Many classroom have a particular time set aside for “sharing.” This is where students can bring in a particular item and talk about it in front of the whole class. Why not deepen the process and get to know the whole child through the “All About Me” bag?
Contents of the “All About Me” bag
The child is free to share up to five items in the bag. One restriction is that the items must all fit into the bag. Larger items could perhaps come in at a different time for a special presentation.
Another restriction is with photo albums. Individual pictures are preferred. The problem with a photo album is the child inevitably wants to show every picture within it, and the other children quickly lose interest. If the child chooses to bring in a photo album, he should choose only one photo within it to share. Or, he can choose up to five photographs, and then his turn is finished.
Items should be nonviolent in nature, and appropriate for the classroom. They should be chosen by the child, as a reflection of his personality. A well-written letter to parents detailing examples of appropriate items will facilitate the process.
The “All About Me” letter
Parents should help the child craft an “All About Me” letter. The letter should introduce the child, with a brief biographical sketch and some likes and dislikes. It is also helpful for there to be a description of the five items the child has chosen to share. Sometimes, when he is standing up in front of his peers trying to share, he may forget some of the important points. The teacher can use that part of the letter to guide her in asking the child questions about each item.
Time frame of presentation
The entire presentation should only last about ten to fifteen minutes. Especially with younger children, attention spans can quickly wander, which leads to chatting. This can be a good exercise in being respectful, though, as students sit and listen to their peers.
Enforce rules of respect that should already be present in the classroom. Students should award the same level of respect to a child’s presentation as they do to yours.
Open up the project by bringing in your own “All About Me” bag. Choose items that reflect your likes and dislikes, yet appeal to your students at the same time. For example, bring in a DVD of your favorite kids movie, an old stuffed animal, your favorite book, your favorite CD, and a picture of your pets or family. This allows your students to see you on their level, yet without divulging inappropriate personal information. When crafting your letter, talk about how and why you became a teacher, and a fun story from when you were in school.
Demonstrate the presentation in the same way you wish them to give theirs. Read the biographical letter, then present items one at a time. Choose if you want to stand up in front of the class while presenting each item, or if you want them to walk around the circle with each item.
When your presentation is complete, items should be placed in a separate bag for the child to take home. Then, the “All About Me” bag needs to be passed on to the next person. It is your decision if you want to be in charge of always picking the next student, or if you want the presenting child to choose the next one. Include a copy of the instructional letter, which details the assignment as well as the timeline for the bag’s return.
The “All About Me” bag is a great way for children to get to know more about each other. It can take the place of a regular “sharing” time for favorite toys and noneducational items. It can also spread out through the entire school year, perhaps focusing on one child each week.