Sunday, November 30, 2014

October Library Events

     This has been an amazingly BUSY year so far, and it's been hard to catch my breath, much less update my blog! But, better late than never, right?!  So here's a summary of all the exciting things that we did in the library throughout October!
     Our first fun event was our 2nd annual Monster Mash! (You can read about our first Monster Mash here).  This year, I decided to change it up a little and read a different book for each grade level.  This was inspired when I came across a new fabulous story called The Monsterator by one of my favorite authors Keith Graves! I let 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade choose between The Monster Diaries, The Monsterator, and A Halloween Scare in Texas.  Then I read Creepy Carrots for 2nd grade, The Monstore for 1st grade, and The Monster of the Woods with Kinder and Pre-K.

     After the story, students were able to go to our own "monsterator" machine and select body parts to create 2-D shape monsters.  I set up one table with various body shapes (squares, rectangles, circles, etc.) and another table with an assortment of eyes, hands, and feet.  After they selected their pieces, the students were able to get creative and add details to make their monsters unique.   It was super fun to see the kids get so excited, and even my big 5th graders had a blast!  If you'd like to see our video of this event, you can check it out here.

     At the end of October, we celebrated with our 2nd Annual Storybook Pumpkin Patch (You can read about our first Pumpkin Patch here.)  Students were given the option to bring in a pumpkin (real or fake) decorated as their favorite storybook character.  It was so much fun to hear them planning out their designs, and so exciting when their pumpkins started coming in!  If you'd like to see a video of this event, you can check it out here!  Here were some of my favorites from this year!

     If you're interested in starting your own Storybook Pumpkin Patch, you can get everything you'll need at my TpT store.  Also if you shop on December 1 and 2nd, you can get 28% off all my products just by using the code TPTCYBER at checkout.  Many other stores are participating in this Cyber Sale, so this is the perfect time to fill up your shopping cart with all those great products you've always wanted!  Happy shopping!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dot Day Celebration Week

     Dot Day is on September 15th, but instead of just doing one day of celebrating, I've decided to do a whole 6 days of celebrating!  Why you may ask?'s due to our schedule changes for this year.  Instead of having teachers sign up for a weekly time slot to bring their class to the library, the library is now part of the Specials rotation. This means that students will rotate over 6 days to all the Specials classes.
Day #1 = PE
Day #2 = Art
Day #3 = PE
Day #4 = Performing Arts (Music and Theater Arts combined)
Day #5 = PE
Day #6 = Library
    Change can be scary, but I was actually pretty excited about being able to have the students for 50 minutes instead of the 30 minutes I normally got. Plus, now I'm guaranteed only 6 classes each day, with a lunch AND a conference time!   One major downside is that I only see classes every 6 days instead of every week.  I am working on some solutions for reminding kids to bring their books back as their library day will fall on a different day each time.  I am also still trying to work out how I'm going to do Book Fairs AND have classes...but that topic is for another post!
     Anyway, back to the amazing DOT DAY!  When you join here, you get access to a plethora of ideas for activities.  I did a lot of those last year, so this year I wanted to find some new things to try.  Pinterest again proved to be invaluable! :)
     A Zen Librarian had a great blog post about Dot Day that you can find here. I decided to use some of her ideas and created station signs and directions.  I had all 8 stations available for 3rd-5th grade, but limited the number of stations for Kinder - 2nd grade to help myself manage everything!  

  • Kinder really had a lot of fun with Station #2
  • 1st grade rotated between Station #1 and Station #2.
  • 2nd grade chose between Station #1, Station #2, and Station #6.

