Sunday, December 29, 2013

The spoils of holiday travel!

I was extremely excited to go traveling for Christmas this year.  My parents live 7 hours away so I figured I'd find treasures in their stores that I hadn't looked at 20 times like the stuff in the thrift stores up here.  My first find was in my mom's kitchen.  She had a small lava lamp sitting on a shelf collecting dust.  I asked if it was broken and she said that it wasn't, she just didn't use it any longer.  So I snagged that.  I did have to buy a new bulb for it but it works perfectly and looks great after a little clean-up.  I think it will be a curiosity piece.  Instead of telling them how it works, I'll show them how to look it up in a book or more likely, online.  The chances of me having a book about how lava lamps work sitting on the shelf is slim to none.

I was frustrated at the thrift stores we visited because everything on display was Christmas!  And there's nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't what I was looking for.  Hobby Lobby, arguably one of the coolest stores ever, had a lot of things that were very cool but were either breakable or too expensive.  I did find 5 posters in their clearance section I couldn't leave without:
1.  The Presidents of America - current, all portraits in sepia
2.  The Human Body - like what you'd see in a doctor's office
3.  The Periodic Table - with actual pictures of each mineral, and if the mineral couldn't be photographed, the person who discovered it.
4.  Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon
5.  Shark species - in proportioned size

And my final treasure is one I'm extremely excited about.  It's a model of the human heart I found at a thrift store for $1.50.  The pieces are still attached to the little pegs, so it's never been put together.  It's dated 1973, that makes it 40 years old!  I was slightly disappointed to see that I have to take the time to paint it and then glue it, but it will be worth it when complete.  It can even be taken apart to show how different parts of the heart work.  I think I might invest in a glass dome to display it in so it doesn't get dusty.

My other big treasure from the trip is actually an idea.  Remember the oak card cases I wanted to turn into an I Spy Dewey Decimal Display?  Well, I realized on the trip that I was biting off more than I could chew.  Some of the sections of Dewey are too hard to represent with objects and if I collect them here and there for 5 years I still might not have enough to create the display.

I recently read "Wonderstruck" by Brian Selznick and I was enthralled with the idea of the Cabinet of Wonders.  What if I used those cases to create my own cabinet?  They lock and have clear lids, they would only need a few tweaks to make them work.  Now the part I hate.  I am not supposed to use power tools (my husband fears for my life) and so I am reliant on him and my father-in-law to rework the cases so I can use them.  I'd like cubbies built in so that when the cases are displayed upright each object has it's own little area.  I want a mix of sizes too - in case some objects are larger than others.  Since I have limited control over the exact construction of the cases, I am starting to think about what kind of wonders I want to put into it.  So far I have:
1.  a small wasp's nest that has been in the freezer for 6 months, just in case
2.  2 or 3 pieces from my fossil collection
3.  seashells
4.  this very weird lizard-foot-thingy
Someone left it at the public library and the other librarian on duty said it was too creepy to keep in the lost and found drawer, so I brought it home.  I think it's real.  The scales on the palm side of the foot are too detailed to be anything but.  It's the kind of thing to really get little boys asking questions.

I am bursting at the seams wanting to go out hiking this spring and summer.  I'd like to find some bones or feathers or even lake glass to display.  Who knows what I will find.  My mother-in-law mentioned she has a screech owl in her yard.  I wonder if I can find any owl pellets?
-owl pellets
-bones of small animals
-turtle shell
-snake skins

I am sure I'll come up with more ideas of things to look for.  And maybe once I have the case up, people will donate items to the display.  Those are ideas for "natural" display items but I could have any number of items in the display.  I even have my dad's old slide rule, it would require a taller cubbie, but it's something most kids wouldn't be able to identify without help.  It would be cool to learn to use so I could teach the kids.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future....

Wow, it's hard to keep up with everything.  The holidays have made things extra busy around here, but I have accomplished some major goals:
The new shelves are in!
 First we had to move a few sections at a time.  Thankfully 4 sections were light enough to move with the books on them.  The big section, under the bulletin board, was too heavy to move without taking the books off of it.
 One thing I noticed while we were in the transition phase was that I liked the "pony wall" effect of the shelves in front of the couch area.  The only problem was I couldn't see through them to know if they kids were putting their feet on the coffee table or what books were in their hands.

After we got all the blue shelving moved, I donated 2 of the shelf sections to teachers who needed them.  One became my new periodical shelf, and one was relocated to a spot by my desk and houses the alphabet books and I Spy books.  I've moved a good chunk of the books from nonfiction that are below a 2.5 level.  Some aren't AR and we had to guess, but my volunteers and I are doing pretty well with it.  There are more than I anticipated and that is one of the reasons we moved the alphabet books and I Spy onto another shelf.  We just don't have room.  Now the books are arranged much more closely to Dewey Decimal.  Things don't always stay perfect and we don't sort the animal books exactly - bugs and spiders are together, fish, birds, and mammals have their own little sections.

