Welcome to Bag Ladies Online – Hands-On Education

the bag ladiesThe Bag Ladies, also known as Karen Simmons and Cindy Guinn are classroom teachers who present Make ‘n Take workshops and create hands-on projects for each of their 17 thematic units for grades K-6.

Both Karen and Cindy have been nominated for numerous educational awards. They have also published 17 thematic units and have two books: “A Bookbag of the Bag Ladies Best” and “Math, Manipulative, and Magic Wands”.
A new book is coming soon: Bags, Boxes, Buttons, and Beyond”.

Karen and Cindy teach in Palm Beach County, FL and between them they have 40 years of teaching experience and have taught grades Kindergarten through Sixth. Their Make ‘n Take workshops are energetic, enthusiastic, creative, motivational, and mostly fun.



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Creating then and now.

It’s Sept. 2….a fabulous Labor Day weekend begins. The rush of setting up and organizing the first few days is over..now to continue procedures, procedures, procedures and the act of teaching the standards. It’s time to fill in the portfolios with goals, look ahead at the map, choose ways to achieve these goals, and take every students’ picture. (More about that in the next blog) and get those project materials ready…

Last night one of my former students called from PA. Her son was beginning 3rd grade the next day (yes I know, I’m old) and she said it brought back a flood of memories of her favorite, most memorable year. (Tears are allowed now). I asked what she remembered the most and what set that year apart.
What did she hope that her son would also experience in 2016-2017?

“The projects, of course,” she answered. Be still my heart. I love validation. But she went on….
“Everything we created, I retained. I remember being awed by the materials we used, the way everyone’s projects looked different, and how I couldn’t wait to go to school the next day. Whether we were learning about the history of the city, the city leaders-created characters, or the math notebooks we kept full of projects, we were always creating. Through this I have a love of reading, writing, and science. I hope my son has this…..”

When we hung up I felt so happy. Not only had I reached this student, but Cindy and I ( and believe me she has even more stories ) have created a way to continue being the kind of teachers that students remember, and happily they remember how they learned…

Teaching “hands-on” and, of course, incorporating that important rigor of today can be combined to make all teachers memorable, validated, and happy….Make skills retainable, and students  accountable.  Give it a try, the Bag Ladies way.


Living through “RIGOR” in the creative classroom

Written by : Posted on August 5, 2016 : No Comments

It’s here!! Time for readin, ritin, rithmetic, and RIGOR. Yes, we said it….RIGOR!!! It is the educational “catch phrase” of every school we visit. After much research, discussion, and tears..many…we believe that rigor refers to bringing students at every grade to a higher level of thinking, encouraging them to think critically…and here it comes…..CREATIVELY. It is the job of the teacher to create ( we love that word), the environment that supports this thinking, creating, and questioning. So…….here come the Bag Ladies to help you !!!!

We start the year with a piece of fictional literature that we read to our students and a combination of our units as we “teach” them how to ask questions, hold conversations, see grammar and language skills in the piece, respond to characters, write about thoughts and support, sketch, agree with another’s opinion or disagree and how to express this…

As we create our portfolios to house these new learning tools, each day we create a section for students to fill out and share. They respond, they wonder, they enrich, creating new ideas, characters, and thoughts through projects….. Yes it is rigorous, but it is also FUN!!!!!!!!

Next time…..”It’s all about the projects, bout the projects, bout the projects”. …



Portfolios, Projects, Preplanning. Oh My…

Written by : Posted on July 21, 2016 : No Comments

Are you checking out the units and making models of portfolios and projects?  I am!

Projects using bags, envelopes, card stock, and weaving loops; wire ties, file folders, lunch bags, and index cards; hair bands, survey tape and scrapbook paper.

Interactive and fun

Interactive and fun

Non-fiction topics

Non-fiction topics

File folder triarama

File folder triarama


The ABCs of Text Features

The ABCs of Text Features

Book Study

Book Study

Journals, jots, and procedures

to see a sneak preview of  some  projects? Here they are……..


Written by : Posted on July 7, 2016 : No Comments

It’s still thinking time…Lets think theme!!! What theme would you like your room to be? As teachers we spend a lot of time in our classroom..let’s make them FUN. After all, there’s plenty of rigor, let’s make our environment a great place to learn!!

Our theme today is Beach, one of our favorite places.  If I can’t be there I bring it into the classroom. (See pics on previous blog) I use Beach Blast and A Day At The Beach

Maybe you’d like CSI and make your classroom a place for Classroom Skill Investigators…..spies, caution tape, puzzles, secret codes, and 001,002.003..well, you get it. Or…..how about Castles, or Under Construction (tool belts and tool boxes) cones. Or, stay with us….Above the Ground, On the Ground, Under the Ground. That includes everything. What a great theme!!

So….while you’re thinking of theme, start collecting things for your classroom bulletin boards, organizers, and inflatables. Look over our theme  units for great projects for skills

We  draw up our rooms with our visions and designs ( HGTV has nothing on us), and we make it functional, easy flow and movement, clear space use,  organized, fun!!

Having a theme allows you to make good choices for: portfolios, play money/rewards, book choices.

Stay tuned for more room pics in August!!! But for now, think THEME. 

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