Sunday, December 29, 2013

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.



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