The maintenance man wanted to demolish the largest section of shelves, but I had other ideas.  It is the perfect size to act as my pony wall and only need a few repairs.  I was surprised when it was brought back to me, freshly painted!  It is now my display wall, where I will display any odds and ends that might inspire the kids to ask "where, what, why, how & who?"  This is a slow process of course, since there isn't a "inspiring curiosity" line in the school budget.
Visually the design of the shelf is very appealing and I love how it looks.  It gives a nice pop of bright blue (our school's main color).  Right now it has our globe on it.  I am hoping to add more globes from different time frames to the display.  Globes out date quickly because of the political changes in our world, but why not have them from different times in history so kids can see the difference?  The topographical globe I already have - it has raised mountain ranges - is old enough to still say U.S.S.R.  A more current one would make it easier to show the kids how the political map changes while the physical continents remain static.
The other addition to the shelf was this little guy.  Isn't he awesome!  He's actually from Disney World's Animal Kingdom Dinoland.  I would guess that a toy this big (the size of my cat) cost at least $30 in the theme park.  His legs can be posed and he has the coolest texture on his skin.  I found him at a thrift store for $2.50.  His horn was bent so I doctored it up and his frill was ripping away from his shoulder, so that got fixed too.  The kids can't get enough of him.  I have a student with cerebral palsy in one of the kindergarten classes.  He loves one on one interaction and textures.  I asked him, "Have you ever wanted to hold a dinosaur on your lap?"  I sat the dinosaur on his lap and his eyes got so big!  Then I placed his hand on the dinosaur's lap and he giggled.  I am so excited that he responded so well.  Even our principal can't resist reaching out and petting the dinosaur as she goes through the library.

Many of the kids have asked what kind of dinosaur he is, and I have had a few kindergarten paleontologists tell me that he is a triceratops, but he isn't.  I did some research into what dinosaurs are featured in the theme park ride and the only one that fits him is the Styracosaurus.  Here is the wikipedia link on this type of dinosaur. (Yes, I know wiki isn't the greatest source but I can't link into our school's online encyclopedia.)  I was thinking it would be a lot of fun to have a contest where the kids fill out slips with their guesses as to what kind of dinosaur he is.  After a certain time frame I would take all the correct guesses and draw randomly for them for a winner.  I have a cute dinosaur board book that would win for the K, 1 & 2 winner but I'd have to find something for the 3 & 4 and 5 & 6 winners.

Another great idea that my nieces shared with me is that at their school, each month you get to enter your name in for a drawing for a book.  If you check out 2 books you get 2 slips for the drawing box.  My niece won a copy of Rick Riordan's "House of Hades" last month.  I went through my books and I have some I could use for prizes, but probably not enough to do monthly drawings.  I think it would be okay to do a drawing at Christmas time and a drawing at the end of school in the spring.  If we have a summer program it would be a nice incentive for that too.  I will have to do more thinking on it.

I also went ahead and made a wreath for a fun "Charlotte's Web" display.  The first grade classes read it each year, so it's a school favorite.
The spider web is made of kite string and I used a heavier string to add the letters for "Some Pig".  I added the raffia to look like hay, the story takes place in a barn after all. The kids sometimes don't see it right away.  Then they ask, "What's that supposed to be?"  I added Wilbur (using a great drawing I found online) and that helps some.  The last step will be to make Charlotte herself.  She needs to be soft and gray.  I bought some little poof balls to make her and our cat stole them.  So she's not there yet, but she will be.

One last thing to share.  The teachers had an after school get together and made crayon wreathes.  Mine was the last completed but I love how it turned out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Where has the time gone?

I'm shocked to see my last post was back at the beginning of September, but truth be told, I have been a busy little librarian!
I've been buying books, lots and lots of books!  I started off with my wish list of books I'd compiled over the summer from reading reviews in Publisher's Weekly.  Then I started picking up stuff the kids had requested.  Note to other librarians: if you put a direction sign with "Gotham City" on it up in your library, the kids will hound your mercilessly until you get some Batman books.  I was able to get them in the 2.5-3.9 range as well as 4.0 and above (AR levels).

My latest project ('cause I don't have enough on my plate) has been to rework the dreaded green-dot section.  The first step was to sort the books and remove anything over a 2.5 AR level.  This section is where kindergartners and first graders get most of their books as well as second graders with low AR levels.  How terrible do I feel telling a child, "You can't take the one and only book I have about leopards because it's a level 7.2."  I also think there was so much in that section that the kids were mistreating the books without even realizing it.  The next step was to work in the Nonfiction section getting everything with AR available labeled - our school district has unlimited use of tests, so no worries about whether or not we own that test.  Now that we know what most of the books are AR-wise, we can start pulling lower level stuff to move over to the revamped "J Nonfiction" section.  I did get permission to order my new shelves and I'm so excited for when we get them installed!

I also decided that I needed to create a section for kids just starting to read, like high-reading kindergartners and first graders.  These books are not nonfiction so I created a new classification called "JrE".  JrE books are usually below 1.5 AR level or extremely simple (think Dick and Jane books).  They also have a green dot but will be located in their own shelf. 

On the lighter side, I had a lot of fun decorating for Halloween:
This is Charlotte.  The kids loved her and I was constantly telling them to leave her web alone.  I am thinking of making a more permanent display for she can weave "Some Pig" into her web with no worries of little fingers touching it.
The animals got into the Halloween spirit!  Pooh is dressed as Tigger, Franklin is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the Cat (from If You Give a Cat a Cupcake) is a red cardinal, the Pig (from If You Give a Pig a Pancake) is the Phantom of the Opera, the Mouse (from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie) is a cat and the Moose (from If You Give a Moose a Muffin) has on a sunburst mask.  I made them quickly using yarn, craft foam and permanent markers.
I went a little batty behind my desk.  For $5 I got a set of multi-sized vinyl wall cling bats from Target.  Then we cut bats from black construction paper, curled their wings and added them to the mix.
Now that Halloween is over I have to be a touch more serious...yeah, right!  The kids have been begging for the new Wimpy Kid book, Hard Luck.  I finally created a hold list and put this up since I only bought 5 copies to satisfy 500 kids!

