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Part III:

Thanks you to the many who either commiserated with my
situation, or offered suggestions and websites for activities. I was
overwhelmed with the response. I have ommitted the names from the replies,
as I did not ask for permission
to post.

Fifth graders are an interesting bunch, aren't they.  Unless you have some
skill that you are required to cover, why don't you do what I do with my
middle schoolers.  I show lots of videos.  I either show something related
to what they are studying in English or Social Studies, or I show videos of
classic literature they may or may not ever read themselves.  I do some
Twilight Zones with 7th grade when they read a Rod Serling story.  I also
show Red Badge of Courage to 8th grade when they are studying the Civil
  Sixth grade I show Where the Red Fern Grows, 4th grade The Secret Garden.
My fifth grade schedule has changed this year, and I hope to show them
Shiloh. With 30 minute periods once a week, it takes a long time to get
through one, but they seem to be interested for the most part.  I give
detentions if they don't pay attention.  I remind them that it's my time,
not their time.  Good luck.

1. I have used literature such as comparing Three Little Pigs with Three
Javelinas or True Story of Big Bad Wolf - and had students make a Venn
diagram - compare and contrast.

2. Story Tree - worksheet with outline of a tree..centered in the tree -
top line:  Main character
2nd line:  Two words that describe main character
3rd line:  3 words that describe where the story takes place (setting)
4th line:  4 words telling what the main character wanted in the story
5th line:  5 words that tell what happened that stopped the main character
from getting what he or she wanted in the story.

3. I've used keywords in a story and made "word searches" - they are crazy
about them -   (puzzlemaker)

4.  Use a common fairytale like Little Red Hen - after reading the story,
focus on one character, like the dog, and on overhead or group activity or
chart paper, write a story in defense of the dog's actions.   Try to
convince the hen that the dog deserves a slice of bread.  This can be fun.

5.  Z Was Zapped - as a response to the story, the class generates a list
of describing words about their class beginning with each letter of the
alphabet - on chart paper for display.  Maybe start with Z and go
backwards - can be long though.

I copied these from a course I took earlier - they do work though.  Let me
know if you get any good ones - I'm always scratching my head, too.  My
problem is that they also check out books during the 30 minute period  my
time is short.

I have found that making color transparencies from well illustrated books
that interest kids this age allows me to read aloud to them and keep their

There are some wonderful picture books of greek myths that are well
illustrated. Also some cool biographies.

Last year I had a group of fourth graders that were a handful.  In the
spring I had them work on a research project about the presidents.  They
really enjoyed the project and they learned a lot too!

I began the unit by reading aloud _So You Want to be President_, which
they loved.  Then I introduced the project and had them pick partners. 
One of the stipulations was if they were not productive they would work
alone to
produce their own poster.

The kids randomly picked their president from a can just to be fair.  My
clerk set up file folders (1/president) with pictures of the president in
it.  She also photocopied the presidential seal in different sizes for the
kids to use.

I'm attaching the sheets I used.  Feel free to modify them if you choose
to do this project.  Good luck with the rest of the year!

Empathy abounds. I have 26 third graders that are
about the same, only smaller. ;-)

If you have the opportunity to group them three to a
computer, here are a couple of things. The Cyberchase
logic puzzles might occupy them for awhile.
and "other math related games are found here":

How about some type of scavenger hunt (Found in lots
of media help public library for card
catalogs, etc.) for specific authors, titles, pages:
how many in a specific book.Have them work in groups
and one at a time while the others search for the
books you have for the answers in the books. For
example: how many pages in the book "Memory Boy" or
who is the publisher of the book MB or what is the PP:
place of Publication of that book....Just grab some
titles of books that you have -20 or so and have the
kids work in groups: First one done/all correct:
stickers, bookmarks CANDY, etc....
Or do a Jeopardy type game for answers in their index
of their social studies book they bring to

I was having the same problem with my 5th and 6th grade classes.  Now what
I do is get iwth the teacher at the beginning of the quarter and explain
the lessons I will be teaching in the library class and then any work we
do in
the library will be assigned to a subject in the classroom for a grade.
Such as we are doing almanacs right now with the 5th graders and a grade
will be put in the teachers grade books for Social Studies and Science. 
It has helped me get the students serious about what I teach them and the
teachers know exactly what I am doing with their students.

