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Library Organization for the Primary Teacher

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Is your library nice and organized? Or are you not sure how to get it all done? I just recently relabeled my library and it is working like a dream!

I posted this picture on Instagram and I received so many questions and requests to share my library labels. This post will cover those questions for you.

I created all of the labels above to make it easier to organize my library and for my kids to return the books to their rightful place. When I began teaching, I just stuck all my books on a shelf with nothing to contain them. What resulted was a huge mess! The books would spill out onto the floor and it was impossible to keep them neat and organized. The worst thing about this was that my kids could never find the books they were searching for (#teacherfail).

This prompted me to get some bins.  I then attempted to organize my books in different ways. I tried to sort the books by author, genre, theme, alphabetical order, etc. Nothing worked for me! I'd end up with tons of bins and some had almost no books while others had 50 books. I knew I had to find something different. Something easier for me and for the kids.

I decided to group my library based on the books I had. The beauty of this system is that it can work on various levels. Want to level all or some of the books? Put a group of levels in a bin and you’re done! Want to sort by author? Just put those author’s books in one bin. All the kids need to know in order to keep your library tidy is the bin number. I'm all about keeping it simple and easy. Once I had this system down, I labeled my books with small dot stickers. This worked well for us, but the numbers were hard to read (they were handwritten) and desperately needed an update.

Let's dive into my library so you can see how it all works and how I labeled everything!


Shelves


The book shelves are from Ikea. They are from the Kallax series. They come in a variety of colors. I love white because it goes with any decor. Just turn it on it's side and you are good to go!


Bins


My book bins came from Target. There are similarly sized ones at Lakeshore and other stores as well.


Labels


I printed up my labels in the colors I wanted. There are a variety of colors for you to choose from, plus an editable version. I designed them to fit Avery-8160 labels that print 30 to a page. You can get them from any store or on Amazon.

Sorting The Books

How you sort your books is completely up to you, but this is what I did.



I happened to have lots and lots of non-fiction books. I filled up two bins and added coordinating book labels on each book. If at some point I need another non-fiction bin, I could just make the next one into a non-fiction one as well and move those other books into a different bin. Or I could just create a new bin altogether after number 16 (the last bin).



There are several bins that contain books from our Authors of the Month. I don’t have a ton for each author so instead of creating a bin for each of them, I put together a bin with three or four of these authors. In this particular bin I have books by James Marshall, Helen Lester, and Leo Lioni.



My kids are passionate about Mo Willems. We have tons of his books and I will probably be adding more to the collection throughout the next few years. Mo had to have his own bin. Once I get so many that they don’t fit inside one bin, I can put together a second one for his books.

We have another bin where I placed some classics like Little Critter and Berenstain Bears books. Another bin for Spot, Clifford, Pete the Cat, and Splat. Then I have some random ones where the books didn’t seem to fit anywhere but I wanted to make sure they stayed in the bin I wanted them in for organization's sake.  As you can see, my system is SUPER flexible. They kids get the hang of it pretty quickly and the best thing of all is that it is painless to maintain!


Maintenance 


Maintaining your library is going to be pretty effortless. When the kids take a book, they don’t have to remember where they got it from. Their reminder is right on the cover. I decided to place the stickers on the upper left hand corner of the cover. The kids don’t have to search for the sticker, which means that putting the books away will be quick! If your kids can’t read yet (this happened to me with some kids when I taught first grade) they can use the colors and kid images to help them put the books away. Something I love about the stickers being placed in this spot is that I can see right away if a book has been misplaced. It also helps my library helper to check the bins quickly to make sure all the books are in the right spot. The sticker did cover up the titles on some of the books. If this bothers you, one of my genius friends suggested placing them on the corner on the back. Your library helper can just turn the bin over and check it real quick. I try to have my library helper check the bins once a week.

Book Hospital

Have you ever heard of a book hospital?  I began using one six years ago and it has been a life saver! I created my original one with an owl theme but wanted something that matched my new labels. Check it out below:

I recommend placing it in an easy to reach spot in your classroom. Ours is placed in the library on top of one of the shelves. 

