Things I “Stole” This Week // Ed. 4

So I was off my game last week with the start of my new job and finding my fit. Now, since I am not spending time in different classes everyday, my things to steal are minimal – but I will try my best to continue what I started!

How-to-Draw Videos

IMG_5610I was walking in the hall past a second grade class and I saw these drawings of Yoda on the wall. I was super impressed as to how second graders were able to construct such masterpieces so I went in and talked to the teacher. She said that one day they didn’t have library at the last minute. She had about 15 minutes to kill without any prepared lesson plans. With this, she pulled up YouTube, gave every student a piece of printer paper, and just sat back to watch the magic happen.

The YouTube channel is called ‘Cartooning 4 Kids’ and has so many different characters kids know and it explained how to draw them. This artist breaks it down into simple, slow steps for kids of all ages to be able to follow along to.

As you can see, the outcome was super impressive. It kept kids focused, engaged, and overall increasing fine motor skills and learning a skill that is not often taught – drawing! Also, they had a blast and have pride in their work 🙂


Good News Twitter Wall

This was something I found in a fourth grade classroom, but can be implemented in older grades as well. This teacher had laminated strips of computer paper in three columns on a bulletin board. Any student could write a good news tweet on these papers to be displayed for everyone to see that comes into that class that day. It is a great way to know your kids and for students to take pride in their good news! It also adds character to your classroom which is awesome.


Biography Projects

This was in a fifth grade classroom that had just done research projects on different people. Every student was to research a different person and then create a project that documented his/her life. This project used different textiles, mediums, and a giant poster-board to show off the students’ person. Within the clothing of their person, the student was required to incorporate pockets so facts and information could be placed inside. It instantly became an interactive poster that not only was super informative, but showed off kids’ creativity and personality.




Things I “Stole” // Classroom Library Edition

I am here to break the stigma that you need to be a English Language Arts teacher to have a classroom library. However, kudos to those ELA teachers who tend to have the most filled, the best set-up, and the utmost passion for getting students to believe that they too can love reading, they just need to find the right book. All I am asking is, LET ME JOIN YOU!

I love, love, love reading. Yet like most students, I really didn’t find this passion until late in high school. I thought reading was only for times teachers forced you to read books that they enjoyed, not about entering a world you find thrilling. I want to be a teacher that gives students the ability to enter as many worlds as they can and embrace reading as a passion, but not as a structured subject.

This starts with the classroom library. I have been in multiple classrooms that had libraries that I fell in love with. I just hope I can recreate these to engage my future students as well.

Libraries Need to Feel “Homey”

All the libraries that I liked in these classrooms had an edge of comfort for students to find their perfect book. There is something about using lamps for accent lighting, rugs, and homey decorations around classroom bookcases to take the edge off of finding a great book. It almost makes it less intimidating to take a book off of a shelf.

Along with decorations and lamps, this teacher also had a whiteboard displayed showing what book(s) she was currently reading. Her favorites were also labeled so students knew exactly which books she would recommend if they asked.


There are multiple ways to organize your books in your classroom, but it must be in a way that makes sense to students. I have seen this done in multiple ways, but many are often organized by genre. In the classroom below, this teacher labeled each section of her shelves in terms of genre and then alphabetically.


If organization of your books by genre is too much work, organizing them alphabetically 64288a9e40f36fe548020be6e6c91ff7.jpgby  author might make more sense to you and your students. How does one do so easily though? The coolest/cheapest way is simply using the free paint stirrers home improvement stores love to hand out. Simply write the letter of the section on the end of the paint stirrer to section off authors’ last names.

You could also use paint stirrers to organize by genre as well if labeling your bookshelf isn’t something that you’re into.

Accelerated Reader (AR) Books

If your school incorporates the AR program, your students may benefit greatly by having AR books at the ready. By clearly labeling the books (stickers work), students can easily grab a book that they know is at the correct reading level or how many points they will receive when later taking the test.

If you are in the elementary grades and working more with picture books, stashing books in plastic milk crates are a great way to organize them. You can clearly label the outside of the AR points the books hold for students to easily find the correct crate. Books should be arranged so students are able to sift through them easily.

Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction

This is where the social studies aspect kicks in. I was excited to enter a classroom where I saw milk crates or bins without lids that had creative labels on the outside that explained what period of time could be found inside. Growing up, I really enjoyed learning about the Civil War and the era of slavery. I would have loved to have a bin at my disposal that I could move on from book to book about a topic I loved – rather than searching on only the days we had library time at the middle school.

When dealing with Non-Fiction, one classroom had the Dewey Decimal system in place and arranged books in bins as such. Each bin had the decimal labeled and the topic it covers. On the books themselves, she had labeled the decimal clearly so students were able to put back the books after they were finished. This is extremely important to also label books where they go so students can easily clean up after checking them out. The teacher shouldn’t have to do everything!

Checking Out

This seems to always be a problem with classroom libraries. Students borrowing books and simply never seeing them again. Either the students are super forgetful or they become misplaced. Either way, when you a put a book in your library, you must be okay with the fact that you may never see it again – especially in the same condition.

One way I have seen of fixing this problem is a classroom check-out system. This teacher had inserted library check out cards in everyone of her books. This shows when the book had been checked out and who has it – simply like a city library.

Though this doesn’t stop students from taking the books off the shelves and not telling you, it does help keep track of which students are borrowing  your books and where they are in the world.

Filling your classroom library with age appropriate books is only half of the battle. Creating an area for students to actually enjoy finding a book and opening another world is most important. There are so many ways to organize a classroom library and it fills my heart every time I see a different set-up. It If this does not define me as a proud to be book nerd, then I don’t know what would.