And finally, I was bored with my Choose Your Own Adventure bulletin board so I decided to have some fun with a new one.  I totally lifted this idea from another librarian but I did mine a little different:
Here is the inspiration (above.)  I copied the phrase exactly when I did the board.
So, why is the phrase different now?  Well I work in a building with teachers, a.k.a. grammar police.  Apparently the word There's doesn't point to the word minion, it points to reasons, so the correct phrase is, There are a minion reasons to read.  I also made my board a little differently.  I went online and found coloring pages of minions I liked and an image of a stack of books.  Then I copied them onto transparency sheets.  Then we turned the entire school upside down looking for a transparency machine.  There was only 1 left in the entire school - thank you to our Art Teacher!  The design was done on a solid sheet of white in pencil and then retraced in black marker.  I originally thought I'd have time to color it in but never got it done.  I kind of like it this way.  Oh, and I'm extra proud of the titles of the books.  I searched my library catalog for titles with Apple and Banana in them, since what else would minions want to read about?

The kids love the board so much that I think I might have a minion themed Christmas tree this year.  I could have each child color a minion for my tree since they are all my "reading minions."

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Progress, it's happening!

I am excited to see progress at the library!  I'm working with one of my awesome volunteers to go through all the books and anything that isn't marked AR (Accelerated Reader) is being checked.  If there is a test, I print the label and get the book updated in the catalog.  If it isn't, we mark it NOT AR inside the front cover.  We are working through the picture books right now and are halfway through the collection.  We do still have to do Fiction, Junior Fiction, Special Collections and Nonfiction as well.

Another great idea that I've been shown by the middle school librarian in town is to add the volume number to the spine labels of books in a series.  Her labels look like this:

vol. 1

I would switch the author name to RIO but I very much like the idea of putting the volume number on the label instead of relying on the book to have it on the spine already, and I'd love to relabel the books that have the number written on them in marker - it just looks terrible.

So those are two big projects to work through and I need to do some kind of inventory where I can see each book, and how it is cataloged.  If I go through and scan each book, I can make necessary updates and relabel the ones that need it.  I have a Macbook on a rolling cart to do this with, I don't even have to pull whole sections at a time!

I'm also excited because I have asked my principal if I can replace the shelves where my "green dot" books are.  It is a large section of homemade shelving that has seen better days.  The shelves are all about hip height even though the bulletin board is only behind 4 of the 7 sections.  The shelves are also a bunch of different heights and the books just don't fit right.  She is all for it and after I did a bunch of looking, I thought I could replace the section for about $2000.  She suggested we spend more money and get 3 taller shelves and 4 short shelves.  They are all going to be the same style and will match my existing shelves better than what I have now.  I can't wait!

But on the sad side, I did have to ditch the solar system idea, at least for now.  I discovered that it was a lot harder to make them with the yarn than I thought it would be.  So until I find a better solution, no solar system.  At least not a 3D one - I found a very nice solar system poster on clearance at Target for $1.78!!  I took it to school and laminated it.  I also made a cute little information plaque to go with it.  Remember when there were 9 planets?  We learned a fun mnemonic: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (or something like that).  I put it onto the poster with little pictures of each of the planets, then under that I put, "But wait, since Pluto is now classified as a dwarf planet, how about if we say: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles."  I also put one last line about finding the planets in the 520s of nonfiction. 

I kind of went on a poster rampage this week.  We had an early out on Wednesday for teacher inservice.  The paras (me included) were given the choice to do busy work after school got out or take the afternoon off.  Since my husband took the day off, I was able to stay and work.  I spent the afternoon emptying out the storage cupboards and drawers.  I mostly sorted through bulletin board type materials, but I also found a lot of really nice library posters.    I got rid of about half of the decorations.  I just don't think I'll make use of tablecloths and place mats that are holiday themed.  I wouldn't decorate my home that way so I won't decorate my library that way.  I also got rid of outdated materials like a presidential portrait set that only goes as high as George Bush (the first one.)  I'll never be able to find matching Clinton through Obama so I figured why keep it?  I then took down all of the nonfiction informational posters on the shelves.  There is a fairly new set of Rubber Ducky nonfiction posters I moved from the ends of my shelves up onto the wall above Nonfiction.  Then rather than bombard the kids with yet another set of nonfiction posters, I laminated and hung posters from inside the DK Eye Witness Books.  I found posters for Battle (which covers soldiers from all periods of history), the Titanic (need I say more, the kids eat that stuff up) and Treasure (really archeology.)  I also laminated a poster on mummies of all kinds but because there is a photograph on it of a natural ice mummy, I chose not to hang it.  I think it might freak out the little kids.  But the sixth grade classes do a unit on mummies later in the year and I've already offered to loan it to them. 

I have a few more posters to get laminated but I see no reason why they all have to be "READ" oriented.  Yes, the library is about reading but it is also a source of science, math, history, and everything else in between.  Why not inspire the kids to dive into those stacks and find a book or two about the types of things they see on my posters?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A librarian's work is never done!

It's been a few weeks since school started, and I think I might be getting into the swing of things.

In the first full week of school I had it pointed out to me that I need to work on classroom techniques - i.e. getting the kids to listen to me when I tell them to be quiet, line up correctly, etc.  It upset me at the time (it was my Principal who came to talk to me, so yeah) but now I see that it's true.  I'm a librarian, not a teacher.  So I've been working with the kids on their library manners.  The majority of the classes know how to behave, but I've got a few issues to deal with. 

