I’ve had many people ask me where I’m getting the directions for the directed drawings I have been doing with my kindergarten students, and the truth is I just make them up. Since there’s been some interest I have started what will be a new line of products in my TeachersPayTeachers store called Let’s Draw. These guides will provide step by step directions for the drawings. My first set focuses on 10 influential women in history. Not only do you get a step-by-step illustrated guide for each portrait, you also receive a suggested book to read aloud to your class that highlights each woman’s life and accomplishments as well as a page of frequently asked questions and their answers. If you’re interested in purchasing a set you can click here to find them.
This is my first year as the school librarian, and prior to this role I had not worked with students younger than third-grade. So, to say the least, I was (and still am) very inexperienced when it comes to working with kindergarten students. I was completely clueless to what a student in kindergarten could do as far as reading, writing, drawing, coloring and following directions. After a few visits, I finally fell into a rhythm that seems to work well. Each week I visit with my kindergarten students on Fridays. They are housed at a separate campus this year so I start my day with them until about 11:00. I see four classes one week and the other four classes the next week. The class period is 30 minutes, during which I do a picture book read-aloud (we talk about the parts of a book, fiction vs. nonfiction, and book care during this time too), lead students in a directed drawing that accompanies the book, and allow time for students to select a new book to take back to their classroom before leaving. Directed drawings are great for so many reasons: learning shapes, following directions, practicing hand-eye coordination, developing spatial and size awareness, fine-tuning those fine-motor skills, building vocabulary (I say things like parallel lines and intersect), and building confidence as budding artists. I’ve actually done directed drawings with students in grades three, four and five, and it tackles all the same skills for older students too. They start to realize that they can draw, and that drawing is just putting together simple, basic shapes. Typically I use books like Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces, Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals or Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Weirdos which are great for showing even amateur artist how to assemble an image out of basic shapes.
This month, we are reading about famous women for Women’s History Month and then drawing their portraits. Typically I can search Google for “Directed Drawing of Polar Bear” or “Directed Drawing of Penguin” but nothing existed for “Directed Drawing of Frida Khalo” or “Directed Drawing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” so I decided to attempt it on my own. I typically show students how to draw step by step. That is, I draw a circle, then they draw a circle. I’ll give directions like, “Let’s add an ear which is the shape of the letter C, and then a backwards C on the other side.” I found it was important to also have a completed, fully colored drawing hanging up next to the one I complete with them so they have a sense of what the final product will look like. It also gives them some sense about how big the shapes should be on their paper since I’m drawing a much larger version on chart paper. I have to say, I am always pleasantly surprised with how they turn out. Now, not every student is completely successful, and some perfectionists go through about four sheets of paper, the majority of students end up with a pretty good representation of what or who we were drawing. There’s a real sense of accomplishment and pride when students see their work on display. Happy drawing.
My feature book display for the month of March all started with St. Patrick’s Day. I thought of leprechauns and how they hide their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In a children’s library, you’re likely to find many award-winning books all stamped with a gold foil replica of the Newbery medal or the Caldecott medal and thus my pot of gold was born. But of course this pot of gold called for a rainbow, and I wanted it to make a strong visual impact when kids entered the library. The idea of using paper chains came to me from a window display I spied in town during the winter holidays; it would be cheap yet pack a powerful punch. Following the R-O-Y-G-B-I-V color motif, I linked twenty strips of construction paper to create a chain and made four chains of each color to make it more impactful. I then hung the strips from the ceiling using these hooks. With the bookshelf centered under the cascading chains from the ceiling, I had myself the end of a rainbow hovering over a pot of literary gold. For extra sparkle, I created large two-sided copies of the medals and doused them with glitter and glue. Attaching coffee stir sticks, I randomly stuck them in various titles on the top shelf. Additionally I scattered these gold coins among the books on display to give it a little extra bling that a pot of gold needs. Finally, I made a sign: Books are Magically Delicious featuring Lucky the leprechaun from Lucky Charms cereal. If you want the oversized Newbery and Caldecott medals you can download them here. If you want the Books are Magically Delicious sign, you can click here. Finally, I’ll leave you with some of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day read-aloud picture books: The Gingerbread Man and Leprechaun Loose at School by Laura Murray and How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace. Both lend themselves to creating traps for leprechauns; a great STEM or STEAM activity to do in your makerspace. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Celebrate Women’s History month this March with this set of posters created for your classroom or library. These minimalist images reveal the iconic power of each woman. Download the complete set here. The set includes 28 posters of women some in politics, sports, entertainment, and activism but all in power, grace, and inspiration. And be sure to check out this list of children’s picture books featuring some great reads for the month of March and all year long.
Found the idea for this brilliant gem on Twitter from @codenamejane this weekend. One of her fellow followers @HTPhilRobertson offered up his PowerPoint creation and I reworked it to feature books from my school’s library. Can’t wait to play on a loop and get kids talking even more about book recommendations. If you want my version of the PowerPoint click here for the link to download. Insane, right?
“Butterfly in the sky, I can fly twice as high. Take a look, it’s in a book, a reading rainbow.” To create this “reading rainbow” I took children’s book covers in different colors and made a rainbow gradient as a display on one of the doors to our library. Should I do the same on the other door, so something different? If you want to do something similar, I’ve saved you the work of having to curate a collection of book covers based on color. If you want the covers you can download them by clicking here. I hope these bring as much joy to your classroom or library as they do to ours. This wall not only brings joy, it generates conversations among students and can be a great source of book recommendations. If you have ideas of what I should do on the exit door, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
As a school librarian media specialist, I often hear students request the most popular titles – Dogman, Captain Underpants, Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries. My response tends to be, “Sorry! They’re all checked out.” That’s when I decided to make these menus to help guide students to books with similar styles or topics; much like the feature on Amazon: customers who bought this title also bought…. Not only are they great visuals to provide alternatives to the popular titles, but they also help highlight other titles in the library that may go overlooked. Expanding horizons and introducing new literature to students is such a thrill, and I hope these prove useful in your own school or classroom library. As promised, you can download volume 1 for FREE by clicking here. All future sets will be available at my TeachersPayTeachers store.