Tag Archives: elementary library lessons

Library Lessons: Feb 25-Mar 1, 2019


Week 1 of our new author/illustrator study with Deborah Freedman!  Her stories are brilliant tie-ins to the SEL / social-emotional learning happening in our building this year.

Grade 1:

It’s WCCPBA time.  We will spend 4-8 weeks on this unit.  We’ll look at all types of books, at characters and how they act, and consider which story is our favorite and why.

Grades 2&3:

Shark Weeks!  Combining a few WA State Book Awards (WCCPBA & Towner) AND research AND critical thinking, this 3-4 week unit promises to be fun.  Week 1: SHAWN LOVES SHARKS by Curtis Manley.

Grades 4&5:

More media literacy on being aware online.  When discussing phishing a few weeks ago, a grade 4 student brought up catfishing. While it wasn’t part of what I expected to teach, I decided to include a lesson on it…because if a 9 year old has heard the term (but isn’t clear on what it means), then it’s worth the time.

Is catfishing this?

Nope!  It’s not fishing for catfish, either.  As we learned, catfishing is:

There was a LOT of conversation about this topic.  It seemed like half of the students in each class had examples they were willing to share when either they or their parents had seen a catfishing scam.

Led by Google’s Be Internet Awesome slides & curriculum, our discussion focused on “Let’s Talk” – how do you know it’s really them?  Students shared many ways they could identify if a person was real.  Then I shared a screen cap I’d taken a few weeks earlier from Instagram of a new follower (only the first slide).  I asked what they noticed and what they’d do if they were me.  Many knew about blocking, but only a handful knew that they could look in the account to “see” more about the follower (the second & third slides).

One student brought up how sometimes people care about their number of followers.  This was a good conversation point!  Another mentioned that they don’t have Instagram so they don’t have to worry about this.  To that end, I reiterated that the focus was on being aware when online in any situation: social networking, gaming, email, research, etc.

Cheers, y’all! –arika

Library Lessons: Oct 29-Nov2, 2018


Laura Vacarro Seeger is a favorite, especially her DOG AND BEAR stories.  These last two weeks have been a lovely mini-study.

Note: all K classes start with The Name Song for the first 8-12 weeks of the school year. In a 30 minute class, this can take up to 3-4 minutes. But I think it’s important to greet each child by name and to learn their names ASAP, so the song is sung. Plus: singing!

Grade 1:

The final week in the Peter Brown author / illustrator study. This story gives readers an excellent chance to determine the difference of whose name appears on the spine label, as the previous 4 stories were all E BRO.  We always credit the author first. 🙂

If there was more time – a famous phrase uttered by many a teacher and librarian – students would have created their own CREEPY CARROTS.  Alas – our 30 minute classes do not lead to such creative endeavors (unless the lesson were to spill into next week…and next week is the start of something enormous!.)

Grade 2:

Since our library Symbaloo is complete and loaded into Destiny (at least, the links I’ve added), it’s time to highlight the resources with my students.  First up: MYSTERY DOUG. MYSTERY DOUG is, without a doubt, one of my favorites to share with students & teachers.  Each week, a video is sent to a subscriber’s email address.  Want to unlock all Doug’s videos? Simply enter 5 email addresses, and voila!  I used 5 of my own emails: school, home, home 2, old school email, and spouse’s email.  They get a link to sign up (which is easily ignored), and I get all the videos Doug has ever made for free!

The only downside to MYSTERY DOUG is that the video bank isn’t available for students to view independently at home or in class.  Honestly, though, that’s a small quibble for the richly researched, high quality videos Doug creates answering science-themed questions from students around the world.

Since Doug has a video on “Do bats drink blood?”, this was an ideal way for grade 2 to wrap up their BATS unit while highlighting our catalog’s resources.  While we watched, I pointed out how Doug gives credit to the sources he uses for images in his videos.  Authentic lesson on copyright – YES!  We also fact-checked Doug’s information using what had been learned when researching bats in PebbleGo the previous week. WIN-WIN!

Grade 3:

Because Mystery Doug is so good – grade 3 got in on the action, too!  Their video – ‘What makes pumpkins orange?‘ – was timely, given that it was Halloween week.

