Please do not copy any of the clip art images from this posting, as I purchased them and they are protected by copyright (c)TheLibraryFox aka Crystal Fox
Sometimes I get lucky and things work out better than I planned. Not often, but sometimes. When working on lesson plans for my 2nd grade students this past weekend, I felt uninspired. I am still a bit overwhelmed and with my first book fair approaching, I found myself wanting something simple.
My dilemma was solved when I remembered that I had started the year with a Library Ninja lesson purchased through TpT. (Get it HERE) The lesson was a big hit with 2nd graders and each week when they've returned, I've taken to calling them my Library Ninjas. They love it.
I had also purchased the matching ninja clip art from The Library Fox (which I used as part of my lesson) and it was sitting under-utilized in my Google Drive. (Get the clip art HERE) I quickly threw together a Google Slides presentation as a refresher for our previous lessons. Then, I added a statement about the current lesson.
In order to teach my ninjas about returning books on time, I thought it would be fun to read aloud Splat the Cat and the Late Library Book. It is a fun read and would be a good choice for our last lesson before the madness of the book fair ensues.
Sidebar: I absolutely LOVE Splat the Cat books. Everyone is always talking about Pete the Cat...you see costumes and bulletin boards and big buttons with Pete....but rarely have I seen this with Splat. And, in my humble opinion, Splat is just as awesome. His facial expressions are absolutely priceless. I may identify with him more than Pete because Splat is a bit of an excessive worrier and over-thinker....I tend to be one of those, too.
Monday arrived and I had my slideshow ready to present and went to retrieve my Splat book. Um....it wasn't in my bag. I looked high and low all over my office and....no luck. I couldn't find my precious Splat book anywhere!!! I knew I had it. I knew where it should be. What to do?! I mean the panic was really setting in because my first class would be arriving in less than 15 minutes and I had NO BOOK!!!!
YouTube to the rescue. I found a sweet video of a mom reading the book to her son. I quickly embedded it into my slideshow (thank you Ge-Anne Bolhuis for teaching me about Google Slides) and voila! I was ready for my classes.
The lesson worked out better than I planned because I was able to honestly stress the importance of putting our library books in our book bags the night before school so that we have them on library days. The kids had a great "shock- and-awe" moment when they realized that I was the one who had forgotten to return a library book. And of course, Splat had them in stitches! Here is my little lesson if you are interested...
The best part about the lesson was that it promoted books! I unintentionally created a supply and demand crisis in the library! The kids were all eager to ask, "where are the Splat the Cat books?" and I was happy to answer. They flew off the shelves and out the doors!
Here is a picture I found of my Splat collection at the beginning of the school year. (Yes, I took pictures of everything for posterity's sake. And yes, I'm still cringing over all of the leveled labels on these books...but I digress.)
Here is a picture after my lesson with Splat. It is obvious that great books can be under-circulated if not shared with students. My lesson wasn't something spectacular. It wasn't even really blog-worthy. But, the lesson paid off in a multitude of dividends...the best being that Splat is now in the hands of young readers who are excited to have found something new. And maybe, just maybe, they will return the books on time.
Oh, and I still haven't found my Splat the Cat and the Late Library Book book.
It was a busy week in The Happy Library! Monday started out with the long-awaited solar eclipse and it did not disappoint. Our young students were not allowed to view the eclipse outside, but did get to watch via Discovery Education's live stream. I gave certified glasses to all of our staff and they were able to sneak out of class to take a peek at the eclipse. It was as much fun watching them act like kids as it was to watch the eclipse! Even my principal (in the pink jacket) was giddy as she tried to take selfies with the sun.
We finished up our last week of the solar eclipse centers that I shared with you in the last post. The kids still enjoyed them, but I could tell that the excitement of it all had worn off a bit. Two weeks of rotation was just enough to make this a successful activity. My third graders begged to read instead of visiting centers, which made my heart melt, so many of them chose to just sit in our quiet area or at the tables and read....it was awesome. Notice that they are loving the book buddies to read with, too.
