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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Reindeer Literature Unit

It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner.  This year has seriously flown by.  To get myself as excited as my students about the upcoming holiday season I ordered several new reindeer themed books to add to our library collection.  After reading each book I decided it was time to start working on a literature based unit that I could use and share with my fellow district library ladies!  We are a close knit group and we are always sharing lesson plans and ideas.  One activity turned into two and before I knew it I had an entire set of differentiated worksheets and games to go with each book.

 As many of you may know, I spent 19 years teaching 1st grade prior to becoming a Media Center Specialist three years ago.  Thanks to my time in the classroom I developed a LOVE of creating activities to go with books.  Not only do I LOVE reading books, but I also like creating activities that I can share with other teachers and librarians.

So, without further ado . . . here is my new reindeer unit.
Hopefully you already have some or all of these books in your collection.  
If not, there are links in the unit for each book on Amazon.
I always like to share a {sneak} peek at everything that is included.
Activities include a variety of  differentiated sequencing, recalling story elements, writing prompts, rhyming word activities and games that can be used with student in grades K-3.

Head on over to my TpT store to snag a copy.

 - or -

If you would like a chance at winning a free copy of this unit just comment below with your favorite Reindeer themed read-aloud.  I will choose one winner at random on Thanksgiving day.  The winner will be announced here on the blog. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Readers Among Us

It's Scholastic Book Fair Time!!! 


I have received several questions so I thought I would devote an entire post on how I plan, create and get my Scholastic Book Fair ready to go!

Step 1:  Choose A Theme

I always try to come up with a theme that I think will get my students excited. This year I decided to go with Readers Among Us . . . because what elementary kiddos don't love Among Us Crewmates and Imposters?  It also tied in perfectly because there is a book called The Imposters Guide to Among Us featured in the Book Fair Student Flyer.

Once I had my theme picked out I started looking for clipart.  I found this basic set of crewmates clipart on TpT from Miss Tizzy's shop.  

Step 2:  Decorate

Then I set to work creating and decorating the entrance into my library.  Here is what the display looks like that I have covering the windows in the hallway.  You can't even begin to imagine all the excitement when the kid saw it for the first time.  They were flipping out!!!

To get the large crewmates I simply enlarged the clipart to fit a 24"x36" page using Publisher.  To do this all you have to do is open a new document and choose Page Design.  Then go change the width to 24" and the height to 36".

Next, insert the clipart and stretch it to fit the page.

When you print you will choose the tiled option.

Finally, you will just have to piece the pages together.  I'm not going to lie . . . this does take some time and patience.  But, when you are done and you have laminated and cut out the characters it will be worth the trouble!!!

Now that the characters are done it's time to make the letters.  I usually do this one of two ways.  Sometimes I use my Cricut to cut out the letters or I create the letters using WordArt in Publisher.  I always laminate the pages before I cut them out so they can be used again in the future.

Click {here} to download a complimentary set of the letters used in this display.

Step 3:  Create Excitement in the Library

Last week when students visited the library for their 30 minute lesson we watched the Book Fair Preview Video and discussed specific details about how the Book Fair would be run this year.  Thankfully, parents were given the option to attend conference in person or virtually.  For those attending in person (which seems to be the majority) they will do their shopping on Thursday before or after their child's scheduled conference.  For those attending virtually, their child can bring money to school and shop on Wednesday.

I also created an activity sheets for students to work on after the Book Preview Video.  

The one for K-1 students was pretty basic.  I told them it was an invitation for them to take home to their parents.  They worked really hard to color the front neatly.

The activity sheet I created for my 2nd - 4th grade students had a little bit more to it.  I had them begin by answering the 7 questions on the back.  All of the answers could be found in their Book Fair Flyer.

My students all come an additional 30 minutes each week to check out.  During that time they had the choice to read quietly on their assigned bean bag chair -or- color an Among Us character themed bookmark that I found for FREE on TpT.

Click {here} to download your FREE set.

Step 4:  Set Up the Book Fair

This is by far my favorite, but also the hardest part of the Book Fair.  With the help of my two aides we got everything set up on Friday.  We are lucky not have students on Fridays this year so we closed the library for the day and got to work.  I can't wait for the kids to come in tomorrow and see it!!!!

Step 5:  Book Fair Preview & Wishlist

Once I have my Book Fair set up it's time to let the kids preview everything.  My first year the Scholastic rep encouraged me to let the kids pick items up, look through the books, etc . . . so that is exactly what I let them do.  We do talk about taking care of the books because no one would want to buy one that looked used.  

I also let my students create a Wish List to take home.  

For the 2nd - 4th graders they can do this independently by writing down the title and price of the items they want.  

