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Thankful for You!

Hi there! As we approach Thanksgiving (what?! just two more weeks?!?!), my list of things to be thankful for is even longer this year because I am so grateful for everyone who has visited my TpT store or my blog.

That includes you! 🙂

Blogging and TpTing are still new for me, but so far so great. I really enjoy writing these posts, creating teaching resources, and meeting new people along the way. It’s so surreal to check the stats and find out that people around the world have clicked over to check out this very blog!

Here’s an itty bitty token of my appreciation – a free teaching resource! I’m working on parts of a book with one of my library classes, so I made a Thanksgiving-themed printable worksheet about using an index.
Go ahead and grab a copy by clicking here!

Graphics by Mrs. Naufal’s Nook

I’m also sharing the gratitude love over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store by having a 15% off sale from now until November 12th. Feel free to check it out!

May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving (and always)! 🙂

Boo! A Book Care Freebie for You!

Just a short post today to say “hi!” – and “BOO!” – and give away a free library printable!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I could never have too many resources for teaching about proper library book care! In kindergarten and first grade, I pepper my year with lots of reminders about how to take care of a library book, so it’s great to have resources that will work at different times of the year. With Halloween right around the corner, I put this worksheet together for my first graders:

Clip art by Chadelel’s Design

Click here to download it!

For an easy peasy library lesson, you could just read a spooky story, remind your students not to scare their librarian with bad book care choices, and put them to work on the worksheet during book checkout time. 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Fall is in Full Swing in the School Library!

Happy Fall to all you autumn enthusiasts out there! A lot of people seem to LOVE this season, but as for me, I’m typically not really into fall. I am the first to admit that I’m a wimp, so I can’t really handle any spooky, icky Halloween stuff, AND I’m not a fan of cooler weather paired with shorter days.

Of course, on the bright side, fall means I do occasionally get to eat apple crisp…AND I get to make jack-o’-lanterns out of library books.

(A shout out to all the creative librarians out there whose book display designs have brightened my day by showing up on my Pinterest feed, including Sunnyvale Public Library, iworkatapubliclibrary.com and Swiss Army Librarian. Thanks for sharing your ideas and inspiring me to make my own book pumpkin.) 🙂

And this year, I can add one more thing to autumn’s “YAY!” column: I get to make fall-themed products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

So far, I’ve created two autumn-themed products…

Fall-Themed Library Skills Worksheets for Grades K-2
Cover artwork for this product is by Krista Wallden and gradeonederful.com

My K-2 Library Skills pack includes printable worksheets to go along with your library lessons on ABC order, library behavior and etiquette, caring for library books, what is an illustrator?, and using a title page.

My personal favorite worksheet in the pack is this one, which asks students to color good book care choices yellow and bad book care choices orange, resulting in a jack-o’-lantern.

Fall-Themed Library Skills Resources for Grades 3-5
Cover artwork for this product is by gradeonederful.com

For your upper elementary students, I just completed this packet of resources that you can use with your lessons on parts of a book, arranging fiction books, and making a Works Cited page in MLA format.

Feel free to snuggle up, enjoy a pumpkin-flavored treat, and check out my fall products and everything else at my TpT store! 🙂

Fantastic Read Alouds for First Graders

 

(Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links, so if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.)

Reading aloud to my students is one of my favorite parts of being a school librarian. I love trying out funny voices and dramatic faces and making the kids laugh. As a result, I typically pick light and fun books to share with my students. While I admit that many of my read alouds might not be great literature, I think that one of my primary goals of reading aloud is to sell reading as something that can rival video games and Netflix in terms of entertainment value. And based on the enthusiasm I saw with some of these read alouds, I think I’m on the right track!

Back in June, I asked the first graders to name their favorite picture books that we had read together in library class throughout the year, and the zany, silly ones were well-represented among the ones they chose. Here are their picks.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems

This book shows the quirky genius of Mo Willems at its best with his version of the classic story of “be careful what you wish for.”

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula M. Craig and Carol L. Thompson

I read this with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade every year as the first read aloud of the year in order to get kids thinking about how they should treat the library books they are about to check out. You would think I’d get groans from the kids who have already heard it, but actually, nope. The kids look forward to hearing this story at the beginning of each school year, even in second grade when it’s their third listen. It’s out of print, so if you can get your hands on a copy, hang on to it!

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas

This story is perfect for this time of year. The kids find it hilarious, and it’s a very short book which works well for a library class since us librarian-folks are usually trying to squeeze a read aloud, a lesson, an activity, and book checkout into a short amount of time.

Pumpkin Trouble

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk

I just read this book with my new first graders and they loved it as much as last year’s group. I love (attempting) to do different character voices and accents. In my version of the read aloud, I decided that Lady Pancake speaks with a bit of a Southern drawl, while Sir French Toast obviously has a French accent (my rendition sounds kind of like Lumiere from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast…well, at least, that is what I’m going for). It’s one of those situations where I’m not quite sure if they are laughing at me or with me, but the kids like the accents and love this book!

Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast

Burger Boy by Alan Durant

Benny overdoes it with the hamburgers, spontaneously transforms into a large hamburger, and has a chaotic adventure. I’m not sure exactly why first graders love the idea of a person turning into food, but my first graders found this book delectable.

Chocolatina by Erik Kraft

This story is similar to Burger Boy, but Tina’s got more of a sweet tooth, and one day she wakes up to find herself head-to-toe chocolate. Read it after Burger Boy for a perfect opportunity for compare and contrast.


Chocolatina

There Are Cats in this Book! by Viviane Schwarz

This one is a fun and interactive book that combines cute kitties and flaps to flip. I had a library volunteer read it to smaller groups of kids so that they could all take turns lifting the flaps. They loved it!

There Are Cats in This Book

 

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Warning: Do not read this one to the kids unless you are okay with A LOT of laughter. It’s the story of a bear who finds a little boy and decides to keep him as a pet, and ever since I discovered it a few years ago, it has definitely been a fave every time I read it.

Children Make Terrible Pets

Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed by Carolyn Crimi

The first graders loved this silly rhyming book. Maybe it’s because kids love to think about what their teachers (and principal) are like outside of school, and it’s always fun to think of grownups acting like kids. It’s another fun read.

Principal Fred Won’t Go to Bed

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel

This is the story of two best friends, a caterpillar and earthworm, and how their lives change as the caterpillar does his thing and becomes a butterfly. I read this book to the first graders in the spring when the class was learning about butterflies in science, and they loved this sweet book.

 Bob and Otto

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland

Michael Garland’s illustrations are always gorgeous, and this book is no exception. It’s the story of a teacher who loves to read aloud from a special book, and the characters in this book always jump out of the book and become real as she reads. One day, someone else reads the book, and chaos ensues! It’s fun, and the kids love to think about story characters that they would like to see in real life.

Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss

What first grade book list would be complete without something by Dr. Seuss? The kids loved this one and most had not heard it before, which is always nice. It’s great for Dr. Seuss’ birthday (or anytime!)

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

What are your first graders’ favorites? Feel free to share other fabulous first grade read aloud ideas!

Freebies for Your School Library on Teachers Pay Teachers!

My last post was about my #1 suggestion for the new school year, which is to join Teachers Pay Teachers. I talked about my decision to become a buyer (and soon afterward, a seller!) during the last year, and how thrilled I am to be able to get awesome resources for my students for cheap – or often, free!

No matter what you teach, there are most likely a ton of freebies available on Teachers Pay Teachers that will be useful to you. But I’m a library girl, so today I am going to bring you on a little shopping spree to get some cool FREE products that you can use if you are a school librarian (or a library/media specialist, library teacher, teacher-librarian, library superhero rock star diva, or whatever you call yourself these days.) 🙂

YOU DON’T NEED ANY MONEY FOR THIS SHOPPING SPREE! If you want to download any of this fabulous free-ness, you just need an account on Teachers Pay Teachers (and joining, is, of course, also free). I have organized this freebie-for-all into different library-related subjects to make your shopping trip free AND easy!

Let’s grab our imaginary reusable shopping bags and go! (Get ready for a LOT of exclamation points! But really, who isn’t excited about a freebie shopping spree?!?!?!)

