We get class visit requests often here in Nevada County, CA. We have nine school districts, nine special or charter schools, and 4 private schools scattered around our rural county, where 68% of residents live in unincorporated areas. It makes it really special for kids to get to the library, so I feel a lot of pressure to make their school visit great. The image above is an easy one – make a special display focused on the classes’ interests or recent project.
I spent a while researching good class visit templates, but unlike storytimes, there aren’t a lot of them out there. So here are a few ideas. I’d love to hear what you do in the comments!
Preschool and Kindergarten visits: My goal with these is to get kids feeling like the library is a place for them.
- I have some quick sketches featuring different things you can and can’t do at the library. They are silly and funny and hopefully are teaching something. Kids get their minds blown. For instance, I’ll hold up the Skateboard picture and say, “Can you skateboard in the library?” and they say “No”. Then I flip it over and say “Can you dance at the library?” and they say “No” and I get to correct them and then talk about inside voices and times we get to break the rules in the kids’ library. Or I’ll ask if you can use a birthday card to check out books, and I’ll explain what checking out is.
- We tend to just sing fun songs from storytime and read “Dinosaur Vs Library” by Bob Shea to get them all roaring.
- I put stuffed animals in different parts of the library and have them find them and we discuss the different sections of the library.
- I have some books pulled out of high interest items.
- I print out a letter for parents detailing how they can get a card if they don’t have and why they should, as well as flyers to send home.
First through sixth grade visits: I try to show them the way that the library can help them, and how cool we are. I always ask the teacher if there is a subject they want me to cover or if they have specific interests. Depending on the class and time of year, I’ve done some of the following:
- Library madlibs are an easy way to teach the basic concepts in a fun way – they get to correct themselves later.
- Coding with robots: I’ve brought Kibo robots into the classroom and have kids do coding challenges related to books – ie have the robot circle the book pile, turn the lightbulb the color of a book cover, beep the number of words in the title, etc.
- Ask what kids like about the library. When you walk around the library, make sure to point those things out.
- Alien creation: After a general library intro, I’ll reinforce knowledge by making an alien. I’ll have the kids create an alien and I’ll draw it as they describe it – ie I’ll ask how many eyes it has, its name, where it lives, etc. Then I’ll pose a question to the alien – ie Where would an alien find out about life on earth?
- Library jokes: Always work well with little ones. Using jokes to introduce ideas about the library is fun. And then I always ask for their jokes!
Do you know how many librarians it takes to change a light bulb?
No, but I know where you can look it up!
When the squirrels sneak into the library to use the computers, where do they go?
On the Inter-nut.
Why didn’t the skeleton come back to the library with an overdue book?
He was too gutless.
What does Hagrid use on the 18th hole of the Hogwarts Golf Course?
His Harry Putter!
- Genre game: One class was studying genres so I printed out images of genres and put them on bins. We divided into two teams. One member of each team got blindfolded. I held up a book and read the inside cover while the blindfolded student was hiding around the corner and couldn’t hear. The class agreed what genre the book was and then we spun the blindfolded student around until they were dizzy and their team had to work together to direct them to put the book in the correct bin.
- Booktalk: don’t underestimate the power of booktalking! I sometimes bring out good new books from the back that haven’t been put out yet to entice them and make them feel special. I also ask them to booktalk to me what they are reading in class and what they like.
- Lots of browsing time: kids want to ask questions and explore the room. Make sure they have time to look around. Show that the library is not just school related and they can follow their interests – and we want them to check out our comics!
What are some other ideas of what you can do for your class visits?
Lisa Nowlain is a Youth Librarian in the Nevada County Community Library system in California. She’s also an artist type and you can see her work at lisanowlain.com.