Literature rich environment. Organization. Diverse books. Accessibility. Leveled texts. Autonomy.
My dear friend Haley from Teaching with Haley O’Connor had a dream for quite some time of helping a teacher revamp his/her classroom library. This summer we decided to team together to make this dream a reality and bring a brand new classroom library to a teacher and group of students. I’d love to share that journey with y’all! This post does have a few freebies and Amazon affiliate links.
We started off with a simple application that many teachers across the DFW metroplex completed. We truly felt that every single entry was so deserving of a class library revamp, but we had to settle on one application.
The phrases at the beginning of this post represent the key aspects that Stephanie was looking for in her classroom library. Those phrases stuck with Haley and I as we moved forward with taking a tour of Stephanie’s current space.
We inventoried current books and storage to get started. While there was a decent number of existing books that could be used in the space, we knew we needed more books showcasing diversity as well as books that could be leveled for Kindergarten reading abilities. We set up an Amazon wishlist and were so fortunate to have several amazing educators donate books and shelves for the flip. Thank you to Princess from Teaching, Love, Cupcakes, Carrie from Adventures in Kinder and Beyond, Alyssa from Simply Special Ed, Susan from Susan Jones Teaching, and Ari from The Science Penguin.
We decided on a mixture of roughly 1/3 of the books being levels and 2/3 being organized by genre. We chatted quite a bit about how we never mention levels to students. All they know is that the bins have letters on them to help keep them organized. We just felt that it was something that students at a Kindergarten age didn’t really need to know.
Now came the messy part… we spread out all of the books across the classroom and began sorting into piles based on genre, level, and if they could be donated to another classroom.
These were absolutely perfect for storing the books, and their durability is sure to keep the library looking nice for years to come!
Thank you Lakeshore!
With this being a Kindergarten classroom, we knew we needed a management system so that books were returned to the bins they belonged in. We added stickers to each book that coordinate with the label on the bins. For the leveled books, a simple letter sticker did the trick.
For our books organized by genre, Haley created some awesome stickers that had pictures matching the front of the bin. We added these to the backs of the books so students could refer to them when shelving their books.
Doesn’t the organization just make you smile? The best part about the sticker system if that you can keep a set of them in a file folder or plastic baggie and anytime you add a new book to your library you quickly slap a sticker on the back and you’re good to go!
Kindergarten students LOVE reading to friends and reading buddies, so it was natural to include a reading buddy bin in the library.
We were so fortunate to have so many books donated that we were able to also create a small read-aloud library for Stephanie.
Underneath the read-aloud library are student book bins where Stephanie’s kids will keep a set of books for their independent reading times.
With all of the books organized, it was time to focus on some decor! Stephanie had a cactus vibe already going, so we took that theme and ran with it! First up was to create a bulletin board on the large wall space that framed the library area.
Knowing this would be a high-traffic area of the classroom, we didn’t want to use traditional butcher paper for fear it wouldn’t hold up to the test of 5 and 6 year olds. We found an amazing vinyl option that is normally used for photography backdrops, but can easily be washed and because it’s vinyl won’t tear. You can check out tons of options here.
Keeping with our theme of items that would stand the test of time, we found some awesome Better Than Paper bulletin board cover to create a few cacti. This stuff is AWESOME! It is non-woven fabric so it doesn’t tear, can be cleaned with a towel and water, and it can be used as a whiteboard!
A few added accents of tissue paper flowers and pom pom garlands, a small cork board using quotes I typed up and pictures from old books that had fallen apart, and photo-display string with favorite book characters and the library was starting to feel like “home.”
Before we get to the BIG reveal, one more fun addition to Stephanie’s classroom. We had so many old book jackets left over that we weren’t sure what to do with. We felt awful to just throw them away, so we turned them into a garland!
This was literally so easy to create. Simply use a paper cutter to remove the front portion of the book jacket, string some twine using paperclips, and hang book jackets using clothes pins!
Ok, you’ve stuck with me this long so can you at least give me a drum roll? Please?? Here we go!
Haley and I had such a fun time with Stephanie during this flip! It was amazing to head into a local Dallas ISD school and give back to a teacher, kiddos, and community! Who knows, maybe this will become a tradition for us!
If you’d like a FREE copy of the cacti inspirational quotes you can grab them right here on my blog! All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter here and then use the password in the welcome email to grab your free quote pack on my Freebies page.