I have very similar problems with my 5th grade, but fortunately, I do give
a library grade, which helps.  So far they've gotten really excited about:

R.L. Stine - he has a great website called; has a
online story you can print out and read aloud to them; it also has lesson
plans to help them write their own stories.  You could do a contest with a
book, gift certificate, or big candy bar as a prize.  (Mine love candy!)

J.R.R. Tolkien - show the animated "Hobbit" or "LOTR"

J.K. Rowling - I found an online play you could have the students present;
there are also many puzzles and trivia contests available Schwarz - "Scary
Stories to tell in the Dark" series--they love to listen to these!

I also spend some time telling them where and how I got my degree, other
libraries I've worked in, etc.  This helps them to see that I"m not just
an "aide", but a professional.

I also do a collection development lesson, where they're given $100.00
imaginary dollars to spend on any books or videos they want to purchase
for the library. Then I give them all the restrictions:  must buy this
item for a
teacher, principal has requested this, certain percentage must be AR
books, must buy something for each grade level, etc.  It really helps them
to see that our job isn't as easy as they think!

I teach Dewey by giving them a stack of uncatalogued books, a printout of
the 100 Dewey divisions, and then have them try to assign a Dewey number
to each book.  They think they know ALL about Dewey until they have to
assign a number.

You said you only have 5 computers so this may not be what you're looking
for BUT if you can put some of the students on the computers, have them
look at the virtual field trips at Field Trips Site.  There are some trips
on Fierce Creatures, Endangered Species, Sharks, (might keep the rowdy
ones occupied).


 do you do things like book talks, reader's theater, or just plain reading
picture books to them?  You don't always have to present "information"
skills.  That might help to keep their attention even if you only do that
part of the period. I have found that the kids are never too old to be
read to.

 There must have been something in the water supply in 1991-1992(?) as our
fifth graders this year are also challenging.  They have been that way
since third grade!!! I am also on a fixed schedule.  Classes are 35
minutes, but I only have half a class at a time.  My library is the size
of a classroom and 30 kids just wouldn't fit. As for lessons, I used the
almanac as you did and am now starting on the encyclopedia.  I have three
books that I use for worksheet/direct instruction -- LiBeary 4-6  (I hope
to replace it next year), Hooked on Library Skills, and another
 one specifically for fifth grade who's name escapes me right now.  I am 
at home and cannot "see" the name.  I also will make up my own
encyclopedia scavenger hunt questions.  In addition, the kids like the
Dewey hunt I do.  I write a call number on on index card and then either
in pairs or singles they have to match a book to it.  The student or
students who find the most books in a ten minute period receive a small
prize.  Whatever is very structured with a definite "end" seems to help
with the behavior and control.

A couple of years ago I purchased an AverKey computer to TV  converter. I
sit my kids on the floor in front of the TV and we get on the  internet
and watch Peregrine falcons and go on virtual field trips, etc. I taught
them to use the OPAC this way. I don't use it every time we have library,
but it does seem to hold their attention for 15 minutes or so
 which is about all the time I have for a lesson. With the little ones, I 
have played games on the Arthur website, looked at the falcons, learned
about capybaras (for Hooway for Wodney Wat) and armadillos (Armadillo
Rodeo). If you don't have one already, I highly recommend it!

 How about setting up centers that use encyclopedias.  The kids have a set
 of ten questions (they could work as a team) and then go to 10 different 
encyc. stations two of which could be at the computer with your on-line
 I've  had the kids look at maps, and find all the states that begin with
the  letter A...go to Antarctica and which countries own what part, etc. 
You could  tie the ten serach questions into the social studies curriculum
at that grade
 level.  One of the best things I ever did was purchase a class set of 
clipboards so that when we have projects like this, they can carry and 
write on their paper successfully.  Hope this helps.  I find the kids stay
on  task and it reinforces both book and computer skills.