For the K-1 kiddos we let them pretend shop.  They get to pick 5 items and then they bring them to us and we scan them using the Scholastic Register {in training mode}.  We then print their receipt and attach it to a note.  Then students have to go put their items back where they got them.  They absolutely LOVE doing this!!!

Step 6:  Shopping & Book Bucks

Instead of having teachers create Wish Lists or pull books they would like to have for their classroom I sell Book Bucks to parents.  They have the option at check-out to purchase Book Bucks for their child's teacher.  They are available in a variety of denominations.  We ring them up as Gift Certificates and students fill out the Book Bucks to add to their teacher's pocket on my bulletin board.  

 I copy each denomination on a different color of paper.

Click {here} to download a copy. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Back to School

Last Tuesday we kicked off our 2021-2022 school year.  It was so much fun to see so many smiling faces on the first day.  Throughout the week several classes came through and toured the media center.  This week we are excited to begin having classes.  

We will spend the first part of the week reviewing library rules and expectation and then at the end of the week classes will begin checking out books.  I'm also planning to begin featuring a read aloud each week for every class after everyone has a book checked out.  I'm hoping this will help get students excited about specific book series and our Battle of the Books & William Allen White Reading Lists.

This template, along with others, is available {here} in my TpT store.

Our library squad is so excited to begin seeing kiddos!

Here's a little {sneak} peek at our fun space . . .

The graphic novel section (which is pictured above) is definitely the most popular area in our library.  Students in grades 2-4 are allowed to have two books checked out.  We had to limit it to only one graphic novel at a time.  It's safe to say that our graphic novel section won't look like this again until the end of the year. 

This section of the library is mostly used by our KDG & 1st Grade Students.  

It's so exciting to have all of our stuffed book characters on display this year.  If you haven't checked out the books and plush animals at Kohl's you are missing out.  

Click {here} to see what is available at a Kohl's store near you.

I really wanted to have some shelves this year up by my teaching area to feature books I love.  So, I got the idea to create shelves using a picture.  Believe it or not, these are not REAL wooden shelves.  They are just pictures that I blew up and printed/laminated.  They are definitely super deceiving to the eye.  

If you are interested in making a set of shelves just like these . . . here is the trick!

Open a Publisher Document.
Go to Page Design and select Size.
Then scroll to the bottom and choose Create New Page Size.

Here you can adjust the width and the height of the pages.

It's best to keep the height at 8.5" if you are creating a landscape design like I did.  

This is the same dimension as a standard piece of paper. 

 I however increased the length to 39". 

After you insert your picture and get it sized correctly choose Print

As you can see this will take 4 sheets of paper.  

After you have assembled the 4 pages put it through your laminator and cut it out.  

Pretty easy . . . huh?!?!  

The possibilities are endless when you know this little trick.

I hope all of you have a great start to your year!!!  

If you have a bulletin board design you are proud of please post it in the comments.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


I firmly believe that the LIBRARY is the HEART of the SCHOOL.  

I often tell friends and colleagues that I feel like the school bartender!

Instead of serving drinks (well maybe some iced tea from time to time) I get to serve up some book recommendations, visit with all of the classroom teachers about the fun things they are doing with their students and hear about their families.

Keeping parents informed about the library is also important to me.  So to start the school year off I always put together a newsletter to send home.  It includes information I think parents NEED to know.  This year I chose to also include information about our MSE Google Site and our Facebook page.

I'm happy to share the template with you so you can personalize it for your library. 

 Feel free to email me at for the Publisher version.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Cruising Into The New School Year

Is it just me . . . or does it feel like as soon as July 4th is over our relaxing summer break seems to just fly by.  Before we know it we are getting emails with PD schedules and starting to make lists of all the things we need to do to be ready for the first day of school.  And for librarians like me, that means you have to really buckle down and hold on tight because you've still got a pretty big pile of books that you had planned to read this summer.

So, now that we are all buckled in and cruising to the start of the new school year I wanted to share a few bulletin board displays that I have created.  Hopefully this will take a little stress off some of  you who are wondering what you are going to put up to fill the empty space in your library.  

Each one of these bulletin board displays can be printed in color or there is a black and white option.  The black and white option allows you to choose the color you want for the letters.  I always print my letters on cardstock - laminate the pages - then cut them out.  This ensures that they are durable and able to be used again in the future. 

 I typically cover all of my boards with black fabric because I like the letters to really POP!

For your convenience each image is linked to my TpT store.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Summer Reading List

Every summer this KANSAS girl packs up and heads west to CALIFORNIA.  

I am blessed with an amazing extended family that lives in the Fresno area who always welcomes me into their home for several weeks.  When we aren't binge watching something on Netflix, out shopping, eating or visiting wineries I spend most of my days lounging by the pool with a book.  If I'm being honest, I usually have a drink with me while I'm by the pool.  And, I think that we can all agree that drinks always taste better if they are served in a big tumbler . . . so here is a picture of my newest cup which was a gift from my cousin.

