead and know what restaurants or fast food places are on your route when driving so you can meet your child’s mealtime. Possibly know where the parks are on your route so you and your family can picnic and enjoy playing. My husband and I enjoyed giving our son the experience of riding passenger trains. Even if it was from Mobile, to Montgomery to meet up with grandparents, it was pure fun. 

It was a wonderful experience to have a meal in the restaurant part of the train as we rode and saw the fields and roads go by. Back in the day, my son and I rode the bus to visit grandparents as well. Be sure to take nutritious snacks with you so your child will not be eating “unhealthy junk food.” A gentle reminder on foods for toddlers and two’s is to be sure to cut it up into bite-size pieces, so they don’t choke. 

If traveling in the car, many families have found it best to begin travels early in the morning and stop early in the afternoon to allow for proper rest. Many times, starting early means your child can be quietly picked up without even waking them. Try to plan reasonable distances to travel each day if it is a long trip. 

Remember to take your medical kits to take care of emergency needs, as well as medicines your child usually takes. 

Don’t forget your camera or phone so that you can make the family vacation one to treasure in memories. A picture speaks a thousand words and recapping a vacation in pictures brings on family togetherness. 

I hope you enjoy your vacation, trip or outing. No matter how big or small, the main thing to remember is time spent with children spells LOVE with family togetherness. 

Beth Pinyerd 

Classroom Observer