Learning with Mrs. Langley

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Classroom Library

This post has ideas and pictures to set up your kindergarten or 1st grade classroom library. From where to get your books to how to level and display them. Examples of how students check out books, storage, organization, and fun labels to bring it all together!

How do you organize your classroom library? I keep mine in bins according to subject, author, and interest. It makes it really easy for my kiddos to shop for books and go right to their favorite spot to find a book. Today I am going to answer some questions I get every year 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 THEM...it 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 book...my 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 red 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 not 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. 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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This post has ideas and pictures to set up your kindergarten or 1st grade classroom library. From where to get your books to how to level and display them. Examples of how students check out books, storage, organization, and fun labels to bring it all together!

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! 


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