What a perfect phrase for The Happy Library! Many of us will use January to think about how our personal lives and our libraries can be better in the new year and I am no different. I have a lot of major changes happening in my life in 2018 and it took a conversation with a dear friend to remind me that those things may be amplifying my need to simplify, cut back, and pare down on some things.
I'm not one for making (or sticking with) New Year's Resolutions, so I decided to do what Tina Bietler does....the One Little Word. If you aren't familiar with the One Little Word, you can find more HERE, and I also encourage you to follow Tina on her YouTube channel HERE. Basically, in Tina's recent vlog, she shared her word for 2018 and it really made me think about doing this for myself. Then, I thought....I need to do this for the library program too! If I had one word for the library, then I would have a sort-of compass for each thing I chose to add, take away, or implement. Perfect, right?!
So, what word did I come up with? WONDER. I know this word has been all over the library world in recent months due to the popularity of the novel by the same name and the movie release, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the choice. I have noticed that the students in my Title I school simply do not use much imagination. They have a very hard time thinking beyond the concrete. I want students to stretch their imaginative thinking! What better way to practice "wonder" than in the library?
Step 1. Scour Pinterest
I'm always on Pinterest. It is a great source of inspiration and ideas, but sometimes it can make me feel a little "less than" in the creativity department. I have to be careful not to let myself start comparing my work to that of others. Anyone else end up on this slippery slope sometimes? Anyway, I found a TON of cute ideas for "wonder" in the library. One idea that I fell in love with was a "wall of wonder" and there are so many ways it can be implemented. Here are a few of the ideas I found.
Step 2. Wall of Wonder
I ordered a dry erase board for about $50 and had it mounted by our district's maintenance department. They were very quick to get it up! Then, I printed lettering from a TpT purchase (same as I shared in THIS post) onto bright card stock that I have used throughout the library all year. I did add the hot pink because I just wanted to bring in more color. You can read more about my library color scheme HERE. The final step was to print some question marks and thought/speech bubbles to add a little pop. Very easy.
If my wonder begins to wane during the year, I can always use the space to promote books! I found this cute idea somewhere...I cannot locate the source, but it is awesome....
Step 3. Plan
There are actually TWO things I did to plan for more wonder in the library this school year. The first was to plan how to use the Wall of Wonder. I think I'm going to start with an introduction for the students and I will post a question on the board. Then, students who are exhibiting good library behaviors will be allowed to get an Expo marker and answer/respond/doodle about the question. We will see how this goes.
The second step in my planning process is the bigger picture. As I worked on a few lesson plans over the break, I decided to break my monthly library schedule down by weekly topics. I may need to write about this in a different post (to give the details), but basically each week of the month has a focus that will enable me to cut through the chaos of being a first-time elementary school librarian. I found last semester that I was sort-of "all over the place" with my lessons. They were sometimes a big hit (like the Creepy Pair of Underwear lesson HERE) and sometimes they were total flops with no focus or impact. So, to simplify...I feel like I'm rambling at this point.....week one of every month will be a library skills week, week two of every month we will focus on building a community (think diversity), and so on. I created a little lesson planning sheet to help me map this out a bit. Still tweaking though.
And that's it. That is how I plan to start implementing a little more wonder into The Happy Library this semester! Here's to hoping your library has a little wonder, too!
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.
Who to follow: