Winter has been tricky here in Ohio this year. Well, to be honest, winter is always tricky in Ohio. Mother Nature cannot seem to make up their mind – snow and ice one day and two days later sunshine and 70*. We also all know that seasonal depression is real and our kids experience it (along with a myriad of other things). So how do I try and help in the library to pass through those winter blahs?
Make Your Vote Count
Last year I purchased a double-sided magnetic dry-erase board on wheels. I have Boggle on one side (more on that in another post) and then wasn’t sure what to do with the other side that faced the entrance to the library. I saw a couple of other libraries I follow on Instagram asking students various questions that they could then cast their vote on. So I went with that.
Our first poll was who has the better fries. Rally’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Burger King. Almost every kid who came into the library cast their vote by simply drawing a tick line with a dry-erase marker. I used magnets to post the logos of the companies and then just wrote what they were voting for on the top of the board and drew lines to separate them. So easy! I also made sure that the voting was up for our winter staff meeting so the staff could add their votes as well.
This is just something simple and easy to get kids involved in the library and talking. When possible, I always ask what/who they voted for and it always sparks conversation – aha! more relationship building! Next up is who has the best fried chicken – Popeye’s, KFC, Hot Chicken Takeover, or Raising Cane’s.
Winter Bingo Challenge
I am always trying to get my readers involved in the library. Believe it or not, my huge readers don’t really have time built into their schedules to come to the library and get new books. (Always a work in progress on how I try and get them in the space). So when I saw various other libraries doing a winter reading challenge, I knew I had to do one as well.
I decided to make it fun by adding a bingo theme to it. Each time you complete a row, you get to pick a free book (Don’t worry, I didn’t pay for them! The free books are ARCs – advanced reader copies – or books from Junior Library Guild’s $5 book sale that happens twice a year.). If you finish the whole bingo card, then you are entered to win a prize package with tons of free books and other fun reading goodies. For the squares, I chose items like different genres represented, books from a certain span of years, and things like take a selfie with a book and your pet, write a poem or short story, etc. All students had to do was come see me, tell me about their book (briefly) or show me their picture, story/poem, etc. and I signed off on the square.
So far, it hasn’t generated as much interest as I would like but I am going to keep trying. I visit all the English classes in the spring and will be sharing the spring reading challenge with them then, so hopefully that will garner more interest.
Winter Crossword/Word Search
For the month of January and February, I held a contest revolving around winter-themed word searches and crossword puzzles. I printed off a couple of not-too-difficult word searches and crossword puzzles for kids to work on either for fun or to be entered to win a prize!
At the end of the month, whoever has turned in their puzzle to me gets put in the random name wheel generator and that’s who wins the prize. The prize is always something simple like a box of candy or a popper or something out of my prize drawers. I always film the name picker live on Instagram to garner students attention.
Much in the theme of my winter crossword/word search, for March I have a medium-level difficulty sudoku puzzle that is up for grabs and kids can be entered to win a prize if they complete it and turn it in.
Kahoot, Gimkit, etc.- there are many ways to play trivia-style games with students. In the month of February and March, I do trivia contests based on the history and facts of Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.
Thus far, I’ve been lucky and both holidays have fallen on weekdays so we just host them on the day. Students sign up ahead of time to come and compete during their lunch periods. I have a special pass that each student gets to let them be first in the lunch line and also leave the cafeteria to come up to the library. Once all students are there, we begin our Kahoot!
The high score from each lunch period gets a prize. For Valentine’s Day this year, it was a basket from the Spot at Target with candy from Dollar Tree in it (all Valentine’s Day themed). For St. Patrick’s Day, I couldn’t find much that didn’t involve the hint of drinking so students received their choice of a box of candy and scented Play-Doh.
Students really enjoy the trivia contests, and while I don’t think I can do one a month, I definitely know that the two in the winter help brighten everyone’s days and moods.
What sorts of things do you do with your students to help fight the winter blahs?