These Bags Carry More than School Supplies

The Distance Learning Plan has taken advantage of some amazing technology—classes meeting online, faces lined up like the beginning of “The Brady Bunch;” lesson plans and activities made available so that students and parents can work according to their schedules; even Meeting for Worship conducted online. Sometimes, though, analog is the way to go.

“We realized we wanted to send home a lot of physical materials—not only iPads,” said 1st grade teacher Jane Legg (P ’13, ’16, ’20). “We remembered that the Fox Den had these great bags with the Sidwell logo on them, so they seemed ideal.”

What were they ideal for? Packing up learning materials that the prekindergartners and 1st graders could take home and use during the time the DLP is in place. They contain supplies like books—some chosen by students, others chosen by teachers for some shared reading time via Zoom—writing supplies, art and Spanish activities, handwriting and sketch books, and a new box of watercolors for each student.

“We wanted to make sure all children had the same access to all supplies,” Legg said. “We’ll try not to set any assignments that use materials we’re not sure everyone has.”

The bags aren’t just a way to get supplies home; they’re a way to reassure children that, though the routine has changed, they can handle what’s ahead.

“They have spent months learning how 1st grade works, where everything belongs, and where to get the things they need,” Legg said. “Hopefully the bag will be a good way for them to feel a sense of control; a new routine where they know where to find what they need.”

Even the look of the bags communicated a message. The Sidwell Friends logo emblazoned on the bag makes it “clear to the children that these are their important Sidwell materials,” Legg says. “It just felt good to give them an appropriately attractive container for all their important stuff.”

In the end, the bags were a way for teachers to send a little bit of Sidwell Friends home with the students.

“It was great to focus on a positive side to Distance Learning—what might be fun about it, as opposed to just what we would all be missing,” Legg said. “Filling a bag and thinking about what would be useful was a very tangible project at a time when everything seemed very uncertain.”

Who would have thought a little bag could carry so much importance?


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