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 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.
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