Previous by DateNext by Date Date Index
Previous by ThreadNext by Thread Thread Index
LM_NET Archive

Sorry this is so long.  I posted a hit a couple of days ago but I didn't 
seen the other part (sent in 3 parts).  So here is the hit again in one 
I will use many of these ideas in my library.  Thank you to everyone who 

Connect the center to content and skills. For example,
I have a lms friend who does this for all her classes. One idea is to try 
and make some discovery centers. She has a box with different rocks and 
those packing peanuts along with a book on rock identification. Students 
find a rock and then try to identify it using the books provided and 
answering some questions etc.
I have used centers with the kinds of writing authors use by making pockets 
holding examples of persuasive, explanatory etc and students then select a 
sample and record the type on an answer sheet with why they selected the 
You could make centers for abc order and guide words to the 3rd letter etc. 
Use display boards and Velcro to make them interactive. You could put a self 
check on the back of the display or have students come to the desk to find 
the ans sheet. Another idea is to do centers with your card catalog. Make 
search questions for the kids to follow and once they identify the item and 
its call letters/numbers have them look for the book on the shelf. When I 
have done this within a class period it is successful and the students enjoy 
the challenges.

You could collaborate with their teachers and find out what they're 
studying, then use this for topics of centers. Ideas for centers are:

puzzles (real puzzles, crossword, word search, etc.)
art projects
games (jeopardy, etc based on topics)
create a song, rap, poem, etc on topic
group reads picture book about topic and do short answer and question
have group choose parts and read short play on topic

I agree that checkout is really important for this group.  Particularly if 
this is the only time they come to the library.  You could split your time 
between book talks and checkout...or OPAC instruction and checkout.  The 
fourth graders are the same group you taught last year as third 
it might be easier to start with them.  Just pick up where you left off and 
keep going.

I do whole class activities with my fourth and fifth graders (25-30 per
class).  I know that's not what you're looking for...but they LOVE using the 
World Almanac for Kids and all of the reference books.  Activities with 
these books could be turned into centers.  Centers are just short activities 
that students can complete and check independently.  Each center is 
different.  All of the instructions, materials, etc. are at the center for 
each child.  After a certain length of time, students can rotate centers 
(have a plan for switching or it will be chaos) and complete a different 
center.  If you have eye spy books, put them at a center.  Kids love them 
and will appreciate the break if the other centers are more scholarly. ;)
You can make anything into a center.  Creating them is a lot of work, but 
they can be used over and over again.  Lamented manila folders work well for 
the instructions.  And, big manila envelopes can help you keep everything 
organized.  There are lots of elementary ed books about using centers.  If 
you can find some of them, they will help you a lot!

I usually make everything into some sort of game and let the kids compete 
against each other.  They like anything that seems like BINGO or Jeopardy.
Sometimes I do biographies with them.  I do the state award books with them 
(most of them are picture books and can be read and a few shared in a class 
period).  I don't usually read to them because I see them irregularly.  So, 
when I do read to them, I use picture books.  For a lot of them it's a real 
treat because they don't read picture books on their own any more...and 
there are a lot of great ones out there.  I can read 4 or 5 short ones and 
then play a battle of the books type game.  I teach OPAC and DDC in 3rd 
grade, but I use scavenger hunt games to review both for 4th and 5th 

Fifth graders can be a tough group.  I think it takes time to get used to 
them...they aren't eager like the little ones.  Good luck. :)

Centers are small group or individual learning activities that students can 
cycle through.  Perhaps they switch activities every week, perhaps every 
10-20 minutes. They usually benefit from working at the center more than 
once.  My library has 8 tables for students to work at.  They are all 
clustered together so they are somewhat separate from the shelves.   You 
might have half the class at the centers while half are browsing for books, 
or you might count book selection as a "center" to rotate through.  I don't 
exactly have centers, but I do have self-selected quiet activities students 
should do once they have selected a book or if they aren't checking out a 
book that day.  Here are some small group/table activities I use in my 
library with students in grades 4 and 5:

Sustained silent reading could be one "center".  For younger students, I 
have big books available that they can read with a friend.  If their
behavior is good, I let them sprawl out all over the library.  Classes that 
need more structure must sit at assigned seats, but it might make the 
activity more attractive if their center was a beanbag chair or a window 

Put cut-up letters that form a library or book-related word in an envelope. 
The students then un-jumble the letters to figure out the word.  The list of 
possible words is on my word wall.  Some students go through several words 
in a sitting.

Do you have computer catalogs the students can access?  I also have a
mini-scavenger hunt that small teams of students can do on the catalog.  I 
only have five computers and classes of around 24 kids, so if they work in 
groups of two or three, everyone can have a chance on the computer every 
other week.

