Task cards have been around for several years. I have read about them in blog posts, seen them on Pinterest, and thumbed over them in catalogs. It was just recently that I became intrigued enough with the cards to give them a go. As a librarian, I was naturally drawn to the creation of research-based task cards.

What are task cards?

Task cards are great tools to use both in the classroom and the library. Task cards are exactly that … a card with a task. Each of my research task cards states one fact and then asks three questions pertinent to that fact. Each question is easily researched and facts would be found in multiple resources.

Why research based task cards?

Researching the answers to simple questions is a multi-skill task. It requires students to read for comprehension, identify key words, locate pertinent articles, scan for information, and seek accurate answers. Kids also seem to genuinely enjoy quick research based questions. It gives them an opportunity to explore new information!

How can I use task cards?

Task cards are perfect for center work, for differentiating instruction, and especially great for your fast finishers. Here are a few popular ways that educators are using task cards. 

Research Centers: Set up a center with books, encyclopedias, and technology! Add the cards and VOILA!!

Scoot: Post the cards around the room. The students can walk about and complete the task cards. You can set up certain books at each card, or even send them around the room with technology such as tablets.

Bulletin Boards: Use the cards to create an active engagement bulletin board. Display the cards and place the answer sheets nearby. Consider creating more than one copy of the card. Then kids can take one copy back to their seats.

Bundle the Cards: Cards can be stored in lots of different ways. After cutting and laminating the cards, punch a hole in the upper-left hand corner and put a binder ring through them all. Store them in those colorful plastic soap boxes that you can purchase for just a couple of dollars. Task cards also fit perfectly in those inexpensive photo albums.

Are you ready to give Task Cards a go?

I have made it super simple for you to try!! Click HERE or on the picture at the beginning of this post and download an Autumn Sampler of research task cards. The FREE sampler includes a set of four colored task cards, the same four cards in black and white, a recording sheet, and an answer key.

Happy Researching!

We have all been there! Checking out kinders can be challenging. We don't know their names yet, and they don't know us! This leads to some very interesting exchanges. Some that sound a little bit like this. "What's your name kiddo?" "mmdfdm adfdsafds" "Can you say that one more time honey"  "mmdfdm adfdsafds"  "How about a little louder?'   "mmdfdm"

I realized quickly that I needed to do something and fast! So I created Library Book Bags. I took these materials ...

And with a little bit of time and a bit more patience, I had one of these for each of my kindergarten students.

I use a 2.5 Hefty One Zip bag for each student. With a sharpie marker, I write their name on the front. I print out colored copies of that little label "My Library Book Bag" and use two heavy duty labels to stick it to the bag. Then, I print out student barcode labels from my Destiny program and label stick them to the bag too.

I teach my munchkins to search for a book, slide it into the bag, and then come on up to the desk for a beep. We actually practice the chant ... "Book! Bag! Beep"    "Book! Bag"! Beep!"   "Book! Bag! Beep!"   Soon, my kinders know checkout procedure. These crazy bags also help me to know who HAS and who has NOT returned their library books. No bag ... no new book!

Hey, I know that it's October! But, it is never too late to implement a little something new! Interested ... you can download "My Library Book Bag" labels. Click on the pix below.

Check Me Out ... Made Easier For Firsties

Last Spring, I was telling my library assistant that I wanted to try to use paint sticks as shelf markers, and that I wanted to personalize them with the kids' barcodes for this year. So, after first grade orientations, my little ones had a shelf marker review lesson, and we decorated our own shelf markers! I love how first graders think that everything is SOO fun.

After the littles added a bit of pizzazz to their shelfmarkers, I added their names and barcodes. After about a week of usage, I realized that I had to add a few extra touches to our shelf markers to make them more kid friendly. So, I added the kids initials to the end of the marker. This has proven to be invaluable in keeping the sticks in their right cans and has helped the kids find their stick quite quickly.

Then I added my own pizzazz to some Pringles cans! We store the shelfmarkers in these Pringle cans divided by classroom teachers.

We love how quickly and easily that we can check our first graders out now! Beep ... Beep and they are outta there :) The kids love knowing that they have a little something of their own. It's cute to hear them chatting with each other about what they drew on their "stick".

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

I love gardening. I love the feel of the dirt under my hands. I love the excitement of my seeds turning into something beautiful. I love knowing that I grew the cucumbers and tomatoes that are on the table for dinner. Sadly, there just isn't ever enough time in my Spring and Summer days to do all that I would like to!! My Pinterest garden is WAY better looking than the actual beds surrounding my house.

But someday, when I am NOT trying to grow kids, I will have beautiful gardens. I will have gardens that rival my Pinterest gardens. Others will be putting pictures of my gardens on their Pinterest boards. Someday THIS will sit in my gardens. This picture comes from Pollyanna Reinvents Blog. I love this. I have loved this idea for years. It is the perfect fixture in a librarian's garden.

I decided that if I don't have time to make this for my REAL gardens, I would make it for my elementary school library. I had the brainstorm to create these similar types of signs, to be printed on paper. If you {heart} them as much as I do, you can click on the picture and grab them from my TpT store! Simply print, cut, laminate, and display. 

I think that they go perfectly with this year's beach theme, Catch the Reading Wave. Want to see the library decked out in all of its beach glory?? Click HERE

The signs have certainly been a topic of conversation among the teachers and kids alike!! Well, I am issuing a challenge out to my kiddos to see if they can discover the author behind each fictional place. I have created the following record sheet for them to write their answers on. If you are interested in issuing the same challenge, simply click on the picture below and download it for FREE from my Google Drive. Just click the "Download"Button.

As the frost begins to cover the pumpkins, and the threat of another difficult winter knocks at my door, I will continue to grow my Pinterest Garden!! All while helping my kiddos grown their minds :) Enjoy the challenge.

Hey, it's a brand new year!! And with each brand new year, comes a brand new library theme. After last winter's record setting number of snow days and the weatherman's omen of an early polar vortex, I decided that we should hang on to summer ALL year long!

I have been scheming a beach theme for months now! Each of my themes have always had a title. Often the title materializes first for me, like the year that I decorated the library with a carnival theme and titled it "Don't Clown Around ... Read" or the year that I incorporated a racing theme "Ready, Set, Read." The titles came first and then the decorating came second. These themes predated my blogging days so I don't have any pictures of them. However, you can check out last year's Camp Read S'more theme HERE! Camp Read S'more was the perfect title!!

However, I struggled a bit with my beach theme's title. I started out with The Library is Just Beachy. But, the hubby did NOT think that would be a good idea!! Then, I was going to go with Reading is a Shore Thing. But, I wasn't loving that one. After some hardcore Pinterest stalking, I settled on a combined surfing and beach theme with the title "Catching the Reading Wave." Fun, huh??

Pinterest is a fantastic source of inspiration!! A quick click on the collage below will take you to my Pinterest board where you can click back to some of the original sources of my ideas.

I have been working my heart out for several weeks now, and I am so excited to unveil my newly decorated library to you! A BIG thank you to Annie Lang for her wicked cute surfing and beach themed clipart. Here we go ...

Make a BIG Splash in Your Library

As the students come into the library, they are greeted by this colorful door display. I especially love how the letters to the word "splash" are full of water droplets! It just happens to be my favorite part of the door.

Catch the Reading Wave

Behind the circulation desk, the wall is completely covered with this fun display. I created each of the letters in the giant banner. Each letter is a full 8.5 x 11 inches. A little printing, a little cutting, a little laminating, and voila!! The surfboards are a bit of recycled magic made possible with the assistance of my favorite local artist. You would never know that they started off as a brown box. My daughter sure did a great job, didn't she?? A few flowered leis that hang from the ceiling finish this cluster off perfectly.

On either side of the surfboards, I have mounted a variety of flip flops. These crazy things may be my favorite part of my WHOLE decorating theme. They are just too much fun!! I also changed out my curtains to reflect the new tropical colors.

Just Beachy Keen

You know that ANY beachy library MUST have palm trees!! These two palm trees are mounted on a bare wall above one of my easy fiction bookshelves. You just won't believe how easy that they were to make. They are simply crumpled up brown lunch bags encircling a pool noodle. Yup, that's it! I cut the bottom off of a hundred or so lunch bags, crinkled them up, and slid them right over the pool noodle. My original thought was to have them standing up somewhere in the library. BE WARNED ... Pool noodles do NOT stand up very well. However, a bunch of tape and hot glue had these babies hanging on the wall in no time!

Book Nook

My reading corner is the traditional spot where I read to my little ones and gather the older ones for directions. Each year, the corner is given another name. This year it is the Book Nook. I used shovels and lifesavers to enhance my letters. Above the letters, I hung a fishing net and filled it with some seashells. 

Dive Right In

Although it is hard to read the letters on the banner, it does spell RIGHT IN. I have chosen this spot to display my Independent Reading charts and prize poster for this year's theme. As librarian, I work with the teachers in grades three through five to promote reading. If you would like to learn more about our Independent Reading Program, you can read my post about it HERE.

The kids have been so excited about all of the changes in the library over the summer. I think that they are most intrigued by the flip flops glued to the wall. They keep asking me "whose" shoes that I put up there. Too funny :)

If you are would like to recreate any of the FIVE displays shown above, click on the pix below and head on over to my TpT store. 

As our nights turn chilly, and frost transforms to blizzards, I will be able to sit in our library and maybe summer won't feel so far away!!

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My name is Sonya Dykeman, and I am an elementary school librarian in upstate New York. I taught third and fourth grade for 12 years, and then I went back to school, so that I could get my dream job. I have been in the library for 7 years, and I can honestly say that I LOVE it! Feel free to message me at sjdykeman@gmail.com.

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