Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Would you like Hot Cocoa with your Engineering Design Process?

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I'm trying to be especially mindful about and grateful for all the things that I LOVE in life -- and careerwise that certainly includes library centers! If you're trying to create a library program filled with wonder, high student engagement, authentic learning, and opportunities for fun, you've got to figure out how to add some library centers into your mix! I can help...

Over the 25 years that I've been a teacher-librarian, I've gotten to help kids try out hundreds of intriguing centers. In my early years as a librarian (1993-2005) my centers mostly involved book nooks, listening stations, puppets, reader's theater, and felt board "retelling sets" -- along with lots of folder games and their many, many colorful pieces to print, laminate, trim, manipulate...and sometimes lose! Yikes!! (The  kids pictured below are now in COLLEGE by the way! Oh my!) 

(Pictured above: 1. Dewey Decimal System - spine label order, 2. environmental print matching, and 3. rhyming words)

Fast forward with me several years and you'll probably agree that library center resources have become more high-tech. From 2005 to the present, we've been blessed with more access to gadget-based centers, and these days, I'm thankful to be able to provide a mixture of robots, STEM sets, makerspace projects, and online resources to help with video creation and research. (Although my students also still seem to enjoy the low-tech centers, too!)

(Pictured above: 1. Sphero robots, 2. Scratch Jr., and 3. Sizzix makerspace)

I think the most exciting thing about today's library centers is the variety. There's absolutely NOT a right or wrong way to select, set-up, and/or facilitate your centers!

Figure out what kinds of resources you have readily available... and then build upon those by coming up with a plan to acquire more "stuff" if needed (devices, supplies, manipulatives, etc.). I've curated my center supplies, devices, and gadgets by using book fair proceeds, holding a Read-a-Thon, shopping for bargains on Ebay, asking for parent donations, hosting Papa John's Pizza nights, and writing grants through Donors Choose. My school district has also partnered with a local children's museum (Little Rock's Museum of Discovery) to utilize STEM kits that we rotate every six weeks. Finally, teacher-librarians who also serve as TpT sellers (such as That Library Girl!)  are a bounty of free and inexpensive resources that can help get your library centers program off the ground quickly!

As you're planning, it's important to make sure that your center activities support your library media curriculum and, of course, your students'direct needs. It's also essential to figure out a system for facilitating center rotation that works for YOU. (I have an upcoming blog post about my digital system that I'm LOVING this year!) Please remember, there's no one way that will work for everyone. There are MANY ways to be successful with library centers. Stay in your lane and give yourself grace to figure out what's best for YOU and your students!

Like I said, I'll be sharing my system for rotating centers per grade level in a few weeks, but for now, I want to share one of my most popular centers. (This center is the one that I will be giving away for the "Love Those Library Centers" blog hop as well!) It's the "Hot Cocoa Stand" version of my "Building with the Engineering Design Process" center! Here's the link to my TpT store and the hot cocoa stand resource.

(Pictured above: 1. Building the lemonade stand version 2. Both cover images 3. Examples from the hot cocoa stand version

The idea for the hot cocoa stand version came around Christmas time. We were working on practicing the engineering design process as we built with Legos. One of the boys mentioned that it seemed a little silly to be building a lemonade stand when he was really craving hot cocoa -- and inspiration was sparked! Whether your weather is hot or cold outside, BOTH versions help students practice planning and creating a team project. The engineering design process steps that I include are "ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, and IMPROVE." This is a great follow up to my October project, the Storybook Pumpkin Patch , which promotes the Super 3 "Plan-Do-Review" model.

The hot cocoa stand resource includes a PowerPoint presentation, which I project when I'm sharing the center for the first time. (I've thrown in a fun, chocolate-y, nonfiction idea to serve as an introduction as well!) Besides these pieces, the resource includes a PDF version of the PowerPoint slides for printing a center booklet. The rest of the resource includes the students' planning page and an instruction page to help with setting up and running the center. 

