Many of you understand the trials and frustrations of a fixed schedule. I see 38 classes between Monday and Thursday each week. So we have had to find things that can make the library as welcoming yet self service as we can so that the kids won't feel lost when I am occupied with a class.
Personally I am always looking for ideas that take 30 seconds of prep work but last for a lifetime of learning.

Promethean Planet and Clickers

Promethean Planet has a large number of free lessons that can be downloaded and customized to meet your needs then you can add questions to use with the Activ Expression clickers. The kids love these because they are fun to use and the bonus is they have to pay better attention to get their answers correct, when you are finished you can print out a report for your teachers if they would like to take a grade from your activity.

Mary has used these on her campus to do bluebonnet voting. Obviously the kids loved casting their votes this way.

Hot Potatoes

This idea came from Analine Johnson on the TLC listserv
The contest was open to the entire school. The only requirement was that the students had to create a storybook character.
Top winners got a free book
Beware--don’t run this over the weekend-potatoes STINK!

Visual call numbers-with animals

These have been fabulous they help the kids with the call numbers for some of the most popular non-fiction items. I just used animals I had around the house. They worked so well that we added more items-footballs, recipe cards, a rubber snake hanging down the shelves. We have also added pictures of animals next to their location on the shelves. The best result has been that the kids will often point them out to teachers that ask about one of the items that we have up on display.

Write a Grant

This was an absolute labor of love and taking a risk. But it was SO WORTH IT!!! Kristin and I gave this a shot because we wanted to get a well-known author for our schools that would also address our areas of need in science and writing. This grant and author visit from Jerry Pallotta met all of these goals.
This also started a great adventure for our students-many classes have written their own books and written to him and he is excellent about writing back to groups.

Are You Ready for Some Football??-Football display


Dan Verdick from ABDO gave the best presentation at Library Jubilee last year about getting boys into reading-
We created a football research project-complete with goal posts made from PVC pipe and pompoms


These came to my library through a contest from LeapFrog. They have been used in library centers and the teachers can check them out to use in their classrooms. This year my ELL teacher has used them heavily with her Kinder and Pre K groups.
Obviously you can also purchase these for your library and your students as well.

Zebra tape!
The library had lots of books that the kids still loved-like some drawing/joke/I SPY books-but they were old, in bad shape, and teachers hated them.
So, we deleted the titles, but kept them for the kids to use when they were in the library. Putting ZEBRA duck tape over the spine label-makes them easy to spot and the kids know exactly what that Zebra tape means.

Community Partnerships

Partnering with those in your community to get a bigger bang for your buck.
Think about local universities, businesses, and high school programs.

Learning and Giving

Speaking of partnering, this year we had an amazing opportunity for the 4th and 5th graders at my school and a few others, including the food science students at one of our high schools. We were able to bring a presentation from the King Arthur Bread Company to our schools. This was a totally free program that allowed our students to learn how to make loaves of bread, pizza dough and cinnamon rolls. After the presentation, each student took home the supplies to make 2 loaves; one for their family to enjoy and one to donate to our local food care center or our homeless programs (HARP-Homeless Awareness and Response Program). Between 3 of the schools we donated 346 pounds of bread. This gave our students a skill for life and a chance to help others in our area. Contact information for this program is on our wiki.

Make mine a double-Fixed Schedule Survival-snowmen at Christmas

We always talk about working smarter, not harder. This is especially necessary when trying to survive a fixed schedule. It is easy to have one lesson work for multiple age groups. You can read and discuss a book with PreK, then use the same title to work on story elements with a Kindergarten class. I did the same thing using Wordle to discuss the aspects of nonfiction. I made posters with every 1st-5th grade class. Essentially the activity was the same, but the results reflected the classes that I was working with.

Donor’s Choose
With budgets quickly disappearing and money getting tighter every day, we have to be creative to find the funds to make our libraries the most inviting learning environment possible. I have found that Donor’s Choose is an amazing resource. You create a profile, supplying information about your school and your prospective project, then donors can contribute to getting it funded. It has made it possible for me to have centers in my library that I otherwise would never been able to purchase.


This has become everyone’s addiction! Pinterest-it isn't just for recipes, homemade laundry detergent and funny quotes.
I have found so many fun, easy, and quick to implement ideas.
Many schools are encouraging its usage these days.

Comic Books and Graphic Novels really are books!!!
And speaking of Pinterest...for those of you who deal with teachers and parents saying "comic" books are a waste of time or aren’t real books, here is the site for you! Melissa Taylor @ has an excellent article for you to share with your teachers, parents or anyone else that just doesn’t seem to get it.

Peep Show

Idea from PINTEREST!!!!
If you don’t know what to do with those leftover Peeps from Easter-Have a Peep Show!
Library addition-have classes come in on the 1st morning-kids can make predictions. Classes can come in to make observations throughout the experiment. I had one class come in twice a day with iPod Touches to record the changes. Pre-K would come through with their science notebooks.
But, I have to warn you, those Peeps are pretty gross after a full week sitting in liquid!

Please take some time to visit the wiki for my school library. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me! Thanks!