Building a Classroom Library at Home

There are two little people in this house going to Kindergarten in the fall, y’all!! KINDERGARTEN!  I’m nervous for them, and I’m excited.  I’m terrified, and I’m proud…..I’m just everything.  The irony here, is that this is my territory.  As a former Kindergarten teacher, I know what to expect.  The curriculum, the social drama, the out of control learning that’s about to go down.  Which, now that I think about it, knowing it all, is probably the root of all of these mixed emotions!!

Also as a former teacher, I have to often remind myself not to jump the gun in certain teachable scenarios.  Like even though I bought a beginning reader book series for my girls when they were in the 3’s class {because I  wanted to play school}, I quickly realized the top of their closet was the best place for those books.  They just weren’t ready.

But now, y’all…we’re so close to the real deal!  And a couple months ago the girls came home asking for those books at the top of the closet.  They’ve been reading in their preschool class, and they wanted to show me their skills! Woohoo!! Time to start prepping for Kindergarten, and my turn to play teacher!

The first thing I did at “school” was to make book bags for them.  In little totes I scored in the dollar bins at Target, they keep books they can read all by themselves and maybe one or two that they can read MOSTLY by themselves.

A little hint from the inside :: If you want your kids to be excited about reading, make books available they can read without any struggle.  I’m talking two words on the page.  Something like “The Sun,” and there is a picture of a sun on the page.  The next page is a picture of a boat and the words are “the boat.”  After two pages like that, they’ll realize the pattern and be “reading” alone in no time!

When I saw how pumped they were about using the book bags, I was thirsty for more! Ha!  We were on a roll and up next was setting up a library.  They needed easier access to all of our books.  Ones I read to them, ones they read to me, ones we read together.  We did it in three easy steps y’all, and you can do it too!!

Building a Classroom Library at Home

The Purge

The problem with our bookbags was that a piece was missing.  Picture Books!!  The Fancy Nancy’s, the Dr. Seuss’s, the Eric Carle’s.  These books were missing because our current library situation involved stacks of books in boxes and shelves in multiple locations throughout the house.  It was time to get our acts together.  The first step…PURGE!!

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I got rid of the stuff that nobody ever touches.  And by got rid of, I mean I sold them online at places like VarageSale.  It felt great!

The Sort

After the purge, we organized the books into categories.  In fact, this is something that is most likely in every kindergarten reading curriculum.  There is an actual lesson about sorting books by author or genre or series.  After we organized {and the books sat in stacks on my dining room table for a few weeks until I could hunt down bins that I loved}, we tagged each one with a sticker.  I got my hands on some full page labels that I could run through my home printer and made a page of green, red, pink, etc.  Then we punched out little heart and star stickers and picked a color to represent each category.

book bag and stickers

The categories can be loose, y’all!  You make this system work with the resources you have.  I had space for 12 bins, so this meant combining Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious, and some other girly, princess, ballerina books into one bin.  Each of the books with a pink sticker.   So now, when somebody takes a book out of that bin to keep in their book bags for a while or somebody really wants to read Purplelicious at bedtime, we’ll know exactly where it goes when we’re done!  We have bins for Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, holidays, Madeline, Curious George, and even a catch all bin for some of our favorites that just don’t really fit in anywhere else.  The greatest thing about this whole process is both girls have discovered books that I probably got at one of their baby showers, but were lost in a closet ever since.  Madeline is still in the rotation, but some Magic School Bus and Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie stories have become some of their faves!

Labels

The final step in building a library at home is to label the bins.  If your kids are like mine, they aren’t reading fluently, so typing and printing out a label with the word “Holidays” on it, isn’t going to help them.  Most Kindergarten teachers will have picture/word combo labels.  Instead of just saying “holidays,” the label will also have a picture of a Christmas Tree or a Turkey or a Menorah.  I took an even simpler route for our labels.  All we did was take the same sticker that is on each book in the bin and put it on the label outside of the bin…color coded my friends…and DONE!

labels

It’s not fool proof, y’all.  And in reality, we’ll probably be resorting again in a few months when the excitement has worn off and everybody is just putting books back in the bin they are closest to without even paying attention to our system.  But that’s ok.  We can restart and resort just in time for the real, REAL DEAL!

I can’t believe we’ve made it to this phase!  I can’t believe that it’s been 5 years since I’ve had my own classroom!  How lucky are we to be able to take our kids on  journeys as magical as the reading one? Have you and your preschoolers started playing around with reading at home? I’d love to hear how it’s going!  I’m also happy to answer more specific questions if you have them.  Happy Reading, Y’all!

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Jessica and Sarah are tandem bloggers and self-dubbed ‘sister-cousins’ because sometimes the lines get blurred, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Both New Orleans natives, these cousins transplanted to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and have never looked back. Jessica is the mother of twin girls, Laine and Olivia {March 2010}, and a sweet and curious one year old boy, Owen {Jan 2013}. Sarah is mom to Maggie {Aug 2011}, who keeps her on her toes, and the most adorable little brother, Jack {Nov 2013}! By day, Jessica is a stay at home mom, and Sarah works on the financial and managerial end of the healthcare industry. By naps, lunch breaks, and nights, they run an adorable children’s clothing company called The Little Crane Smocked Shoppe. Follow these two, their families, and their adventures in small business ownership on their blog…and don’t forget to show them some love at their shop too!

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