Grow your Child's Literacy Skills With This Homeschool Idea

diy free fun stuff language arts reading Nov 14, 2023

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. ~Proverbs 15:13


Do you wonder how to make homeschool language arts fun?


This DIY Paper Bag Book idea will bring delight and increase reading skills in homeschool language arts activities and beyond!


Here’s how in 3 ways:

Homeschool Language Arts Reason #1: These books make kids want to read…and smile

Paper bag books are riddle books and kids are drawn to them. The pages of these books are actual paper bags. Think lunch sack-size and going bigger is an option as long as it can be bound. Written on the outside of each bag is a brief riddle and the answer to it is on the inside. The bag must be carefully opened to see the answer which is in the form of a picture. A cover/title page is created and the multiple pages are stacked and bound together at the closed/bottom end to form a book. You can imagine this unique design being something that attracts a child’s curiosity. They just need to find out how these books work.

On a similar note, I'll never forget when my daughter learned to tell jokes...she ate up the reactions she got and soon checked out every joke book at our local library. No one could spend time with her without being told a good one and cracking a big smile. All the while, my girl became a joke book-reading fiend…great stuff all around! That’s the power of these paper bag books….they motivate kids to read.

Homeschool Language Arts Reason #2: They provide fun practice for reading comprehension

These books require careful attention to the details of the words being read while creating a visual of what could be in the bag. The anticipation of looking in the bag for the answer makes kids want to reread the riddles even more than a regular book. The fact that the riddles are written in small chunks of words makes them feel confident to try to read them. Watch them concentrate as they first hear/read it...that's deep listening and reading comprehension practice.

The added bonus to the riddles in these paper bag books is that the entire concept involves higher order thinking and problem solving skills. Kids come up with questions to increase their comprehension of what they’ve heard and will probably narrate it back as they’re figuring it out. These are powerful literacy skills that translate to a more enjoyable experience when reading independently.

Once they get the hang of it, they’ll want to read it to others to see if they get tricked and to gauge the reaction of the paper bag element. This rereading is an excellent way to increase fluency and practice the literacy skills they’ve been successful with in the past. We encourage you to make your own Thanksgiving Riddles paper bag book, bring it to a family gathering and you’ll most likely see them reading it many times over. That’s fun practice!


Homeschool Language Arts Reason #3: Allows for reading comprehension opportunities across all subject areas

Think of how we study with notecards for exams and take that idea to your kid’s level through all subject areas to make paper bag books that focus on the specifics of what you’re learning. This makes less exciting subjects come alive!

A few of the paper bag books I’ve made are: the first one during my first year teaching public school which was from a template that I received from my mentor teacher that year.  The topic of the riddles in this book are various toys, animals and popular book characters that my preK-K level students would have been interested in at the time. It speaks to the value of these books that, almost 30 years later, I still have it intact. I’m sharing the riddles with you with a little lump in my throat imagining all the families who will be blessed by something that my first mentor teacher blessed me with so long ago.

“Ocean Animals In the Sack” was during that same time period of my first few years of teaching as our team focused for a few months on a marine science theme. Ahh, the memories of the pre-Common Core era when teachers could be creative! Homeschool families are now the creative ones. Science facts are woven into the riddles in this book and this idea can be used for any subject to make it more exciting to learn.

The Thanksgiving Riddles book was a collaborative writing effort with my daughter when she was young. We made it primarily for her to read to her brother and she very much benefited from the thoughtful process of creating the riddles/rhymes, matching them with the perfect picture and then assembling all the pieces together to work correctly. This one contains sweet memories as well as learning opportunities!



Whether dealing with struggling readers or just adding these in for fun, interactive reading comprehension lessons, we know you see the potential in making paper bag books a foundation for your homeschool reading curriculum. The possibilities are endless and the age range wide as your older kids would enjoy and benefit from creating these books for their siblings or other kids they know. What an amazing gift a paper bag book would be!

If the idea of creating a DIY paper bag book is overwhelming, take a deep breath and get in our online community where we meet each week to help navigate all things homeschool related including making paper bag books and any other specific questions/struggles you have. We also have prerecorded classes for kids that include the read aloud that goes along with these books and one for moms showing exactly how to make paper bag books.

For more details and stories from our experiences with these books, take a listen to our accompanying podcast here.

Cheering you on. mama!

Be enlightened,



👓Other articles you may find interesting:

Preschool Reading and Writing Activities for Your Homeschool

How The Holidays Count for Education

Teaching Reading in Your Homeschool 

✨Want more reading fun? Click the link below for our FREE download "Sweetie Treatie Scavenger Hunt" activity that Kim created years ago to motivate her young reluctant-reader son. It's a game-changer! 



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