Saturday, August 24, 2013

I am a rocket scientist!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1...BLAST OFF! 
My new library will have a space theme this year and I am loving it! Here's our rocket, with teacher and staff pictures:

Administration/office staff is in the nose of the rocket. I will be adding two more portholes of support staff in that area when I can get them all together to take pictures!
The library already has a permanent wild animal design scheme (our mascot is the leopard), but each August I like to decorate with an additional, different theme for the year. 

See how my teachers are floating in space? Imagine their surprise when I told them they wouldn't be standing up when I took their picture. ("Hi, teachers--I don't know you very well since I'm new to your school, but could you please all lie down together, fan out your hair and act like you're floating around? Thanks!") Ah, the magic of a green screen...

The rocket is HUGE (approximately 10 feet long) and took hours to make but I think it was well worth it. An unexpected bonus--the inflatable astronaut I ordered came with the perfect spot to insert a face. So not only am I a rocket scientist, I'm also an astronaut! 

I'm not done with outer space decorating just yet, but at least I have a week before students start coming for library lessons. For now, mission accomplished. 

A final thought on theme decorating in the library--one small step for a librarian, one giant leap for readers!

Roger, out...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My summer vacation

If I had to write a report on what I did this summer, it'd certainly include many days spent getting settled into my new library. Since the previous librarian (a close friend of mine) left it in such great shape, I have been able to spend time adding to her decorations and putting my own personal touches to it.  Here are some photos of the progress so far:

1. Leopard Library and Bluebonnet Award books
The red and blue book-shaped bookcases were already in the library, but the posters are new additions this summer.

2. Modified shelving unit for equipment
The "before" picture was taken as soon as I moved the equipment off of a large desk to this smaller shelving unit. I quickly realized that I would need to hide all of those cords! 
The shelving unit needed a little more room to hold papers for the Elmo, so hubby added a shelf that swivels out. I love that it can be tucked away when not in use!

3. Animal cages
Hooray! I get to use the same cages I made a year ago for my last library! This summer I added fun signs above the cages to encourage reading.

4. Section signs
I made signs (like the nonfiction one in the picture) for the different sections of the library. The awesome reading cabana and the "Hanging With a Good Book" display were done by the previous librarian.

5. Animals of the World poster
I hung a very cool "Animals of the World" poster (photo top right) near the library mural. I've already posted about the beautiful mural, but I wanted to show that there's a fabulous area for story time and teaching directly behind it! 

Although it's a lot of work to move, I have really enjoyed my time at the new library. This summer was not ALL work and no play, however; my family vacationed in Mexico and I fulfilled a childhood dream of mine when we visited Chichen Itza, one of the new wonders of the world!

School doesn't start until the end of August for my district, so I have a little more time to stay up late and sleep in.  How about your summer vacation--did you spend part of it working at school, too? Hopefully it was relaxing and productive, like mine!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Extreme Makeover, Part 2

In my last post I wrote about redoing old foam letters for my new library. Today I went to school to hang them up and snapped this picture:
The view from the entrance to the library--it's hard to miss that bright red wall post!
I absolutely LOVE the end result! Here are a few more pictures showing the original foam letters, a close-up of the newly improved letters, and the library mural that inspired the makeover:

My next project is to move in--not nearly as fun as redoing letters, but necessary none-the-less. Wish me luck!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Extreme Makeover

It's been forever and a day since I've blogged and I have big news! I am switching schools to work at a different elementary library in my district next year and I'm so excited for the challenge! Even though it's the middle of summer, I've already been thinking about cool things to do next school year. Take a look at the fun summer project I just finished for my new library:

My new library (not actually a new library, but it's new to me) already had the letters to spell out the word "read", and there is this AH-MAY-ZING mural painted by the art teacher that inspired me to buy scrapbook paper, duct tape, and Mod Podge:

The completed letters will hang vertically on a large, bright red post and will be one of the first things visible when entering the library. Hopefully this will always be a fun reminder for the students to read a lot of books!

