DIY Library Bags for Kids

Disclosure: I received products from Oriental Trading Company for free so I could feature them in this post. The thoughts and opinions below are my own.

Now that the kids are getting older, we’ve been adding more “life skills” projects and outings to our homeschool schedule. The kids have shopped for items on a grocery list, ordered their meals at a restaurant, made a deposit into their savings account, and last week they checked out books for the first time on their very own library cards.

I only just recently figured out that the kids could even get their own library cards. They’re sort of “fake” library cards because they’re actually attached to my account (as in, I’m the one that’s responsible financially for whatever they check out) but they look real enough and the kids were absolutely thrilled to get them.

That part where I’m financially responsible meant that we needed to have a sit down lesson about using the library and what it means to check out books. We also needed to come up with a system to help them keep track of their new cards and what they check out. To solve that problem, we made library bags to keep their library stuff together (like cards) and library journals to track what they borrow!

We’ve had bad lucks taking totes on outings in the past because the kids put them down somewhere and forget about them until we’re driving back home so I knew that wasn’t going to work. The solution was to use drawstring bags instead, since the kids can wear them like a backpack and keep their hands free. Oriental Trading Company offers these white canvas drawstring bags that can be decorated and customized and they also had these white canvas journals for the kids to use as library trackers.

We started by pulling out some poster paper and having a conversation about the library. First, we brainstormed everything the kids already knew about the library. Then we made a list of the rules for borrowing books and rules for how we act in the library. After that, the kids used the extra space on the paper to plan their designs for their bags and journals.

I debated letting the kids use fabric paint to decorate their bags and journals, but I didn’t want to risk anything getting on the library books so we used fabric markers instead so I could heat seal them when the kids were finished. It was a better bet anyway because both of the kids can use the markers without frustration.

As an extra incentive for them to have good library skills, I gave them each a Dr. Seuss Success Card (also found on Oriental Trading Company) and told them that they get a punch for every book they return on time. When they finish the card, they get to go to the bookstore and pick out a book to bring home for their own libraries. We have a five book per week limit so it will take them a little bit to get there but they were excited!!

Once the bags and journals were decorated and heat sealed, we headed to the library. I  had pre-registered so all the kids needed to do was pick up their cards and sign them on the back. I did make them promise the librarian that they would be nice to the books, which earned them each a bookmark and then she told them that they were on the super special borrower list which is not true and also totally meaningless but the kids walked around the library after that like they had V.I.P. access. Are they not the cutest with their little bags on?

Partially because of their V.I.P. status and mostly because we had just had a big library talk, we had the best library outing we’ve ever had. They followed the rules, were careful with the books, paid extra attention to how the books are shelved, and picked out a nice selection of books. Then they handled the self-checkout on their own like the tiny awesome people they are, and taped their checkout receipts into their new library journals.

I’m so proud of the kids for practicing their skills so well and I’m looking forward to using the library more often now that they’ve taken on some of the responsibility. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for your own family library outings!

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