Parts of a Book/Text Features

You can help your kids understand text features with this student activity book by KC Classroom Creations!

Here we have a free Bingo activity by The LibraryFox to review text features!

And here is everything you need for a text feature Scoot game by Live Laugh Teach First Grade!

Why not turn identifying text features into a scavenger hunt? Download iHeartLiteracy’s free product to get it started!

Are you teaching your students to use an index? Try this free product by Room 125!

Here is a printable poster by Create-Abilities you can display or distribute to remind your kids about everything they have learned about text features!

Library Behavior & Etiquette

You can display these free signs by Leah the Librarian or these posters by Kathryn Garcia to remind your kids about how to behave in the library!

Ooh ooh! This one’s mine! 🙂 Print out these free worksheets (by me!) to reinforce your lessons on library behavior and etiquette at the beginning of the school year (or any time the kiddos need a refresher!).

Reference Materials

When your students are learning about reference materials, try this ABC Research resource by The Library Patch!

And Linda the Librarian’s Hunting for Information is another cute resource that your kids can use to practice using books from the reference section!

This Dictionary Scavenger Hunt, created by Rachel Lynette, is a great resource to download when your students are learning to use dictionaries!

Taking Care of Books

These spaceship-themed book care bookmarks created by The Library Patch will remind your library students about the rules of taking care of books!

And Staying Cool in the Library’s adorable book care product includes a coloring page and bookmarks to reinforce your lessons on book care! (I literally just used this product with my new kindergarteners earlier this week!) 🙂

Dewey Decimal System

These cute bookmarks by Staying Cool in the Library can help your students learn the categories of the Dewey Decimal System!

Using Call Numbers

This free resource by Summer Pittman gets students up and moving around the library by asking them to locate books with different call numbers!

Photo by Molly Coulter
Fiction vs. Nonfiction (& other kindergarten skills)

This packet by Violet Tabitha includes printables that you can use to review fiction vs. nonfiction (and a few other concepts for the little ones) with your little library learners!

And here is a free resource by Mrs. J in the Library that you can use to assess student knowledge of fiction vs. nonfiction (along with author/illustrator and basic parts of a book as well)!

Book Fair

Download, print, and display this free banner, designed by ATBOT the Book Bug, to advertise your Book Fair!

Support your colleagues who teach math by making your Book Fair into a math lesson! Try the Trapped Librarian’s Book Fair Math product!

Genres

This free product by Kathryn Garcia includes bookmarks, a coloring book, and other resources to help teach your students about genres of literature!

And please try my Genre Easter Egg Hunt as a fun activity to reinforce the characteristics of several genres!

So let’s say you want to plan a lesson to teach your first or second grade students about the graphic novel genre. Why, here is a lesson plan by Mrs. J in the library! Boom. Done.

When one of your lower elementary classes is working with the biography genre, download this free product by Elle Madison, which includes coloring pages with information about the lives of Michael Jordan and Dr. Seuss! Adorable!

Coding

Need some suggestions on how to introduce coding to your library students? Download this free resource by the Trapped Librarian that includes ideas for Hour of Code!

Bookmarks to Color

Here are some free Columbus Day-themed bookmarks by Lil Country Librarian that your students can color and decorate!

And some bookmarks especially for the 100th day of school by Library Learners!

This winter, you can make your kids laugh as they decorate these joke bookmarks created by LittleRed!

When it’s springtime, how about some Peeps bookmarks? Here are Elementary Library Mama’s Peeps bookmarks to color!

And…for any time of the year…some cute reading-themed bookmarks by Elementary Lesson Plans and animal bookmarks by Mrs. Molly’s Menagerie!

End of the School Year

Do you remember that process-and-a-half of getting all the books back to the library at the end of the school year? Here are some free award certificates by Elementary Library Mama that will be great incentives for your kids!

When book checkout is over for the year, but you need a few activities to get your littlest library students through the last class or two, try these activities (in this resource by…me!).

And if you are looking for a fun way to encourage your library students to keep reading over the summer, just download Summer Reading Bingo by Primary Playground!

