Some of the best library lessons are inspired by great children's books. I recently got a shipment of new picture books and in it was Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk. What a fun story!
If you aren't familiar, the story centers around two friends who race each other to the last drop of syrup. There are many great lessons you could pull from this tastefully illustrated book (pun intended). I chose to use the book with 3rd graders and to focus on two standards: (1) identifying characters and (2) identifying the problem and solution within a story. I originally thought I might pair it with If You Give a Pig a Pancake, but I ended up dropping that idea somewhere along the way. (It is a good idea that I might use in the future.)
I had the students make predictions about the characters by looking at the cover. Right-away, students noticed that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast appeared to be upset with one another. They also noticed that Lady Pancake's "hair" is really whipped cream!
I then read the story aloud to them and it was a big hit. We discussed the problems that arose during the story and I had students brainstorm what they thought was the central problem.
I then moved on to directions for our project. I put a slide on the interactive board with directions, but I also read the directions and showed them the handout before moving them to tables to begin working. Some classes did need more direction than others, but for the most part, students seemed to know exactly what I wanted them to do.
They moved to tables and completed the "fun-sheet" (we don't call them worksheets in The Happy Library) by filling in the title of the book, the two central characters names, the problem of the story, and the solution. Then, they used colored pencils to illustrate the two characters. They were really excited about the drawing part! Students really talked a lot about the food items in the book, too....many kids didn't know what sauerkraut or celery are!
I can think of several ways to use this book in the future, and with other grade levels, but it seemed to be a good fit for 3rd graders. They didn't feel that it was too childish and I'd love to revisit the book and talk about nutrition and what is in our refrigerators at home!
The final results were just adorable! The kiddos did a great job with these and I am in love with all of the detailed illustrations they did. I hope you plan to use this book in the near future....it is utterly delicious!
It is amazing what a little time with some awesome kids can do for one's spirit. After the less-than-stellar experience I had with my first book fair, I have just been craving time with the kids. I missed them! I decided to keep things really simple to start my week and it has paid off in huge dividends. It is only Wednesday and the librarian is finally in her happy place once again.
On Monday, I was expecting to have to move all of those huge cases out of the way so that my 1st and 2nd graders could get in the door and get to the Everybody Fiction section. I opened the doors to the library and (insert amazing angelic sounds here) all of those cases were gone! I stood there for just a minute wondering if someone had stolen the fair....but then I came to the realization that my precious custodian had taken pity on me and had used his time to move every single case into a storage room. This was no easy feat and the fact that he did this for me still gives me chill-bumps. I have a special treat in store for him later this week.
To make Monday even better, my new storytime rug was delivered about 15 minutes prior to my first class. I was super excited to see it and eagerly unrolled it so that my students had a sweet surprise on their first visit after the end of the book fair. It did not disappoint! They loved the bright colors and the variety of shapes. They felt extra special as they looked to see which square would be theirs for the day! It was so fun!
Then...the next great thing was that I planned to read The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. This was in lieu of all of my "big plans" for Dot Day (if you didn't read my post about scratching those plans, you can read it here). I wish that I had asked a teacher to take pictures or film one of the class readings because it was a HUGE HIT with the kids! I cannot believe how much they laughed and giggled....they had me laughing right along with them....and one little boy was literally rolling in the floor with laughter!!! One child commented, "I just love this silly book!" and as the story ended, it was met with cheers and a cry to read it again. It was so fun. And I was shocked by how many of the teachers had never heard the story. As a matter of fact, the laughter spilling from the library started drawing crowds as several passers-by peeked in to see what in the world was going on! It was a HOOT! Truly, good medicine for my spirit.
After the story, we did book check out and students had a few minutes to find a cozy spot to read. Of course, the new rug was a favorite.
Tuesday brought the third graders and keeping with my "less is more" theme for the week, I returned to centers. Most of the ones I put out were things I have used before, but there were a few new additions that were hits with the kids. The first was a Spirograph set. Do you remember these? I loved these as a kid and this summer I stumbled upon one at a dollar store. The kids were fascinated by the designs they could make by fitting the "gears" together.
Another center I added was a collection of farm animals from my youngest son. He used to collect the Schleich figures with a huge love for the farm collection. These are not cheap. They cost about $20+ each!!! It was a risk, but I decided to give it a try. The girls LOVED playing with the animals and gave them a lot of love. Most boys avoided the center like the plague. I think if I had added in some tractors or something, they might have liked it. But, it worked okay. We didn't rotate the centers this time. Students had book check out and then chose the center of their choice. I even let them pick their partners. It worked well.
