Life in the Library

October 2015

Happy Halloween!

The Halloween books have been flying off the shelves (and no, not by themselves!) this month! We have everything from silly picture books to scary traditional folklore to longer novels to thrill you. We will spend the week leading up to Halloween doing some themed read alouds and activities. Older students will hear the eerie tale of the headless horseman, while younger readers will meet Miss Smith's incredible storybook (and haunted library!) and those in between will read all kinds of tales. We have Halloween puzzles and games as well. Happy haunted reading!

Library Happenings

Grade levels are moving along through their first units of study in library. Our sixth graders are learning to search efficiently and intelligently using various skills. They learned about "Boolean" search terms, the best of which is using "AND" to limit specific search results. To be even more productive in our searches, we learned about the resources on Power Library, a free collection of databases through the state. These reliable and high quality articles, journals and e-books are great for research. These, along with our online encyclopedias, have been helping with their Boo-ography projects! We also learned the 5W's of Website Evaluation. Looking first at, a funny fake site created by local teachers, we discovered that not everything online is to be trusted! (Columbus didn't really make infomercials, right?) Students then worked together to identify fake sites such as the tree octopus and the evil sounding "dihydrogen monoxide" (H20 anyone?).

Fifth graders spent time digging into Power Library as well, learning more about its resources. They had time to explore some of the most helpful databases, such as SIRS Discoverer and Elementary Student Research, as well as the PA sites and Library of Congress link. Cybersmarts is another available database, which we are going through together. This is a collection of ebooks which teach internet and online safety. In a safe, closed environment, students "create" a password and log in, reading information and answering questions about different scenarios presented as a text, chat message or email. We began the unit together, talking a lot about using common sense and making good choices. PLEASE talk to your fifth grader about what we are discussing in library. (I have already told them that my "mom" persona often takes over in this unit - how can it not?) We will go over online games, social networks and cyberbullying. We'll be reading a short historical fiction story - perfect for Halloween, too - called The Houdini Box, as we start a study of that genre for this year.

In fourth grade, we are learning all about the Dewey Decimal System. You may have heard some strange things coming home from library, such as the Dewey rap (so clever - you can watch the video on the webpage!) or stories of organizing crayons/colored pencils. The latter was done to show how helpful organizing systems can be (and how there are multiple ways to classify). We started to understand the thinking of how Dewey call numbers are assigned by watching a presentation called "Dewey and the Caveman!" Next, students worked in pairs to discover all of the topics within a given category. These are being made into Wordles, which are word clouds, that we will display in the library. The picture book, The Dewey Decimal Hunt, is also fun to read along with our unit!

Last year, current third graders studied all kinds of folktales, except for tall tales which we cover in this grade! We began reading stories about Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, learning the characteristics of tall tales. Next, students worked in groups to read short versions of other tall tale characters, including Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, John Henry and even real life "characters" including Annie Oakley and Davy Crockett. While they did truly exist, there have been many exaggerated tales of their lives! The groups had various roles, such as writer, reader and spokesperson. Together the identified the tall tale characteristics in each of these stories.

Second graders are just starting their folktales unit. We are beginning with traditional folktales from around the world. Our first was a familiar one from Italy - Strega Nona by Tomie DePaola. Many students knew the story, which allowed us to focus on folktale traits (magic, tricksters, groups of 3, etc.) We also read Anansi the Spider an African folktale, and made paper spiders not for Halloween but to give ourselves traditional names modeled after the story.

First graders are learning the difference between fiction ("fake") and nonfiction ("not fake") through books. We read the beautifully written and illustrated Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. We looked at parts of the story that were definitely fake (bats and birds can't really talk!) and how some elements were real (bats hang upside down, some eat fruit, etc.). Then we read a nonfiction bat book and looked at its text features (table of contents, glossary, diagrams, photos, etc.) for more information. Students made paper bats on which they put a true fact they had learned about bats!

Our kindergartners are studying the art and books of Lois Ehlert, whose books are just perfect for this age! Her cut-paper and collage illustrations make use of basic shapes, bright colors and simple designs. Many of her books are about animals and some are about the alphabet or other basic concepts like seasons. We began with her rhymes in Oodles of Animals, with students pointing out the different shapes making up the animal pictures. They drew their own pictures, starting from a given basic shape, adding legs, arms and more details! Her book Boo to You uses real objects (pumpkins, gourds, etc.) and has fun illustrations for Halloween!

Special events!

We were SO excited to have guest author Sarah Mlynowski visit us earlier this month. The students are just loving her new book, Upside Down Magic and her Whatever After series. Her presentation included a look at her writing process and had the audience participate in some brainstorming sessions. You can see more pictures on the library webpage!

We are gearing up for our fall book fair the week after Thanksgiving. This year we will be using Scholastic Book Fairs. This means we will have an even bigger selection, as well as the ability to accept credit cards. It also means we will need more volunteers to help with set up and pack up, as well as "cashiers" during the fair. Please email me if you are interested! ( Thank you!

Fifth and sixth graders had interest meeting for the Reading Olympics this month. We are always happy to accept new team members. Please see the links on the library website for more information!