Looking for Library Makerspace and Learning Center Ideas?

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Several years ago I crowdsourced a collection of ideas for using Learning Centers in the Library Media Center.  It was amazing how the folks in my PLN generously shared their most popular activities, and all of our students benefitted from it!

In light of the changes we’ve seen recently in the way students are learning, I feel it’s time to revisit these suggestions in order to update them as well as add to them.  Some of the links are broken now, most of the ideas don’t have an accompanying photo, and many of them don’t provide enough detail to easily recreate them in your own library.  But most importantly, back then we weren’t really talking about STEAM or Makerspaces, but those are a huge part of what librarians provide now and any list that doesn’t acknowledge that is woefully out of touch!

And it’s not just the ideas that need an upgrade.  At the time, wikis were the hot new curation tool of choice, but there are other, more effective options out there now that avoid some of the drawbacks of wikis.  (For example, the endless scrolling to view all the ideas!)  Some of the platforms I’m considering using this time around are Wakelet, LiveBinders, Padlet, and Destiny Collections.

So for the next few weeks I’ll be working on a new and improved version of the Library Learning Center collection, and I’d love to have your input.  Please leave a comment with your suggestions and links for great activities, and/or your opinion on the perfect online curation tool for the project.  I’ll be sure to give you credit for your ideas!


Lightbulb image created by me using Word Art
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Folk Tale Fun with Piggie Pie and Readers Theater

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Psst….Psst….Have you heard about the book Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini?

It’s been a big hit in my library this past week!  Not only is it fun to read aloud, with all the repetition, alliteration, and puns but kids love connecting the dots between this book and other folk tales and songs they’ve heard before.  Gritch the Witch fantasizes over several disgusting dishes (including the tongue-tangling boiled black buzzard’s feet) before deciding on Piggie Pie for lunch, and the hunt for the main ingredient begins.  But the clever pigs have a plan to escape her, and the ending provides a delightful and diabolical twist.

You’ll want to follow the book up with a Readers Theater version of the story, and Palatini kindly provides one herself, complete with illustrations from the story.  It even includes a quiz at the end about the meanings of the colorful expressions Gritch uses throughout the book!

Whether you do or don’t celebrate Halloween, this makes a nice seasonal story because it includes a witch, a scarecrow, and some costumes, but it doesn’t use the “H” word.  And the silliness makes it appropriate for younger listeners as well as older kids.

Which Margie Palatini book is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!


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AASL Conference 2021

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Anyone else wishing you could be at the AASL National Conference in Salt Lake City this year?  Even though I can’t make it in person, I can still learn from those who are presenting by:

How are you hacking the AASL Conference this month?  Please share in the comments!


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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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