This center's prep is pretty easy! Once the planning sheets are printed and the center booket is prepped, all you have to do is provide some buiding bricks, such as Legos, and let the creativity flow! The planning sheet serves as the exit ticket, so your assessment piece is taken care of, too!

Do you introduce the engineering design process in your library? Do you tie it to Big 6 or Super 3 like I've been doing? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it, so please comment below.

Thank you again for joining me on our blog hop today! To enter my little part of the Rafflecopter contest, you're asked to please follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store at That Library Girl

If you're already a follower of my little TpT store, THANK YOU!! Feel free to look around and find a freebie to download...and please leave me some feedback, too, if you can. I would really appreciate your thoughts! 

Okay, this post was the end of the blog hop! (TA-DUM! You made it!) Of course, if you started in the middle... don't miss out because on the next stop, you'll hop over and see what The Trapped Librarian has been up to lately!

A Little Bibliotherapy Tale

When I first heard the story, I was SO SO SO proud of her... I think I'll call her "Lily." In fact, I was a little in awe. She's so little -- in age and in size -- yet so courageous.

Then, I kept thinking about it... and I'd smile... and sigh, wishing for a bit of that courage at her young age (and even at my not-so-young age!) I thought about it some more, and decided I wanted to share this story with someone who would get it -- someone who might need to know about it and pass it along somehow. Since Lily's mother gave me permission to goes...

It all started with a second grade lesson on author's purpose.Toward the end, I was book talking a stack of titles and letting my students discuss what the authors' purposes might be. After awhile, I held up an "Everyone" book called My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig.

As soon as I started describing the plot of this book, it seemed like my kids' engagement bumped up a notch or two. Something about Monica and Katie, and their somewhat off-kilter friendship, struck a cord of recognition, I think. I saw little heads nodding slightly and mouths frowning just a bit. It appeared that several of my students could relate to Monica's experience. I had the quick thought that some of them might also have a "friend" who for whatever reason has begun mean name-calling, undeserved exclusion, and purposeful embarassment in front of other students. Soon, a copy of Ms. Ludwig's book was in Lily's hands. She checked it out and took it home.

A week or so later, Lily's grandmother came to volunteer in the library, and she mentioned the book. Apparently, Lily's mother had read it to Lily that very night. Afterward, Lily's mother had quietly asked her if she had noticed anything familiar about the story. Lily nodded and the story of her own classroom bully came tumbling out. Just this moment of understanding and connection between a mother and daughter would have been enough to melt this librarian's heart... but wait, there's more.

It turns out that brave, young Lily took the story to heart and confronted her personal Katie at school later that week. Lily told the other girl that she was tired of being bullied and that it had to stop. The other little girl denied any wrongdoing at first, but Lily stood firm on the issue and explained exactly what she would do if any bullying occurred again.

Now, if this was an old, afterschool special from days gone by, the two might have ended up besties or something. That hasn't happened... yet... and it may not. The happy ending of this story is that an author wrote a very special book about a difficult subject. She wrote it in such a way that a little girl saw herself in the main character's shoes -- and recognized a bad situation in a familiar light. Like Monica in the story, Lily was able to talk the situation over with a very supportive mother. Together, Lily and her mother talked about how to confront the person who was causing Lily's angst. Then, Lily gathered her courage and took the next step... she confronted the other girl kindly, but firmly... and believe it or not, things are better. Not perfect, but better.

Librarians call the use of books to promote healing of some kind... bibliotherapy. It's a wonderful and powerful tool. It's what we do... we get books in the hands of kids who need them. It was a privilege to see the concept play out so beautifully in our little library media center.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ready to Stomp, Chomp, and Read?

Book fair -- yikes. You too? It'll be here before we know it! Actually, you're probably like me...I love to see the book fair arrive, but it still stresses me out a little! There’s so much to think through during the planning stages to make sure EVERYTHING runs well!

