Wise Readers: Owl Lanterns and Rugs

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Our new library theme this year is Wise Readers, and I’m loving the flexibility that concept gives me to go in several directions.  We are giving the media center a face-lift in terms of decor, and I’m especially pleased with the pops of color our owl rugs and lanterns are providing!

The lanterns came from Amazon ($7.50 for a pack of 8) and are 8″ in diameter.  The faces were printed onto cardstock and then laminated for durability.  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the wings are cut from cloth, which gives a nice visual contrast to the paper lanterns.  As you can see, they are hanging from fishing line in front of our vents, which provides just enough air movement to give them a gentle sway, as if they’re fluttering over the room!

The rugs are both made by Joy Carpets, and I’m really pleased with the quality.  The colors are bright, and the rugs themselves are thick and heavy.  I feel confident that they will hold up well.  I also like that they don’t scream “classroom rug” since I’m using them in the media center, but the numbers and letters do come in handy if I need to re-position the students during story time.

Please share your other owl-theme ideas in the comments!


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3rd Grade Novel Unit: Which Book Should I Choose?

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  We are out of school for the rest of the week in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Thoughts and prayers to everyone in the path of the storm.

I’ll be using the time to re-read some favorite novels in preparation for a book study group I’ll be leading next week. I’ll be spending 45 minutes each morning with a small group of 3rd graders to give them some ELA enrichment. The books up for consideration (because class sets of them were purchased last year) are:

  Frindle by Andrew Clements

  The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman

  Class Clown by Johanna Hurwitz

I like that all three have a school setting, which is something all students can relate to, and that they include some humor to help tell the story.

I still vividly remember when Class Clown won the South Carolina Children’s Book Award back in 1990. I made a giant card out of poster board to present to Ms. Hurwitz at the SCASL Conference that year. On the front I used an overhead projector to trace the cover illustration and colored it in with markers, and then the students from my school signed their names inside.

I like the idea of using a book by Andrew Clements or Dan Gutman because both are such prolific authors. Once kids fall in love with a book, it’s nice to point them to other things the author has written. (And come to think of it, The Homework Machine was a SC Children’s Book Award nominee in 2008, although it lost out to How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor.)

Which book would you choose? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

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Library Book Tasting: New Books Edition

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The arrival of new books in the library is always exciting for me but my students can’t get excited unless they realize new books are available to them.  That’s why I always host a “book tasting” before putting the new books out on the shelves.

I devote a week to giving my classes time to examine the new books that interest them most and makes notes on the ones they like the best.  We save the note sheets for future library visits when the books are in circulation as a To Be Read list.

How do you share new books with your students?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!


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Donors Choose Makerspace Book Grant

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  For the second year in a row, book funding for my library was cut by the district, so once again I turned to Donors Choose to fill a need in my library.

My project this year is connected to the activities I host in my STEAM makerspace area.  I’ve found that when kids engage in hands-on activities like origami, drawing and doodling, designing and building with simple materials like Legos, etc. they often ask for how-to books on those same topics to check out.  As important as it is to me to offer these learning opportunities in my library, it’s perhaps more important that kids voluntarily follow up on theses activities on their own. The need for more of those books sparked my idea for Reading + Doing = Learning!

After determining the most popular makerspace activities, I analyzed my library collection to see where the greatest need for corresponding books was.  That led me to creating a wish list on Amazon that I could plug into my Donors Choose project.

If you support hands-on learning for students after the school day ends, I hope you’ll consider making a donation to this project!

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FALLing Leaves Library Lesson Plan

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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

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  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

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  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:


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