Or help your students to try out different genres in the summer with this summer reading product by Kathryn Garcia!

Library Decor

Now, here we have a set of posters with quotations about reading, designed by Staying Cool in the Library, and some more reading-themed posters by My First Grade Gems!

And how about some Dewey Decimal System and Genre posters by Balke’s Resources?!

You can plan ahead for winter by downloading these free posters by ATBOT the Book Bug that will make your library look fantastic!

Clip Art

More of a DIY-er, are ya? If you want to make your own educational resources for your school library, TpT has you covered there too.

(Side note: If making your own resources is your thing, you may want to consider becoming a TpT seller too! If you open a seller account through this link, I will get a referral bonus…and it won’t take away from any of the profits you make! So far I have loved every minute of being a Teachers Pay Teachers seller.  Just an idea! On with the freebies!) 🙂

Here is some book clip art by Elementary Lesson Plans!

And here is a set of free clip art from DarraKadisha that includes books and other school supplies!

The next freebie is from Optimistic Kids and Families Art, and as the artist says in her description of the resource, they are, in fact, “free bees.” (Bee clip art, of course! And one of them is reading – perfect for library resources! A cute product and a cute pun.) 🙂

And let’s end with some adorable reading owl clip art by Clipartino!

And There is So Much More!

We could seriously chow down on this all-you-can-eat buffet of free stuff all day. My list is just a little sample of all the great resources that are available on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I hope our free spree today got you set up with a bunch of printables and other freebies that will help you throughout this new school year!

*A huge “thank you!” to the Teachers Pay Teachers teacher-authors who gave me permission to include their resources in this list!*

My #1 New School Year Tip: Join Teachers Pay Teachers!

I think most teachers would agree that the real “New Year” begins in August or September when the school year starts. New students and new policies and new schedules are bigger changes than what we see when the ball drops between December and January.

From planning to cleaning to decorating to organizing to copying, there is a ton of work to do as the school year starts, and I’m going to suggest that you add one more itty bitty thing to your list. But it’s a thing that will ultimately make some of the other things easier. AND make the rest of the school year easier.

JOIN TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS!

Really. Do it. Yesterday.

What It Is…and What Else It Is

Okay. So I had heard about Teachers Pay Teachers long before I actually tried it, and waiting so long to give it a go was a MISTAKE. Basically, before I registered for TpT, I used to spend a lot of time on Google trying to search for “free” lesson ideas and worksheets and coloring pages for my students. Sometimes, a search result would pop up that said it was on Teachers Pay Teachers and I’d be like, “Oh, that sounds great!” but then I’d be like, “Oh, it’s on Teachers Pay Teachers. And I don’t want to pay for anything right now. So, no thanks.” To be honest, something about the name Teachers PAY Teachers irked me a little at first and made me feel like everything was going to be really expensive.

As time went on, those Teachers Pay Teachers items showed up more and more. Meanwhile, I also found that more often than not, randomly searching the rest of internet brought me to a bunch of weird spammy sites. I eventually concluded that I WAS going to end up paying SOMEONE, and it was beginning to look like the money would be going to a tech-y dude who gets spyware off your computer. I figured I was better off giving money to some fellow teachers than having my computer infected with internet gunk.

So I joined the site and accepted that I would, in fact, be a teacher that was paying other teachers.

But in my first few minutes looking around the site, I found out something very important about Teachers Pay Teachers. Yes, it is a site where you can purchase fantastic resources created by other teachers. But IT IS ALSO a place where teachers GIVE AWAY FABULOUS FREE PRODUCTS.

Yay TpT! SO MUCH is Free!

There are FREE lesson plans, FREE coloring pages, FREE classroom posters, FREE fonts, FREE videos, FREE printable worksheets, and much more. Get this- every single person who sells on Teachers Pay Teachers MUST have at least one freebie (really – it is a requirement in order to be a seller!). So we are talking about THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of FREE products.

So I went on a free downloading spree. It was basically what I had been TRYING to do many times before during my Googling sprees, but SO much easier and more successful. I can’t even believe how many free worksheets and other resources I have found for free from the talented sellers on TpT.

