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Back to School #3: Little Betty’s Backpack (Book Care)

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Lesson Overview:

This is a heavily disguised lesson on book care.  I teach it every year to every grade level simply because young children are so hard on print materials!  To make it more appealing, I’ve worked to make the lesson tactile and, in places, silly.  I find that even first graders can “take notes” on the capture sheet.  The little ones are so proud to use their notes to recall their learning!  If you have a picture of yourself as a child that is helpful in giving the lesson a convincing start.

Lesson Plan:


To identify at least four items or practices to think about when caring for books.

Suggested Grades:


Suggested Time:

35-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will capture the information on a note sheet, thereby enabling them to recall the relevant content.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Show “Little Betty’s Backpack” or “Little (your name) Backpack.”  Explain that several items in the backpack can damage books.  Pass out clipboards, handouts, and pencils.  Explain that items will be pulled out of the backpack, and the class must figure out how that item could damage a book.

2. Main:

Ask six children to pull out the items one at a time.  Discuss how that item could damage a book.  Then, show examples of books damaged in each of the categories.  Ask children what can be done to keep books safe from that situation.  Example: How can we keep books safe from pets?  Scribe the results of the discussion.

Although a dropped book will not fit in the backpack, be sure to show a dropped book with the pages separated from the front and back covers.

Take notes together.  Drawings or notes should be extremely simple.  Do not let the kids get carried away with drawings, only jot down enough to capture the ideas.

3. Conclusion:

Emphasize what we can do to keep books safe.


Small backpack with the following items:

  1. Juice Box or Water Bottle (spills).
  2. Apple or Sandwich. Could use plastic food (food stains).
  3. Doll (babies who like to tear paper and crumble paper).
  4. Scissors (cut pages).
  5. Markers or Pencils (marked up pages).
  6. Picture of a dog or hamster (chewed/nibbled pages).

Damaged Books:

  1. Water damage (wavy pages, mold or mildew)
  2. Food stained book
  3. Book with torn pages
  4. Book with cut pages
  5. Book with “scribble scrabble” pages
  6. Book with chewed cover/binding
  7. Book which has been repeatedly dropped

Handout (attached below)

Video Clip (baby tearing paper):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP4abiHdQpc


Students enjoy the “skit” nature of this lesson.

Damaged Books Photo

Little Betty’s Backpack, Student Handout