The Magic of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

I was so blessed to be able to enjoy the 2017 solar eclipse with my family.  We spent the weekend camping at Santee State Park and watched Monday’s eclipse from our pontoon boat on Lake Marion.  The weather cooperated beautifully with us, and we couldn’t have asked for a better view.  It honestly was an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it was over much too quickly.

In spite of being warned that it was more important to remain in the moment rather than trying to get pictures — which wouldn’t turn out well anyway — we did take a few photos.  This one doesn’t come close to doing the eclipse justice, but it’s special to me because it’s my unique personal memento of an event I’ll never forget.

Being a librarian whose thoughts are never far from books, I couldn’t help but compare my eclipse experience with the one described in Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass.  This book has been a favorite of mine since it was nominated for the South Carolina Children’s Book Award in 2011, and I’ve both read it and listened to the audio version which is performed by three different narrators representing the book’s three main characters, and is extremely well-done.

To quote the book’s summary: “At Moon Shadow, an isolated campground, thousands have gathered to catch a glimpse of a rare and extraordinary total eclipse of the sun. Three lives are about to be changed forever:..Told from three distinct voices and perspectives, Wendy Mass weaves an intricate and compelling story about strangers coming together, unlikely friendships, and finding one’s place in the universe.”

From the professional reviews:

“The astronomical details are fascinating and lyrically incorporated into the narrative. Readers who like quietly self-reflective novels like Lynne Rae Perkin’s Criss Cross or Jerry Spinelli’s “Stargirl” books will also enjoy this compelling and thought-provoking story.”
School Library Journal  *starred review*

“Ally, Bree and Jack, three very different souls, converge at the Moon Shadow Campground to witness a solar eclipse. Mass has crafted a beautiful tale of preteen angst and growth under a glorious sky. The planetary research into our universe and the world of eclipse chasers is not only impressive but woven together in a way that makes this book hard to put down.”
Modesto Bee

“Mass succeeds in making the eclipse a truly moving experience for her protagonists and her readers.”
Horn Book

Wendy Mass

 

I’ve blogged about Wendy Mass before, as she’s quite a favorite at my house and you really can’t go wrong with any of her books.  But as of this week I truly owe her my gratitude for preparing me six years ahead of time for one of the most amazing events of my life!  THANK YOU WENDY!

 

Library Book Care with Mo Willems’ Pigeon

  Finding creative ways to teach library book care is always on my mind at this time of year, and what better way to grab students’ attention than to use a favorite book character?  If your students love Mo Willems’ Pigeon as much as mine do, this lesson will be a winner in your library!

I begin the class by sharing the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.  (Even though most students have heard the story before, they’ll enjoy hearing it again.)  Then we discuss why the bus driver doesn’t want the pigeon driving his bus, and whether or not the Pigeon is trustworthy.  (Spoiler alert: He’s not!!!)  Next we watch the YouTube video “Don’t Let the Pigeon Touch the Books” twice; once straight through, and then again with me pausing it after each “scene” so we can discuss what the Pigeon is doing wrong.  We conclude the lesson with each student sharing one thing he or she will or won’t do to take care of books this year.

This is the only book care lesson I’ve ever done that has had kids screaming “Again, again!” at the end of it – music to a librarian’s ears!  Take a look at “Don’t Let the Pigeon Touch the Books” and judge for yourself!

Helpful Resources:

 

A Perfectly Messed Up Story to Teach Book Care

It’s that time of year when school librarians start to think about resources we can use for teaching book care to our students.  Here’s a great read-aloud that gets the message across in a humorous way, and it’s sure to leave kids feeling a bit more empathetic toward those of us who fret about smudged, wrinkled, stained, and torn books!

perfectly messed up story   A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Little Louie is so excited about the story he wants to tell, but when first a jelly blob and then a peanut butter glob land on his beautiful pages, he is outraged that someone is being so careless with his book.