And If It’s Not Free, It’s Probably Worth It!

If I have a very specific need and I can’t find something free, I can usually find something inexpensive and worth every penny. I really would rather not pay for resources, of course, but then I stopped and realized that I never hesitate to spend $5 here or there for office supplies, stickers, or prizes for school. So, why not pay a couple of bucks for something that is actually designed to help my students learn something? And it is fun to know that a purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers will help support a teacher.

So…Who’s Paying Whom?

Ultimately, I’m less than a year into using TpT, yet I have downloaded a ton of resources and spent a pretty tiny amount of money. For all these years, I stayed away from Teachers Pay Teachers, when all along I didn’t realize it was like a dollar store / FREE store for teaching resources. Almost every time I visit the site, I get paid in freebies, which leads me to wonder – are the sellers or buyers really winning out here? Or is it just a fantastic partnership for everybody involved?

Check It Out Today!

If you haven’t joined yet, go for it! Joining is free and as I mentioned, there is a ton of great stuff that is just waiting for you, no matter what subject you teach! I am so happy that I joined, and I loved TpT so much that I opened my own store there a few months after making my first purchase.

So…all that free stuff we were talking about? As soon as you sign up, feel free to start your own personal free download spree with some of my free products!

Enjoy!

We Read So Much We Bought a Farm…EIEIO!

 

And on that farm we had a cow…and a water buffalo…and a pig…and a llama…and some flocks of chicks…and some tree seedlings.

Really! We did! (Well, not the actual farm part…but we did buy the animals and trees!)

During this past school year, my students participated in Heifer International’s Read to Feed program. It’s a reading incentive program in which kids record their independent reading minutes and get pledges for their reading time to raise money for Heifer International, an organization that provides farm animals and supplies to families living in poverty.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.
What Drew Me to Read to Feed

I actually don’t remember exactly how I heard about the program, but after reading up on it, it seemed like a perfect way to get kids reading AND helping people around the world who are in need. I feel like developing an awareness of what’s going on in the world is so important for kids, as is the arriving at the realization that our actions CAN make a difference. I loved the idea that the program would teach the kids that poverty is out there but also EMPOWER them to realize that we can play a part in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.
How We Ran The Program

At our school, we ran our program from the beginning of December through the end of Christmas vacation. I decided to make it completely voluntary – I provided the families with information about Read to Feed and spoke to the kids about the program, but no one was required to participate. I thought December was a perfect time of year in some ways – after all, it was the season of giving, and there plenty of dark evenings to snuggle up with a book – but also probably the busiest time of year for many families, and a time of year where some families have other community service projects lined up. I figured that offering the program for only those who were interested allowed us to give it a try without overburdening families that really could not take this on at the time.

The Read to Feed website provides a whole bunch of fantastic resources that you can use to get the Read to Feed program off the ground. From reading logs to videos to handouts to a webpage for online donations, most of the prep work is done as soon as you visit Heifer’s site.

We let families know about Read to Feed through our parent newsletter and through schoolwide announcements, and I also spoke to my classes about the program. There are actually several picture books out there that explain what Heifer International does, so I selected my fave, Faith the Cow by Susan Bame Hoover, as a read aloud for students in my kindergarten through grade 2 library classes. (A couple of other books for children on the subject are: Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier and Lori Lohstoeter, Flora and the Runaway Rooster by John Claude Bemis, and Give a Goat by Jan West Schrock.)

Overall, it was very low key in terms of work on my part thanks to all the provided materials, and on our first attempt, we kept things simple and utilized the free stuff available on Heifer International’s site.

How It Went

For those who participated, I think it really was an awesome experience. I remember talking to a parent who said her daughter had really been inspired by this program and actually GOT IT that even as an elementary school student, she actually could help people who didn’t have enough to eat. I feel like if the program did that for one student, it was worth running. Whether a student actually raised $5 or $200 is not as important to me as whether that student developed the idea that we have the ability to bring about positive changes in the world. Right now.