I put out hot dots and let students take one and place it anywhere on their paper.  Then they used that dot to create a new picture of something.  The Busy Librarian had a great poem to use with this activity that you can find here.  The kids had a great time being creative.  I had drawings of trees, aliens, baseball player, a shark, and even a clown holding a bouquet of balloons.
 Students went absolutely crazy with this station!  They loved the final look and said it reminded them of Tye-Dye!  Two 4th graders even tried an experiment to see if their pictures would turn out differently.  One decided to "grow" each of the 5 dots at the same time.  The other "grew" one dot at a time.  I won't give away the surprise in case you want to try it on your own! 
Even though we've done the Colar App last year, the kids still had fun making their own "dot" pictures, and then they took turns using the iPad to watch their picture "come to life"! You can download the coloring page here.
I put copies of the Morse Code Alphabet around each computer, and then underneath, students could take a practice page to try their hand in writing in Morse Code.  I even had some 5th grade boys that were so into this station that they spent their entire time here!  But boy were they excited when they were able to figure out one of the mystery words on the Advanced level at DitDah!  You can find copies of the Morse Code Alphabet plus the activity page on The Zen Librarian's blog here.
This station wasn't as big of a hit as I hoped it would be, but several kids did go over to explore the books I ordered in Braille from The Braille Superstore. Everyone who tried to "read" the book "The Cat in the Hat" all left saying "Wow! That is hard!"  The Zen Librarian also has some great handouts for this station including the Braille alphabet and an activity sheet for students to try writing in Braille. 
I am super excited about this Station, and think it will actually last throughout the year.  There are SO many cool things when you search for "dot trees" on Pinterest (see link here) but not enough time to do them all! So I chose this one from Mrs. Picasso's Art Room here.  I thought it would be cool to paint a tree trunk for each grade level in our cafeteria, and prepaint large colored circles.  Then, each year, let students create smaller circles to staple on top of the painted ones, so that each student could "make their mark" on our school.  Our counselor even got involved and had the students write a goal they wanted to accomplish in their circles.  I may not get enough to do one per grade level, but maybe I'll get at least 1 tree done this year! :)
 I love the Aboriginal Hand Art, and thought this would be a great addition to our Dot Day stations this year!  I had a friend that introduced me to this type of artwork when she sent me a postcard from Australia with examples on it.  I looked on Pinterest, and found even more examples to show the students.  Needless to say, this was a HUGE hit during our Dot Day Celebrations, and we had to put a timer for 10 minutes at this station!
I loved watching the students creativity at the Seurat bookmark station.  I found small round dowels at Hobby Lobby, and also had long toothpicks for the students to create their own Pointilism masterpieces!  Another great hit!
To help manage everything that was going on, I had each student check out books first and place their library books in a line by the exit door.  As they finished a station, they simply placed their artwork/activity on top of their book and then went to a different station.  I gave them the option to stay and finish a station, or if they wanted to do as many as possible, they were allowed to take their unfinished work with them to finish at another time.  This system worked really well with all grade levels!

Another "aha" moment I had was with my 2 paint stations.  On the first day, I used clear cups to put the paint in, but the q-tips were the same size, and so the top of the q-tip kept getting paint all over it.  Plus, at the end of the day, I had to scoop the leftover paint back into the paint bottles which was a pain. So, in a dream, I remembered that I had all these empty play-doh containers (because I never throw anything never know when you can re-use it)!  These containers were the perfect size as the q-tip was about an inch taller than the container.  Plus, I could put the lids on and keep the paint fresh for the next day!  I love it when ideas work!  If you'd like to purchase these stations signs so that you can do your own Dot Day Celebration Stations, you can get there at my TpT Store or at Teacher's Notebook.

So, this was our Dot Day Celebration!  What kinds of activities did you do to celebrate?  I'd love to hear your ideas!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Year, New Displays!

Don't you just LOVE the start of a new school year and putting up new displays?!  That's one of my favorite things to do when we first go back to help me "get in the mood" for a new and fabulous school year!  Most off my new displays were inspired by things I saw on Pinterest (I could pin all day!)  Let me tell you about them!

Change #1: Advertising Books!
The first thing I did was decorate this long wall that behind the library by our elevators.  In the past I had up posters to help our kids remember to use the 7 Habits. 
But this year, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to use that wall to encourage students to read more books since it's a high-traffic area.  I had found this really cute saying on Pinterest (you can find it here) and just knew I had to use it!  I had also purchased these wonderful QR code Book Trailers from Book Chick (you can see them here) that I thought worked wonderfully here.  I also had made my own QR Author codes (you can see them here) and VOILA! 

Change #2: Bookprints for Open House Night!
     I followed a link one day on Pinterest to something called "Bookprints". Scholastic had originally had it on their website, but it seems that they've moved it now to Pinterest.  Scholastic defined a Bookprint as "a list of five books that leave an indelible mark on our lives, shaping who we are and who we become."  They interviewed an amazing array of people from all walks of life and you can see their bookprints here.
     I follow EdTechChic and found her blog about Bookprints here.  I fell in love with this idea, and thought it would be super cool to have our campus each do one for our Open House Night so that the students and parents could begin to get to know their teachers.  It also would help promote discussions on books and hopefully encourage students to try out new stories throughout the year!  I hung each grade level's bookprints near the restrooms/water fountains for their class, and all the other teachers/faculty were placed throughout the school.  It's been really fun to see the books that teachers put on their list, and many of us have started a new "Books We Have To Read This Year" List! 

Change #3: Library in My Pocket
     I had begun to teach my students last year about creating a "Library in their Pocket" to help highlight different apps and links to put on their devices that would help them throughout the year.  This year, I wanted to involve parents a little more so I created this bulletin board set that you can find here, and I hung it up right outside the library doors, which is also right by the front office. 
      I will be going over this with all 3rd-5th grade students and we'll work together to create a "Library in Their Pocket" on their personal devices in the next couple of weeks. I'm also having my 5th grade leaders help me set up Library in My Pockets on all our iPads at the school so that these APPS/Links are easily accessible for everyone.  I'm hoping that by having it out by the front entrance, more parents will ask questions about it.

