Create Your Own Book Cover Bingo Cards

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Happy Read Across America Week!  We have several activities and spirit days planned at my school this week, including something new: Book Cover Bingo!

By using the Bingo Baker website I was able to create custom Bingo cards featuring images of books I know most of my students will recognize. You can search for premade cards, or you can create your own cards from scratch.  You can use words, numbers, or images — or a combination of all three — and choose the size of the grid you want to use (3X3, 4X4, 5X5, 6X6, or 7X7).  You can even play question & answer bingo!  Print your cards out to play in person, or share a link with users to play online.

I made two sets of cards; one featuring picture books for younger readers and another set with chapter books for older readers.  You’re welcome to use them as-is, or edit them to suit your needs.

Note that with a free account you are limited in the number of cards you can print out.  I ended up purchasing a lifetime membership so that I could print enough for each grade level, but I know I’ll be using the site many more times so I feel like it was a good investment.




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Valentine Books and Activities for Students

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Love – or at least like – is in the air, and valentines are changing hands.  Valentine’s Day is a big deal in elementary school, and these books and activities will help you celebrate with your students without getting too mushy!

This is Not a Valentine  This is Not a Valentine – written by Carter Higgins, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
A book for when you care about someone, but not in a romantic, sugary kind of way; for when want to show you like someone every day, not just one day a year; for when you have a true friendship and want to make sure the other person knows how you feel.

This is a great book to reinforce the idea that Valentine’s Day isn’t just for boyfriends and girlfriends but rather for all friends.  The illustrations depict an inclusive classroom, and the ideas for showing someone you care are meaningful and practical for the elementary audience.


Valensteins  Valensteins – written and illustrated by Ethan Long
The members of the Fright Club are all wondering what Frank K. Stein is making with his scissors and pink paper.  Of course, the kids will know right away but that won’t stop them from giggling at all the wrong guesses before the valentine is revealed!

Choose this read-aloud for your younger students who want a silly story for Valentine’s Day.  This book is part of the Fright Club series, which features funny/scary stories about ghosts, werewolves, and of course Frankenstein for your readers and listeners.  You can find somefollow-up printable activities at the author’s website.


Here Comes Valentine Cat  Here Comes Valentine Cat – written by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Cat does NOT like Valentine’s Day. It’s much too mushy, and no way is he making anyone a valentine—especially not his new neighbor (Dog) who keeps throwing bones over the fence and hitting him in the head!

Your students will have fun making predictions and writing their own valentine messages from Cat to Dog when you share this book.  My introduction to this Here Comes Cat series from Underwood and Rueda was the book Here Comes Santa Cat, and I was instantly in love!  The expressions on Cat’s face in EVERY illustration are absolutely spot on, and the stories are brimming with humor.  See for yourself in this Valentine Cat read-aloud video from Brightly Storytime.


Love Ruby Valentine  Love, Ruby Valentine – written by Laurie Friedman, illustrated by Lynne Avril
Ruby works so hard preparing treats for her friends that she sleeps right through Valentine’s Day.

This book sends a lovely message about doing for others, as opposed to thinking only about what you’ll get on Valentine’s Day, and provides an important reminder that you can show appreciation for your loved ones any day of the year.  You might need a little practice with the rhythm of the rhyming text, and there’s a lot of small detail in the illustrations so it’s best to use a document camera if you’re sharing the book with a group.

Our follow-up activity when reading this book is to use origami paper to create valentines that fold up into their own envelopes.  You can find the directions at the Tinkerlab website, which includes a great step-by-step photo tutorial.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll share your winning Valentine read-aloud books in the comments!


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Mermaid Read Aloud Lesson Plan Resources

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In my last post I shared a collection of mermaid read-aloud books and follow-up activities to use with elementary kids.  In this follow-up post I’m sharing some additional resources and supplies to go with the books.  I’ve researched everything from mermaid costume elements for the reader to craft supplies and reading buddies for the students, along with instructions and printables for all of the activities. Note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links so if you use the link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Mermaid Wearables
  • Glitter and Glam Seashell Necklace or Bracelet – requires seashells, white glue and small brushes, glitter and/or gems, and satin cord or elastic cord attached with a low-temp glue gun (for safety).  Students brush the front of a shell with layer of white glue and add some bling, then hot glue a cord to the back for a dazzling necklace or bracelet.  Watch this video for more information, keeping in mind that you’ll need to adjust your cord length for jewelry.  You can also get satin necklace cords with clasps attached as well.

Paper Mermaid Crowns

Mermaid Building Projects
  • Mermaid Castle – requires building supplies of your choice.  This could be cardboard boxes, wooden blocks, playdoh or clay, magnetic blocks, or whatever you choose.  We have access to lots of LEGOs and KEVA planks at my school so that’s what we’ll be using.
  • Mermaid Sand Castle – requires kinetic sand, which you can purchase, or you can make your own by thoroughly mixing together 8 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of oil.  You can use baby oil, or if you are worried about kids tasting it, you can use vegetable oil.  You may want to provide some sand castle molds or various sizes of cups to assist with the creativity, and some small plastic trays to keep any mess contained..  Kids can decorate their castles by pressing colorful shells and pieces of sea glass into the sand.

kinetic sand castle

Mermaid Paper Art
  • Scratch Art – if you’re making it from scratch (ha!) you’ll need white cardstock, oil pastels (or you can use crayons), black acrylic paint, liquid dish soap, foam brushes, and wooden stylus tools.  You’ll cut the cardstock to the desired size and have students color one entire side with oil pastels in an abstract design using several different colors.  Mix 3 parts black paint to 1 part dish soap and paint over the drawing using a form brush.  (If you don’t get complete coverage, you may need to paint a second coat of black paint once the first coat dries.)  Once the paint is completely dry, use a wooden stick to “draw” a picture.
  • Scratch Art Kits – if you want to save time (and mess!) you can provide scratch art cards for the students so they can go straight to “drawing” a picture with the wooden stylus.  This Rainbow Scratch Art kit includes 100 5×7″ cards, four stylus tools, and a set of stencils.  This Holographic Glitter Scratch Art kit includes 400 3.5×3.5″ cards (200 rainbow, 200 silver) and 8 wooden stylus tools.