The biggest problem I have is my 6 tables in the library.  Each table has 4 chairs, and ideally only 4 children will sit at each table.  They shouldn't be clustered together, which we all know leads to whispering, which leads to talking, which leads to me shushing them.  The other issue I have is that when I let kids check out books, there is always one kid who needs 30 seconds to find his books and then one who needs almost the whole class period and my help to find her books.  So how do I help 24 kids find books while there is a line forming at my desk waiting for checkout.  And mind you, the line isn't quiet and the kids in it aren't patient. 

My friend Raynette suggested that I label each table.  After the kids find their books they go sit down BEFORE they go to my desk.  Once everyone has a book I can then call them up by table to check out.  This is a very good system.  So I figured, why not solve to problems at once?  I used the school die-cut machine - best resource ever - and cut 5 circles of each color.  The tables now have a central dot with a cute saying (that I totally stole from Risking Failure!)
Red any good books lately?
Orange you glad you read good books?
Yellow books are just ducky!
It's not easy being green...
Don't be blue.  Check out a good book!
Books are grape!
I then added the other four dots of each color in front of the four seats for that table.  So now, each child should have a dot directly in front of them when they sit at the tables in the library.  There is no reason for any of them to sit between any of those dots since there are extra spots to sit scattered all over the library.  It was a quick project I threw together on Friday before our Homecoming pep rally.  I can't wait to try it out with the kids on Monday morning!

In other news, I've decided to try a different approach with the solar system model.  I still want to do one but I don't have the time to invest into making them out of yarn.  It's a bummer but there are only so many hours in a day.  I am now thinking I'll find paper lanterns online and buy varying sizes.  I can get basic colors for each planet and then add pain effects to make them look more planetary.

I'm also still working on amassing the objects I need for my I Spy Dewey display.  The kids and I even found a small wasps' nest over the summer for it.  We sealed it into a plastic bag and then froze it (just in case!).  I need to start putting the objects in so I can see what I need to find to complete the different sections.  Once I get it all together then I'll take it to school and ask our maintenance man to help me find a way to display them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finishing touches - school starts in t-minus 3 days!

So I'm finally feeling like I'm maybe ready to be a school librarian!  I have 3 days left until school starts.  In that time I need to create my class lists, finalize my schedule, do some cataloging and then shelf the books.  I really think I have done a good job with the library.

I finished up early last week with the weeding.  I wasn't able to clear quite enough room in Jr. Fiction to get all the books on their appointed shelves, but once check outs start, it should be okay.  My solution was to pull large series from the shelves (waist high) and put them on top with book ends.  This should increase the series' visibility and maybe up their circulation.  I didn't have to weed much in the E Books, just shelf reading and shifting.  I have seen signs that say "Easy Books" but they are more like the picture books that I would read to my kids, not necessarily easy.  Also, I don't want to discourage older kids from choosing from that section if they just want to read for the fun of it, so I'm thinking about making a sign in the future that says, "E for Excellent Books".

I finished my bulletin board last Friday.  I was inspired by this idea from Rachel Moani:

She didn't give a lot of details of how to make it, but I think I got it to work okay. I used a water heater box and used roll paper to cover the pieces.  After I attached the book pages to the end pieces I glued down 1 sheet of white paper.  Then I cut a second piece and only glued it at the spine.  Then I was able to add my letters (love the die-cut machine at the school!) and art.  As you can see, the book wouldn't actually go on my board.  It's too big and heavy.  My solution was to use book display stands to prop it up on the bookshelf directly below the bulletin board.  Then I put up the pictures I colored of different types of adventure.  To finish it off, I used the label making machine to create the story choices like the ones found in the Choose Your Own Adventure books.  The finishing touch was to display some of our Choose Your Own Adventure books beside the board - how many kids have never even tried this type of book?  I'm hoping to have a few try them and like them since I enjoyed them so much as a young reader.

I finally found Yoda!  I had turned the house upside down on multiple occasions looking for him, but for some reason never looked in one particular frame.  I thought there was no way he could be in it since it was bought specifically for a map of the cave system in Keystone, South Dakota.  My husband convinced me to look and I found him!!!  I went out today and bought him a new frame and he looks awesome!  You'd never guess he's 30 years old.  I would love to eventually find a copy of the ALA poster of the Muppets released around the same time.
This one is not cheap.  I found some on but I think I'll have to wait for them to become a little cheaper.  I am hoping to purchase these two posters from the ALA Store with some of the money I make with this year's book fair:
And speaking of the Muppets (yeah, I know I'm a total nerd) I got super lucky yesterday.  I decided to log in to Disney Movie Rewards and check for new rewards.  I almost never have any luck.  I always find something I want and don't have enough points, so I save up my points and then the item I wanted is out of stock....grrrr.  But yesterday I logged in and found a 15" Kermit plush!
He's not the super high quality one I wanted, but he was free.  If you don't do the Disney Movie Rewards program you are missing out!  You don't even have to pay shipping.

With school starting so soon I had to go through the kids clothes and figure out what I needed to buy.  I found my daughter's Mo Willem's Pigeon t-shirt.  She doesn't wear it anymore and I could have put it into the box of t-shirts that will eventually become a t-shirt quilt, but then I decided to get some more use out of it.  I didn't want to sew it into a pillow and I didn't want to have to buy a frame.  So I came up with this:
I had the canvas on hand - I think I found it for a dollar at the thrift store and never found a use for it.  Then I just pinned it into place with straight pins.  I do wish it had been a smidge smaller canvas - in order to center the pigeon, I had to leave some of the neck line on the t-shirt visible.  But the stuffed pigeon who lives at my school can perch up there and it will look great.

I have a new board on Pinterest too!  It's a Library Wishlist.  I mostly have artwork I'd like to work in at the library, but you never know what I'll pin to it in the future!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

So many things!!