Grades 4/5:

If you ever want to have your students watch a video and literally OOH and AAH and ask questions, Mystery Doug’s video on ‘How do things glow in the dark?‘ is for you.  And them.  We ended up pausing the video a few times to think, to reflect, and to react.  And just like in grade 2, I make sure to point out how Doug gives credit whenever he uses information or sources that aren’t his own.

Why this video this week? Glow in the dark things are super-popular during the fall.  Kids know about glow bracelets.  Most, though, don’t know how the science works.  The chance to embed real-life learning into our library class is a chance I’ll take. 🙂Cheers, y’all! –arika

Library Lessons: Sep 10-14, 2018

Week 2 = the first week for check out this year!

Something I didn’t mention in Week 1: learning names. This should be a post in and of itself, as learning All The Names is one of the more challenging hurdles of the specialist life.  However, there are a few tips & tricks that have worked for me that I can share.


There are 6 K classes this year – 5 in a row on Monday afternoon, and 1 on Thursday.  Since school started on a Wednesday, this week was Week 1 for the Monday classes…and they did not check out.  The Thursday class DID check out.

For more about teaching kindergarten at the beginning of the year, read the following:

Grade 1:

Author study time!  Hello, Ryan T. Higgins!

Due to 30 minute classes and our first check-out, there wasn’t much time for questioning or reflection.  However, know that I always ask inferencing / predicting questions as I read aloud, and that stories often end with a Thinking Question.  A good one for this would be: Do you think Bruce is a good mother?  What evidence from the story supports your thinking?

Grade 2/3:

Perhaps the third year in a row I’ve used this lesson.  I like it.  So do the students.

This year, with only 30 minute classes – and this being our first week of (self) check out – we celebrated Dot Day over 3 weeks.  It ultimately incorporates literature, self-reflection, augmented reality, and digital citizenship.

Grade 4/5:

Week 1 was relatively easy: welcome & a read aloud.  Week 2, though: I was at a complete loss of what to do.  The availability of technology wasn’t entirely clear, the 4/5 classes were huge, and the students were bigger than I’d remembered.  I wasn’t ready to jump right into “big” learning.  Looking to the news, I became inspired: a huge hurricane was bearing down on the Carolinas, and I felt it was important for my students to realize that their country (and the world) was bigger than the small snow globe in which many of them live.  Hence: TWO BOBBIES by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.  We looked at a large map to see where Hurricane Florence was, we talked about where in the US hurricanes occur (not the PNW), and we started a read-aloud that tells the story of a dog and a cat who became bonded for life after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

Next week: finishing up the story.

Cheers, y’all! –arika

Library Lessons: Sep 5 2018

Week 1 came too fast this year. Having been hired not two weeks before, I was *not* prepared in ways that I expect of myself.  Excuses or valid reasons?  Either way:

  • Library passes for self check-out weren’t made, nor was there railroad board used to make them available (thank you, Dick Blick, for having it AND delivering it in a speedy fashion). Result: no self check out during week 1.
  • Destiny wasn’t set up. Time was spent on setting up the physical space, not the virtual computer.  Students had to be updated, old fines forgiven, and restrictive notes removed.  Eep. Result: no check out at all in week 1.
  • Sorting through the cabinets and drawers was akin to an archeological dig: it never ended and there was a good chance of finding something valuable where it was least expected. Result: tons of time spent clearing, tossing, recycling, labeling, and reorganizing.
  • Books were double-stacked behind the circ desk.  Result: my mental sanity was being tested…
  • The library had new carpeting installed a week before Day 1.  All the furniture had to be put back..but where to?  There was no good map.  Result: designing a new library layout that worked.  Shelves had to be rolled, books had to be shifted, tables and chairs had to fit as the space needed to have a natural flow and sense of order.  Result: sweatiness, sore muscles, hours of time, but a design that flowed and made logical sense.
  • There were boxes and bags and tons of “stuff” packed pre-carpeting.  Dealing with furniture was easy compared to this.  What to keep?  What to let go?  I tossed it all in the library storage room for the time being (note: the room was, 4 weeks later, christened The Book Room and all the junk stuff that was tossed in there had to be dealt with ASAP).