And I think that even the kids who didn’t raise any money or fill out a reading log got something from the program as well, between chatting about it with other kids, listening to my read aloud, and hearing announcements at school. Maybe it wasn’t feasible for them to participate at that time, but I feel like even being exposed to a program like this can plant seeds that might sprout later.

As you read earlier in my little Old McDonald song, my students ended up reading enough minutes to make a nice contribution to Heifer International – enough for all those animals I mentioned. At the end of the program, I sent a little survey out to the kids who participated to see what animals or other available items they would most like to donate to others, and I tallied everything up and expressed their preferences in a letter when we sent the money to Heifer. I like that Heifer explains how much each type of gift costs because it’s really cool for kids to be able to look at our donation in terms of what it could actually buy for someone else. The younger kids don’t really understand how much $500 is, but they do get it when we say that a family that did not have a cow can now have one.

Image courtesy of Heifer International.

I recommend this program, both to encourage reading and to help earn money for those in poverty…and most of all, as a way to inspire and educate your students about the world and our ability to share our blessings with others.

You’ve heard a lot from me today, but I’d love to hear from you! Has your school participated in Read to Feed or another cool service project? How do you motivate your kids to read? Is there another inspiring program out there that I should try next? Do you have an exciting way of empowering your students to change the world? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments!

**Thank you to Heifer International for giving me permission to use the images included in this post.**

The (FREE!) Review Game That My Students Beg Me to Play!

Kids can be pretty tough critics these days when it comes to educational games, so when I found a (free!) online game that my students love, I had to share! Kahoot is by far my students’ favorite way to review any school library lesson! (And it can be used in ANY subject area!)

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com
How it Works

It’s unbelievably easy to get going with Kahoot. You just go to kahoot.com, set up a teacher account (free and no hassles!), and are ready to roll.

A little info you should know before we go farther: Kahoot is usually played as a whole class game. In an ideal setup, you will project the Kahoot questions on a smartboard and each child will participate by entering answers on an individual tablet, phone, or laptop. There are ways around having a device for each child, but the idea is that everyone is engaged in and participating in the same game at the same time.

So to set the scene…as soon as you start a Kahoot review game, your class starts jamming out to the fun, groovy soundtrack it plays. First, the kids will need to sign in by entering a pin on their devices that will appear on the big screen. Once everyone has signed in, a question (which could be supplemented with diagrams or graphics if you choose) will pop up on the big screen. On the bottom of the screen, up to four answer choices will appear.  

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com

The kids’ devices show four colored squares which correspond with the four answer choices on the big screen.

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com

The children try to select the correct answer as quickly as possible and receive points for the correct response, and once everyone has answered, the big screen displays a leaderboard so the kids can keep track of who is earning the most points. The kids have each picked a “Nickname” to display in the leaderboard…which, of course, adds to the fun.

How to Prep for Your First Kahoot Session

The first step is to find or create a Kahoot quiz for your students to play. There are eleventy jillion Kahoots already out there, so it’s possible that someone else has already created a Kahoot that you can use for your students. With a quick search on site, you can find out.

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com

If you find one that is sort of what you are looking for, but not quite, one fantastic feature is the “Duplicate” function.

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com

This makes a copy of someone else’s Kahoot and then allows you to add and subtract as much as you would like until the Kahoot is perfect for your class. If you’d prefer to start from scratch, just click on “New K!”

Image courtesy of Kahoot.com

and then “Quiz” and the Kahoot site will guide you through the lovely and simple process of creating your own Kahoot quiz.

Why It’s Such a Hit

The game allows for a competitive but not TOO competitive atmosphere as kids work to make it on the leaderboard. The kids’ made-up nicknames (which, don’t worry, are censored by the game!) and the funky, video-gamey music help cultivate a vibe that is relaxed and fun. And possibly the best feature is the way the game has been designed to force the whole group to look up at the big screen. Each student participates individually, but it’s a group experience, and in my classes, EVERYONE actually wants to participate and be a part of the fun.

How Teachers Are Really Using Kahoot

Kahoot can easily be used to review any subject area, and educators are utilizing it from kindergarten on up. From second grade spelling to high school physical education, the game can be customized to meet the needs of different students across the grades. In my library classes, I have used it in grades 2-5 to review information about the Dewey Decimal system, the Caldecott Award, MLA Citations, and more.