Other Mermaid Crafts

Turtle made from abandoned fishing net

  • Wooden Spoon Mermaids – requires wooden spoons, yarn in assorted colors, googly eyes, felt in assorted colors, markers, scissors, and glue.  Glue on the yarn for the hair, wrap and tie off the yarn for the bikini top and upper portion of the tail.  Finish the tail with felt cut in the shape of mermaid fins glued to the bottom of the stick.  Draw a face and add two googly eyes.

Mermaid Craft with Wooden Spoons

Reading Buddies
  • Your students will enjoy reading aloud to their own mermaid buddies!  A pink princess mermaid, a purple cutie mermaid, or a golden princess mermaid will surely entice your girls to sit down and read.

I hope this post has given you some useful ideas and resources for hosting your own mermaid extravaganza!  If you have any favorite mermaid activities, please share them in the comments!


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New Year, New Reading Projects

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  I’ve been thinking about the all the upcoming opportunities to share books with kids this year.  I’m excited about the opportunity to partner with teachers to provide a variety of positive reading experiences with students.

We all know that kids are social, so one of my goals is to make reading more social too.  Certainly books can be enjoyed independently, as a private and silent conversation between the reader and the author.  But books can also be read aloud and discussed and debated and reviewed and recommended in a way that builds a shared excitement for reading.

One of the ways I can foster these types of interactions is by collaborating with teachers on some social reading events.  So far I have the following on my list:

  •  International Dot Day (Sept 15-ish) – a celebration of creativity, inspired by the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds.
  •  National Comic Book Day (Sept 25) – an event that I like to celebrate with a Comic Book Read-In in the library featuring an assortment of graphic novels for students to enjoy.
  •   The Global Read Aloud (Oct 1 – Nov 9) – founded by Pernille Ripp to connect and unite students around the world through a common reading experience, and dependent on teachers following a universal read aloud schedule. There are different books selected for different grade levels. (Pictured: Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed)
  •   Jumpstart’s Read for the Record (Oct 25) – an initiative developed to highlight the importance of early literacy, which this year features the book Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell.
  •   Picture Book Month (the entire month of November) – an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book and provides a themed literacy calendar and blog posts from picture book authors and illustrators sharing their thoughts on why picture books are important.
  •   The South Carolina Children’s Book Award program (going on now) – a children’s choice award sponsored each year by the S.C. Association of School Librarians. Students read books from a list of 20 nominated titles from one of four age-based categories, and then vote on their favorite.  The format makes it the perfect foundation for a student (or teacher!) book club.  (If you don’t live in South Carolina, your state probably offers a similar program.)

What reading events are you looking forward to this year?  Please leave a comment or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share!


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CS First Coding Club in the Library

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  I received an email from Donors Choose offering an exciting incentive for sponsoring a Google CS First Coding Club in my  library: an opportunity to earn Donors Choose gift cards when students complete specific coding projects!

I’ve been providing coding experience for my students for many years, ever since I learned about Scratch at the S.C. EdTech conference in 2009.  Last year I attended training in my district and enrolled my library classes in one of their formal courses, and I sponsored the annual Hour of Code for all of my students.  This year our school is building on those experiences by offering additional mini courses in our computer lab (for all students) and in my library (for those who enjoy coding and want to pursue it more deeply).

  I like the approach CS First takes by providing a structured learning environment yet still allowing kids to have some creative control over their projects.  I’m especially excited about the Google Doodle activity, which has kids designing their own Google Logo, since that was one of the Genius Hour themes in my library a couple of years ago.

We’re kicking off our next learning adventure on Thursday, so watch for updates in a couple of weeks!  Are you using CS First in your school or library?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!


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Living Literature Day Book Character Costumes

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There’s nothing more heartwarming for a librarian than to see students dressed as their favorite book characters!  Living Literature Day gives students, teachers, staff, and administrators a chance to use their imagination and creativity as they show their reading pride.  I was shocked that several students asked me who I was dressed as today.  I thought it was quite obvious that I was dressed as Hermione Granger, the girl who practically lived in the Hogwarts Library!  (Although I will admit my hair was a little frizzier when I left home this morning; it must have flattened during the day.)

Who are your favorite book characters to dress up as?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Dot Day Resources for School Librarians

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  International Dot Day is coming on September 15-ish, so I’m gearing up to celebrate all week with my library classes.  Here are some of the resources that I’ll be using:

  The Dot by Peter Reynolds

  Ish by Peter Reynolds

  DVD version of The Dot and Ish (also Includes the book Art by Patrick McDonnell)

  The Dot Gallery 

  The Dot Day Educator’s Handbook

  The Dot Song by Emily Arrow (video on YouTube)

What resources and activities are you using to celebrate Dot Day?  Please tell us in the comments or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune and share!


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