News From the Library–Nov. 29

Keyword Searching Scavenger Hunt

It was a short week in the Library due to the Thanksgiving holidays.  Kindergarteners heard One is a Feast for Me by Judy Cox,  Second graders heard Turkey Surpise by Peggy Archer, Fifth graders played Jeopardy, and Sixth graders had a chance to practice keyword searching skills.

After highlighting key words in 20 random questions, sixth graders set about on a “scavenger hunt” to find answers using google.  This was good practice in making searches more specific and therefore yielding more accurate results.  Just one more way to hone our research skills.

Hope all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

News From the Library–Nov. 22, 2010

Time for Silent Reading

During the last few years with the advent of our one-to-one laptop program, we’ve spent lots of time enthusiastically exploring the wonders of having this technology at our fingertips.  But now that some of the novelty has worn off,  I’ve worked on creating a balance in the library.  Books, after all, are the backbone of a library.  I made it a goal last year to set aside between 15 and 20 minutes of our library class (with the exception of kindergarten) for silent reading.  At first it was a bit of a struggle to settle down and actually be silent, but the more we practiced the better students got and now, I’m happy to say, they look forward to it.  Having this time also gives those who might need a little more time to choose a book the chance to pick wisely.  And in this culture of moving quickly, being “plugged in” and connected all the time, it seems very important to take time to slow down, to contemplate, and best of all, to read.  I love seeing the looks on the faces of students who have “disappeared” into the story they are reading and the surprise when I ring the bell for them to go.


This was a short week in the Library due to parent conferences.

Kindergarten–Laura Numeroff’s series that began with If You Give a Mouse A Cookie is always a favorite with kindergarteners.  This week, Kindergarteners heard If You Give A Cat A Cupcake.  The cyclical nature of the story is very satisfying to children and this is also a good way to begin discussions about cause and effect.

Second Grade–To get ready of Thanksgiving we read A Turkey For Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.  This funny story relies on word play and students are very relived at the end to find Turkey AT the table instead of ON it.

Third Grade–Third Graders heard One Is A Feast For A Mouse by Judy Cox and loved following the little mouse as he picks one Thanksgiving Dinner leftover after another until his whole stack comes crashing down.  This is a great read aloud because of the cumulative nature of the story and serves well as a way to get students actively responding to the story.

Fifth Grade–Mrs. Wooten’s class learned how to use Infotopia this week.

News From the Library–Nov. 15, 2010

A gentle message about tolerance….

Finklehopper Frog by Irene Livingston is a really fun book to read aloud.  Just the name Finklehopper elicits giggles and the rhyming story about a frog who wants to go jogging is a delight.  Kindergarteners love the bright, full page illustrations by Brian Lies.  But beyond the obvious charm of the book is a wonder gentle message about tolerance and how we should not judge others by their appearance or by the way they might do something, especially if it is simply different.  This is a case where a book can be the starting point for a discussion about an important topic and that humor can drive a point home far better than a lecture.

Also in the library this week….

Kindergarten–see opening post

First Grade–How many times as parents have we tried to get our children to part with some of their toys (if only to make room for new ones!)?  In David Shannon’s very funny Too Many Toys, a boy and his mother negotiate like a couple of lawyers and finally get a large box of discarded toys.  The ending of the story is great….the toys end up in a jumble on the floor and the boy has turned the box into a spaceship and will not give it up!  We had a great discussion about recycling and how much fun it can be to make a toy out of something else.

Second Grade–It was another adventure for Stanley the dog in Linda Bailey’s Stanley’s Beauty Contest.  These books are a great way to introduce point of view and Bill Slavin’s hilarious illustrations make the Stanley series an all time favorite with this age group.

Third Grade–One of the things I love about the late William Steig is his respect for both our language and a child’s ability to understand new words.  His books are not only wonderfully entertaining but they are a perfect way to teach context clues.  Even better, the book we read this week demonstrates how sometimes a book can be as good (or in this case funnier) than a movie.  Third graders are amazed that Shrek started out as a picture book by William Steig and they loved the language and the humor.

Fourth Grade–After discussing what it would take to found a civilzation, fourth graders heard Weslandia by Paul Fleischman.  After hearing this intriguing story we checked back to see how many of the items they had come up with were also in the story.  What a great way to begin laying the foundation for later historical studies.  The illustrations by Kevin Henkes makes this a great read aloud.

Fifth Grade–We had a rousing game of Library Jeopardy this week.

Sixth Grade–After viewing a Keynote presentation about Manzanar and a discussion of the Japanese internment during World War II, students heard So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting.  As always, Eve Bunting gives a human face to an historical event in such a way that tugs at the emotions and makes a lasting impact.  This is an excellent book that explains a rather dark period in California history but does it without judgment or moralizing. The evocative illustrations by Chris K. Soentpiet alternate between black and white for historical images and color for present and help students follow those transitions.  A sobering book, but one well worth reading to older students.



News From the Library–Nov. 8, 2010

Infotopia: A great way to search

One of the best analogies I’ve heard about searching for information on the internet is this:

Googling information on the internet is like taking a drink from a fire hose.

So true, and it has become increasing frustrating for students and teachers to try to narrow down the information a search produces as well as check for accuracy, currency, and authority.  Well, along comes something to help–Infotopia.

Infotopia is an academic search engine that searches with Google but accesses only trusted websites previously selected by librarians, teachers, and library and educational consortia.  Automatically it has the Safe Search filter on.  It is maintained by Dr. Michael Bell, former Chair, Texas Association of School Librarians.  It is easy to use and narrows significantly the number of results you get with your search.  Check it out.

Fifth and sixth graders this week got the chance to do just that.  They learned about Infotopia, bookmarked it on their laptops, and then did a short research project using it.  They drew a random card from a hat and then searched the topic written on the card.  These were interesting, but not quickly recognized subjects, such as linnet or vicuna.  They enjoyed the ease with which they found reliable websites and images and all said they would use it again in their own research.

Also in the Library this week…..

Kindgergarten–Pamela Duncan’s Livingstone Mouse is a charming story of a little mouse in search of his own home.  He decides to find China which has been recommended by his mother.  After many false starts (ones that the students have fun recognizing) he finally finds a china teapot–just the “China” he was looking for.  This is a great introduction to homonyms.

First Grade–Leo Lionni has always been one of my favorite authors and illustrators and his books have stood the test of time.  First graders were mesmerized by the story of Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse, a gentle tale of envy and sacrifice with a lovely happy ending.

Second Grade–Stanley’s Wild Ride by Linda Bailey was a California Young Reader Medal winner a few years back and it’s obvious why.  The rollicking story of a dog who escapes his yard is told with great insight into the dog’s point of view and the illustrations are very much part of this very entertaining story.  This is a great read aloud and a good starting point to discuss point of view.

Third & Fourth Grade–Teaching about the different reference books is not one of the most fascinating library lessons but we spice it up a bit with a game called “Name That Book.”  After looking at each type of book–atlas, encyclopedia, dictionary, thesaurus, and almanac–students are given “scenarios” and have to pick which book might give them the answer they need.  For example,  “Your mother’s birthday is coming up and you’d like to give her something with her birthstone in it.  In which book or books could you find out what her birthstone is?”  Students really enjoy this and the funnier the “scenarios” the better.

Fifth and Sixth grade–see opening post