In addition to functioning as a way to review facts or concepts, Kahoot can also be used to introduce new concepts, as explained here in the Kahoot blog’s post about “blind kahoots.” I haven’t tried this method of Kahooting yet, but I’m looking forward to giving it try at some point.

The “Survey” function of Kahoot adds even more possibilities. When you want to collect data about student understanding or opinions without making it a competition, you can use Kahoot to set up survey questions. For the school-library-dwellers like me, this allows for creative possibilities like the March Madness-style book tournament that Erin from Erintegration explains in her blog. Fun fun!

What Might Go Wrong…and How to Fix It

Okay, so literally nothing out there has a 100% approval rating, and even though it’s pretty fabulous, a few of your kids might raise some objections to Kahoot.  Here are a few things to watch out for and some ideas for how to combat them:

  • Getting kicked out.  I have had a couple of situations where some kind of sneaky internet glitch has caused a student’s Kahoot game to go kablooey. Creating a quick partnership between the kicked out kid and a neighbor usually does the trick better than trying to fix the error.
  • Too much pressure.  While I think the game does a nice job of creating a FRIENDLY competition, the ticking clock sound and time limits could be a bit anxiety-provoking for some of your kiddos. Turning the sound off could help, and a sneak peek at the Kahoot or a rundown of some of the questions could be a reasonable accommodation for kids who need it. I also highly enjoy the “Team Mode” of play, which gives the kids a couple of seconds of processing time before the counter starts so that they can, theoretically, discuss the answer choices with team members. During the last couple of times I have used Kahoot, I put it on Team Mode and allowed students to decide whether they wanted to work alone or with a buddy.

    Image courtesy of Kahoot.com
  • Bad sportsmanship.  I definitely recommend reminding kids about how to be good competitors before beginning the game. Emphasize that this is just a FUN way to review and learn, and be proactive about sharing your expectations for appropriate behavior during a Kahoot. If you think Kahoot is a tool you might use regularly, you could work with your students to come up with a Code of Conduct to be used during Kahoot time so that everyone understands the dos and don’ts of Kahoot etiquette (Kahootiquette, if I may) in your class (sorry…but c’mon, it was right there!).
It’s Time to Get Kahooting!

If you haven’t tried this fantastic tool, how about giving it a go now in preparation for the school year? Whether you are a Kahoot newbie or have been using it in your class for a while, feel free to add a note in the comments to let me know how you like it!

Throw a Book Tasting Party in Your School Library!

I had seen them for years – those awesome blog posts and Google images showing adorable book tasting parties in school libraries and classrooms. A book tasting looked like a great activity, but I was afraid it would be a lot of prep for a short event.

Then, this past May, I finally got my act together and joined in the fun!

And…it WAS fun!

And really not that much work after all.  Here is what I did.

First Things First

First, I decided on the details of how I would run my book tasting, since there are lots of ideas floating out there. My school has preschool through eighth grade with only one class per grade level, so for my very first attempt at a book tasting, I just planned on one sitting for my fourth grade class and one sitting for my fifth grade class. I decided to put one book at each seat, give students a chance to browse through that book for a few minutes, and then have the students write briefly about the book on a record sheet. Then, they’d pass the book to the right and repeat.

For the inevitable “I already read that book!” comments, I would place a pile of books in the center of the table so the kids could swap them out as needed.

The Prep Process

So I wandered around my library looking for books that my fourth and fifth graders might like but that are usually overlooked. I made sure to get enough for each student in each class and a bunch of extras for the middle of the table.

Next, I made up the handouts I would use. I made a record sheet for students to fill out with info about each book (and printed them out on red paper to add a little more color to the tables).  I also typed out the directions for the activity so I could put a copy on each table as a reminder. (And…those handouts are available below for FREE! Just keep on reading!)