Lots of cut-and-paste newspaper activities might lend themselves to a
center.  One of my favorites is to find a small news article.  It must be 
news, not opinion or an advertisement.  It must fit on a sheet of paper.  
Students have a very hard time with this one.  They learn to find where the 
article is continued, to recognize where it starts. They have some 
difficulty understanding what is news and what is other stuff in the 
newspaper.  Then they write three informational questions.  The questions 
should be answered in the article. Another challenge! They write the answers 
on the back.  Then they trade their article with another student's.  This is 
an activity that they can definitely do several times before they get really 
good at it!

Once we get into internet research, a within-a-website scavenger hunt is 
also a possibility.

You could have a stump-the-chumps table with almanacs and atlases and
dictionaries.  Students write questions for other students to answer.  The 
other students must be able to use indexes or tables of contents to figure 
out the answers.  Keep good questions in a basket in the middle of the table 
to serve as examples and also to make sure they don't run out of questions.

I Spy books are hugely popular at our school.  I keep the ones that fall 
apart and laminate any double-page spreads that I can salvage.  Some kids 
peruse these endlessly.  I bet that's a great activity for ELL students.  
It's not exactly a center, but it's one of my self-selected quiet activities 
that are very appealing to our less motivated students.

I have wondered about centers for my 1 - 3 school library. It is a lot of 
work but sounds beneficial. You could do short assignments, or games ( Dewey 
match, alpha. order, dictionary or research work). There is no end to what 
you could do, and there are lots of resources, easily adapted to this 
situation. Like you, I think the most important thing is learning how to 
check-out an appropriate book.

My students have just come to accept sitting on the rug. I did buy one of 
the big, colorful ones with Dewey Decimal system on it and that has helped. 
I can tell that some think it is beneath them and I  imagine older students 
might really have that attitude. (too bad, as far as I am concerned).

I would look at the skills you wish the students to learn - e.g. OPAC,
skimming, literature, reading widely, book care. Then design activities
around the particular concepts you have chosen.  E.g. If you are focusing on 
finding authors in the OPAC, I have found kids tend to look up the authors' 
first names, rather than the last names.  So make a file folder activity 
centre that includes a crossword (use Puzzlemaker or similar) that requires 
the children to find the authors' surnames in the OPAC and then the first 
names are in the crossword; maybe include a card matching activity that does 
the same - linking first and last names; etc, etc.  Make the activities 
simple, but fun.  Make sure any activities you create can be used again.  
E.g. a crossword puzzle can have new words included, so once the children 
know what to do, they don't have to continually ask for direction.
I have used a listening post and a video presentation of stories as a 
centre, with the students watching/listening and then responding as their 
activity.  That worked well and made activity creation a lot easier. Also 
try and make activities open-ended and self correcting, because I have found 
that if the kids know you don't check, they don't bother to make an effort.
BTW, always ask the class teacher to help out, especially with group design.
Keep records of what groups work at which activities, etc.
If you have six centres, replace or change on every two weeks or so.

I think the center format could fall into place once you've determined the 
curriculum goals you plan to address.  Could you meet with the 5th grade 
teachers to discuss how you might help them meet their curriculum needs?
Information Literacy can be infused into virtually any subject!

Here are some links that you might find helpful.  Best of luck!

The administration to me does not have any concept of an elem school 
library. What do they mean when they ask you to set up an "elem Center" ? 
You have an MLS and you know how to run a library. Based on your student 
population it sounds as if your collection should contain materials that 
would serve each population.  If you can do this I would suggest that you 
remind/ask admin to provide you with the print and  non-print materials you 
need.  Also if each population the admin wants you to serve has special 
clubs or an active parent association ask them to lean on administration to 
help you get the materials you need.

In the past I've used "Library Skills: Learning Centers for the Primary
Grades" by Ruth Snoddon. Published by The Center for Applied Research in 

I do centers in between units. Usually I only do centers with 1-3 gr. I set
up different areas of the library with things/activities either related to
the unit we just finished, or the one we are about to embark upon. For
example, with an author/illustrator unit, I had one center with all of his
books, at the coloring/art center the students could make chalk drawings
like the illustrator. I might also add a listening center with his books on
tape. I also have an Arthur Goes to the Library game I usually set up, along
with a puzzle center. The students here know how much I love "outdoorsy"
things, so I have a rather large collection of butterflies, caterpillars,
hornets nests, etc., which also can become a center along with various
nonfiction books related to the stuff in that center. I also usually have a
"special book" center which contains a variety of beautiful pop-up books not
normally available for student check out. Basically, my philosophy is that
I try to think of things kids are interested in, relate them somehow to the
library and then do whatever I want!