Ok, let's get back to books . . .

At the end of the school year I brought home a pretty big stack.  I like to start with the titles that are nominated for the state William Allen White Children's Book Award.  Then I move on to books that will be part of our Battle of the Books.  

Here's a peek at my summer reading list . . .

Before I left home I started out with My Survival:  A Girl on Schindler's List and I couldn't put it down.  It is based on a true story about a young girl who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler.  As soon as I finished the book I went inside and started searching for Schindler's List on one of the many streaming services we subscribe to.  It had been years since I had seen the movie and after reading this book I just had to watch it again.  I finally found it Amazon Prime Video and was able to rent it for $3.99.


Next, I jumped ship and read a book for pleasure.  Finding Tessa by Jamie Lynn Hendricks was full of twists.  Just when I thought I had the story figured out the author would throw in another twist.  If you love suspense novels like I do go check it out.  You won't be be able to put this one down.  It you liked Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn you will LOVE this book!!!

My first poolside read in California was A Wolf Called Wander by Roseanne Parry.  It was an easy read and it had illustrations throughout.  The story focused on survival and family.  Our school mascot is a Wolf so I know this will be a very popular novel with my 3rd & 4th grade readers.  I'm honestly thinking it might be a great book choice for our one book, one school reading initiative if I can find it at an affordable price.

Last week I read Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick.  This was a book that was featured at the Fall 2019 Scholastic Book Fair.  It was a very popular book in my library during the 2019-2020 school year.  Many of my former 3rd-5th graders checked it out and told me how much they liked it.  For some reason I never read it when it first came out and now I'm sorry that I didn't.  It's a story about survival and friendship for a boy and girl who find themselves surrounded by a raging forest fire.

click here to see the book trailer

Last October I had to travel back to California for a memorial service and a large forest fire was raging through the Sierra National Forest near the Fresno area.  At the time it was 85% contained so we were able to drive up into the forest and see what was left.  The Creek Fire burned nearly 380,000 acres of forest.  It was so devastating to see the aftermath.  I look forward to sharing some of the pictures I took with my students when we talk about this book. 


The sun is out today and the pool is calling my name . . . I'm headed out with Because of the Rabbit by Cynthia Lord and my new tumbler.  I hope to have a few more titles to share with you soon.

I'd love to see what you are reading!!!  

Please post comments about a great book you've read this summer that you would recommend.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Organization is KEY

I am beyond excited to be sharing my very first post with you!!!  I thought I would kick things off by sharing something that is very important to me . . . ORGANIZATION!

I am the kind of teacher/librarian that thrives on having everything organized and having my planning done weeks in advance.  I also like to have everything for my lessons in one spot where I can access all of the materials I need for any given week.

To stay organized I{reluctantly} started using Google Slides and my Google Drive when I began my new career in the library during the 2019-2020 school year.  This also made it easy to share with my fellow district elementary library ladies.  

Each week I created a new set of Google Slides that had everything I needed for all of my K-5 lessons hyperlinked. 

Here's a peek at the format I used the past two years.  It worked great for me!

Click here to open the Google Slide.

This was extremely helpful to me during the 2020-2021 school year because I began the year on a cart going from classroom to classroom for my lessons.  I could easily sign in to my Google account and everything I needed was in one spot.

I also LOVE to write everything down in my planner as I am prepping for the week.  There's just something about a cute planner and flair pens that makes a girl happy, am I right?!?!

Towards the end of the year I got to thinking that it would really be nice to organize not only my slides, but also my plans into one single spot . . . so I began working on an online lesson plan book.  I created it using Google Slides.  Each tab is hyperlinked to the month, which makes it easy to jump to where you need to be.

I needed to make sure that it had a monthly calendar where I could add special school events.  I purchased THE. CUTEST. SET. EVER of Digital Planner Stickers For Teachers on TpT that I absolutely LOVE!!!  They are the perfect addition to my planner.

If you are like me, you probably have a list of things to do every week.  So,  I created a slide for each week where there is a place to keep a digital list and mark off items from your list once you have completed them.  This would also be a fun spot to add more digital stickers!!

Finally, the slide where I can organize all of the resources I need for my lessons.  I stuck with the color coded boxes for each grade level like I had before.  You will notice that this coming year I will no longer have 5th graders due to my district opening two new intermediate schools.  I also added a button for GOOD THINGS!!!  I always begin each class period letting my students share the good things that are happening in their lives.

Hopefully this new digital planner will keep me organized.  I have made it available to purchase in my TpT store.  Shop carefully because I have posted several options.  If there is a grade configuration that would better suit your building/classes feel free to reach out to me.  I am happy to make edits and post them.  It seems like there are so many different building configurations these days!!!