Page from A PERFECTLY MESSSED UP STORY by Patrick McDonnell

Page from A PERFECTLY MESSSED UP STORY by Patrick McDonnell

Orange juice stains, fingerprints,scribbles — keep calm, Librarians! — will no one respect Louie’s story?  He eventually comes to realize that we can enjoy books (and life in general) in spite of any imperfections that intrude.

McDonnell (winner of a Caldecott Honor medal for Me . . . Jane) has created a thoroughly charming character in Louie, and there’s no doubt that as a book loverI have found a soul mate in him!  In Louie’s own words: “We need to show some respect here. Books are important. They teach us stuff and they inspire us.”

And I love that I can use this book to share three different messages with my students: 1) Please take care of your library books!, 2) Even if someone else didn’t take good care of a book, you can still enjoy the story, and 3) Don’t let a little “jelly” spoil your good times.  (In that respect it reminds me of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin!)

No wonder this book received a starred review from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly!

What book(s) do you use to emphasize book care with your students?  Tell us about them in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

Helpful Resources:

 

What’s Your Library Slogan?

“Branding” is one of the buzzwords that librarians are hearing a lot about lately, but because we are often locked into using our school name, mascot, colors, etc on everything we create, having a unique brand can present difficulties for a school library.  But what if we tied a slogan to our name, and used it on everything?

Think about some of the marketing slogans that have resonated with the public.  I bet you can easily name the companies that use these taglines:

Have it your way.

Where shopping is a pleasure.

Expect more.  Pay less.

These slogans indicate that customer satisfaction is a priority, and that the needs of the consumer are being carefully considered.

So what’s your library slogan?

No one is allowed in the library without a pass.

You can only check out two books at a time, and if you return them late you have to pay a fine.

No food or drinks allowed.

There will be no emailing, games, or talking in the library.

You’re not really welcome here.

“Oh no,” you say, “no one would choose any of those sayings as a tagline!”  Then why do I see these exact sentences (well, okay, maybe I’ve never actually seen that last one, but it’s been implied) in some form or another on nearly every library web page I’ve visited lately?  I won’t link to any of them here, but in my search for inspiring library sites I’ve looked at quite a few that feature a stern list of do’s and don’ts.  (Mostly don’ts.)  And most of them aren’t discreetly tucked away in a “Library Policies” corner; they are right there on the home page!

Yes, we need guidelines, and yes, we need to communicate them to our users, so a “No rules, just right” approach won’t work in the library.  But we have to “think outside the bun” and make an effort to show the many resources and services we have to offer our students, their parents, and the community.  And we need to do it in a positive way so that we emphasize what visitors can do rather than what they’re not allowed to do.

So I hope these are the kinds of slogans that describe your library:

We never stop working for you.

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers.

That was easy.

And perhaps most importantly:

The choice of a new generation.

 

 

Reflecting on Library MakerSpaces 2017

STEAM Charts in our MakerSpace area.

 

My students have had a lot of fun with our Library MakerSpace STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) learning centers this year, and hopefully they’ve learned some new skills and developed some new interests as well.

This was my first year at a new school and the previous librarian did not do hands-on activities with the kids, so there were no resources already in the library that I could use.  Unfortunately, my supply budget was very small, so I had to get financially creative with the activities I provided!  Some of the most successful low-cost projects were:

Math Manipulatives

I got geoboards and tangram sets from the learning resource room at my school, not knowing whether students would see them as “schoolwork” or fun activities.  Somewhat to my surprise, they really enjoyed using them!

An original geoboard design by a proud student!

Students used the geo boards to “draw pictures” with colored rubber bands, and to create marble mazes for their friends to try out.  I provided pattern cards and the book Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert at the Tangram table for students to use, and they also tried their hand at making original designs with the pieces.

LEGO Challenges

Any activity involving LEGOs is going to be popular, and giving the students specific “challenges” to meet keeps them focused and productive while emphasizing the engineering component of designing and constructing a project.  Plus, limiting the challenges to small, simple tasks means I can get by with fewer LEGOs!

Students complete the “Build a Birdhouse” LEGO Challenge.