Try Geo-Safari Globe Jr. or a magnetic U.S puzzle map, puzzles, puppet
theater, listening center, reading center, (We are doing a camping theme 
year) tent, book and stuffed animal or puppet.

In no particular order:

* I always have activities for dictionary, atlas, and encyclopedia (in a
rush, I make a table that relates to a topic; "Explorers" for the fourth
graders, for example). Usually, there's a nonfiction station: for October
I'll use bats, spiders, and probably pumpkins.

* I choose a few AR books (sometimes around a theme, usually not) that
can be read in 15-20 minutes; that group takes tests and records the titles
and scores (not that important to me, but it keeps them honest).

* There's usually a writing center; I found something called "Story
Sparkers" (pictures on the front, questions on the back) that I use there.
At times, I put wordless books there and let the students write the story.

* I have used World Almanac for Kids at a station, and sometimes there
are activities online (math practice or some language arts skill or a quiz)
that I'll assign a group to work on.

* Listening center is a favorite.

Sometimes each class rotates through all the centers before I change
them---most often, not. If there's a reason I have less than a full class,
or if I have latecomers, this works in a way that whole-group does not. This
allows them to talk, help each other, and also get used to being in a
library and being responsible for doing your work (not goofing off because
"someone else" will answer all the questions).

It lets me pull a small group for instruction with me (on the OPAC, for
example), and it eliminates the mad rush at the end of class at the desk---I
circulate among the groups and give each one in turn a "break" to get up and
choose their books. More often than not, they rush to return to their
groups to complete the assignment. Discipline is SO much easier this way.

Set up isn't difficult---I have clear acrylic sign holders with the
directions, and I've attached plastic sheet holder pockets to hold the
copies for each group (think sheet protectors with adhesive strips instead
of holes). Just add a pencil cup, and each group is ready to work as soon as
they walk in.

I just started doing centers. I have 6 tables of approx 4 students each. I 
took 6 book pockets mounted them on a board. In each pocket I wrote a 
center. Each pocket is number. The kids from table 1 go to center 1; kids 
from table 2 go to center 2. That prevents too many kids at one center. The 
centers I have are:

Computer (I have computer games like Magic School Bus)


Math (pattern blocks, geoboards, etc)


Reference (a basket of Guinness book of World Records, Scholastic world
records, I Spy, Optical Illusions)

A basket of word searches, low-level skill sheets for the K-1, and pages
copied from a book called the Uncoloring book

I do centers in my library with K-2 as a special treat.
I have computer center, puppet center, lego center, felt story board center
and chalk stories
I used to have listening centers with books and audio tapes, puzzle centers
with book connections, activity centers with coloring sheets, dot to dots,
mazes, etc also with book tie-ins. All of the centers were very popular with
the students.

Good luck with  your centers!  Some ideas I have seen implemented 
successfully include a listening center ( you could get a book on tape with 
multiple headphones), word puzzles relating to a particular book or topic, 
creating a new cover for a book, and more.

This book might give you some ideas-even reading the description of the 

I don't have centers each day, but do them as more of a treat. I have 
learned that if the kids have access to computers they all want "free time" 
and they all want to be on a computer. I almost always have a prescribed 
website--they can have free time at home.  Other centers that I have used or 
considered: listening centers, I Spy and related book center, word searches, 
manipulatives from Mindware like puzzles, brain games and tesselations, and 
a drawing center with drawing books.  Many that age would rather sit and 
read or spend a class time browsing the shelves.

With my younger kids, I do periodic author centers.  We will become familiar 
with authors such as Steig and Ehlert, for example, then on the last day of 
that unit, rotate through centers.  I have centers that feature a coloring 
page, a creative drawing page, a quick craft or manipulative relating to 
that author.  They like to be able to finish a project rather than take home 
a couple to complete.

Do you have access to technology in your library?  A computer lab, perhaps?
I taught reference skills to 4th and 5th graders.  For instance, I explained 
how to use an almanac  Then using the CPS made up a jeopardy game, broke 
them up into teams, and had them answer questions using an almanac to find 
the answers. They had to take turns on their teams actually searching the 
almanac, using the CPS responder, etc.
No technology? We also played dictionary and thesaurus scrabble.  It was 
scrabble but they had a sheet to record each word they used and if it was 
dictionary scrabble they found the definition of the word, guide word, etc. 
and if it was thesaurus they found the appropriate information.
This worked MUCH better than just reading to them.  I did also read to them 
but not every week so when I did read to them they seemed to enjoy it more.  
Also, when I was reading I was working on specific Genre'.  We talked about 
what elements that were found in say a tall tale and we'd write them on the 
Then I'd read the tall tale and afterwards they would have to pick a part of 
the story that matched the element.
All of this was graded and they received a grade in my class.  Perhaps it 
could be part of their language arts grade.
I hope all of this helps.  Be creative and try and make it fun.  Best of 

