Tuesday, July 28, 2015


You probably don't have the same voice in your head saying that, but my son turned me on to Element Animation's hilarious clips involving the villagers of Minecraft.  While I have no idea how to play, I have to admit - the videos are hysterical!

So I knew the Minecraft theme would be popular with students, so I made sure this was our grand finale of all the summer sessions.  Our normal times were 10-12, but I let this one go onto 1, when the parents realized they had gone over.  I never saw kids having so much fun just sharing and visiting each others Minecraft worlds!

This session had very little prepwork to it.  I found some Minecraft clipart that was free to use for bookmarks and my "Welcome" sign.  I also offered the library's collection of iPads (9 of them) for anyone who needed one, but most of the students who came brought their own devices.    I also laid out different Minecraft strategy guides we had ordered this past year for students to look at, reference, and check out.

The kids loved it so much, I'm putting feelers out there for a possible Minecraft club for after school this coming year.  Obviously, I will have to talk to my administrator about it and get permission, but it sounds like there would definitely be some interest!  I'm also working on a Makerspace in our library that would possibly include access to Minecraft.  I did a brief lesson last year, using some of the Element Animation videos for reading comprehension review (inference/prediction/cause and effect, etc) and had the students actually use the time to build Minecraft worlds after the initial lesson.  The kids were in the middle of state testing, so I figured it was a fun way to review, but also a way to "relax".  It also had the added benefit of the students working cooperatively, giving each other directions on how to build (and what to build), and manipulating the world.  I had thought about adding a writing prompt to the activity, where students had to write a story about their world, or even design it before playing, but figured they were also stressed enough!  Now that I have it downloaded on our iPads, I might do an activity earlier in the year and maybe have the students do some follow up or pre-activities to it.  There's so much out there about Minecraft and its educational possibilities!

So I'll leave you with some pics of my 'crafters having fun!

Also, here's a {link} to the bookmarks on Google Drive, if you'd like to use them in your classroom/library!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Superhero Academy.....At the Library! Summer Session #3

Wow, I had the BEST turnout for Superhero Day!  I had over 20 kids show up, and I have to say, sooo glad I had set up so many active stations!  I don't know if the timing was right - that vacations were over, boredom was setting in, I wasn't competing with Bible School - not sure, but from what some of the kids told me, Minecraft coming up on the 24th might be even more packed!

I'm glad so many kids showed up.  While I've been happy with my response so far, it was exciting that so many kids showed up this time and had so much fun!  I had two teachers show up with their families and they were highly complimentary of all the activities.  Each of my sessions I've tried to make so that both younger and older students will have fun and it can be enjoyed on many levels.  I am a little disappointed that my administrators haven't stuck their head in the library just to see what it's all about, but I also know they have their own summer agenda.

So, Superhero Academy started out similar to Spy Training.  It started with a welcome and suggested activity list.  Once students finished all the stations, they were invited to fill out a badge that listed their superhero name and strengths.  This time, I was able to include a photo booth, something I wanted at the other sessions but never had enough time to make.  I gathered a lot of my activities from Pinterest pages, but I've included a link to my Google Drive folder {here} so you can see what I downloaded (all free - including my planning pages and signs).  Since most of the activities were more physical, the file includes bookmarks, coloring pages, the badge (which I copied double-sided), and a few more things.  Capstone publishing had an amazing amount of pages to download, which you'll find in the file.  If you'd like to check out my Pinterest page on summer activities, you can click {here} for that.

So, pictures are worth a thousand words, right?  I'll let them show you how the day went!  Our next day, Minecraft, is coming up this Friday, so watch for me to blog about that soon!  Even my 14 year old son has said he'd be interested in coming that day! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Super Spies in the Library!

Our second summer session in the library was all about being spies.  I had about the same number of kids show up to this session as the last one, with some new faces.  I know families are on vacation or the day of the week wasn't convenient, but so far, I've gotten really good feedback for even offering the sessions!  It makes me happy, since one of my goals at my initial interview for the library was to make it more "community friendly."  While I had sent home notices before school ended about each of the sessions, I also reached out on Facebook to local friends and made sure people realized that they didn't have to be a student to attend.  I have several friends who are homeschoolers, and I wanted them to feel welcome as well.

When students first arrived, I had a little welcome sign and checklist for suggested activities to complete for their spy training.  I also had mustaches for students to put on for their disguise that I had picked up at Dollar Tree.  They claimed they were self-adhesive, but honestly, either the paper was too hard to peel, or once you peeled it, half the mustache came off!  Tape to the rescue!  It was a little disappointing, but gosh, they were sooo soft!  I kept playing with them, and the kids didn't mind as much.  Somehow, mustaches on the forehead became popular as well :)

 One of the most popular activities was the "laser maze."  Using electrical tape from Walmart, I created a "laser grid" between two of my nonfiction shelves.  I had one rising second grader that did this continually for almost 30 minutes!  Too funny!  Towards the end, my daughter and one of her friends decided to "add" to the maze, making it virtually impossible to get through, which, being rising fourth graders, might have been the point?

Some of the other stations included code breaking, fingerprinting, doing a "search the room" for more codes, a silhouette search (matching the mystery genre character to the silhouette - for the younger ones, I did more familiar characters such as Clifford and Hungry Caterpillar), and filling out a "007 badge" of sorts.  Not sure why I don't have pics for all of the stations, but want to share what I have!  The kids really seemed to enjoy the whole "Spy Academy" theme, and many came back for our Superhero Day (which I'll detail more in my next post).  

As with my other session, I had a display of themed books (this time, mysteries and spies) set up for students to look at and check out.  While everyone cannot make it to all sessions, I have all books due at Open House, which is coming up fast on August 7!  I was a little worried about books not returning that were checked out during the summer, then realized that the parents that were taking the time to bring the kids in would definitely be responsible enough to make sure the books were returned!

I did bundle a lot of the activities I created, such as the code, silhouette hunt, and fingerprint dust recipe.  That's available in my TPT and TN stores (link in previous post), but wanted to include my checklist and display signs for you to look closer at!  Click on the pictures below to download or to look more closely at them!  The signs I created to fit display signs I had picked up from Michaels Craft Store a few years ago (and had lost but recently found - timely, huh?).  They're 4 to a page, so I'm sure they'll fit to whatever occasion you need them.