As National Library Week comes to a close, I wanted to share the few things we did in The Happy Library to celebrate. I chose to keep things simple, as this week was our return from spring break and our week of review prior to state testing. Although I had all sorts of grandiose ideas, I went with the simple things and I think they were just right for us.
Like most of you, I ordered NLW posters that I placed on our library doors and I ordered the matching bookmarks which I placed at the self-check-out for students to pick up as they made book selections this week. I also ordered some adorable stickers that said "Happy Reader" and gave those out during each library lesson. I'm not sure that I have photos of any of this, but these little treasures were well received by students.
I also put the question "Why do you love your library?" up on our Wall of Wonder and the students and teachers took time to write answers all week long. The board looked a bit of a mess by the end of the week, but there were some really touching comments on the board and it was nice to step back and reflect on the community we have created in the library this year. With only 25 days of school remaining, I'm a little nostalgic at this point.
I also put out a 1000 piece puzzle that I tried to use once before. We were not able to finish it the first time, so I thought I would try again this week. The students and teachers LOVED this, but alas, we still didn't get it completed. I think this particular puzzle is simply too challenging for our age groups, so I've been inspired to buy some new puzzles that will be more appropriate for our kiddos and place them all over the library next week...I'm calling that adventure "De-Stress from the Test" and kids can earn a pass to the library to work on puzzles for 20 minutes after testing is done. It's nice to see that a little idea can spark an even better one.
The library lessons this week consisted of a read-aloud for students in K-3 and silent-sustained-reading for students in 4-5. Our PreK students had a fun "beach" themed lesson. I brought in beach towels and put a beach sounds video on my board. We listened to the crashing of the waves, lay on our beach towels, and read all sorts of books about summer fun and water (they've been studying water and rain this past week in class). This beach lesson was such fun. And easy to pull off.
Finally, I celebrated our library workers this week. They had been having a little competition to see who could have the neatest shelving section, so I told them I would tally points and select a winning group to have Krispy Kreme donuts. Little did they know the prize was for everyone! They were so excited! I was shocked to know that many of them had never eaten a KK donut before. I forget sometimes. They relaxed with me, ate donuts, and talked about why they loved working in the library so much...and a few gave me hugs which is always well-received. It was a perfect ending to a very simple, but rewarding, National Library Week.
I was really excited to brainstorm ideas for my first Read Across America Week when I first learned that I would be working in an elementary school library. I sort of went nuts on Pinterest pinning all sorts of blue, red, and white decorations, crafts, STEM activities, and art. I was on a high! But surviving Seuss has been an entirely different experience than what I expected.
I created all sorts of grandiose ideas in my head about transforming the library into Seuss-ville, but when the time came, I'm afraid my results were less than Pin-worthy. I did the best I could with materials I already had on hand. I just didn't have the time or quite frankly the money to go and buy a ton of new decor. (I've already spend more than I care to confess of my personal money on decorations for the library.) I ended up with a small display rather than a Seuss-ville transformation.
I had also planned to do STEM-maker centers during the week of Seuss, but in a previous meeting with my principal, I was asked to suspend all makerspace activities until after state testing in April. So...I couldn't move forward with those plans. I decided to read the Seuss book of the day to the classes that were not working on the big genre project (grades 4 and 5 which you can read about HERE) and add in a little activity and book check out. And then it hit. The Seuss controversy.
Twitter, Facebook groups, and Instagram were filling up with posts, pictures, and blogs about how school librarians should boycott Dr. Seuss and choose books of more diversity and acceptance for Read Across America Week. I read the articles. I felt the compassion of the authors. I found myself questioning my own choices to celebrate the week as planned. BUT....that is a big "but" just in case you were wondering.....I knew that my school had been celebrating and loving Seuss week for years. And I've made some changes this year. These changes haven't been easy. I have had to justify my choices at various times. I just couldn't bring myself to "fight this battle" as they say. I felt it would be best to keep the Seuss activities as they were. This wasn't an easy choice. To be perfectly honest, I almost hesitated to post a picture of myself on Twitter wearing a Seuss shirt I ordered just because I was worried about how others might judge my choice to celebrate.
After a full week of reading Seuss books, talking with my students about how Theodore Geisel impacted the world of children's literature, and leading my very first Book Character Parade, I have come to some conclusions about my Seuss experiences.
Firsts aren't easy. It certainly has been hard transitioning to elementary after almost 20 years in a middle-high school setting. It certainly has been hard making changes to a very traditional library as I've tried to move it forward into a more modern, future-ready library. It certainly has been hard to advocate for more freedom in book selection and book labeling. The first year of anything is typically challenging.
