With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’m trying to be especially mindful about and grateful for all the things that I LOVE in life — and careerwise that certainly includes library centers! If you’re trying to create a library program filled with wonder, high student engagement, authentic learning, and opportunities for fun, you’ve got to figure out how to add some library centers into your mix! I can help…
Over the 25 years that I’ve been a teacher-librarian, I’ve gotten to help kids try out hundreds of intriguing centers. In my early years as a librarian (1993-2005) my centers mostly involved book nooks, listening stations, puppets, reader’s theater, and felt board “retelling sets” — along with lots of folder games and their many, many colorful pieces to print, laminate, trim, manipulate…and sometimes lose! Yikes!! (The kids pictured below are now in COLLEGE by the way! Oh my!)
(Pictured above: 1. Dewey Decimal System – spine label order, 2. environmental print matching, and 3. rhyming words)
Fast forward with me several years and you’ll probably agree that library center resources have become more high-tech. From 2005 to the present, we’ve been blessed with more access to gadget-based centers, and these days, I’m thankful to be able to provide a mixture of robots, STEM sets, makerspace projects, and online resources to help with video creation and research. (Although my students also still seem to enjoy the low-tech centers, too!)
(Pictured above: 1. Sphero robots, 2. Scratch Jr., and 3. Sizzix makerspace)
I think the most exciting thing about today’s library centers is the variety. There’s absolutely NOT a right or wrong way to select, set-up, and/or facilitate your centers!
Figure out what kinds of resources you have readily available… and then build upon those by coming up with a plan to acquire more “stuff” if needed (devices, supplies, manipulatives, etc.). I’ve curated my center supplies, devices, and gadgets by using book fair proceeds, holding a Read-a-Thon, shopping for bargains on Ebay, asking for parent donations, hosting Papa John’s Pizza nights, and writing grants through Donors Choose. My school district has also partnered with a local children’s museum (Little Rock’s Museum of Discovery) to utilize STEM kits that we rotate every six weeks. Finally, teacher-librarians who also serve as TpT sellers (such as That Library Girl!) are a bounty of free and inexpensive resources that can help get your library centers program off the ground quickly!
As you’re planning, it’s important to make sure that your center activities support your library media curriculum and, of course, your students’direct needs. It’s also essential to figure out a system for facilitating center rotation that works for YOU. (I have an upcoming blog post about my digital system that I’m LOVING this year!) Please remember, there’s no one way that will work for everyone. There are MANY ways to be successful with library centers. Stay in your lane and give yourself grace to figure out what’s best for YOU and your students!
Like I said, I’ll be sharing my system for rotating centers per grade level in a few weeks, but for now, I want to share one of my most popular centers. (This center is the one that I will be giving away for the “Love Those Library Centers” blog hop as well!) It’s the “Hot Cocoa Stand” version of my “Building with the Engineering Design Process” center! Here’s the link to my TpT store and the hot cocoa stand resource.
(Pictured above: 1. Building the lemonade stand version 2. Both cover images 3. Examples from the hot cocoa stand version
The idea for the hot cocoa stand version came around Christmas time. We were working on practicing the engineering design process as we built with Legos. One of the boys mentioned that it seemed a little silly to be building a lemonade stand when he was really craving hot cocoa — and inspiration was sparked! Whether your weather is hot or cold outside, BOTH versions help students practice planning and creating a team project. The engineering design process steps that I include are “ASK, IMAGINE, PLAN, CREATE, and IMPROVE.” This is a great follow up to my October project, the Storybook Pumpkin Patch , which promotes the Super 3 “Plan-Do-Review” model.
The hot cocoa stand resource includes a PowerPoint presentation, which I project when I’m sharing the center for the first time. (I’ve thrown in a fun, chocolate-y, nonfiction idea to serve as an introduction as well!) Besides these pieces, the resource includes a PDF version of the PowerPoint slides for printing a center booklet. The rest of the resource includes the students’ planning page and an instruction page to help with setting up and running the center.
This center’s prep is pretty easy! Once the planning sheets are printed and the center booket is prepped, all you have to do is provide some buiding bricks, such as Legos, and let the creativity flow! The planning sheet serves as the exit ticket, so your assessment piece is taken care of, too!
Do you introduce the engineering design process in your library? Do you tie it to Big 6 or Super 3 like I’ve been doing? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, so please comment below.
Thank you again for joining me on our blog hop today! To enter my little part of the Rafflecopter contest, you’re asked to please follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store at That Library Girl!
If you’re already a follower of my little TpT store, THANK YOU!! Feel free to look around and find a freebie to download…and please leave me some feedback, too, if you can. I would really appreciate your thoughts!
Okay, this post was the end of the blog hop! (TA-DUM! You made it!) Of course, if you started in the middle… don’t miss out because on the next stop, you’ll hop over and see what The Trapped Librarian has been up to lately!