The weekend before my book tasting party, I hit up my local public library to get some CDs of easy listening / jazz music to play in the background during the event, and then it was time to go shopping! I purchased tablecloths, circle placemats, snazzy glasses, and battery operated candles at the dollar store, and I also picked up some lollipops to make the event a little more exciting for the kiddos. (I figured lollipops were a non-messy, allergy-friendly treat, and that if the kids had lollipops in their mouths, they might focus on reading instead of chatting!) 🙂

On the day of the party, the setup was pretty quick and easy since I had the help of a fabulous library volunteer. Each table got a tablecloth, a circular placemat in the middle, two battery operated candles, a fancy dollar store glass full of lollipops, a little cup with pencils in it, a stack of books, and a sheet with directions. Every place setting got a record sheet and one book.

The Big Par-tay!

At party time, it was so cool to watch the kids’ faces as they came in and saw how I had decorated the library. I had the kids sit on the rug first so I could explain everything before they got to the tables. I gave them procedures for what to do during “tasting time,” “rating time,” and “switching time.”  Once the kids knew the plan, I sent them to their seats and they began the browsing/writing/passing process, which went quite smoothly. The pile of books in the middle of the table was definitely helpful because it seemed like each table did tap into those at least once.

As for the lollipops…I had mixed feelings about them. I had made them the centerpiece of each table by placing a bunch of lollipops inside one of my fun dollar store glasses. All the kids seemed excited that they were there, and one class did pretty well with them, but they did cause a distraction for the other class. I haven’t decided whether I would use them again…and if so, I might ditch the centerpiece plan and just place one at each seat.

Ultimately, the book tasting party did what I had hoped it would…it added a new energy to library class for the day, and it gave kids a chance to try out books that they normally would not have tried.

And now that I have all the materials made up and the supplies purchased, I plan to throw a book tasting party at least once a year, and maybe involve some of my older and younger students too.

Thanks for the Inspiration!

I want to take a sec to thank other teacher bloggers who have shared their fabulous book tastings. I have read numerous posts about book tasting parties over the last few years, and these are the ones I consulted when putting together my book tasting party:

A Wrinkle in Tech; Expect the Miraculous: Barrow Media Center; Teaching with a Mountain View; Sassy, Savvy, Simple Teaching; The Book Bug; Miss Liberry Teacher; Where the Magic Happens Teaching; and Three Ring Library. Check out those posts for some more fun book tasting ideas.

And Now…a Freebie for You!

Ready to party it up at your first book tasting? Let me take one step out of the prep process for you. Click here to download the record sheet and directions sheet that I made for this event.

Have you held a book tasting in your classroom or library already? Share the details of your book tasting party in the comments below!

 

Let’s Do This!

I am SO EXCITED to get this blog going.  Starting a blog has been on my “someday when I have time” list for awhile now, and I finally decided that despite NOT having the time, I’m going to go for it.

My house is probably going to be a little more clutter-y (if that’s at all possible).  I might miss out on a few hours of sleep.  But I actually think the things that matter – my family and my students – can only benefit if I set some time aside to write.  My family will get a version of their wife/mom whose creative side gets a little more exercise – which I think will translate to a happier, more sane wife/mom.  And as for my students, taking the time to blog about school will force me to do more reflecting and thinking about what works best…and otherwise, that reflecting often gets bumped to that “someday when I have time” list.

Win-Win.  Win.  Win.

So hopefully this will be a win-win for my family and my students.  And a win for me too.  And last but DEFINITELY not least, I hope this is going to be a win for you.  I am looking forward to connecting with you and giving you ideas and inspiring you and reminding you that you’re not alone on this crazy journey of teaching/parenting/living.  We have unlimited potential when we collaborate and learn from one another and make the most of God’s gifts to us, so let’s work together to tap into that potential. And hopefully have some fun along the way too.

Here we go!

Oh, wait! Don’t go yet!

To thank you for visiting my new blog, here is a freebie for you! I have a little slideshow of inspirational Christian graphics as the screensaver for one of my computers in my library, and as I design new graphics for it, you are welcome to download them! Feel free to make your own screensaver slideshow, use it as the background for your desktop, or print it. Here’s the newest one:

Just right click to get the .jpeg, or, if you prefer, go ahead and download the .pdf version here.

Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you soon!