It was also the week of the library volunteer, meaning that when I invited students to come and help in the morning, I was overrun with almost 40 students!!! Lesson learned. I had to create a little application and several teachers have stepped up to help me make selections. The 4th and 5th graders have stepped up as clear leaders. I even have a few 3rd graders who I'm going to let help with dusting, straightening, and such. I'll do a separate post on my library volunteer program once I work out the kinks. The good news in all of this is that the students want to be in the library! They are taking ownership of the space and that means so much to me. It is certainly a step in the right direction for our library program.
And a final note about the collection. If you have been following me on Instagram, you know that I'm struggling with this aged book collection. I completed a collection analysis that revealed the average age of library books in our collection is 20 years old! About 67% of the collection is nonfiction...meaning we have some great nonfiction titles but very little to offer our fiction fans. There are only three sections of fiction books to the six sections of nonfiction.
I'm also at odds with the fact that there is little in the form of quality for our youngest readers. The entirety of offerings for our newest readers can fit onto one cart and most of it is very outdated. I shared all of this with our literacy committee and the principal. As most of you know, people get nervous when you start talking about weeding a collection, but it is necessary. I've placed the first book order and can't wait to see the kids faces when the new books are out. I'm going to make a VERY BIG deal about this. More info to come...
And with the outdated collection comes the cardboard magazine box signage. This way of labeling our shelves looks good when no one is using the library. But...after one or two classes have touched the books, it is a hot mess! These things are not sturdy enough to withstand constant handling and are typically falling down or crushed in by the end of the day. Plus...they don't do much for helping the books stay "in line" on the shelves.
I am on a mission to solve this problem. But, to be honest, I'm really wanting to genrefy. It is becoming evident that students do not know how to find what they are looking for. And with my students, they almost always ask "where are the mysteries?" or "do you have any funny books?"
I would also love to get some feedback on how all of you shelve your series. As you can see, my graphic novels are shelved in with my regular fiction, as are any other series. The signage is confusing for me, so I know that the students must struggle with it. I'd love to put my graphic novels in their own location. What about series? Do you guys use bins? How do handle this in your space? Let me know!
So, that's my recap of this past week. I learned a lot. My To-Do list got longer. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm not sure about where you live, but here in Georgia, we are getting super excited about the solar eclipse. It turns out that many of our local school systems are holding student release until after the eclipse has occurred. Unfortunately, my school is not allowing the students to go outside for viewing. That has not deterred me from focusing on the eclipse in the library.
Many of you probably have seen me posting pictures of displays and such on Instagram and Twitter, but I wanted to take a minute to share my centers here with you. So...let's get to it!
No rocket science involved here....well, actually there is, but you get it. The kids LOVE the NASA Space Operations Learning Center website! I just bookmarked the site on my school web page and they were off and running!
Solar Scrabble Center
I adapted this idea from Mrs. Lodge's Library page. She does a Boggle center in her library and I thought why not make up my own Scrabble version for the solar eclipse. Students are reading a book in the center and then can use some wooden blocks (if they choose) to unscramble key words from the text. I printed my scrambled words on card stock and then laminated. They use dry erase markers for easy clean-up and less paper consumption.
Solar System Sort
This activity came to me last minute when another idea just didn't work out. The kids do a little "research" using books in the center and then they attempt to put the solar system (paper planets I found in the storage room of the library from a former space theme) in order. They loved spreading out on the floor to do this. The third graders loved it and it was just challenging enough. The fifth graders found this a little too easy, so you might need to adapt.
I bought three different solar system puzzles of varying piece size and "complexity" and asked teachers to help pick the appropriate puzzle for each class. Just dump the pieces out and the kids go to work! They LOVE this!!!
Roll it, Read it, wRite it
I saw this activity on Pinterest somewhere and just randomly made up my own version. The students read a fiction and non-fiction book pair and then use a Dollar Tree die to roll for which number question they will answer first. I thought this center might be a dud, but they like it well enough. And they are really getting some good information on moon phases in this center.