Will your centers be used by the entire class at one time?
At my last school (Greens Farms Elementary in Westport - a K-5 school) we 
created centers for "Passport to Media" which allowed 2 students from each 
2-5 grade level to come to the LMC instead of going to recess. They had to 
independently use centers during that time. My assistant really worked hard 
on this, and we had quite a bit of parent support to make it work. Our 5th 
grade recess time primarily was dedicated to the TV Club, where students 
used the 10 iMACs in the LMC and video cameras to make movies. (We often had 
up to 20 students at that time) Our passport was independent so we could 
have a class circulating and a class in either a fixed K-1 class or a grade 
2-5 flexibly scheduled curriculum related class. Either way, you might be 
able to adapt some of these centers to your needs.

An Author Center (change the author each month) -- have writing and reading 
activities related to the author
A Writing Center
A bookmaking center (There are many different kinds of small books which can 
be made. Flip books, accordion books, alphabet books, diaries of imaginary 
characters, etc.)
Microscope center: Set up a microscope (computer or regular) and have 
activity sheets where observations can be recorded.
Game center: (Connect Four, chess, checkers, etc.)
Game Making Center: (Create a game to teach ________ solar system, human 
body, exploration, Connecticut, etc.)
Art Museum Center (Clay or drawing.. Students create an object from any 
book-- fiction or nonfiction, and cite the source -- the card goes next to 
the created object/picture. This could be made into a website.)
Computer center (Use any software they already know which is available on 
the computer.)
Magazine Center: (Find examples of the Golden Bricks. Have 5 colored paper 
bricks based on Barbara Mariconda's work: A quote, a statistic, an amazing 
fact, an anecdote or a descriptive segment. Build a wall of these bricks.. 
Refresh regularly)
Reading Incentive Center - Create a bookmark to promote a book you have 
read, etc.

These are a few ideas, but there are also some "generic" Center Books 
available where you can adapt classroom centers to the LMC. If you don't 
have any extra help, centers can be difficult to maintain and monitor!

I don't know if this is the correct way to respond to you, but I thought I 
try it. I teach in a rural, moderately poor district that is multicultural.
Although all ESL students attend a specific school, they are quickly 
back into the general population so I understand your problem. Centers are 
pushed heavily within the classes here, so the students adjust well when we 
this type of activity. It takes a lot of planning, but as you build a 
variety of
activities they can be adapted to the various skills you are trying to
introduce, expose and reinforce.
I read to older students very successfully, but I don not require them to 
sit on
the story carpet. After 2nd grade they do not like it. I am a "moving 
while reading regardless of the number of pictures or sketches the book 
have to enhance the story. At this level they must use their imagination so
novels that are short work well over several weeks or even longer.
I have some games that I purchased through Highsmith, Author Bingo, a Dewey
Game; and I have created simple computer author, title search games. I have
colored pencils and drawing paper which become another center. Specific
magazines with a set of questions, open ended to complete make a good 
center. I
use Ranger Rick with younger students, the form they fill out request name 
article, subject of article (animal), lists three fact new to you. Easy to 
and know if the student read the article. Book selection is the activity 
they do once the center of the day for them is complete. Once you have 
5-6 centers with some activities (games) requiring students to work 
while other centers require individual work you must demonstrate what 
you expect from each activity and what the responsibility of each student 
be in the learning process. These centers can run for many weeks, five 
five weeks so that each student has a chance to participate in all 
I hope this makes sense. You can also create centers that relate to the 
of a product with groups based on the intelligences. A PowerPoint product 
original drawings, research, writing etc. each group is responsible for part 
the project. I love working this way, especially when the teacher will
coordinate with me.
I hope this helps. if you have any questions, please feel free to email me. 
teach 23 classes each week. Five classes are part of a writing course for 3 
& 4
grade, that time used to be my second library class for those grades each 
Now I teach my curriculum and have book selection in one 40 minute time 

Judy Cole, Librarian
MD Fox Elementary
Hartford, CT

Communicate instantly! Use your Hotmail address to sign into Windows Live 
Messenger now.

Please note: All LM_NET postings are protected by copyright law.
  You can prevent most e-mail filters from deleting LM_NET postings
  by adding LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU to your e-mail address book.
To change your LM_NET status, e-mail to:
In the message write EITHER: 1) SIGNOFF LM_NET  2) SET LM_NET NOMAIL
3) SET LM_NET MAIL  4) SET LM_NET DIGEST  * Allow for confirmation.
 * LM_NET Help & Information:
 * LM_NET Archive:
 * EL-Announce with LM_NET Select:
 * LM_NET Supporters:

LM_NET Mailing List Home