Storytime with a Side Dish of Virtual Reality

Today, the preschoolers broke out our new virtual reality equipment and we went on a Google Expedition to space and Mars.  The kids LOVED checking everything out.  I heard adorable comments like, “I see the hot hot sun!” And, “there’s a spaceship on Mars.”  It was really the Mars Rover which we got to talk about.  Here are some pictures of the fun time.

After a thorough examination of space, we read the book, Life On Mars by Jon Agee.  This book is a cute story about an astronaut who visits Mars in his spaceship hoping to find extraterrestrial life.  This is also a current nominee for the Alabama Camellia Awards.  Overall, it was an exciting and educational day in the library for our preschool kiddos!

Thanks Again Donors Choose!

I am so very excited to announce that our preschool STEAM project has been fully funded!  As of last week, we now have tons and tons of awesome new STEAM lab activities that are perfect for our youngest learners.  Some of our new items include a Code-a-Pillar for computational thinking skills,  take apart automobiles, a Tiggly Learning System, and even a microscope designed for little ones.  I am so appreciative of everyone who helped make this project a reality!  Thank you!

Friday S.T.E.A.M. Fun!

Friday, I had the chance to take some pictures of our kiddos in action.  Here are a few of the awesome activities going on each Friday in the S.T.E.A.M. lab.

In the picture above, one student is working with Osmo tangrams while another student is watching and helping from the sidelines.

In this picture, one of our students has decided to turn a pinecone into a bumblebee.

In this picture, one of our students is playing Angry Birds with a controller he built himself using items from our Makey Makey kit.

In this last picture, a student is programming the Ozobot to travel by using coding that he is creating through the use of specific colors of marker.


Donors Choose for Preschool STEAM

Our preschoolers are the most excited kids at our school! They are so happy to be here and they love their teachers and learning. This year, we are providing our preschoolers with the weekly opportunity to participate in our school S.T.E.A.M. lab and so far it has been a huge success! The kids have learned to play little songs on a keyboard, we’ve built with our Legos, we’ve created a fan with our snap circuits, and all sorts of other fun activities. However, our S.T.E.A.M. materials are mostly geared toward an older audience and I’m running out of engaging materials and activities for our youngest learners.

I have created a project on the website where I’m asking for donations to purchase S.T.E.A.M. materials specifically geared toward a younger audience.  Right now, my project has been paired with an organization called Omidyar Network and they have agreed to match every dollar with a dollar of their own.  My total project cost is $591.00 and with their dollar matching, it could be completely funded for just $295.00.  That’s exciting!

Below you will find a link to my specific project.  Please consider donating to help us get needed materials to support our preschoolers in the area of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

Pizza Hut Book It! Prize Winners

We are participating in the Pizza Hut Book It! program at our school this year.  This reading initiative is for kids in grades k-6.  This program will run from October until March.  Each month, the kids will be given a reading goal and a tracking sheet.  These are determined by each child’s homeroom teacher.  At the end of each month, if the child has met their goal, they are rewarded with a certificate and a coupon for a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  Yum!

Here are some cute pictures of this month’s goal earners!

Digital Passports

This week, my younger friends on the STAR hall are starting a new unit about appropriate behavior while using technology.  We call this digital citizenship.  Thankfully, we have a really fun online program called Digital Passport to help us.  This program is free and is made available by Common Sense Media.

This week, our kiddos are learning about digital citizenship as it relates to using cell phones.  They are learning about when it’s ok to use their phones.  Specifically, they should be able to tell you that there are times when they shouldn’t use their phone because it’s dangerous (like when crossing the street).  There are also times they shouldn’t use their phone because it’s rude (like when someone is speaking to you).  And finally, there are times when phones shouldn’t be used because it isn’t healthy (like when it’s bedtime).  Digital Passport includes a short video and an online game for each lesson and it really is a lot of fun!

Learning With Legos

I have a confession to make.  For the last few years, I’ve been envious of the awesome Lego Walls I’ve seen on various library blogs.  However, they looked really hard to make so I always hesitated to create one for our library.  Well, that’s all in the past because last week, I finally put on my big girl breeches and made one for our library.  I didn’t really have a lot of library wall space so I didn’t go that route.  Instead, we now have a Lego circulation desk.  This will be a space where the kids can create Lego structures both vertically and horizontally on Fridays during their S.T.E.A.M. lab time. I am so stinkin’ excited!!!


Exploring the AVL

For the next few weeks, my buddies on the S.T.A.R. hall and I are going to be exploring the FREE databases available for use through the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL).  The AVL is an online collection of databases available for all citizens in the state of Alabama.  Children across the state access these databases for personal interests as well as for assistance with school projects.  Students have access to these databases both at school and at home so here’s the link for anyone who wants home access:

So far, my younger buddies have learned to search for the AVL through google.  We are working on accessing the resources for elementary students by clicking student resources and elementary school.  We’ve spent time exploring the online encyclopedia as well as Pebblego and the kids have really enjoyed their time exploring these two databases.


My older buddies and I have begun our unit on the AVL by exploring appropriate middle school databases which are easily accessed by going to the AVL website and clicking student resources and middle school.  So far, we’ve only accessed the online encyclopedia.  However, the kids have really enjoyed searching to see what is and isn’t available through the online encyclopedia.


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring several more of the available databases so if you get a chance, pop over to the AVL website and check it out.  There are even adult resources that might be of interest to our parents!

Scratching Out Code During Electives

Every year, our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on the STAR hall get the chance to participate in a weekly electives schedule.  This year, the kids will rotate each nine weeks between technology, cooking, and photography.