Another project I completed for the new library is getting a poster designed and printed for a student-authored book section. I had one at my last school called the Lonestar Library (you can read about that here) and totally loved it! Here's a peek:
I used "Reading Kids" clipart purchased from Scrappin Doodles on the poster, along with a fabulous leopard picture drawn by the talented art teacher. I love how it turned out!
I'm pretty proud of my summer so far--2 projects down and only a million more to go! What summer projects do you have planned? I'd love to hear about them in your comments!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Morning Announcements

Here's a peek at how each school day starts for me--with morning announcement duty! Our school has a talented team of 5th graders who work hard both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Here's one of our news anchors:
 The anchors read a script from a monitor, updated daily by one of our computer programmers:

Something we added this year to announcements is a daily "Did You Know" segment. Teachers and students send in interesting facts about things they're learning in class, and we feature one each day on announcements. One of our first grade teachers, the fabulous Reagan Tunstall, has even made this into a center for her students! Here are examples of some of the facts submitted by her class:

"Did You Know" facts--1st graders read about this in one of their small reading groups. Don't you love the pictures?

We also have national and local weather reports each day. Here is the script written for one of our weather reporters to read while in front of a green screen:
Hmmm, an oversight on my part--we normally don't use the term "work week" during announcements, but I love the official-sounding weather vocabulary in the rest of this script! The students go to one of our local TV station's websites for weather forecast information and pictures.

And here's someone with a super important job--switchboard controller! He is in charge of the transitions between our two cameras and the computer, and makes volume adjustments when necessary.

Our teachers turn on announcements as soon as the bell rings. Before doing the pledge and patriotic song, we start each day with upbeat music and a funny picture like this:

Here's a short video sample from last week. Please note that this is not the entire morning announcements; I edited out a few things like the pledge, patriotic song, and moment of silence. I did include a little behind-the-scenes practice to give you an idea of our format: 

I really like the way we do our school announcements--in fact, it's a duty that I don't mind doing at all! By this time of year, the kids know exactly what to do and they are well-behaved, too.
How about your morning announcements? Do you have a "Did You Know" segment, too (or something similar)? Please leave a comment--I'd love to hear about the cool things going on at other schools during morning announcements! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Biography Bonanza!

One of my favorite collaboration projects with my 3rd grade classes this year was a biography unit, done in conjunction with the library's Biography Bowling lesson. The teachers had each student select a famous person to research and then work with different technology tools to create what I'm calling a:
Mary Kay, Milton, Albert, Paul and Elizabeth made an appearance at our Biography Bonanza!

The students spent a lot of time reading about and researching famous people. For their final projects, the kids used Keynote (on Macs) and a really fun app called Funny Movie Maker. Have you used this app? It allows you to use any picture and insert a recording of your own mouth. For example, a picture of Albert Einstein could have your lips saying one of his famous quotes, such as, "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Talk about bringing history to life for students! They proudly shared what they learned in a wax museum-style evening presentation at the library:

All in all, it was a great project, and one we're planning on doing again next year. And since my library has a "Wild about Reading" theme this year, I'll sign off with this adorable picture:


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It's that time of year when teachers are recognized for doing what we do best--teaching! Join fellow educators in the annual TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale and save on lots of great resources:

My entire store is on sale, and here are a few of my newest products that might come in handy now that it's the end of the school year:
Puppy Palooza-themed awards

Peacock-themed awards, blank

Peacock-themed awards

Happy teacher appreciation, and happy shopping!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


1. Library Light--visible from a long distance in my school so students know the status of the library before walking in

2. Mobile Bookshelf--for very young students who don't check out from the regular library shelves

3. Reading Wagon--up to four well-behaved students get to read in this awesome place

That's it for today's post--short, sweet, and random! Please feel free to share favorite things about your school library (even if you're not the librarian) in the comment section below!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Three Great Read-aloud Picture Books with Unique Activities

Remember this guy from my Frogs, Food & Fun post? Well, he's helping me celebrate the one-year anniversary of my introduction to the world of teacher blogs and TpT. Yippee!
A tasty "frog" for students to sample after reading the book "Gilbert de la Frogponde"

I can't believe that this blog is already over a year old! In honor of the occasion, I'm highlighting three of my favorite springtime read-alouds and their corresponding TpT units with fun extension activities that I blogged about when Swersty's Swap Shop was just a baby. Drumroll please: 

1. "Gilbert de la Frogponde" by Jennifer Rae
What's for snack? 