This is an activity I purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers and I simply love it. Click HERE to purchase it for yourself. The great thing here is that it isn't eclipse specific, so this could be used with other lunar/solar lessons in the future. The key here was to have students build their model FIRST and then save the coloring for last. They really like this one because it is both art and science.
There you have it! And I did include a little lesson before we went to our centers and showed a brief video that you can view HERE. It was just short enough to keep their attention and not take up too much of our centers time.
Oh, and all of the clip art I used (the solar viewers, etc.) I bought from TpT as well, but when I tried to link to the same product, it was no longer available. Don't worry, there is a lot of solar eclipse clip art available by other sellers.
It has been nearly a month since I last wrote anything here. And even now as I type this, my back aches, my feet are swollen, my eyes have bags, and my hands have a tinge of stiffness. I'm tired. Who am I kidding? I'm exhausted!
Words cannot express the journey I've taken in this transition to elementary. But I'm going to give it a try. I was able to get into the library for three days prior to our pre-planning and those three days were nothing but cleaning out stuff. I had to remove the jungle decor that was last year's library theme. I had my middle son come and spend an entire day scraping hot glue off the library walls. I filled 10 of those big rolling trash bins that the custodians use!!! Yes, 10. I don't want to bash the previous librarian. We all do the best we can where we are. But, as you can imagine, there were a lot of things that just really needed to go. So, they went. My goal was just to create a blank canvas. I needed to have a clean slate when beginning pre-planning and I think I got pretty close to that.
Pre-planning lasted 5 days, but as you can imagine, I was tied to all sorts of meetings and trainings, so I didn't really get that much accomplished in terms of the library. I arrived around 7:00 each morning and worked until 6:00 each night (the custodian basically threw me out) to try to make some headway in decorating and organizing. Keep in mind, I hadn't even touched one book at this point. I did get things looking bright and cheery prior to our Open House. The Happy Library actually was starting to look happy. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was SO relieved when the first day of school came because I knew that teachers would be in their classrooms with students and I would have the library to myself. (We have a teacher workroom in the library that houses our laminator, xerox machine, color printer, etc. and teachers were in there non-stop during pre-planning.....and the laminator was torn up no less than three times during those five days....enough said.)
I was graciously given the first week of school (4 days) to work in the library with no classes. I was able to figure out our self-check station logins, learn a little bit of the new library management platform Destiny, figure out a couple of the other digital platforms we use, plan centers for grades 3-5, and finish up a few touches on the library decor. I felt ready. Not like perfect ready, but good-enough ready. I had done almost three weeks worth of work for kids and I wanted them to come in!!!
This past week I was able to see all of my third, fourth, and fifth grade students. I I decided to tweak my Happy Lesson upon the advice of The Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones. I had the students come in and we went through a short Google slide show introducing myself (in the form of a bitmoji, no less, which they loved), the concept of The Happy Library, and the procedures for centers. This only took about 10-15 minutes and then students were on their way to explore the Happy Centers!
I set up 8 centers: coloring (library pictures, of course), a reading inventory, dry-erase word search, peg art, Connect 4 game center, reading center (cozy up with a book buddy and read books centered around a library theme), I-Spy, and a paper construction center.
When the students first walked into the library, without fail, every single class went woooah!...it was sort of like the sound and faces you see when Willy Wonka opens the doors to his chocolate factory in the Gene Wilder version of the movie. I'm not kidding. It was magical. Then, as the kids went off into the centers, they were giggling, laughing, and saying things like this is so cool or we get to hold these?! (the stuffed animals were a huge hit, even with 5th graders). I tell you the truth when I say that there were moments when I thought I was going to literally burst into tears. The children were so full of joy. They were so excited. It was like Christmas morning every single day.
The teachers were pretty excited too. They were so positive about the changes they were seeing. One teacher heard some students giggling and said, "listen at that...they are laughing! This is perfect." What a compliment!
So, even though my body is screaming for Epsom salt baths and Advil, my heart is full and my grin is wide. I wanted to create a bright, happy space where the students can read, explore, learn, and have fun. I wanted to bring my vision of The Happy Library to life. And I did it.
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