Of course, if your fair is hosted by Scholastic, they share so many good resources through the chairperson’s toolkit. Still... and maybe I’m just picky... (okay, I'm TOTALLY picky!!!) but I usually find myself remaking a lot of the forms and things. I like to consolidate info that I’ll need (or the kids will need) and I like to make the forms more organized. (Plus, I'll admit it -- I want my forms to look cute-sy! Don’t judge -- it makes me so happy…and cute clipart has a lot less calories than chocolate!!)

This year, I started getting ready REALLY early… like in DECEMBER for a mid-March fair! And... here’s why… last year, during the week of my spring fair, we had a tragic, unexpected death in my family. It was terribly sad, and my husband and I needed to leave immediately and travel six hours north to support our family members. Problem was… I just wasn’t QUITE ready for my fair. Not good.

I mean, my students usually shop during library classes (5 classes per day) and I had a great sub lined up who has volunteered at my book fairs in the past. So, that was going to be okay. My specials squad and some PTO moms had promised to pop in and check on her as they could. 

Another LMC volunteer -- who's a retired media specialist and a GOOD friend -- stepped up to cover my parent-teacher conference nights, so that was a HUGE, ENORMOUS blessing! I had before school and after school shopping sessions planned, too, though. Yikes! I just cancelled those. After all, that's a lot to put on a friend! And, to make things worse for her...I had a lot of brand new volunteers who had not helped at a book fair anywhere before! I felt terrible about it.

As always, my book fair was all planned out perfectly…in my brain. I can kind of run a fair on autopilot after 40+ of them...but on paper? To leave for a sub and my precious volunteer? Not so much. As we drove north, I sure wished that I had been able to leave behind a little folder of helpful forms and tools. I felt like I had dropped the book fair ball in a big way. So, I decided during that funeral trip that I would NEVER be caught so unprepared again. This resource is the result.

Although it's not comprehensive, I'm kinda excited about my little collection of forms, volunteer nametags, thank you notes, dino d├ęcor, and so on! Mine's all printed, prepped, and organized for our upcoming, "dino-mite" book fair. It felt SO AMAZING that I decided someone else might benefit from my pre-planning, too, Sooo, if you're interested... take a peek at it in my TpT store. Many of the forms are editable, so you can personalize and re-word to your heart's content! (Be sure and WATCH FOR RANDOM TEXT BOXES BEFORE YOU PRINT! ;) 

Here’s to 1) being prepared, 2) good friends, and 3) encouraging kiddos to love reading!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Library Conversation Hearts

Does putting away all of the Christmas decorations make you feel a little glum? I was in the mood to make something fun and whimsical to save my library media center from the winter doldums... and this was it! I used to love those little boxes of conversation hearts when I was a kid. (Even then I loved WORDS!) I remember sitting on the curb with my friends, taking turns digging them out one by one, and reading what they said before letting them melt away in our mouths -- such a sweet memory!

I have one spot on my LMC's entry table that needs something tall. So I decided to make a valentine tree. I came up with 36 book-themed, conversation-heart-worthy sayings...repurposed some sparkly branches that came from the floral department at Walmart once upon a time... and found a bright blue vase to serve as the base. 

Next, I tucked in a few sprigs of "early spring" silk flowers to add interest. I printed the hearts onto white cardstock, and then one of my precious library volunteers trimmed the hearts for me. She glued them onto some scrapbooking paper odds and ends, and I retrimmed them before laminating them. Finally, I hole punched each - and used baker's twine to tie the hearts onto the little "tree." 

It's simple and colorful... and it's oh so fun to hear the kids reading the silly sayings. (Although I DID have to explain what "ISBN Dreaming of You" meant! (That one was especially to make you media specialists smile!) There's one more saying in the bunch that will probably only make sense to us, but I couldn't resist it! 