That brings me to today...Wednesday. Today I had all of my 5th grade students and I jumped right in to my new Buncee Classroom subscription. I will need to do a separate post on my plans, but today was just a chance to get them all set up with accounts and let them learn the basics of adding text, stickers, and animation. It turned out that they had a blast. The kids and the teachers loved Buncee and it made my heart happy to share one of my all-time favorite tools for school.
I still have a few classes to see on Thursday and then I can really tackle some projects on my Friday flex-day, but the week has been a blessing. I feel things settling back in to a routine and am loving every minute with these wonderful kids.
I absolutely love Peter H. Reynolds and all of his beautiful books! I have waited for more than three years to do a Dot Day lesson with students, so I just knew that this year was my year! It was going to be perfect. I ordered vinyl signs to mark the occasion, I made sure to have the books on hand, and I had a Pinterest board full of ideas and activities. I also had ordered my subscription to Buncee and planned to have older students create their marks digitally.
Enter the book fair. When I accepted my job here, the book fair was already on the books. I originally thought "no biggie." I'll do the book fair as planned (September 11-15) and celebrate Dot Day the following week with all of my classes.
Easier said than done. If you read my last blog post about my first fair experience, you know just how wiped out I was before my fair really even got off the ground. After the disappointing start of my fair during Hurricane Irma, I suffered even more from shear and utter exhaustion as I tried to sell, sell, sell in just two and a half days! I frantically finished around noon last Friday and then proceeded to work at boxing and packing every thing that didn't sell. And I'm still not done packing it up. As a matter of fact, I have plans to get up early on Monday and get to school by 6:30 or so, just so I can move things out of the way (somehow?! not sure how?!) so that my regular classes can get in the door safely at 8:15.
So, here I sit on a Sunday afternoon. Trying to get excited about my Dot Day plans. But...I just can't seem to pull it together. I've listened to Emily Arrow's song a dozen times today and thought about just reading the book and doing the song, but somehow my heart is just not in it. I just want something easier. I'm so tired that I'm not ready to dive into creative discussions and mindset just yet. Is that awful?
I've made my decision. I will not be making my mark with Dot Day activities this year. Sometimes you just have to erase an idea or save it for later. I'm choosing to read aloud The Book with No Pictures and focus on book circulation tomorrow. After all, they haven't seen the library books for almost two weeks now, so the kids will probably be focused on picking new library books anyway. And I'll get the week to regroup and just enjoy the kiddos. A little laughter from this wonderfully silly B.J. Novak book isn't such a short cut on creativity anyway, right?
Being new to an elementary school library means being new to the work involved in hosting a book fair. My school usually has a fall and spring fair, both with Scholastic. The previous media specialist had already booked the fairs for this year, so basically all I needed to do was to confirm. Easy enough, right? Wrong. Way wrong.
My first rookie mistake was in thinking that a book fair only takes one week. Wrong. When looking at the schedule, the fair is delivered the week prior to the actual event week, so I had to make room for all those cases coming in (more on the cases later). I also had to schedule a "closed" day so that I could set up the displays and put the items out in the library. And we also have a Grandparents' Day Lunch that is hosted every year....on a Friday...during the book fair. The booking of the fair was done so that the Friday before the fair we could host the grandparents for a day of shopping. This meant no class preview day. Basically, I needed an entire week to get this fair ready. And it was the week of Labor Day, so that meant we were out of school on Monday. I can honestly say that the fact I have to take two weeks out of my schedule for the fair, not just one, was disappointing to me. But...I get it.
My second rookie mistake was approving the custom fair that was ordered without thinking about it. The previous media specialist was obviously experienced. She had done many fairs in this space and knew exactly what she could and would be willing to do. She ordered a custom fair with 9 cases, plus countless boxed items for additional "sections" for the fair. I didn't realize this was a mistake until the fair was delivered. When I saw the quantity of stuff rolling in...well, let's just say my reaction was less than positive. Mostly because I was realizing in that moment that it would be me and one Scholastic rep setting up the fair. (Scholastic promised me a person to help set up the fair since it was my first fair ever.) There is no way I will order a fair this large ever again....and I mean never. It is just entirely too much stuff for our small space!
After the Labor Day holiday, I hit the ground running on Tuesday and Wednesday with all of my classes. I tried to get everyone in to return and check-out books prior to shutting down all circulation for the week of the book fair. The students were sad that they didn't have an actual library lesson this week and I was too...but the excitement was building for the book fair. I had to shelve thousands of books in these two days! My little library helpers came in each morning to help, but I did do the bulk of it.
