Two weeks, one post!

Well, we did it again! Johnson’s pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade students thought so many snowy thoughts that Charlottesville was hit with a blast of winter weather. And what a blast of winter weather! With enough snow to put us out of school for two whole days, we’re starting to realize the power of the stories that we share! Don’t worry – our next weather related story time will focus on spring and sunshine, I promise.

After missing Thursday and Friday last week to winter weather, Johnson students were excited to get back into the library and check out some new books on Monday morning. With our circulation numbers breaking 13,200 this week, I was excited, too! Library traffic should pick up even more next week with a new shipment of fiction being set out on the shelves soon. This recent book order includes teacher requests, student requests, and other carefully chosen titles. When I choose books for the Johnson Learning Leopard Library collection, I consult a variety of print, digital, and professional resources. Every book that we purchase has been ordered with a specific professional goal in mind, ranging from curriculum support or enhancement to hooking reluctant readers into a new series. Check out tomorrow’s Friday Photo to find out more about the new titles coming to Johnson’s shelves soon.

With last week’s blog post buried under a foot of snow, I have two weeks to tell you all about. Hold on to your hats!

Last week, Johnson’s younger students and I decided to celebrate Valentines Day in a BIG WAY! Steven Kroll’s story The Biggest Valentine Ever was the perfect book choice for our larger-than-life Valentines Day celebration. The story centers on Clayton and Desmond, two mouse classmates who decide to work together to make their teacher a valentine. Their teamwork isn’t the best, though, and soon enough they get in a big fight and decide to work apart. Although they both try to create the perfect valentine alone, in the end, Clayton and Desmond realize that their best chance at creating something wonderful is to work together.

Just like Clayton and Desmond, we knew that if we all worked together, we could create a truly special valentine. And that was exactly what we wanted to give to Mr. Stern and Ms. Thompson, Johnson’s principal and vice principal. We decided that if we were going to give them a valentine, it had better be a truly spectacular one! I worked all week with pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade classes to create pieces of the Biggest Library Valentine Ever. In the picture below, Ms. Thompson reacts to her Valentines Day gift.

Biggest Library Valentine EverWe had a blast working as a team and making something truly special for two of our favorite administrators!

This week, Johnson’s younger students and I turned our attention from the cold outside to a bubbling, warm pot inside. That’s right – it was Stone Soup week at the Learning Leopard Library! For those of you not familiar with this classic folk tale, a hungry visitor tricks a village into making him a delicious dinner by claiming that he can make stone from a soup. Each member of the village comments on how the soup is cooking, and the sneaky visitor says something like, “Well, if you think it smells great now, you should smell how delicious it would be with some onions…” One by one, the members of community bring forth their best ingredients until a full pot of stone soup is boiling. As we read the story, we added our own ingredients to the pot, one by one. After reading the book, we rewieved sequencing as well as the concepts of beginning, middle, and end by putting our stone soup recipe in the correct order. We sang together about the ingredients, mixing the soup, and each student used their imagination to take a taste of the delicious meal we created together. There are many versions of this classic folktale available, and for our story time this week we used Stone Soup, by Ann McGovern, illustrated by Winslow Pinney Pels.

Second grade students entered their second week of work on their fractured fairy tales. Each group was given the title of the fractured fairy tale they would create, a hint about the plot, and  a classic version of the fairy tale as a starting point. For example, one group might have been given the title The Three Little Students and the Big Bad Librarian, with the classic story The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf to use as inspiration. This week, students worked together to name their characters and map out their story lines by organizing them into beginning, middle, and end. As the groups complete their story map, they will begin working on a “script” for their fractured fairy tales, which will eventually be performed for the class. Rumor around the hallways is that the very best performances might even make it onto the blog! Who knows 😉

Johnson’s second grade students have been showing great pride and dedication to their stories. For some, this is the first taste of working together as a group on a writing project. I am so proud of the great teamwork, compromise, and hard work that I am seeing when the second graders come to visit me in the library. I can’t wait to see the finished product, and to share it with you!

Third grade students met my favorite reference tool last week, the National Geographic Kids Almanac. You may remember seeing these incredible almanacs in our thank you post to the PTO, as the first half of the set was generously donated by the Johnson Elementary School PTO earlier this school year. I wanted to go above and beyond in getting students excited to use these beautiful almanacs, so I created a short Animoto video to capture the excitement, variety, and serious cool-factor that this particular reference tool offers.

Almanac Video

After the video, students were then given time to explore the almanacs together, browsing the many categories that provide information about student favorites such as animals, sports, science, and pop culture. Then we came back together to discuss the kinds of things that we saw in the almanac, the reasons we would need to have one as a reference tool, and the best way to quickly and easily find information within its pages.

Once we were properly introduced to the almanacs, we were able to get to work with them this week. Students were sent on an Alamanc Scavenger Hunt during their library time, and their performances did not disappoint! Each class was allowed to split into partners, and each set of partners was given on Scavenger Hunt worksheet. The worksheet includes 10 questions to be answered by expertly navigating, reading, and showing overall skill with using the 2014 National Geographic Kids Almanac. Scavenger hunt questions include such puzzlers as How many feet long is the Golden Gate Bride made of legos at Legoland? and What colors are featured in the Romanian flag? Students showed mastery of the table of contents and index in order to quickly find their answers. In one class period, many students made it as far as halfway through their scavenger hunt worksheets! I can’t wait to finish up together next week.

Fourth grade students continued to work through their keyboarding curriculum using the library media center Macbooks and the online program Dance Mat Typing. Students are working extra hard to keep their fingers on the home row – no more pecking at the keys! With all of the hard work that they have been putting in, you should be able to notice a change in your fourth grade students’ keyboarding skills and confidence.

Next week, information will be coming home with students about our READ ACROSS AMERICA celebration! The celebration will kick off on Friday, February 28th and last all week March 3-7. There will be Spirit Days, Dr. Seuss trivia, special guests, and Dr. Seuss activities for all to share! Watch your student’s take-home folder for more information, or check back with the Learning Leopard Library blog throughout the week. To find out more about Dr. Seuss and READ ACROSS AMERICA, check out the National Education Association’s page about the event here.

Phew, this was a long post, with two weeks of library happenings to share! Thank you for stopping by the Learning Leopard Library blog to learn more about our library and the activities that we participate in together. Try to take some time during this snap of warm, spring weather to head outside with a book and read in the sunshine. I know that’s what I’m hoping to do this afternoon!

– Miss Messham

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