Fun ideas for the calico bags

The Talk and Read calico bags can be used in a variety of ways. Please find some suggested ideas and activities for families, LiL sessions and kindergarten classrooms.

Make it Special

Give your child some fabric markers/crayons or permanent textas to write their name or do a drawing on their own bag.

Remember to put a newspaper in the bag first, so that the textas don’t ‘bleed’ through to the other side.

Feely Bag

Put some objects or toys in the bag and ask your child to reach in and try to identify the object just using their hands, no peeking! Use the feely bag to promote oral language, by asking lots of open questions (that need more than a yes or no answer). Depending on the age of your child, you could include:

  • A range of plastic animals, such as farm or zoo animals. Ask questions like How many legs can you feel? Does it have small ears or big ears? Can you find the cow? What else can you feel?
  • A range of household items, such as a cup, a toothbrush, a sink plug, a favourite toy, etc. Ask your child to describe what they can feel, how do they know what the item is, what do they think it is made from, etc.
  • A selection of wooden or plastic letters or numbers. Ask questions like Can you find the letter at the start of your name? Can you find a 3?
  • A range of textured items, such as a sponge, some soft fabric, some cellophane, sandpaper, a wooden block, a piece of mesh from an onion or orange bag, some bubble wrap, a metal item, a sea sponge or shell, a stick, a small piece of rubber mat or band, anything! Ask lots of questions about how the items feel, use words such as soft, hard, cold, warm, smooth, rough, bumpy, gritty, prickly, bendy, wrinkly, shiny and so on.

Library Bag

Use the bag to bring home a book borrowed from the local library. Take your child to the library and let them pick a story for you to share at home.

Weight lifting

Put some books or tins of soup in the bag for your child to lift and carry. This supports the development of upper body strength and develops the muscles in the arms.

Treasure Bag

Go for a walk and collect treasures to bring home in the bag. You could go to the beach, the bush or the local park and collect something that you see, hear, feel or touch. Share the items with someone at home or in the family, ask your child to tell the story of where they found the items and why they chose them.

Carry All

Lots of children like to ‘transport’ or move things around the house or garden. This is a pattern of play that helps children build a better understanding of themselves and their world. Give your child their bag and some toys, blocks, lemons (or other fruit if you have a tree), dolls or soft toys, anything that they can move from one place to another.

Story Bag

Put a story book into the bag and include some objects that relate to the story, for example – Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell could include some plastic zoo animals and some cardboard boxes. Possum Magic by Mem Fox could include a vegemite sandwich and a lamington for a picnic lunch! Share a different story each week.

Family resources

Please find resources for parents and carers on the Bouncing Back – Talk and Read Project web page.

Educator resources

More information

For more information about the Talk and Read Project contact the Early Learning Unit:


Printable version of this page: Fun ideas for the calico bags (PDF, 174KB)