This year, for technology, our kiddos are going to work on computer coding.  We’re starting our unit in SCRATCH, a simple block style format designed for kids ages 8-16.  Today, my 8th grade buddies created their SCRATCH accounts and begin working on their very first project.


“Dewey” Know How to Shelve Our Books???

This year, I’m trying something new!  I have taught kids how to use the Dewey Decimal system in the library for years.  For years, I’ve had kids that still need help finding a book in the library.  Of course I don’t mind helping but I want the kids to be able to find a book on their own.  Independence is the key!  So, this year, I’m trying something new.

I used one of the first few library lessons to teach about the Dewey Decimal System and how to find a book in the library.  We practiced looking up books using our automation system and finding those books on the shelves.  And now, drumroll please…I am asking the kids to shelve their own books when they return them to the library.  And you know what, I’ve never had a group do a better job with remembering how to use the Dewey Decimal system.  Right now, the kids are in training.  They go to where they think their book belongs and I check to see if they are right. I’m amazed at how good the kids are getting at finding the right spot using their knowledge of the Dewey system!  And you know what?  If our kiddos can use this system in our library then they are going to be able to go on to much bigger libraries and do the exact same thing.  Like I said before, independence is key and our kids are on their way to being independent in the library!


The Five Finger Rule

Last week, my little buddies on the S.T.A.R. hall got to practice using the five finger rule to find a “just right” book.  This is a great way to find a book that isn’t too hard or too easy and it works in my library as well as other libraries and bookstores.  Basically it works like this.  When a student finds a book that they like they turn to any page in the book and start reading.  Every time they get to a word they don’t know, they hold up a finger.  At the end of the page they count how many fingers they are holding in the air.  If they have no fingers in the air then that book is probably too easy.  If they have between 1 and 4 fingers then the book is probably just right.  If they have five fingers in the air then that book is too difficult.  This is a really easy way for kids to look for a book that they’ll actually be able to read on their own.


Storytime Kickoff!

My friends on the ID hall are starting the year with a very special storytime read aloud.  Mr. Brad, one of my co-workers, brought me a great book that I’m reading to all of my buddies.  It’s called, “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe:  Different is More.”  The book is about a special giraffe who thinks about his world in a different, unique way.  Using his own special talents and abilities, Grant learns to make eco-art which makes him well known across the world.

This book is super special primarily because it’s written and illustrated by a mother/son duo named Julie and Grant Manier.  Grant is an award winning artist and this story is about his life.  Grant is a young man with autism  who wants to deliver a message to the world that “different, is more!”

This week, we are reading this wonderful story and then completing a group art activity where we glue Grant’s puzzle piece “dots” onto his body.  In this way, hopefully Grant the giraffe can serve as a role model for the kiddos at our school.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to the 2017-2018 school year!  I’m sure our kiddos have had a wonderful summer and much needed break but now it’s time to get back to the business of learning!  This year, I encourage each and every child to use our library media center to its fullest.  Parents, if you get a chance to stop by the school, feel free to stop by and introduce yourselves.  Feel free to come “sea” our library!


S.T.E.A.M. Lab “Inspiration”

I am so stinkin’ excited because I just found out that the library is going to receive funds from the Shelby County Education Foundation so that we can purchase some new items for our library S.T.E.A.M. lab.  Back in February, I put in an application for an Inspire the Journey Grant.  My proposal was called, “Problem-Solving and Innovating with S.T.E.A.M.”  Today, Kendall Williams from the Education Foundation showed up at my school with a big ole’ check!

I’m not sure when I actually get to purchase everything but I’ve got my fingers crossed that when the kids return in the Fall, they’ll be greeted with our new gadgets and gizmos.  This grant will allow our kids to gain additional skills in construction, engineering, programming, robotics, mathematics, and electronics.  Specifically, I’ve been approved to purchase the following:  a Keeva Contraption Kit, an Ozobot set, a Goobi Construction Set, Makey Makey programming items, a Hands on Equations Kit, a Lego Large Creative box (we’re going to have a Lego Wall), Arduino Electronics, and a Hummingbird Robotics Kit.  What a great day!!!

Keyboarding Championship

This week, my STAR hall friends are participating in a county wide keyboarding competition.  Throughout the year, the children have been accessing an online program called Typing Agent.  This program teaches kids the “right” way to type.

The Keyboarding Championship is a fun way for the kids to show off their skills and the school with the highest score will win some new technology for their students to use.  Here’s some of our kiddos who have participated so far.


The Honeybee Man

Last week, my preschool friends and my buddies on the MD hall got to hear the story of The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi.  This is a LONG picture book so I had to pick and choose parts to read but basically it tells the story of a man who lives in Brooklyn who raises honeybees on his roof.  It does a WONDERFUL job of explaining the process that bees go through to collect honey and it has fabulous pictures that illustrate the way beekeepers collect that honey and put it in jars.

Ten Little Caterpillars

Whew!  We’ve been up to so many different things over here at Linda Nolen and I’ve managed to get behind on my library blog!  A few weeks ago, my friends on the MD hall had a special story time about caterpillars and butterflies.  The book we read was called, Ten Little Caterpillars and it’s by Bill Martin.  The book is about ten little caterpillars and the last one climbs an apple tree and goes through the life cycle to become a beautiful butterfly.

Image result for 10 little caterpillars bill martin

We decided to end our lesson with a fun craft.  We made beautiful butterflies using coffee filters, dot markers, and water.