When the kids find a ripped book, they can just place it in here. This allows me to repair the damaged ones when I have time. I still want my kids to have five books in their personal book bins, so they know to pick up a new book as a replacement. 

I hope these tips helped you if you are planning a library overhaul! If you are interested in any of these resources, please click HERE or the picture below to check out my labels.



If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! Happy Organizing!



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Easy, No Prep Card Center

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One of the best pieces of advice that I have received was to create centers that could stay the same throughout the year. Over the years I have added more and more centers to my rotation that require little to no prep and that has saved my sanity!

One of the centers that has worked super well for my class is the card writing center. It’s a favorite every single year! Since this station is in the rotation each week, the kids know exactly what to do when their group is assigned to this center. This means that I don’t have to explain how to do it and the kids don’t interrupt my group during small group time. The main goal of centers is to keep the kids engaged, working, and practicing while the teacher works with a small group of children on targeted skills.

The best thing about this center is that it requires no prep work! You heard that right. No cutting little game pieces, laminating, or sorting anything! All you have to do is copy new cards for the week and you’re done! You don’t even have to fold the cards for the kids. They can handle it without a problem.

I had been using the same template for the past four years and it was time for an overhaul. I can't wait for my kids to see all the options!

Easy no prep card center!

You can choose to leave the inside blank or add lines. This file includes three different sized line templates that you can use to add lines inside the cards. 

Easy no prep card center!

There are OVER 50 designs that are included with more to come! You can check out the video below to see more card choices. 



Helpful Tips: 

  • When you introduce this center, make sure to model it and practice completing cards as a class. It also helps to have a couple of samples in the bin (or wherever the materials are held) just in case they need a little refresher. 
  • Have lots of copies ready to go. I suggest two or three designs at a time. I let my kids make as many cards as they would like during their time in this center (as long as the work is neat and complete of course). In a period of 30 minutes, my kids usually make one or two cards. 
  • Designate a place for your kids to place their cards when they are done. I picked up a mailbox from Lakeshore and it works perfectly! Our class “postal pal” passes them out at the end of the week. 
My kids LOVE to write cards for their friends and family. I'm sure yours will too!

If you would like to pick up this center, just click HERE or the picture below:


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Product Updates for Brights Fans!

Some of my favorites have gotten some product updates! These updates have been on my to-do list for a super long time. I'm so happy to have them completed. Every resource below now includes over 400 clip art choices for you to choose from so that you can match up every one of your students with the perfect image!

1. Editable Mailbox Labels

This mailbox system makes my life so much easier! I collect work that needs to be graded and put it back into these bins.  Every Thursday I send home a week's worth of work.  So far I'm noticing that more parents are getting to see their child's work this way.  In the past I've seen that my kids have work from weeks ago in their backpacks!  I was looking for a solution and this seems to have done the trick.  I also put a folder at the bottom of each drawer to help me build an ongoing portfolio.  Now whenever a last minute meeting pops up, I can pull the portfolio and have lots of student work for the meeting. These also come in handy for parent conferences!  


2. Book Bins

These book bins are one of my kids' favorite things in our classroom! So much that at the end of the year last year, my kids asked their third grade teachers if they would still have their own book bin in third grade!

I am all about happy colors and these labels with these bins from Lakeshore were just perfect for us!

3. Skinny Name Tags

The next resource is something we use all the time! Long ago I learned that packaging tape was one of the best ways to attach name tags to desks. Well, I was using huge name tags and they used up so much tape! A couple of years ago I thought about how amazing it would be if I could attach name tags with one piece of tape. That is the day this idea was born! These name tags fit perfectly inside the width of packaging tape.  Just place the name tag on the desk and run a piece of tape over it. Voila! 

When I print these, I print a duplicate set so that I can make bookmarks. My kids ADORE them!


Are you a Target Dollar Spot fan? Well, a year after I made these, Target created these thin adhesive labels and guess what? My name tags fit in there! #targetforthewin I'm now using these on my student desks but when I run out, I'll be using my trusty old packaging tape! 

If you own any of these resources, please make sure to re-download them now! If you are interested in purchasing them, please check out the links below:



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