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Crafts, Activities and Book Bag Ideas for Sick Days

written by: Laurie Patsalides • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 1/20/2012

Cold and flu season is upon us. Use these teacher tips to be prepared when students will be off from school by creating fun and instructional sick day bags to keep kids occupied when they are not in school.

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    Prepare for Cold and Flu Season in the Classroom

    When teachers will be off of school, they make a substitute teacher plan. This is the same premise, when students are at home from school for an extended amount of time; teachers can be prepared with sick day "kits" with crafts and book bags.

    Sometimes, a parent may come to your classroom to inform you that his or her child will be off of school for an extended period of time due to an illness. Instead of rushing around the classroom to gather materials to send home, be prepared ahead of time.

    Usually three sick day kits at most would suffice. Let parents know that they can contact you to request a sick day kit and that the student will be responsible for sending back the kit to the classroom when he or she returns to school.

    Also, as children who are home sick need rest, do not expect the work to be submitted. It is according to whatever the child can do.

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    Instructional Materials and Book Ideas

    To create the bags, you will need:

    A few inexpensive, but durable bags as you want to reuse the bags for several years if possible.

    Books- both children's literature and independent readers. Examples are, Who's Sick Today, and Miss Kindergarten Stays Home from Kindergarten, (lesson plans for each book are in this article series). Also, include a follow-up to the reading, like writing a book summary, finding the beginning, middle and end of the story, or finding the story elements (dependent upon grade level).

    Writing paper, a sharpened pencil, an alphabet chart and a word wall list- continue Writing Workshop and give students enough paper to write a story every day.

    A few laminated word and math games that can be played independently and are self-correcting. For example, put an assortment of band-aids in a baggie and a blank graph. Students graph the number of band-aids in the bag.

    A few worksheets- create a ten month folder system. Place one or two monthly themed worksheets and grade level worksheets inside of each folder to be assured that the worksheets can be done independently. For example, you wouldn't send home ABC practice for a sick Kindergarten student in May as it would be developmentally inappropriate in that month. In order to be prepared ahead of time, plan according to your theme, unit plans, and grade level ability.

    A mini package of tissues- optional.

    In addition, purchase a box of get-well soon cards. Before the parent takes the sick day kit home, have each student sign a get-well card and include it in the bag. It is good to model a caring classroom community. In addition, it is a practical way to create a get-well soon card in a minute's notice.

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    Crafts to Keep 'Em Occupied

    Truthfully, for a student who is sick, a craft might be nearly impossible to do. The best thing for them to do is rest, but for kids who are getting antsy and need to be home consider these craft ideas.

    Include some printables for coloring; Crayola is a great website for these. Also include crayons. After coloring parents can cut the picture into sections to create a paper puzzle that the student can put back together.

    Include some colored chalk and construction paper. Have the student's journal by drawing a picture for each day they are home. Once they are feeling better, they will have a little book of their experience.

    Include some magazines for kids to cut apart into a collage.

    Send some balloons for parents to blow up. The kids can make their own faces, flowers or designs with a permanent marker on the balloons.

    Send some tissue paper folded in an accordion and tied in the center with string. Kids can open them for a tissue paper flower or two to cheer them up!

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    When the sick day materials are returned, be sure to take appropriate measures to sanitize the contents. Wipe the bag, books, chalk, pencil, crayons and games with disinfecting wipes and/or spray with Lysol to sanitize.