 I have 5 good internet computers too which I use for teaching - like you
I  find that 5th graders are much more attentive if they can put fingers
to  the keyboard.  I divide my kids in half - half the class gets books,
the other
 half does a computer excercise and then they switch.  I'm automated and 
kids check out their own books.

 I do "cheat sheets" - step by step directions for what ever I am trying
to accomplish that the kids read (following directions is a requirement)
so  that they can work semi independently.  I have them work in groups of
two, so I
 can work with 10 at a time on the computers.

 I have EXACTLY the same problem. Just today the music teacher and I have
decided to collaborate on a research project with students researching 
famous composers, musicians, etc.  Perhaps if you collaborated with one of
 "Specials" teachers (as we are called in my school) you could present 
lessons that do have more meaning, as well as the added "punch" of being
for a  grade.
 In my school the classroom teacher is so over burdened and has so little 
time available, it is easy to see how they are reluctant to jump into
collaborative projects that THEY may not really have time to prepare for 
 Maybe art, music, PE, computer teachers will be more receptive. Also,
most  of the teachers in my school will use assignments from library time
as a  grade - or at least they will allow me to use the threat of such to
gain  cooperation
 from students.

 I hope you will post a hit as I, too, need help with
 my 5th graders.  (I taught 2nd and 3rd for 18 years,
 so I REALLY have a hard time working with the older
 kids.)  My teachers do give me input on what they are
 doing in the classroom, but it is still a  challenge--too many kids (26
or more) and only 4  computers.  One activity I plan to do later this
month  is a scavenger hunt.  I'll divide the kids into teams of two and
will give them questions to answer using reference materials and books on
the shelves (I'll have to make sure the books are rarely checked out so
 that they will be there!HA!)--For example, what is the
 title of the book that has the call # 636.24 GAN?  Of
 course, a friend of mine gave me the idea but since I
 am a brand-new librarian I haven't had time to create
 the questions yet.  Maybe the archives have some--I
 haven't checked yet.  I don't want each team to have
 the exact same questions since they'd probably just
 copy each other.
 Another thing I do with them that they enjoy is to
 have them locate books needed by a teacher/team.  For
 example, 2nd grade teachers wanted books on space.  I
 printed out the list from our OPAC and cut it into
 strips--each person started with one title to locate.
 We discussed the type of book a 2nd grader might read
 or use for information, etc.  Then they hunted for the
 books and gave them to me.  They seem to like doing
 things like this--it doesn't seem like work, I guess.
 If they found the title, they'd get another strip with
 a new title to locate.
 Hope this helps and that you get tons of great ideas
 to share!

 The kids do like almanac lessons, the worksheets from WA for kids usually
focus on stuff of some interest to those world-wise and educationally
jaded fifth graders.  Doing stuff like scavenger hunts or bingo with the
almanacs work also.

 However, I would sit down with the 5th grade teachers and
 show/demonstrate that what you do in the library does/can help in their 
classroom. If you are in the 'planning time provider' loop, you might
check with the other specialists and compare notes. You may need to enlist
the principal's help in getting the message to the teachers that you are
also a member of the faculty. If the teacher is amiable, try
 working with giving them graded worksheets to work into kids' social 
studies or lit grade.

 A low-level collaboration can help also. Send a weekly note to teacher 
(or grab in the hall) and find topics from the classroom. Work those into
the almanac lesson. Kids will make the connection and the prior knowledge
helps them focus on the learning.

I do a couple different activities that may be of interest to you. 
Currently I am teaching encyclopedia skills.  After some simple activity
sheets we move on to an individual mini-research project.  I created forms
with information for students to look up.  (Fourth grade students are
working on states and fifth grade on space -- like individual planets,
stars, sun, moon, comets, etc.)  I have one set of enc. available at each
table.  They begin by looking up their topic in the index and then to the
correct volume.  One week they complete the worksheet and then the next
week they create a book that we call a flip book.  Each page contains a
piece or two from the worksheet.  They can be creative and artistic but
they are still learning facts about their topic.  Because I am choosing
topics that the teachers are required to teach (or expose) the students I
then grade the flip books and give them to the teachers.  The teachers are
happy and the students have fun.  I'll attach a word document showing the

