Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why I Do What I Do - Classroom Library Organization

I am linking up with Bunting, Books and Bright Ideas for her "Why I Do What I Do" series!  This week is one of my favorite topics - classroom library organization!  Anything to do with organizing makes me smile.  I am famous for organizing things that are already organized!

My classroom library has grown bigger every year.  I just can't stop buying books!  But with more books comes more organization so the library doesn't turn into a heap of books on the floor.  It took  awhile to find what works for me but I finally found it and I am IN LOVE!  But I'll start at the beginning.....

The Early Years:
The problem was that I had a lot of books but I didn't really have a system that made the books easily accessible to the kiddos.  My books were organized by monthly themes in plastic bins I found at Target and stored in a cabinet.  Which worked ok...not great.  I  still had to sort through each bin every month to separate my teacher books from the kiddos books.  You know what I mean - those books you paid a little bit more for and will turn into Viola Swamp if a kiddo so much as holds it upside down.  So I would put the kiddo books on the book shelf and then have to find a place for my teacher books. What a hassle! Plus I had all these books just sitting in a closet, not being used 11 months out of the year! Crazy, right?!  Well then everyone started buzzing about "The Daily Five" and this crazy notion called "read to self".  That's when everything started changing....

The Beginning of Utopia:
 I became "Daily Five" obsessed: I bought the book, followed blog sites, talked to other teachers about what they thought and became a pinterest addict (who isn't on some topic or another!). When I went to school to set up my classroom I started with the library.  I knew I wanted more space for books so the kiddos could "shop" and a wall for the CAFE board.  So after an inner debate I cleared off a shelf I had previously used for workstations and added that to the library. 
 I was then able to put 14 book bins out at a time, plus my monthly theme shelf! I dubbed this area "library".  But then I had to find a place for their leveled books - the ones that are on their reading level.  So...I created a 2nd library in my room and dubbed that one "Read to Self".  The white shelf in the middle is to hold their individual book bins.

I named the libraries two different things to avoid confusion when I was talking about a certain type of book.  When I first started the "read to self" library I just used the colored sticker dots and wrote numbers on them for the leveled reader bins.  Then I labeled all the books that would go in that bin the same way - colored sticker dot and a number.  For example the first two green bins on the left are for reading level A.  All level A books were labeled with a yellow sticker dot with the number 1 on them.  This method made it easy for students to put their old books away and independently shop for new ones when it was their shopping day.

I finally found Utopia:
So I was trucking along with my upgraded 14 bin library and newly debuted "read to self" library when I started to realize that the kiddos were having a hard time putting the books back in the right book bin i "library"....and it was becoming a hot mess real fast.  I spent every day after school re-organizing the book bins.  So I went back to blogging and pinteresting and discovered book bin labels with matching stickers.  Genius!  My labels and matching stickers came from  Krazee For Kindergarten  but there are a million different designs/themes to choose from on the web.  

So my amazing mom came down to visit me and helped me sort, label and sticker every. single. book. that I own.  She is the best!  It took us three days - about 9 hours.  But the end result is amazing! Kiddos were reading books and putting them back in the right book bins immediately!  I added "2 librarians" to the job chart = at the end of the day they check 2 random book bins and make sure that the books are in the correct bin.

 All good right....well...almost. I adored my new library but I could only put 14 bins out at a time, so...... time to rearrange my room AGAIN!  I cleared ANOTHER shelf and donated my slanted library shelf to a new teacher.  I then moved the library to an area where the two shelves fit side by side and I still had a blank wall for the CAFE board.  It worked beautifully! I LOVE how this library holds 40+ book bins.  Now there is a plethora of topics for the students to choose from.  The white 4 drawer bin by the chair holds retelling props of stories we have covered in class.  The kids love retelling with a partner and the drawers keep everything neat and tidy.

I heart my library!

Read to Self Library with the new labels and individual book bins displayed.
How Both Libraries Are Used:
  • "Library" - where I house all of my theme/topic books.  Students go here for "Read to Someone" during Daily 5 rotations and are allowed to swap out two picture books for two new picture books on their book shopping day.
  • "Read To Self" Library - where I house all the leveled book and their individual book bins.  Students go here for "Read to Self" during Daily 5 rotations and they practice reading the books in their individual book bin.  They go here to swap out 3 leveled readers for 3 new ones on their book shopping day.  The green buckets that hold the leveled readers came from IKEA and the book bins are from Steps To Literacy.

 I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey to library perfection!  If you have any questions, just ask! Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

  1. I love your library! It makes it so easy for the kids to find what they want and put their books away! I also love how you have them sorted by theme and then another set of by level. I think it is important to have a mix of the two like you do!