We are down to about 2 weeks before school starts!  It's exciting and scary at the same time.  I am off the regular schedule at the public library now so my kids and I have been spending all our time at the school getting the library into shape.

I have been able to complete some projects thanks to finding a some great supplies on my vacation to see my family.  At Hobby Lobby I found the perfect solution to my Very Hungry Caterpillar problem.  I was inspired by this caterpillar from Let Me Think:

But I was having troubles finding any paper lanterns at a decent cost.  Instead I found tissue paper fans.  Each package had 3 sizes of fans.  This caterpillar cost me about $7.
I have also been working hard on the nonfiction section.  As it was when I started, it hadn't been dusted or shelf read in quite a while.  I spent weeks (since I couldn't be there full time) working on it and one of my main jobs was pulling off all of the labels on the shelves.  I understand that the labels are easier for the kids, but if they have labels they can skip actually learning the Dewey Decimal System.  Also, every time you shift books your labels have to be peeled off and remade.  I still need to go back in and use Goo Gone and a scraper to remove all the gunk from the shelves.

Since I removed the labels, I knew I had to find a way to  help the kids navigate the Nonfiction.  I loved this idea, but lacked the money to buy the set.
And while this is neat, it doesn't work for my shelves because they are so very full.
So my solution was to create these:
They are double sided.  The white section was made on the computer and has little visual clues along with my abbreviated Dewey guide for that level.  I then cut tag board into 8.5x14" pieces (legal size) and glued the white pieces on to each side.  Thanks to a new friend at the library, I learned to laminate them and after cutting them out, slipped them into the beginning of each section.  I may go back later and break the sections down further, but depending on how the cataloging is done, not all the books will end up clumped together -- like the 790s for example.  Yes, most of the baseball stuff is together, but you might have a few that fall earlier in the section or a different type of sport like golf that intermingles with it.  That's another reason I don't like the labels.  You can't put every like item together unless you catalog them that way or you end up with mis-shelved books.

I've also been working on my solar system.  I have learned something about myself from this project.  I apparently subscribe to the belief that if I'm going to do something, I'm going to go big or crash and burn.  As one of my favorite songs says,

If you're gonna go down, go strong go proud go on go hard or go home. 

I started with the giant beach ball, wanting to get my sun done first.   I am working my way through a 364 yard skein of acrylic yellow yarn.  I have used half of it along with 5 school-sized bottles of glue (watered down about 1 glue to 1.5 water).  I have a basic framework on the ball.  I read the instructions and I was like, "oh this won't be hard."  Yeah right.  I discovered right off that if you go in too many directions around the ball you run the risk of loops of yarn coming off, and then tangles when you go back and try to fix them.  So my first evening I rubbed vaseline all over the ball - like starting your cookies with a greased cookie sheet - and then working in a basically vertical direction.  I let that dry and today I figured out I could hold on to the ball with the spout at the top and spin the ball to load the yarn in loops around it.  This isn't going to work for the whole thing, but it does give me a horizontal layer.  I think with the basic framework of horizontal and vertical in place, I'll be able to start working in other directions.  After I finish this skein of yellow I want to use a skein of white on top of it.  I am still trying to figure out if it would be cheaper to just make my own glue, and I don't even want to consider the possibility that it falls apart when I deflate the ball and pull it out...

Bulletin Boards

As we get closer and closer to school starting, I'm finishing up little details but having to really think about some big ones.  Like the bulletin board.  Duh duh duhhh!  What I'd love to do would be something like this fun mash up of all my favorite storybook cats:
You'll notice it includes The Cat in the Hat, Bad Kitty, Library Lion, the Cheshire Cat, Splat the Cat, Pete the Cat, Yoko (Rosemary Wells), Tiger (Read to Tiger by S.J. Fore), Huckle and My Cat, the Silliest Cat in the World.

But, how to get this onto a bulletin board?  I don't really know.  I guess the basic plan would be to use the overhead projector, trace it all out and then go back in with crayons or markers.  Yeah.  That might work next summer when I'll have a lot more time, but this summer I just don't see it happening.  I still have cataloging, weeding and shifting to do plus creating my class schedule and my lesson plans.  If I'm being realistic, I'm going to have to put this one on the shelf for now.

Our school has a theme each year and the teachers decorate their area (either above their doors or above their class lockers) with that theme.  This year our theme is Adventure.  The reading teacher already has "Reading is an adventure!" above her what to do?  I have a Pinterest board for bulletin board ideas, and I think I like the giant 3D book idea.

  • Reading Makes Life an Adventure!
  • Adventures in Reading
  • My Adventure Book (from Up! from Disney Pixar)
  • Choose Your Own Adventure! - with giant 3D book?
I think I like the Choose Your Own Adventure! phrase with the giant book.  I could put the different genres in the pages of the books or just print pictures of different types of adventure coloring pages - have my girls color them - and then put them in the book.  That design needs a large box and one of my best friend's husbands is a plumber.  I am sure he'll be able to get me a water heater box!  A little brainstorming always makes me feel better about big, scary projects!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Not a Gnome...a Fairy!

I just got back from a short trip back to my parents' home in Nebraska.  I am so excited about all the treasures I found there!  First off, Mom let me go through her yarn and I found more than enough colors to go ahead and make my solar system!  A trip to Hobby Lobby had the balloons I'll need.  I think to make the sun I will still try to find an inflatable exercise ball I can borrow from a friend, since it should be a lot bigger than the planets.  If I could find a second exercise ball in a smaller size that would be nice for Jupiter.  I am going to start working on them tomorrow evening.

