Library Like a Kindergartener

Warning: Contents of this post are candid feelings. May cause laughter. Maybe even a tear. 

So what does a Kindergartener do in library special? Before 3 weeks ago I would have told you that we shared books, learned new social studies or science tie ins, practiced literacy skills, sometimes we write and draw.  But, the problem with that? I was the person in charge of what was happening, not the kids.

The former middle school teacher in me could not begin to fathom how to "manage" kindergarten-sized energy and spunk in the space of the library. I mean, big kids I could figure out. They had practice in school managing themselves and not picking on each other. But these kinders... they were a challenge. (A very formidable one in my mind.) As long as I was entertaining them- it was good. 

But were they really learning? 

Sure, I'd had a few comments from parents over the years about how their kids would talk about what we did. But would it last? Would it stick? I wanted the library to be a place they craved coming to.

So, enter a few weeks ago. It was a tough day. I was exhausted. It was one of those days that no one would have blamed me for the "movie". (I don't do that btw- just trying to get you to be where my brain was). And what did I do? Decided that this would be the first day I would try centers. Yup. Centers. 

For elementary folk, centers are pretty standard. But this reformed middle school math teacher: clueless. I knew what to do- just didn't want to relinquish control. You see- it had been about me. Now? Them. 

Imagine: 4 Osmos (2 letters, 1 numbers, 1 tangram); 1 coloring station- but with Quiver 3-D coloring app; 4 puzzle stations; 2 Lego stations

I split the kids into groups of 2 or 3 - and sent them off to explore. What happened next? They worked together. They shared. When it was time to "trade" they did so with no fussing. Cleaning up? Check. No problem.  They directed the day. The behavior? Impeccable. Why? They were at the center- not me.  

And, all that funk I had felt earlier in the day- it vanished. I had the small microcosm of relinquishing control to the kids and it was great! How great? I tried it with 3rd grade, and 4th grade, and today- a fifth-grade class. 

So much fun to watch kids be kids. 
So much fun to watch them wonder how the Osmo worked, then figure it out. 
So much fun to help a third grader complete her first jigsaw puzzle. 
So much fun to make words with a group of fourth graders. 
So much fun to see my fifth graders change their coloring pages, add details, edit. Just like the writing process- but in art form. 

The biggest takeaway: library needs to always be like a Kindergartener. It needs to be full of awe and wonder~ of exploration and accomplishment. After all- it's about them, not me. 

So what's next? I'm not sure, but I can't wait to try it! 


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