I don’t remember where I found the first set of challenges I printed to use, but a quick online search for “LEGO challenge cards” will turn up dozens of sites that offer free printable cards for quick and easy building projects.  You can also type and print your own, and your students will certainly have good ideas to offer.  It’s fun to see what they come up with when you allow them to challenge each other!

Origami

I’ve found that most of my students are fascinated by paper-folding projects, so the origami table is usually full.  I provide step-by-step instruction books from my library collection, paper I’ve already cut into six inch squares, and markers or gel pens for adding details to the finished projects.  Some students are already quite skilled, and enjoy showing others their favorite folding patterns.

Students can create their own characters from Tom Angleberger’s Origami Yoda book series!

I like to kick off Star Wars Reads week in the library by sharing author Tom Angleberger’s directions for folding the characters from his Origami Yoda series.  After that, I can’t keep the books on the shelf!

Spirograph

I was an avid Spirograph user as a child, and I’m delighted that it’s made such a comeback lately so that a new generation of kids can marvel at the intricate designs easily drawn with with colored pens and gears.  I got a couple of sets from my Scholastic Book Fair, and put them out along with half sheets of paper and an assortment of gel pens.

If you have more computers than Spirograph kits, your students can also enjoy an online version using Inspirograph.  It’s quite user friendly (click your preferred gear and ink color, then use the arrow keys to draw), and you can download your image when you’re done.

Do you have other ideas for inexpensive STEAM centers?  Please share them in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

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Taking the Book Genre Personality Quiz

This week in the library students are taking Scholastic’s Book Genre Personality Quiz.

The quiz consists of seven questions such as what you want to be when you grow up, favorite after-school activity, and thing you’re most afraid of.  Your answers determine your recommended genres, and you can receive anywhere from one to three categories of books that you might enjoy, along with a brief description of the genres and the reason they were chosen for you.

I have each student write his/her name on an index card and list the recommended genres.  I then collect the cards so that I can provide some reader’s advisory feedback using the quiz results plus what I already know about the students’ reading habits.

While I look through the cards and write down a few recommended titles from our library collection, students use Destiny (our OPAC software) to conduct genre searches and write down any promising results on the To Be Read log sheet in their library folders.  I give the index cards back as I finish my recommendations, and students are then free to visit the shelves for check out time.  They can choose a book they found in the library catalog, a book I suggested, or something totally unrelated to the genre quiz activity.

Helpful Resources:

Here are two log sheets you can download for your students to use for books they want to read in the future.  They both have a column for the title and author of the book.  The first one also has a space for a brief summary of the book, while the second one has a column for the book’s genre and for the date finished (should the student actually read the book).

Books I Want to Read 1

Books I Want to Read 2

 

Celebrate Poetry Month with Online Magnetic Poetry for Kids

I try to offer a variety of poetry-writing activities in the library in honor of National Poetry Month in April.

Magnetic poetry is always fun, and it can be inexpensive too if you make your own set.  You can buy 9×13 cookie sheets at the Dollar Tree, and sets of adhesive magnetic squares or printable magnetic sheets for less than $10 online or at office supply stores.  Just print out the words you want to include, cut them apart, and (if using the magnetic squares) stick them to the magnets.  Better yet, allow your students to choose, type, and print the words and assemble the kit as a Makerspace activity!

You can also take advantage of some online magnetic poetry sites for kids.  One that I like is the Kids Magnetic Poetry Kit site.

Students can click and drag words from a kid-friendly word bank into their workspace, and then refresh the word bank to get more words without losing the words they’ve already selected.  They can also include type in a title and author name before saving and sharing.  I usually have my students copy their created poems onto their own paper so they can add any missing words since no word bank will have every word they want to use, and illustrate them if they choose to.

  ReadWriteThink provides an instruction sheet for a student-created magnetic poetry activity that focuses on the parts of speech as part of a larger unit on using magnetic poetry in the classroom.  They also offer a free Word Mover app for Apple and Android that not only provides a word bank but allows users to add their own words as well.

Do you use magnetic poetry with students?  Please share your helpful tips and favorite sites in the comments, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

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