Change #4: Texas 2x2 Reading Nook!
     We have always done activities with the Texas Bluebonnets books for 3rd-5th grade, but this year several librarians got together and we decided to create something for Kinder - 2nd grade using the Texas 2x2 books.  So, I went to work and create a new reading nook highlighting those books.  Over the next few weeks, I will introduce the set of 20 books, and use them as part of our lessons.  I will be encouraging Kinder - 2nd to read as many of the books as they can/want, and sometime in February we will vote on our favorite.  We haven't figured out all the ins and outs of this "contest" but will post more soon!
Change #5: Makerspaces!
     There has been A LOT of discussion on Makerspaces in the library lately, and they have a wonderful website full of ideas here!  I decided to try this out this year, but will move SLOWLY in the implementation!  So far, at each library visit, classes have learned about one new center.  You can read more about my centers here.  Here's my schedule for this year:
Week 1: Bookmark Center
Week 2: Learn to Draw
Week 3: Read with a Buddy
Week 4: Play a Game
Week 5: Makerspace

    I went ahead and decorated the area, and boy did the kids get excited when they saw it! (Yeah:  Mission #1 accomplished!)  Eventually I'll have things like Legos, Interlocking blocks, Rainbow Loom, Knitting Needles, Jewelry Making, and STEM Challenges.  At this point, I've moved a lot of my arts-n-crafts materials out there and paper is stored there for our Learn to Draw and Bookmark centers. 
     What kind of changes have you made for your library this year?  I'd love to hear your ideas!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School Sale!

It's August, and if you're anything like me, you're entering the "Oh my goodness, school is about to start!" excitement/panic phase!  But don't worry...Teachers Pay Teachers is here to help with their Blast Off Back To School Sale going on August 4th and 5th!  All you have to do is enter the promo code BTS14 when you check out, and you can get 28% everything in your cart!  It's that easy! 

So this is the perfect time to go look at your wishlist and start stocking up on all those wonderful products you've been wanting in my store or other teacher librarians and media specialists who are also on TpT as well.  You can find many of them in this free downloadable catalog created by Mrs. J in the Library and Staying Cool in the Library.  Inside you'll find all kinds of wonderful products that I'm sure you're going to love!

Happy Shopping!

Friday, July 25, 2014

More on Fiction and Non-Fiction

     Once again, let me tell you how much I LOVE summertime.  I have been busy busy busy creating brand new products that I'm super excited about!  Here's my latest ah-ha moment!
     So, last April, I created a set of Assessment task cards for Non-Fiction Text Features.  I wanted a quick way to assess whether my students understood the different features, and could recognize them when asked in different ways.  

1) The first option gives them a picture and a Multiple Choice format. 
2) The second option gives them the definition and a Multiple Choice format.
3) The third option gives them a picture and an open ended question where they have to remember the Text Feature Vocabulary word.
     I printed these regular sized on 8 1/2 x 11 white card stock and used them during the lesson to introduce and teach each of the Text Features.  Then I printed these 2 to a page on white card stock, laminated them, and then hole punched them in the corner to put on a ring.  As students came up to check out their books, I would flip through the questions and assess their learning. 
     So you're probably wondering why am I showing this NOW, and what does it have to do with creating things over the summer?  Well, let me explain. 
     I was working on my lesson plans for this coming year, and I realized that I always spend a lot of time teaching the difference between Fiction books and Non-Fiction books first because it is such an important skill, especially in the younger grades.  In the past, I’ve always created an anchor chart on paper with the information along with the students.  Sometimes, in my rush, my poster had mistakes or was not the neatest as I must have missed the day they handed out the  “teacher handwriting gene”!  That always bugged me, because I would refer back to the poster for several weeks.
          So, this summer, I decided to create an anchor chart that I could BUILD with the students, but have the pieces already printed out, including cute graphics to help my kindergartners know what the words were.  (I also missed the “being able to draw and have people recognize what it is” gene!)
 Now, for those that don’t know me by now, I’m a big promoter of making larger posters at Office Depot, and then laminating them so that I can use them again and again!  So, here’s what I plan to do:
1.Take the two posters and blow them up to a 24x36 size.

Copy the other pages on white cardstock, and then laminate everything.  Finally, cut all the pieces apart. I like to use Velcro to attach them, but you can also just use tape. 

      I’ll use the pieces to BUILD the poster with the students on the empty clipboard poster.  Once we’ve done that for a few lessons, I’ll have the filled in clipboard available to hang as a reminder to use in  subsequent lessons.  Cool, huh?
     As I was doing this I had an AMAZING revelation...Did you know that when you tell the kids that reading Non-Fiction books is reading for "iNFormation", the word iNFormation actually has the letters NF which correlates to Non-Fiction!!!! I'm been teaching 20 years and this is the first time I've seen that.  Either I'm a genius or I'm super slow on the uptake! LOL! 
     Anyway, I hope you find this post helpful!  You can find all these products at my TpT store and Teacher's Notebook.

Happy Summertime!