I also like to do on-line scavenger hunts having the kids practice using
Catalog-Plus.  I do this in partners because we only 6 computers.  While
one group is looking on the computer the other students are doing
something fun
at the table like a word search (either month-related or a library topic).
 Another thing that I do is an Easter Egg Hunt.  I make this a competition
between all fifth grade classes.  The class with the best time and the
most correct answers win.  This is done in the spring after we have taught
using Catalog Plus, encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesaurus, almanac and
atlas.  We put questions inside plastic eggs and hide them around the
library.  The students have to find the eggs, figure out what reference
source to use, find the correct answer and then put it on the answer sheet.

We generally have about 100 questions so kids can answer more than one
question.  They love racing against all the other 5th grade classes.  Lots
of fun (and loud)!

I don't know if you have a classroom set of almanacs but the kids really
enjoy looking at them (the children's version).  Lots of pop culture.  I
let them look through them on the first day and find something they'd like
to share with the class.  They see all the neat stuff and want to keep
through.  I usually create my own activity sheets because I know what the
kids enjoy.  I can make them fun and educational.  But sometimes you can
find blackline masters that are ok.

Hope this helps.  I know that 5th grade can be a challenge.  And without
support from the teachers it can be tough.  Hang in there and try to have

Boy, I could have written this letter.  I feel for you
and wish I could help, but I am in the same boat.  If
you get any time, I would love to know the responses
you get to this thread.  Good luck with your problem,
again I wish I could help

That age is difficult.  I found when teaching a similar aged class at a
church school that recruiting the ones with the most difficult behavior to
be class assistants - helping you in some significant way - improved the
behavior tremendously.
For literature, Lord of the Rings is huge with that age group right now 
I would investigate available teaching materials for Tolkien's works,
especially the Hobbit, which is ideal for 5th graders, and can open up a
whole world of compelling literature to them. Having 3 attention deficit
children myself, I've found that getting them involved, as you stated,  is
the key.  Works of drama would be another compelling way to draw them in -
a couple of my students' favorite lessons
were one where I took on the role of different historical figures and
dramatically read "my" life stories, and a Hindi play in which each
student had to read parts and use paper puppets.
Another idea might be a library "scavenger hunt"  - in which they had to
utilize new research skills to get to different levels that provide small 
but compelling rewards (small hard candies, gel pens, or some such
Once you channel that energy, you could have a really special class, so
hang in there!

I find myself in a similar situation -- as do many
elem. librarians, I think.  I'd love to see a hit on this.Here are some
things that work for me:

    1.  Reading aloud doesn't get done as often in the classroom now.  I
find really wonderful, usually funny books to read aloud --or maybe just a
chapter or two -- such as Squeaky Wheel by Robert Kimmel Smith (the chapt
called Meet Phil Steinkraus is a winner) or Anastasia Krupnik, or a whole
short book such as Leon's Story (very good for Black History month, too).
    2.  Lots of "gamey" type things -- On each table, a pile of
books with similar Dewey numbers that they have to put in order. After
they do this once and are checked by me, they move to the next table for
another pile of books, and so on.  I usually just do this twice, but if
your periods are longer, you could do that.
    3.  Lots of "extra credit" things, such as "find this book"  call
number and title,  and if they find it they can take out an extra book. 
They love this, and so do I!
    I find that 5th graders, particularly in the second half of the year
are getting hormonal, and are sometimes borderline rude, but that's just
the nature of the beast. Good luck!!!!

One way to deal with the behavior problems would be to use positive
methods to reward those who are behaving.That might catch on with those
who are misbehaving - if they have some motivation to follow the "few"
rules which
you must have and enforce.

I would also suggest that you talk to the 5th grade teachers and
collaborate at what ever level they will allow. Find one teacher to start
with and plan some activities to support/extend what she is teaching in
Language Arts or
Social Studies. Those both lend themselves to library projects/skills. It
takes time, but others will come on board when they see the success of
this collaboration. It certainly helps if your administrator will carve
some time and initiate/encourage the collaboration.