Mom had also finished the small blue and white quilt I asked for to cover my story chair.  It has more white on it than I anticipated but that's okay, it's still gorgeous.  I'll take a picture of it over the chair when I get to the school later this week.

And last but not least, Mom provided me with a perfect answer to the gnome problem.  I had pretty much decided to take the gnome out of my yard and use him at the school, even though he isn't reading a book - which is what the one I loved from Amazon had.  But anyway, right after I got to her house, Mom took me on a tour of her yard (she has a slight problem with collecting yard decorations...)  She showed me a very pretty little girl reading a book!

As you can see, she's made of resin and has some wear, but I like how her paint is faded in places.  There are a few things to fix, the hole in her sleeve and the crack on the book, and you can see she at one time had wings attached to her back.  I will make new wings for her before she goes to school with me.  Something like this:

I do think I'll need to use a better wire though.  This is wire I got to make jewelry with and while it is easy to shape, it will also be harder to keep in shape.  I think maybe "sculpting" new wings for her out of wire hangers might work better.

I have even come up with a name for her.  Ceridwen the Book Fairy.  She is actually named after one of my favorite characters from Kim Harrison's Hollows series.

Giant solar system mobile

I have found from my shelf reading that the kids love the 520s - a.k.a. books on the solar system and space.  So I decided it would be fun to add a decorative display of the planets for my students.  But never fear, I'm not going to take anything away from their science teachers - mine won't be proportionally correct.  I found a very cool website called Planet Size Comparison where you can see how big the planets are in comparison to each other.  For example, Earth and Venus both rank right at size 1 but Jupiter is an 11 and Mercury is 2.5 times smaller than Earth.  Oh and the sun is 108 times larger than the Earth.  So you see what I mean when I say I have a proportion problem.

Anyway, when I was having my brainstorm, I remembered seeing this cute project all over the Internet:
This is the best idea for the planets I can think of.  I'll use different sized balloons to make the planets, along with yarn in colors that represent each planet.  This is basically just taking the yarn, dipping it in watered down glue, and wrapping it around and around the balloon.  Then a second coating of glue can be brushed on.  Once it's all dry, you pop the balloon, pull it out the area you left open, and viola!  If you really want to see how to do this project, visit this great tutorial by Raechel Myers.

My planets won't be light fixtures, they'll just hang from the cross beams of the skylight.  I plan to stagger them out from the Sun, not necessarily in a straight line, but in different orbits.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

eBooks and Audio Books

I am furiously working away through my Plan to Read list.  I've read some really amazing books in the last few months, but I seem to keep adding titles, both new and classic.  I kind of feel that I'll never catch up with Junior titles the way I want to and be able to keep up with the Adult Fiction and Young Adult fiction I read.  I hate having to drive on long trips because it's time I could be reading - yes, I'm one of those lucky people who can read in the car.  That being said, the girls and I have a 7 or 8 hour drive to Grandma & Grandpa's house coming up next week.  My husband isn't going, and so that leaves all the driving to me.  It occurred to me that I should take some audio books with me that I can enjoy with the girls.  I picked a few titles from my Plan to Read list and a few that I hadn't thought of yet (those got added to my Shelfari shelf.)  I know we won't get through all of those titles on our trip, but at least 1 or 2 would be great to mark off my list.

Then I realized that I've been wondering how to upload and play more of my music on the computer at the school library while I'm working in the summer.  Duh.  I should be listening to books!  I don't have to listen extremely closely, I just need to catch the gist of the story.  And if it really intrigues me, I can go back and read the book itself.  I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner.

As for eBooks, I am still waiting to hear from the school district tech team if I will be able to install Adobe Digital Editions on my school computers.  I'd like to use the public library's Overdrive to check out picture books to read to the kids during story time on my projector screen.   I do appreciate the quick access that Overdrive allows me.  Today I was in training for classroom management, and I finished Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan - 5 star book, by the way - on a break and wanted something on my lunch hour.  I jumped onto Overdrive using my Kindle Fire and grabbed Angus and Sadie by Cynthia Voigt.  I don't think either the public or school library owns it as a print book so this is the only way I'll get it read. (I didn't realize it until I started the book, but Angus and Sadie are the dogs who appear in Voigt's later book Young Fredle.  I love story connections!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reading kids' fiction

I have been working very hard to catch myself up on a lot of kids' books.  I've read middle grade fiction off and on for years, sometimes out loud to my girls and sometimes just for my own enjoyment.  I started reading adult fiction when I was about 11 and so I missed out on a lot of those great childhood classics.  I since starting the Daydreamer's Book Club at the public library, I have read at least 1 junior title a month, and when I took the job at the school, I started alternating 1 adult fiction to 1 junior fiction.  As school draws ever closer, I've decided I probably need to read just junior titles for awhile. 

As you can see from my Shelfari widget, I have a lot of classics picked out to read as well as some contemporary works.  It's funny, with adult books I stick to 1 or 2 genres, with kids books, I'll read about anything.  But I have officially come across the first book I couldn't stand -- so badly that I quit before even reaching page 50.  That's pretty shocking for me with a kids book.  I tried to read the first of the Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, but I couldn't do it.  The language bothered me and the references to pop culture bugged me too (I'm a pop culture fan but I don't think kids as young as 3rd grade need to know celebrity girls go partying without their underwear!)