But week 1 doesn’t care about these things: week 1 comes, whether I’m ready or not.  So it was a slow week, one where I shared a little bit about me, my family, and new books.  My personal goal for the year is to let students discover that the library is a place for them: that they’re always welcome in the library and that it will have what they want/need.  Starting slow, sharing books, and introducing my expectations (Be Kind, Be Safe, Do Your Best, Help the Rest – which are similar to the schoolwide expectations…except they rhyme, which works really well for the 16 K-2 classes) was the way I chose to go.


Grade 1/2:

Grade 3/4/5:

Library Lessons: Jan 2-4, 2019

A short week, so some of these lessons are the same as the final week of 2018.  Keeping the classes on a schedule when there are so many random days missed is nearly impossible.  I find that unit studies help.


Grade 1:

Grade 2/3:

Grade 4/5:

Library Lessons: Feb 4-8, 2019

Y’all.  I made that Anna & Elsa post the other day…and this week, they decided to visit the PNW.  Snow, ice, and temps in the teens – things not typical to the PNW – have been in our forecast & lives for the last week.  We had no school Monday and Tuesday of this week and a delay on Wednesday due to over 8″ of snow (which then froze – see temps in the teens).  THEN – just as things were starting to thaw – Snowpocolypse 2019 hit, with schools closing early as the snow forecast was 100% right and the flakes starting falling hard and fast at 1pm.

Given the snowy forecast, it was the right time to pull all the snow-themed books and send a “just-in-time” email to teachers, inviting them to stop in and grab a snowy read.


But that doesn’t mean that specialists were cancelled for the week.  Far from it!  Here’s what I pulled out of the magic hat to keep students engaged this week.


This year, I teach 6 K classes – 5 on Monday afternoon, and 1 on Thursday afternoon.  Guess how many Mondays we’ve missed in 2019?  FOUR.  The Thursday class is so far ahead of Monday – and with the end of our Ezra Jack Keats unit upon us – AND with the snow forecast – that they earned a movie week.  The movie of choice?  EJK’s THE SNOWY DAY on  Amazon Prime. Students watched half as we compared the movie to the book.




Grade 1:

Only one of five grade 1 classes had library this week.  Eep!  They voted in our Guessing the Geisel mock book award, selecting I LOST MY TOOTH! by Mo Willems as their favorite.  With 4 other classes still to vote, though, it’s still any book’s award to win.

Next week, as the other classes need to catch up, this group will listen to the Geisel winner & an honor title.

Grade 2/3/4/5:

New Book Look!  Having recently received the big fall/winter book order of over 300 books (valued at over $4000!) from Follett, this was the week to let all grade 2/3/4/5 students get their hands on as many as they could so they could truly see what new books we had in our library.  And they LOVED it.  There were some students who were ambivalent about looking at new books,  mumbling under their breath, “there’s nothing here l like” – but most found something among the piles that they liked.  This order was heavy on graphic novels and short chapter books (transitional readers), as our collection in those areas was extremely thin.  The next big order will focus on nonfiction.


What worked for me?

  1. no student could check out the books. Why? Because the hottest books would only be seen by the first class.  i wanted ALL students to get their hands on these titles – holding them is different than seeing pictures.  Bonus: the books weren’t in Destiny yet, which made this easier.
  2. no holds on any books.  For the most part, I don’t do holds in the elementary library anymore – too much hassle and work and not enough students looking and discovering what IS there. Plus: no titles were in Destiny, so holds couldn’t be placed.
  3. grades 4&5 could write sticky notes of titles they really wanted to read.  With only 20 minutes to do the New Book Look, I wanted maximum LOOKING time for grades 2/3.
  4. Spread out the books! I mostly kept series together (there were a lot of short chapter book series), but each of the 8 tables had a variety of books: GN’s, MG fiction, picture books, short chapter books, and a sprinkling of nonfiction.
  5. when I do this again, I’ll have music playing.

All teachers in the building were also invited to come down to see the new books.  Those who stopped in left knowing what the library has purchased to meet the needs of their readers, and most left with a new read-aloud idea in mind (they couldn’t take the books yet, as the students need to see them!).

ALSO! Since M/T classes have missed so much library, those teachers were invited to stop in with their students for a 15min check out.  There isn’t much time in the fixed schedule, but a handful of teachers made the times available work and popped in for a quick visit.  It didn’t matter that they hadn’t brought books back – they NEEDED books, especially as the forecast shows more snow for next Monday/Tuesday!


Cheers, y’all! –arika