The computer teacher and I do our lessons around what the kids are doing
in their science classes. It seems to keep their interest much longer than
doing a "library skill"  and even tho we don't the projects could be
graded and included in the science average. We did projects with the human
the water cycle, microscopes, and an animal slide show.


You probably already know how to play the game, but just in case: When you
are viewing the show, just click on the dollar amount The answer comes up,
students provide the question then click on the slide to see if they are
Click on the back button on the bottom right corner of the slide to return
to the main screen Any question you have already viewed should then be
shown in red

I also let students keep score because they are so competitive.

You could redo the game and put whatever countries or topics you cover in
your curriculum.

#834. Battle of the Books
Literature, level: Elementary 
Posted Wed Feb 3 11:51:21 PST 1999 by Nancy ([
Materials Required: Lots of good books 
Activity Time: 4-6 weeks 
Concepts Taught: Literature appreciation 
When cabin fever sets in I divide my class into teams of 5 or 6 students
and give each student a list of 100 books (this list I came up with has
books of varying levels of difficulty but all are books I feel 5th graders
should be exposed to). I challenge each team to read as many books on the
list as possible. Not all team members must read each book, as you'll see
in a minute. They read these books during silent reading time in class and
for their 20 minutes per night that are required. 
As the weeks go by I let the teams meet for 10-15 minutes each week to
discuss which books they've read and assign books for the upcoming week.
After a few weeks (while enthusiasm is still high)we have a contest. I
give a quote from a book (a quote I've selected beforehand that is
meaningful) and the teams have to guess which book it came from. Any team
that guesses correctly gets a point. We keep doing this, and after a set
amount of time the team with the most points wins. 
Our principal gave $10 to each member of the winning team and a local
pizza parlor gave a pizza party to the winning team. Also, an ice cream
shop gave a gift certificate for 1 free ice cream cone to everyone who
participated. The students were really enthusiastic about it. Even after
the contest I found them choosing books from the list that they had heard
about and hadn't had a chance to read. 

Here are a couple of ideas I use:

Do you have an Ellison Die cut machine and a die for the United States? 
I'm talking about the big dies that cut out each of the states in
geographic regions so that each state is seperate. I usaully have a huge
box of all the state shapes.

I use the book Puzzel Maps USA by Nancy Clouse, and then dump a hugh
amount of cut out states on their table.  They are responsible for
creating a picture like in the book.  Kids are so creative!

I also use Robert Sabuda's website  I then
make pop-up cards with the kids. When you get to the website, choose the 
Explore pop-ups icon on the bottom, and then choose simple pop-ups you can
make.  It really is fun!

Something I did a few years ago with 4th graders and will probably do
again this year with 5th grade is have them make I Spy type books. I
brought in a lot of "junkie" type stuff and had them work in groups
arranging the things they selected and writing a riddle about it. I then
took a digital pic of their arrangement and typed their riddle underneath.
I assembled the printed pages in a booklet. They seemed to enjoy it -
we'll see how the 5th graders do with it. We have some tough to teach kids
too. Good luck!

Your 5th grade sounds exactly like mine. I am ending the year with the
students doing an I-SEARCH project. Students are choosing topics that they
would like to learn more about. They each had to come up with 2 or 3
questions for their topic. Topics include skateboarding, polar bears,
basketball players, robots. Their finished product is their own choice,
cqn be a report, poster, comic strip, diorama. There are several sites on
the web that discuss I-Search. My only requirement is that they follow our
Big6 model and keep a weekly journal discussing their progress. This is my
3rd year doing this at the end of the school year.

If you haven't seen Mysteries of Research (or Myteries of Research 2) by
Sharron Cohen check it out. My kids love this as a wrap up for the year,
and it takes two-3 weeks per mystery,.  They have to work carefully,
reference materials (dictionary. atlas, almanac, encyclopedia biographical
dictionary). i never have time to do more than one, but they get harder as
you go through the book, so you could do two or three very different ones.
I always stress the process too, incorporating the Big 6.


Wendy Lavenda-Carroll
Library Media Specialist
Ridgefield Park, NJ
Grant Elementary School (T&Th) K-6
Lincoln Elementary School (M-W-F) K-6

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