2. "Charlie the Caterpillar" by Dom De Luise
Making datapillars is a fun way for your students to record and display facts!

3. "Surfer Chick" by Kristy Dempsey
Make your own Word Pool center, complete with real water, dude!

Happy springtime reading, everyone! 


Monday, April 8, 2013

Me...Crazy about Biographies!

I recently posted about Biography Bowling, something my classes will be doing this week in the library. Before we bowl, however, I wanted to introduce biographies to my students, so we read "Me...Jane" by Patrick McDonnell last week. If you haven't heard of this book, you are missing out! It's a beautifully worded, simple biography about Jane Goodall that reads like a picture book.

After reading the book, we watched some wonderful videos about chimpanzees from the Jane Goodall Institute website. The kids loved seeing the chimps and hearing about Jane Goodall's passion for animals and nature! (Our favorite video by far is one made for Valentine's Day called "Sending You Love from Tchimpounga"--check it out for 61 seconds of melt-your-heart moments starring chimpanzees!) Once the videos were over it was time for a quick trip to the biography section that prompted a discussion on how biographies are arranged on the shelves. 
During checkout time, a few well-behaved kids got some help finding books with one of the library's chimps, Jubilee (named after Jane Goodall's stuffed animal from childhood):
Behavior management is so much easier with stuffed animals around!

Now we're ready to bowl in the library this week! Before I sign off, I have to include a short Biography Bowling video of my buddy Reagan and her class from a couple of years ago. Will she get a strike? Watch and see!

That's what it'll be like in the library this whole week, and I can't wait!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Biography Bowling

Looking for a fun way to promote the biography section of your library? 
Why not try...

This is an activity I try to do every other year or so to teach the arrangement of books in this section, but I am waaayyyyyyy behind in introducing biographies to my students this year (the pictures are from a few years ago). Normally we do Biography Bowling in February, somewhere between the birthdays of Abe and George, but that just didn't happen this year. No worries, though--we can still bowl in April, right?!

First I borrow bowling equipment from my P.E. coach (who is AWESOME--he lets me use hula hoops, footballs, and basketballs for different library activities throughout the year). I then type names of famous people from my biography section onto sheets of labels and attach them to bowling pins.  I also run spine labels to match the biography names and attach those to the bottom of the pins.

Biography Bowling is fairly simple to set up once you make the bowling lane (made entirely out of bulletin board paper). The most labor-intensive part for me was the yellow end because of the black circles for placing the pins. I did laminate that piece to save me from making it again.

To play the game, start with all bowling pins lining the sides. Students take turns grabbing a pin and going to the biography section to find a matching book to the sticker on the pin. When a match is made, the pin gets placed on the yellow paper on a black dot. This part is timed, and I usually allow more time for the younger grades to find the matches than the older grades. When the time is up we count how many pins are on the yellow paper (the number of biographies the kids found to match the names on the bowling pins). That number is recorded on a sheet with other teachers' names from the same grade level. Here's a sample sheet showing that Mrs. Jones' class found 29 matching biographies during the allotted time:
Each "x" is just for show to make the score sheet look similar to a real one.

Then I tell the kids that their teacher will get one shot to knock down the pins in the yellow area. This invariably turns the students into super cheerleaders for the classroom teacher (who is more than a little nervous at this point)! Check out the before and after pictures from a teacher who got a strike. I just love the facial expressions and body language of her kids, don't you?!!

Once the teacher bowls, we count how many pins were knocked down and put that number in the "Bonus" column before totaling the two scores. 

Here is an example of what a finished score sheet for one grade level might look like:
In the past, I have announced the top scoring class for each grade level on announcements. 

It's such a hit with my students that they always beg for another week of bowling! Of course there's always a huge increase in the amount of biographies checked out when we do Biography Bowling, and that counts as a lucky "strike" for this librarian!