But these books are popular and the school has the whole series.  I'm not going to stop purchasing them, but I'll treat them with kid gloves.  I have never had a qualm telling kids that I didn't enjoy the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snickett - I didn't like that Count Olaf told the kids outright that after he got their money he was going to kill them.  I don't believe you can hide children from the realities of the world, but I also think that some of the saddest facts about mankind can be learned later on.  Let them have their innocence for a while longer.  I'll just have to explain that about the Dork Diaries: the kids don't need to rush into being popular or not popular based on clothes, electronics or your parent's income.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Teaching how to use the Internet responsibly & I Spy Dewey Decimal display

I have said it so many times, I'm not a teacher.  So, there are some things I know are important but don't really know how to teach.  I've been working my way through books on Library Skills & Manners, and I found one by Toni Buzzeo (she's a lot of great ones on this subject) called But I Read It On the Internet.  It had a great worksheet in it to help kids figure out if the site they are using is a reliable source of information.  I used that worksheet to create my own, and I plan to use it to help the 3rd grade and up classes learn to use the Internet responsibly.  You can download my version of the worksheet here.

I really loved all of the books by Toni Buzzeo.  In her book, The Great Dewey Hunt, she had the kids find small objects to represent the different classes of the Dewey Decimal system.  I have been trying to decide the best way to make the DD system seem easy to understand to the kids.  I was tossing around the idea of some kind of 3d collage for each DD class.  I thought of maybe mounting them on half sphere's of Styrofoam and mounting them on the wall, but then I worried about the little objects being pried off.  So my thinking switched to shadow boxes.  This would be great, but my budget doesn't allow me to go buy 10 shadow boxes.  But then it occurred to me out of the blue, I might have the perfect thing already in my possession!

These are card cases that my father-in-law built for my husband and his brother's collections.  My husband still uses his, but my brother-in-law didn't want his, so we took them.  They've been in my storage room for quite awhile.  They are very solidly built, have plexi-glass lids, lock and can be tilted up or lie flat.  Oh, and they are lined with dark blue felt, perfect for the blue and white Lincoln Leopards!  I wish they had 5 sections each, since there are 10 DD classes, but I think I can get around that.  Rather than have my husband remove the little ledges inside and put in 5 sections, I think I'll combine some of the classes that are going to be hard to display anyway.  For example, the 000s General Knowledge, the 100s Philosophy and the 200s Religion. Each DD class will have a simple breakdown of what's in that range, then the objects will signify everything you can find in the class.  Ideally, each section will look like it's own little I Spy scene.

Part of the work finding the object was to find a decent listing of the different classes and ranges of the Dewey Decimal System.  So I created an abbreviate Dewey Decimal Classifications list that I think is kid friendly.  Obviously there is more to each class, but I doubt kids would have much use for Freudian theory and frankly, I don't want to go too deeply into Religion in a school library.

I have always been a collector of - for lack of a better word - little things.  I kept a "thing box" all through elementary and junior high and in high school I created a 3D collage with my things.  I started treasure boxes for both of my girls and I keep odds and ends for scrapbooking and other projects.  We have so far gathered a lot of little plastic animals - cheap ones from the dollar store, not our nice Schleich toys, plastic bugs, plastic dinosaurs, seashells, coral, a wooden spoon, art supplies, a baseball bouncy-ball, a mini football player, sports cards, old 45 records, dice & dominoes, playing cards, a globe (it's really a pencil sharpener), an American Flag and a 1776 keychain.  I will need to keep my eyes open for other pieces that will fit into the cases; they are not deep so there is a limit on how big items can be.  I am not sure how I'll represent the 800s, but I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Breaking out the books

Well, I didn't know how to title this post.  I have been putting up a lot of fun ideas and pictures of the decorations I've done for the library, but not what I've actually been working on book-wise.

I was able to sub 4 days before the end of the school year, as the previous librarian left 1 month before school let out.  During those days, I got a feel of some of what I needed to do to get ready for the coming school year.  The shelves are extremely full - to the point of books being incorrectly shelved because of lack of space.  One of the first big jobs that I did was to reorganize the Special Collections.  Not my favorite section, but it serves a purpose.  I recently shelf-read and weeded Fiction (anything with AR levels over 3.9).  I wasn't aggressive with my weeding, I just don't know yet what the teachers assign the kids to read and so forth.  Mostly I just go rid of severely out-dated books (like the novelization of Gremlins), and duplicates of low-circulating series like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  My other solution to the space problem was to pull series of books with AR levels averaging above 5.0.  These books are going to be moved to a new collection called Intermediate Grades.

I spoke with the school's principal and she agreed wholeheartedly to buying a bookshelf for this new collection.  I ordered a double-sided shelf even though it will be flush with a wall, since eventually it will stand on it's own with the other Fiction shelves (after the new school is completed and the Intermediate books leave my library.)  In the same meeting she cautioned me about weeding too aggressively.  She agrees that books become outdated but teachers have absolute favorites and I would possibly burn bridges if I got rid of something deemed a "must have".

I have recently started re-working the Nonfiction.  The previous librarian had separated the 921s and moved them to the end of nonfiction.  I just can't abide that.  So while I was shifting them back, I started weeding.  I have a huge stack of books to go through.  I've decided to sort them into 3 categories:
  • Discard
  • Not sure (is this sports star still playing?  Is he/she some kind of legend?)
  • Update - instead of 4 books about Princess Diana written in the early 90s, I could buy 1 new one on her that encompasses her whole life, and then purchase biographies of Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton.
I think I will need help with the Not Sure category, like from my husband who knows about sports.  I can handle political figures, musicians, actors, ect, but there is a limit to my sports knowledge.

