Monday, July 27, 2015


At the beginning of summer my head is full of wishful thinking and a to do list that is a mile long. I want to tackle the world. I want to redo my year plans, remap my weekly lesson plans, reorganize my furniture, reorganize my materials and resources, reorganize my classroom library,  and redecorate EVERYTHING. Then summer vacation comes........beach time comes..........pool time time comes.............and my to do list becomes a "will do if I have time when school starts list". Well, here it is the end of July and we go back in a couple of weeks. I am happy to say that I did manage to completely accomplish 2 things!!! One thing that was on that beginning of summer to do list and one thing that just popped up and I had to do it because it was cute! (Priorities right!!??) So what DID I get done?
1) I painted this mural of some of my favorite characters outside my classroom door. (Not on my list but too cute not to right??!!)

2) A newly organized classroom library!

My library had become a bit of a nuisance over the years.  I have too many books, not enough bins, too many categories, and too many books, and oh yeah, too many books! (I know some of you are like "GASP......., No teacher could EVER have too many books" and I am hear to tell you I do!! Where I teach each teacher is required to have a classroom library.  This year we have several new teachers coming on board and I know that they need as much help as they can get to begin the task of collecting books to create a good library. My classroom library is made up of thousands of books ( I have been teaching for a long time) and it really needed a makeover so I considered this a win-win. I get rid of some books that I really don't want to just throw out and the new teachers gain a library.

Here is how it works. My classroom library is made up of two different "shopping areas". The Leveled Library (Our Dinner Books) and the Themed Library (Our Dessert Books). For more information on using shopping cards you can refer to a previous post about Shopping In The Classroom from my good friend Andrea. The system in a nutshell is:
1) I give a reading assessment to each kiddo and provide them with a level on a Shopping card.
2) Each kiddo can search for 2 below level books, 2 on level books, 2 above level books, and 1-2 desert books (depending on their level-for example, I am not going to give a level B reader in August 2 desert books because I primarily want them reading the levels on or close to their level)
3) Kiddos shop for books by teams on a different day of the week. (Ex. Team 1 on Monday, Team 2 on Tuesday) This happens during Morning Announcements every morning.
4) Each week as kiddos go to the classroom library to shop, they put their "old" books into a book return bin. Then shop for their "new" books.
5) The classroom helper called the "Librarian" returns all the books to the proper book baskets at the end of each day.

So how did I reorganize to create a better system and clean house? I spread everything out and went through each. and. every. book! (Of course older grades probably don’t have to deal with this but for us younger grades, OH.MY.WORD!!! Talk about a mess!!) Trying to find more different colored dots, stars, shapes stickers to color code books so kiddos know which bin to put them back in.....TOTAL NIGHTMARE!!! As I mentioned above, my books were getting WWWAAAAAYYYYYY out of hand.  This year I noticed that my previous system of writing the levels for the leveled library on the back cover and the themed number for the themed library on the front of each book was confusing (jeez I am even confused just writing that--what in the heck made me think the littles could do it (although they did and it worked for YEARS) but I wanted something less confusing.  Here are a few pics of how I organized in the waste of time and effort because the system was too confusing.

So I have developed a better system to keep the library looking great and help books get to the correct spot. I can show you how to Organize a system like this if you choose to do it.
The organization went like this:
1) I kept my two separate leveled (Dinner) and themed (Dessert) libraries but instead of putting them in two separate spots in the classroom, it is all in one area. With the leveled books going across the top shelf.
2) I developed classroom basket labels for the categories (that I have seen my kiddos go to year after year the most) that has words and pictures describing the books that belong in that basket. I also created matching stickers to place on each book within that basket. So NO MORE searching for matching stickers, just print, cut, stick and go!
3) I went through each and every book and separated them into their appropriate category and placed a small sticker in the upper right hand corner.  On this sticker is a word and a picture of the corresponding book basket that the book should go inside.  There are stickers for the leveled library and the themed/genre library
4) I made sure that each book basket had the corresponding word/picture sticker placed on the front/center of the basket.

I am not going to lie, this process was time consuming but WELL worth it. If you are interested in this system, you can get these Classroom Library Labels for $8.00 in my store.

I hope your school year gets off to a great start! You know because as of right now, I actually only finished 1 thing from my summer to do list!
Happy organizing!

1 comment:

  1. I love this Cara! You have done an amazing job! It makes me smile. :-)Robin