I awaited the arrival of the fair on Wednesday. It was to be delivered between the hours of 7am and 4pm. When my clock read 3:50 and no truck had arrived, I was anxious. And upset. And worried. But at 3:58pm, the truck pulled in and the custodian and Scholastic guy started unloading. This is when the real panic set in. I couldn't believe how MUCH stuff was rolling in the door. I mean we had a hard time fitting it all in the library and the cases were closed!!! I didn't get out of the door until after 5pm that day.
Thursday came and I locked the doors and got to work. I started at 7am and worked all day. I didn't even stop for lunch! I worked and waited for the Scholastic rep to come. I had been told twice that I would have help from a Scholastic employee since this was my first fair. When it got to be noon and no one came....well....panic set in. I was almost in tears, at this point. But I plugged on.
My third rookie mistake was that I had scheduled my Teacher Preview Event for Thursday afternoon. The teachers would be coming at 2:30 to create their classroom wish lists and to have snacks. I only had a few hours to transform everything. With no Scholastic help in sight, I tried to pull it all together. And...it seems I did a decent job. The teachers came in and loved it. They were in awe of how MUCH stuff was in the fair! (Ha....never again, folks, never.) They loved the fact that I had put out "vittles" (Chex mix with added pretzels and candy corn) and chilled drinks for them. They were also in love with the Scholastic bins for their wish lists.
If you haven't seen or heard about the bins, they are a new feature this year. You need to order them. I got mine free because I was selected somehow (probably because I had a custom fair with 9 cases!!! LOL). Anyway, teachers grab a bin, pull books they want from the shelves and put inside the bins. Then, they use a dry erase marker to add their name to the bin. You make a cute display with these and it makes it easy for families to select a book to purchase for the teacher's classrooms. The teachers said they had never gotten to do this before and they had so much fun! Several of them even got in on the photo booth action, so that made it festive.
So, I survived set up. And I survived the Teacher Preview. I went home at 4:30 or so and immediately put myself in an Epsom salt bath! When I got out, I informed my husband he was in charge of dinner and then I put my feet up and put a heating pad on my back. Words cannot express the degree of soreness I felt in my body. The next day proved it to me in bruises. I was covered in them!!! They were so bad that I had to wear a long-sleeved cardigan to work so that people wouldn't think I had been abused during the night.
Friday had finally arrived and it was time for the Grandparents' Day Event. Luckily, my principal helped me secure some volunteers. Oh my gosh...these ladies were the only reason I survived this particular day! The school counselor and speech therapist worked our cash registers for two hours straight. No breaks. My principal greeted guests and also ended up bagging items when the lines wrapped around the walls. One mom volunteered as well and she was so helpful with explaining our Classroom Wish Bins to families as they entered the library. I made sure folks registered for our free prize drawings and generally ran around like a chicken with its head cut off. We probably had about 400 people in the library in about two-three hours time. We sold over $3000 worth of merchandise. It was crazy, but successful.
If you are still reading at this point, I'm grateful. I don't want anyone to think that I am anti-book fair. But, as a newcomer, I see that it is a lot of work and the profit margin is extremely small. As I write this post, I am currently at home on a Monday awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Yep. This post was about my PRE-FAIR week. The fair was supposed to start TODAY. But, Hurricane Irma decided to show up, so my school is closed today and tomorrow. That means my fair will only be two full days. On Friday, we will only be open half a day so that I can begin packing it all up. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.
I see the benefit in the book fair. It gets the kids and teachers fired up about reading new books. It gave families a reason to come together over books and that is never a bad thing. But, I did have families come up to me and question the prices on items. More than one person commented about the high prices. In a Title I school, it is hard for families to buy books at $20 a pop. That is why I think the small stuff (like pencils, spy pens, rubber erasers, etc.) sell so well. And that is the last thing I want to be selling. I want to sell books. It was hard to look them in the eye and tell them that yes, that was the actual price.
One thing that did encourage me in all of this was the fact that our families supported our teachers. Many of our teachers have a big treat in store when I deliver their Classroom Wish Bins this week. These families purchased books for our teachers and some families purchased more than one. It was an awesome sight to see.
So...I'm anticipating low sales this week for the actual book fair. With only two and a half days of shopping time, I will be doing well just to get my classes all in to the book fair once. Here's to holding out hope.
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