I also worked my way through the Reference section and cut it down.  I plan to eliminate 2 sets of outdated encyclopedias - and possibly the third set as well if it is older than 5 years.  I read online that you should replace them after at least 5 years.  I am not discarding all of the books, some of them will be re-cataloged and put into Nonfiction.  I'd also like to look into replacing the atlases. 

I understood the basic principle of weeding but not exactly how to go about it.  I found the CREW system and read through it.  I found it amazingly helpful.  I will keep the guidelines from CREW in mind while I finish shelf-reading and shifting the Nonfiction

I have a lot more to go before school starts but I feel like I'm making the school library into my library.  A place where I can enjoy myself while I help the kids enjoy themselves.  I want them to be excited to come to my library.  I want them to take pride in learning library skills and library manners.  I want them to love books as much as I do!

Okay, one last thing.  Did you notice the bookshelf on the right side of my blog?  It's called Shelfari and I LOVE it!  I'm not using it for everything I read, simply because I read things I don't want on my school library blog.  I do have a reading life away from children's books.  But I love sharing what I'm reading and have read - I post all my books on Facebook when I start them.  Since starting the 1 adult book 1 kid book routine, I have read so many good books.  I hope you'll find the suggestions to your liking and maybe start a bookshelf of your own!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Projects completed!! Yay!

I am so excited!  I finished up the last of the direction arrows today.  I love that Cricut!  I can't wait for the raise I'll get when the school year starts, I want to save up and buy myself a Sure Cuts A Lot software/cutter combo.  Nothing against the Cricut, I just need to be able to do a little bit more and not be limited to cartridges.

Remember this cute idea? 
I made a doorway today for I. Liebe Leabhar, the library gnome I've asked to come and live at the school library.
I cut the door out of foam core, so it is about 20" tall.  Then I made a matching arch for the door frame.  Since I used black foam core, I used the Elmer's Glue crackle technique to make the door look like wood.  I used a barn red paint on top of the glue, then I used a pencil eraser to make the plank lines.  I like that they are crooked, very fun.  I had the little gold hinges on hand from a previous project and those are attached with scrapbooking brads.  The doorknob is a drawer pull that my husband had on hand.  I used the crackle finish on it as well.  I'd like for this door to have a little stone walkway (laminated cut outs of "stones") and a few toadstools around it.  I'm planning to make the toadstools out of small bowls and pieces of wood, similar to this:
Mine are going to be smaller, using bowls I got at Wal-Mart.  We had a storm recently and a lot of people lost trees.  My husband snagged some wood from a tree at his parent's house and we'll use that to make a toadstool for my gnome.  The bowls are little clear condiment bowls. 

I started by gluing in paper circles I punched out of cardstock using Mod Podge.  After that dried I painted them with the same color of red paint I used on the door.  I used the vise on my husband's workbench to cut the lengths of wood to make the stems with a hand saw.  I am not allowed to use the power tools (something about cutting my own head off...)  I have a small drill I used to drill holes in the 3 small bowls and the bigger blue bowl.  Then I used screws to fix the stems in place before adding the toadstool heads.  To make it look more finished, I used hot glue to reinforce the stems and add the river rocks.  Now he has his toadstools and a place to hold his business card.

I. Liebe Leabhar
Library Gnome, Esquire

His name is actually a mix of 3 languages (English, German & Irish Gaelic) and means "I Love Books".  And I thought the Esquire just sounded fun.  I know I've seen it in books but wasn't sure what it meant.  According to it means: an unofficial title of respect, having no precise significance, sometimes placed, especially in its abbreviated form, after a man's surname in formal written address. Abbreviation:  Esq.  The definition makes it even funnier!  And it might be fun to send kids to the dictionary to look it up themselves.  I don't have a gnome yet to "live" at the school.  I wonder if he should be the kind that only comes out at night...I've never even seen him.  I'm sure the kids will just love that.  I am thinking if I don't find one by the time school starts the gnome who currently lives in my yard can move to the school.

I also made a fake coin slot for the gumball machine.
 It is 2 layers of foam core, with  the only difference being the "coin slot" cut out of the top one.  I got the shape the way I wanted and then I used a ruler to push in the lines - kind of like a metal plate might have.  Then I colored the whole front piece with a gold sharpie - I'm out of gold paint.  When I painted the outside edges with blue, I put a coat on top of the top piece of foam core and wiped it away immediately.  It left blue in the ruler indentations giving the appearance of depth and aging.  The last steps were to write in the cost and then I dug through my metal junk box and found a wind up key for a music box.  It is a little smaller than I would have liked but my only other idea was to buy a can opener at the thrift store and attempt to take it apart to get the crank.  Considering I sliced my finger open just making these simple projects today, taking apart a can opener might not be a great idea for me.  I'm a bit clumsy. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whimsical Direction Signs (almost done!)

So here we are in installment #3 of the direction signs.  My friend loaned me her Cricut and I've been working away creating the names for the signs.  She suggested using Mod Podge to attach the letters and that is definitely the easiest way to get them onto the signs - but it becomes tacky quickly and if you try to peel the letters up they don't always come away cleanly.

Here's what I have done so far:

You'll notice that the arrows don't all point in the same direction, and I tried to vary the colors and text.  The magnets on the back are button magnets that attach with adhesive foam.  I have enough for 3 magnets each so hopefully that will be enough to keep them hanging safely.

I'm sad to admit that I wasn't able to do the silhouettes.  I ran out of room on Wonderland and Zucker's Farm, so I probably won't bother with any of them.  I have Whoville, Neverland and Diagon Alley drying now and I have to pick up some more paper to finish the rest.  I don't have any solid black or gray, colors I need for both Gotham City and the Death Star.