You can grab this resource in my TpT store! (It includes bulletin board letters that spell "Let's Talk about Books" with a book recommendation form for your students to fill out. After all, February is the perfect time to share about books we LOVE, right?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

I Kicked My Diet Dr. Pepper Habit... and Hubby Dumped Diet Mt. Dew!

I'm thankful and excited to share that my 2018 New Year's Resolution has been COMPLETED! I kicked a HUGE Diet Dr. Pepper habit that spanned many, many years -- from high school to late December 2017 -- with the exception of nine months when I was pregnant in 1993! :)

I replaced my extreme diet soda habit (about 2 liters per day) with lots of water and a daily tea combo that my little sister dubbed "Julie Juice." (The recipe is on the graphic above.) Replacing (what I believe to be) bone-leaching, insulin-spiking, sugar-craving diet soda with healthier alternatives was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. 

To be honest, I had days during the first months of 2018 when I still thought about grabbing a DDP, but I never had the horrible withdrawals that I feared. I KNOW the credit for this goes straight to my amazing, faithful God because I prayed -- A LOT -- for Him to please grant me a broken stronghold, an absence of withdrawal symptoms, and consistent strength to say NO -- and then I drank water or my Plexus tea concoction instead -- always reminding myself that I was replacing bad chemicals with healthier choices. 

My benefits have included better sleep, better blood work, more energy, less achy joints, and a surprising switch to living sugar-free (in the last 6 months of 2018!) 

I think reaching the halfway mark at 6 months with no diet soda helped me realize I was strong enough to make more positive changes! So, right before school started, I started cutting the sugar and eating more of a Keto-type diet too! I'm still shocked that I'm doing this and that I've lost over 20 pounds! 

In mid-July, my husband decided (on his own!) to give up HIS diet soda habit as well! Now, he drinks 2% milk, Plexus in plain water, and an occasional Coke when we eat out at restaurants, instead. At first, he struggled with tiredness and some headaches, but he persevered -- even through some very stressful work situations -- and is still going strong toward his one-year free mark! 

I'm sharing today because I'm feeling super happy and proud of actually keeping a resolution for an entire year! It's the first time I've kept up with a resolution for all 365 days! 

I do believe that prayer and the Plexus Slim drinks have played a role in my success! If you want to learn more about prayer, please comment below, and we can chat about it. (One of my favorite subjects!) If you're interested in learning more about Plexus, please check out my website at and do a bit more research. I'll admit that I was sketical at first, too, until I saw an old high school classmate shrink before my eyes on Facebook! She had always been one of the heavier girls, like me, but all of a sudden, she started looking slimmer, and a LOT younger too -- so I was prompted to try it for myself! :)

Happy New Year to you! Whatever your dream for 2019 might be... I'd like to encourage you to just GO FOR IT! Even if your dream seems daunting today, make up your mind that you can do it! Please know that I'm praying for you! 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Announcing a TpT #RingIn2019 Sale!


Hello there and Happy 2019 --  

I’m wishing you a few more days of rest, relaxation, and renewal -- but if you’re like me -- thoughts of those second semester library plans are beginning to permeate your brain already, right?! Well, maybe I can help!

Just in case you haven’t heard, many TpT sellers have selected two of their favorite resources and marked them down to just $1 each for a short time. (They’ll ONLY be available for this low price on December 30th and 31st! You can find all of the $1 sale items by typing #RingIn2019 into the TpT search bar.)

My $1 resources feature fun bookmarks to print, trim, and give away:
Birthday Cupcake Bookmarks ($1 on 12/30-31 only)
Be sure and grab them before the price reverts back to normal on January 1!

(See my $1 resource covers on the graphic above.) 

If you’re still working on lesson plans for January and February, be sure to check out some of my favorite, regularly-priced, winter library lessons:


Thank you for supporting my little TpT store during 2018. I truly appreciate your purchases and your feedback! I hope 2019 is a year filled with blessings for you!

Take care,
That Library Girl