Worrying about how others judge you is a waste of time. People will judge my decision to celebrate Seuss week. Some might decide it is the best decision I've made. Some might decide I should have taken a stand like many other librarians against literature that reflects the stereotypes of the generation in which it was written. Either way, I will be judged. But that doesn't really matter. It isn't about me. It's about the students and how I communicate with them about the books they read, the books we have in our library, and about how literature is an art form that allows for freedom of expression...even if that expression goes against what we may believe to be inherently wrong.
Seuss is still fun. The highlights of my week came in the form of giggles from 3rd graders as I messed up six times in reading the tongue twisters found in Fox in Socks. And they came in the form of precious kids smiling and waving as we paraded around our school dressed as our favorite book characters. And they came in the form of "thank you, you are the best librarian ever" as a sweet girl thanked me for hosting a Reading Celebration where she got silly Seuss glasses and enjoyed a free snow cone.
Dr. Seuss books often have wisdom in them that is issued by a fish. I'm not sure I would compare my thirteen-year-old to a fish, but he summed up my entire post in one sentence, "usually the most simple solution to a problem is the correct one." The simple solution was to celebrate Seuss. And we had a wonderful time.
A friend and former colleague of mine posted on Twitter a day or so ago the question..."anyone else out there nest before a new school term?". I answered with a resounding YES!!! I've cleaned the refrigerator (you know, the kind of cleaning where you take every single thing out, including the shelves and drawers) and I've re-organized and cleared two closets. But, mostly my nesting has been preparing for the library! Today is, unofficially, my last day of summer break.
I don't return to school officially until next Monday, but received an email last week inviting the staff to come and work in our rooms for three days this week. I simply cannot refuse. I also found out that almost every single day of pre-planning will see a flurry of meetings and trainings, all of which occur in the library. So, if I want to tackle anything in terms of bulletin boards and displays prior to Open House, it will have to be during these three days.
I wanted to share one of my ongoing projects with you. I was inspired by this photo on Pinterest...
I just adored this lemonade stand when I first saw it! I immediately tried to think of a reason why I needed one. I don't have young children any more, but I do have a library and a lemonade stand just seemed like something that a very happy library needed. So, enter Michael's.
My husband and I purchased four wooden crates from Michael's priced at $10 each. They were not on sale, but I had a coupon that got me a bit of a discount. We then went across the street to The Home Depot where we bought three boards. These are 1x boards, but I'm not sure of the length of the two taller boards. We bought them "off the rack" and the third piece (that serves as the "sign" portion) was a scrap board that was roughly 38" long. These three boards were less than $10.
I first primed the crates with a whitewash of latex paint. The raw wood was really soaking up the paint and I knew I wanted to spray paint, but I feel like doing a base coat (or primer of sorts) was worth the effort. My husband then began by screwing the four crates together with simple wood screws. This didn't take very long. He then attached the two side boards and the final piece...the sign board. Then, I spray painted the entire thing white!
The top board looks splotchy in the photograph, but in person, it looks solid white. Maybe it was the way the light was hitting the wood? I do think I would like to apply black chalkboard paint to the sign portion so that I can write things on it, but it's fine as is for now. I did have my hubby go back and add two of these almost flat hooks on the side. I got these for about $3 each at The Home Depot. I had him add these because I wanted to be able to easily hang buntings or pennant banners on the stand. They work like a charm and won't impale any little bodies that happen to run into them.
I think it turned out simply adorable! I couldn't resist styling it a little...
Now you might be wondering what on earth I'm going to do with a lemonade stand in a library?! My first plans are to use it for kindergarten book selection. Before the kinders learn how to select from the book stacks, I want to pull smaller collections of books from which they can choose. Instead of just sitting them out on a table, I think stacking them inside the lemonade stand seems like so much more fun! What do you think?
The last post left me feeling a bit down, but as that classic Beetles tune says, "I get by with a little help from my friends" and so...I did.
My good friend and colleague Melissa, who I have mentioned before, shared that the "rainbows" on the canvas were covered up by all of that glorious colorful paper that was going to be used to bring life and happiness to the new library space. That little comment lifted my spirits! Then just a few days later, I had the pleasure of visiting a library space that is being transformed by another colleague (you can follow her on Twitter here) and we took about four hours to talk about our ideas on all things library! Gina is weeding thousands of old books (we are talking copyrights prior to 1990 old) and has already installed a Lego wall thanks to Donor's Choose.
This all served as inspiration! Then...the AASL's Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2017 were announced this weekend and I was super excited to dive in! There are so many wonderful resources here for librarians!!! And I must admit that my personal two favorite tools from this year made the list....Buncee and Flipgrid. They are two fabulous tools for the library and for classrooms. Check them out if you haven't.
And I've got many other things brightening my days and clearing away those overwhelmed duldrums. I'm following friends on Twitter who are at the ISTE Conference in San Antonio, Texas. I'm catching up on some of my Netflix shows. And right now...the sun is shining bright outside my window as I get ready to start a new day. I'm quite simply...happy.
Who to follow: