Dream Bag

By lisa arcand, August 16, 2008

Grade Level

  • PreK-1


  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

Multiple lessons spaced over two or more days


  Kindergartners LOVE their backpacks but do not always realize that they have an actual purpose other than looking cool. In this lesson, the children will learn about different types of bags and how each bag's design meets the needs of the user. They will then design and create a Dream Bag that will meet their real or imaginary needs.

National Standards

Visual Arts
Standard 1.  Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.

Language Arts
Standard 8.  Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Life Skills
Standard 2.  Understands and applies basic principles of logic and reasoning.
Standard 5.  Applies basic trouble-shooting and problem-solving techniques.
Standard 6.  Applies decision-making techniques.


In this lesson students will:

  • recognize that there are various types of bags
  • understand that some bags are different because they are designed to
  • meet the needs of a particular user understand that some bags have
  • things in common such as a way to hold or carry the bag and a way to
  • secure compartments note aesthetic differences between bags
  • design a bag to meet a self-selected purpose


Resource people to bring in various bags and describe their uses. For example: a mom and a diaper bag; a custodian and a tool bag; a school nurse and a bag with first aid supplies; a gym teacher and a gym bag; a person with a computer bag, ect.




  • chart paper
  • drawing paper
  • pencils
  • Paper grocery bags
  • empty cereal boxes
  • clean 2 liter pop bottles
  • scrap paper
  • collage materials
  • buttons
  • velcro dots
  • toilet paper rolls
  • plastic lids
  • old margarine tubs
  • Ziploc bags
  • glue
  • scissors
  • string
  • stapler
  • various strengths of tape
  • markers
  • crayons
  • glue gun if an adult is available to be in charge of using it
  • if creating a prototype you will need paper lunch bags
will need paper lunch bags.


  • compartment: a smaller space to store certain items
  • secure: to keep something safe
  • design: to create or plan out




Young children have very short attention spans. This lesson is not designed to be taught straight through from start to finish. This lesson is designed to be broken up in various ways to meet the needs of the students. Although the lesson is taught over a period of two to three days, parts of the lessons will be taught at various work periods within each day. This allows for free play and/or recess between sections which will better meet the developmental needs of young children.


Session 1:   
The teacher pretends to need to get a book from her "book bag” and realizes that she has accidentally brought her "gym bag." As the teacher pretends to be slightly frustrated about the situation she can ask the kids "What makes the gym bag different than my book bag?" Guide the conversation towards brainstorming different kinds of bags. After a good list is generated note the different uses for each of the bags. Ask the kids if the different types of bags would all look alike? Why or why not? What would make them different? Note that backpacks have the same function but do they all look alike? Why are some different? Have kids get their own backpacks and return to the group area. Showcase two or three backpacks that are different and have kids note the different parts of the bags and their different functions. Take a few minutes for children to turn and talk with a neighbor about their own backpack and its functions. Return attention to the whole group and inform the kids that over the next few days they will be designing and making their Dream Bag but before they can get started they need to do some research. We need to find out what a bag needs. Write What a Bag Needs at the top of a piece of chart paper. Later in the day they will have the opportunity to look at different bags and talk to the people who use them to help answer this question and to get some good ideas for their own bags.

Session 2:  (This is when the class will be interviewing selected adult "bag users" to find out information about what a bag needs. Have the bag users direct the discussions in such a way as to touch on how their bag has different compartments, how the bag can close and if it can become secure, how the bag is worn, aesthetic qualities, and the unique aspects of the bag that are designed for the specific user. Some bags and users would be: a mom and a diaper bag; a custodian and a tool bag; a school nurse and a bag with first aid supplies; a gym teacher and a gym bag.) Review your earlier discussion about various bags. Remind the children that they will be designing their own bag but first we need to do our research about what a bag needs. Refer to the chart heading and let the children know to pay close attention to the adult "bag users" so they can write down some ideas on the chart. Introduce the "bag users" to the children. Separate the class into five groups and have the groups rotate through each "bag user" asking questions and learning about the different bags. After the children have visited with all the “bag users”, regroup and proceed to write down information about What a Bag Needs on the chart paper.

Session 3:  Review the chart about What a Bag Needs with the group. Add revisions if necessary. Inform the children that now they get to design their Dream Bag!  They will sketch out their Dream Bag today and tomorrow you will begin building it.  First, they need to come up with ideas for their Dream Bags.  Remind the children how each of the “bag users” bags had a special use.  Ask the children, “What would be the use for your Dream Bag?” and tell them, “You can think of a real or imaginative use.”  Give the children a few moments of quiet thinking time and then have them share their ideas with their neighbors to help them expand their thinking.  Return the attention to yourself and then have a few children share their ideas with the entire group.  Next, remind the children that they need to include a few of the items from the What a Bag Needs list to make sure they are still focused on making a bag.  Tell them that they are now going to draw a picture of their dream bag.  Tell them that they will need to label different parts of the bag and try to show the special features of their dream bag because they will be sharing their drawing with a partner later.  The drawing must show how the bag is to be worn: Is it carried like a purse or a backpack?  Does it have wheels?  Does it attach to the body in a completely different fashion? 

Tell the children they will be using this drawing tomorrow to help them make their Dream Bag. Show the children the table of materials that they will be using tomorrow to make their bag. Seeing these materials might help them with the drawing process. Hand out the papers and drawing materials and have the children begin.  You should then move around the room, offering guidance where necessary. Have children move around the room as well to see what other children are doing and to get ideas when needed. When children have finished drawing, partner them up so they can share their design with another child. Collect papers for use tomorrow.



Session 1:  Remind the children that today is the day they get to make their Dream Bag! Take some time to show some of the materials you have set out for building and see if the kids know of any other necessary materials that may need. Review some techniques for joining materials (adding toilet paper rolls, using tape, stapler, glue amounts, "teacher only" glue gun, dots, etc.).

Session 2:
 Now they get to make their Dream Bag! Pass out the papers and have the kids look critically at their drawing. First, they must note the general size of the bag so they can choose the right material (grocery bag, cereal box, plastic bottle, etc.) for the bag’s "body." Then they should pay attention to the way the bag is worn so they can determine which materials they need for the task. Since you have already reviewed joining procedures, it might be good to demonstrate how to build supports using folds and craft sticks. Once the children feel confident about the basic structure of their bag, they should have no problem adding any decoration they want to make it their own unique design. You should move around the room, helping children try on their basic bag structures to see if they fit ands adding supports where necessary. Some children will need more help with the actual fundamentals of the building process than others due to where their fine motor skills are developmentally and their previous experience using tools.


After the children have finished and cleaned up their work area have them wear their bags to the group area. Divide the group into smaller groups. Within each small group have each child do a mini fashion show of their Dream Bag.


At the kindergarten level, assess by way of teacher observation.

Things to observe:
Did the child leverage ideas from other people or products?
Was the child a risk taker in their design process or product?
Was the child's idea imaginative or strictly functional?
Was it difficult for the child to see any ideas beyond a backpack?

There is not a “right” or “better” answer when considering these questions.  You are simply trying to learn more about how each particular child thinks.  After a few such experiences with a child, when you better know the child, then the assessment becomes more personalized, and it is easier to monitor whether each child has reached his or her potential.

In this particular lesson, a lot of the final product's success lies in fine motor skill development which varies based upon the physical development of each child as well as the child's age. A few months make a huge difference in kindergarten.

Enrichment Extension Activities


1.  This lesson could easily work its way into writing and reading projects. A photo can be taken of the child and his or her Dream Bag and they can write about their process by way of a procedural writing format. For creative writing, the child could write about their adventures using their Dream Bag. For a home connection, have the children place some note paper in their Dream Bag and wear the bag home. Have their parents write a message about the Dream Bag on the note paper and place it in their bag. When they return to school wearing their Dream Bag, they can take out the notes and you can read them to the class.

2.  If a teacher were to use this lesson with older children, a prototype building component could be added where the children first use small paper lunch bags to build their prototype. Through this experience, they figure out what they need to change and then build the larger grocery bag-size model later.

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