Classroom Library

How do you organize your classroom library? I keep mine all in bins according to subject, author, and interest. It makes it really easy for my kiddos to shop for books and right to their favorite spot to find a book. This is just part of my library! Today I am going to answer a couple of questions I get about my library! 

 #1 Where do you get your books? 

EVERYWHERE! Seriously! I get my books from the teacher's lounge when people change grade levels and leave the books they don't want in there or when people donate to the school. I have to say that's probably where most of my books have come from. Don't ignore free boxes. Go through them and pick out every single book you might think a kindergarten student will find interesting. 

SCHOLASTIC...I always send home Scholastic book orders. Every. Year. Regardless of how many orders I get I do what I can to order through them. They have great prices on the most popular books. 

PTA....Our AMAZING PTA gets us books every year through our school book fair. I always get the newest popular books from them.

OLD CURRICULUM....sounds strange but when they start clearing out old curriculum "they" tend to box everything up and put it in a room some where. Those old small group books might not fit what you are currently using but they work great in any classroom library. 

I BUY hurts, but yes. I have spent a bit of my own cash on books throughout the years. Not so much anymore though. I buy Dr. Seuss books from Walmart when they are cheap every March. I've taught 12 years so this didn't happen overnight. Now that my kids are grown I have brought all of their books to school too (except for the original Olivia daughter won't let go of that one). 

 #2 Where do I find those book boxes?

I didn't go out and spend a bunch on these either. Yes, I bought all of them, but not all at once. The small book boxes are from Really Good Stuff. I started buying 12 of them every summer about 5 years ago. Now I have plenty to hold my thousands of books. I just make sure I order blue or green every year and my colors stay consistent. These are SUPER QUALITY. I don't think I will ever have to replace them in the 20 years of teaching I have left in me. Not a split, crack, or ding in any of them.

The read bins are just dish pans from Walmart (the large size). I didn't buy these all at once either. About 6 years ago I decided I wanted them for my classroom library (before I got the green and blue bins) so I just bought one every time I went to Walmart (I visit there often!) It doesn't sting quite as much when you add 2 or 3 bucks to your bill over a stretch of 6 months. A mental game? Yes...I realize that! But it has paid off and they too will last forever. All of the cheap bins I have purchased from the Dollar Store or the cheaper bins from Walmart have split and cracked easily. All of these bins are here for the long haul! 

#3 What about your shelves? 

I was pretty lucky to move into a room that had matching shelves. They were dark blue like this though...they were all different colors. I like to paint everything one color so I can pull everything together in my room. I painted all of my furniture this color a couple of years ago (except for my nice wood shelves). Pick a color and go with it! It makes your room look like you had a plan. 

I've been fortunate to have some shelves donated to my room that work great for my library. Never say no to donations. Even if you aren't sure you can use them! 

#4 How do you organize them? 

THAT was an undertaking! I spent a summer walking around my room creating piles of books that went together. The most frustrating part of that was the pile of books that didn't match anything but for the most part I came up with about 50 subjects I could group together. I made some labels to keep them organized and viola! Organized books! It's easy peasy for me to put them away each week and after a little training my kiddos can too. If this works in kindergarten it can work in ANY grade! 
I made these round and also rectangle depending on what type bins you have. These are only a buck in my store! Yes! One dollar! See them HERE.

So I hope this helps inspire you to organize your library this year. Here is an example of how my kiddos shop for books each Monday to pick a selection of books for their own browsing boxes. Whatever books are left on the table at the end of shopping time I put back in the book boxes around the room. By the end of year I don't have to do any because they all know how to put them away on their own. They really take ownership over their classroom library!  

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Alphabet Centers in Kindergarten

In July my mind starts turning to the beginning of the year and I start thinking about the alphabet. Yes. The alphabet....(you might be thinking beach, I'm think ABC's)

I remember that all of my brand new, bright eyed, bushy tailed kindergarteners are going to be bursting with excitement to start learning to read but a lot of them will not know their letters. Like even one. The best way to get them the exposure they need is LOTS and LOTS of hands on stuff. Here are some summer finds that have me pretty excited.
I don't live near a Target so when I get to go it's a pretty big deal. I was visiting my sister in San Diego and I guess we just happened to hit her Target right when all the school stuff came out. I can usually resist but this time I could not. I mean....look at all of that alphabet goodness?

How am I going to use all this stuff?

Alphabet Magnets
I have metal doors in my classroom so magnet stations are easy peasy. These even come in zip lock bags (lets see how long those last!) so I will just leave them in there for now. I will provide my students with an ABC chart and then their job will be to put the alphabet in order. If you have spied these at your local Target you will notice that "I" is ice cream (ugh) "E" is eraser (really?) and "O" is orange (obviously not teacher created ). Hey...atleast there isn't a giraffe for G! I will still use them though because it's all about exposure. The odds of you messing up a kid for life with a picture of an ice cream cone are slim to none.

Alphabet Sorting Clips
I love having my kiddos use clothes pins in the classroom because it works on a skill (in this case the alphabet) and fine motor skills at the same time. I think these will be a good fit because they are nice and wide so (hopefully) they won't fall apart too soon. The cheap ones from Walmart always do but they are like a dollar for a million of them so I don't worry about it. These were 3 whole dollars so I hope I didn't waste my money. Ha!
I created this matching alphabet to print and laminate to use in this center. Students will match up the capital letter to the lower case letter. It gives them a little help too because the colors match. Plus it's pretty :) You can get it for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

One complaint??? This was annoying....
I got two V's and no K! If anyone in the kindergarten world out there has an extra K and would like to trade me for a V I would be forever grateful! 

