FALLing Leaves Library Lesson Plan

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and I always look forward to celebrating in my library with read-alouds that celebrate the colorful falling leaves of the season.  Here are some of my favorites:

Fletcher Falling Leaves Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson
It’s autumn, and Fletcher’s favorite tree is slowly changing colors and losing its leaves.  Fletcher is very worried.  He tells the tree he’ll help. But when the very last leaf falls to the ground, Fletcher feels as though he’s let down his friend, until the first day of winter when Fletcher receives a surprise.

Lucky Leaf Lucky Leaf by Kevin O’Malley
Our main character is thoroughly enjoying his video game until mom tells him to go outside and play. Fortunately he finds two of his friends who are in the same situation, and the three begin trying to catch the last leaf on a tree (the lucky leaf).  The twist at the end of this comic book-style book is how our hero uses his good luck

Read Leaf Yellow Leaf Red Leaf Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert

Leaf Man Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’m drawn to books that feature collage illustrations, and Ehlert is a master of this art form.  In Red Leaf Yellow Leaf she introduces us to the life cycle of the tree, and in Leaf Man she takes us on a journey with the title character as she imagines where he might travel and what he might see, and she shows us all the flora and fauna that can be created using different combinations of leaves.

Leaf Man spread

Can you find all four mice in this illustration from LEAF MAN by Lois Ehlert? (Click to enlarge)

At the end of the book, Leaf Man settles down happily with a Leaf Woman, which always wins approval from my listeners.  After we examine Ehlert’s clever cut-paper illustrations, students draw (or trace) and cut out their own selection of leaves and use them to design an original leaf collage.  I show them a collage that I created as an example to get them started.

1-Leaf GirlIf you have access to iPads, you may want to incorporate the Labo Leaves app in your lesson as well.  It provides students with digital leaves that they can drag into position to create leaf animals that burst into life when completed.  What a great hands-on introduction to the possibilities of designing with leaves!  See for yourself:

You can purchase Labo Leaves for ios ($1.99) or android ($0.99) and once you download the app you can use it without an internet connection.  You can see other Labo apps here.

What are your favorite fall leaf read-alouds?  Please share in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

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Donors Choose Matching Book Grant

  Do you need more books for your library?  (Don’t we all?!?)  Donors Choose is helping us fill our shelves by matching all donations made Oct 18-19 to book projects.  Get the details from this Donors Choose blog post.

I’m creating a project to get more STEAM books for my collection.  Many of the activities we have going on the the makerspaces each week elicit requests for library books on those same topics, and currently I can’t keep up with the demand.  Click to view (and donate to!) my project: Reading + Doing = Learning

Watch for the hashtag #FillEveryShelf on social media this month.  Have you had a Donors Choose book project funded?  Tell us about it in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune!

 

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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!

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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

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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.

 

 

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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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School Library Month – Be a Smartie!

April is School Library Month, so be sure you celebrate by tooting your own horn!  Here’s a card you can share with your faculty that’s quick, simple, and inexpensive to make!  Just print the words on card stock, cut apart, and attach the candy with double-sided tape or a low-temp glue gun.

If you want to use this idea, here’s a link to the printable document  I made.  Feel free to download it, modify it, and use it any way you wish.  All I ask is that you please replace the word picture with your own graphic.  (This one belongs to Janelle Kelly.)

Oh, and I’d love to see your finished product, or hear what PR projects you have planned,  if you’d like to leave a comment and share, or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune

 

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