January Library Centers

2 children in snowHi friends! Are you looking for January Library Centers? I’m updating this blog post from 2013 in 2020 to share some free ideas to keep your students engaged in active learning in your school library!

Penguin Drawing Center

I found these visual instructions to draw penguins, so we are making penguin bookmarks. (Not all of the penguins are black and white. I put ALL the Twistables colors out on the table, and I encourage imaginative artwork!) Want a purple penguin? Go for it!

penguin drawing instructions, crayons and paperPenguin Origami Center

We are making penguin origami. (These require square paper. I cut copy paper into 8.5 inch squares with the paper cutter, then use the end strips for the penguin bookmark center. I don’t like to waste paper OR time!) You can see that I made a super fancy sign by printing the instructions and writing “Penguin Origami” at the top with a Sharpie.

penguin origami library center

Winter Words ABC Order

For another one of our January library centers, we are putting winter words in ABC order. I printed and laminated these free Arctic Animal cards from More than Math by Mo and these free winter words cards from The Stay At Home Teacher.

winter ABC order cards for January Library CenterVoting for Books

And some of the students are at the computer voting for our state’s student choice award, the Texas Bluebonnet Award.  They have to read 5 books from the list of 20 to vote. I set up a Google form, with photos of the book covers, for voting.

Library Center Management

Some of you have asked me about how I “manage” centers. Here’s a candid glimpse from this morning at what my centers can look like.
students at library center

(You probably know that I blur the faces for privacy. I notice that one student’s whole body is a blur. All I can say is that the camera doesn’t lie. I’m so glad this guy has a library center to keep him actively engaged!)

You can see 5 guys at this center, and there’s actually one brave girl that is at the edge of the photo. They are all getting along, having a great time making origami penguins, and if a few more students stepped up to the table and participated just as peacefully, that would be fine with me. While they work together at following instructions and making their penguins, I’m able to help students look for library books that will help them become better readers.

kindergarten students read

Kindergarten Read to Self

This is a sweet kindergarten class, so excited to be reading their new library books! I only have 20 minutes for checkout visits. For kindergarten, that is barely enough time for story time and check out. So they sit and read for a few minutes after they check out. They don’t participate in library centers yet. But you can see that they are fully engaged in reading and sharing their books with each other. And we’re helping to build their stamina for “read to self.”

As you know, when students are engaged in appealing, meaningful activities, they aren’t thinking about how to disrupt everyone else’s learning.

Learn More about Library Centers

Library Learners ebook

To learn more about the how and why of library centers, check out my printable ebook called Library Centers for Library Learners! I’ve also got more info about library centers on my FAQ page.

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    1. More, more, more pictures please! I love to see the pictures of what it really looks like when the kids are using centers. I have yet to dive in but have your book and think that eventually this will be the way I “do” library. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Andrea! I will definitely take more pictures to show the centers in action. It seems so normal to me, that I forget others don’t see library centers every day! I appreciate the reminder.

    2. Hi Cari!
      I’ve been looking through different blogs to try to get some really practical, easy to implement, ideas for school libraries and I came across your wonderful blog! As I scrolled through your many posts I was amazed with all the wonderful ideas that you have that can be quickly and easily implemented into any elementary school library. I am only just entering into the world of becoming a teacher librarian and when I came across your library Centers posts I was instantly inspired! What a great idea for extending the library from a “traditional” library into a learning commons area. I see you also have an whole e-book on library centers. I can see you have many different posts with themed library centers, how often do you change the centers?
      Thank you for the inspiration!

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