Felt Alphabet Letters 
What am I going to do with these? You'll have to tune in later. I think I just came up with a plan but I have to run to my classroom to get a few things first. I'm kind of excited about it so it will force me out of my PJ's to go get what I need. That's a win win.

So the rest of my alphabet centers are discussed HERE in a blog post I did last summer. Below are a few sets I have that I find very useful during the first month or so of school to create really hands on alphabet centers. It's all about exposure! Thanks for stopping by today! 


If you would like to pin this post for later, here you go!

FabFitFun Fun!

Raise your hand if you are a sucker for subscription boxes. Yes? No? Well I am not. I can usually resist the allure of fun mail with awesome stuff in it but this one is just too good to pass up. First off, it's just 4 times a year. So it doesn't get old and you don't get tired of another monthly bill. I can had quarterly.
Second of all it's a great value. You get over $200 of products for the $49.99 fee every 3 months. And it's all great stuff! Last, they personalize it to you. My daughter and I both get a box but we both get different things customized to our likes/dislikes.

Isn't the box fun? My husband even called me when it arrived to tell me I got a really neat box in the mail. He's not easily impressed so I knew exactly what box he meant!

Here are all the awesome things I got in the summer box.

My favorites are the Michael Stars scarf, the amazing water bottle and the Cargo_HD Bronzer. There is also some great eye gel and sunscreen that will come in really handy this summer!

You can get $10 off your first box HERE. You won't be sad I promise!

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Revise!

Sweet summertime is upon us and it is that wonderful time of year that I have time to sit down and revisit some of the resources I use in the classroom. I take a little time to myself to refresh first....that's important! Then I tackle a couple of resources. This summer I am working hard on all of the centers I have created to go along with Reading Street. 
When I started back in kindergarten 3 years ago I was greeted with boxes and boxes of Reading Street material. Can you say overwhelming?? Well for me it was and I had to really take my time through the curriculum to figure out what worked best for me. Here is one way that I organized the small group books. Instead of keeping the low, on level, and advanced selections in separate boxes I put them all together and labeled them with file tabs. 
It made it much easier to grab the whole group each week instead of searching in 3 different places. Plus it took up a lot less room in my closet! 
All 36 weeks fit in 3 of these Sterilite bins. You get them HERE. (Affiliate link)

In addition to storing all of those materials I needed something to organize their scope and sequence with my style of teaching and create a few things for a focus wall. I started creating weekly units and it was fun, they were helpful, and my kiddos loved them. I went ahead and finished all 36 weeks and that was that! I had all of the teacher created materials I needed for centers. I put them in binders and I was good to go! 
Click on the pic to get the binder labels FREE
 Well... fast forward 3 years and I've learned a lot more about these units and have incorporated new things each time I teach a new story. I am spending my summer revamping all of these centers with bright new posters (some are staying the same but some needed a do over!) and some printer friendly objective pages because I know not everyone has access to a color printer at school (and if you are like me you might just prefer the clean look of black and white!). I am also including a craft for each week so you can send home a fun reminder of the story.

This wasn't just a cosmetic change. I also changed up a lot of the centers that maybe needed a little more....direction. Don't get me wrong, I love what I made the first time but some of them need a more hands on approach to the learning. 
 I went back and made sure I had a little book included in every story. When I first wrote these units I didn't always include a little book but those are my kiddos favorites! I know I need to make a full set each week because every single kid will pick that center! Plus it gives them a little book to put in their browsing box  and practice their sight words throughout the week. Win win! 

This is how I will be spending my summer or at least the month of June. Check back for updates and if you want to pin this for later here ya go! 

Kindergarten Writing FREEBIE

It's the end of the year and amazing things are happening in kindergarten! This week we completed our animal research projects. These kiddos blew me away! 

I wrote a blog post all about writing animal research papers in kindergarten HERE if you would like to see how I get this started. Today I will share an update on how our research papers went this year and a little freebie at the end to get you started.

I used a class set of books we received from the Kiwanis earlier in the year. I believe these are from Scholastic but I could be wrong. Each book had lots of pictures of different kinds of animals so students had choices regardless of the book they picked.

Once students got their book they went to do a little reading on their own. They picked an animal from the book and started writing. I encouraged them to draw a picture first to really get to know their animal before they decided what facts they were going to share.

 I didn't expect them to jump "write in" and start writing but they did! The class was silent as they went to work writing about their animal. Some sat around the floor to find a quiet area for their research and some build little privacy areas around themselves so they wouldn't be bothered.

A little privacy with folders and her book so she can get to work!

A quiet spot on the floor was all this one needed to get focused. 

The thing that always amazes me about these research projects is that students that rarely write a full sentence suddenly are writing pages because they are writing about something that INTERESTS them! That's what we want right? Don't get me wrong, we always have choice in our classroom when it comes to writing but this project just really inspires students to do more.

I had to have this one read to me first but once she read it I got it! ANTS! This sweetie spoke very little English when she came to school and now she is writing her very own research papers on her own. What an accomplishment!
"Ants is bug are red"
 Remember what I said about kiddos that don't write very much. They write "I like..." and are done with it on a daily basis? Well this kiddo gives me that a lot but today was totally different. Notice the phonetic copying out of the book here! He did his research and wrote what he wanted to write about his creature. Check out those finger spaces too!
Ok, now for the FREEBIE! If you would like this ALL ABOUT page just click HERE.  It also includes an All About Beavers page that I use the week prior during our Reading Street Building Beavers unit. I blogged about that HERE. It's a great way to do a group research project first before sending your kiddos out on their own.

Thanks for stopping by today! It's been a little while since I have blogged about ANYTHING and it feels good to share a little fun we've had in the classroom! We only have a few weeks left....I don't know exactly and I refuse to countdown. (#takedownthecountdown) I am enjoying every last second with my kiddos!