Field Trip Fun

We have been seeing a decline in the frequency of class tours of the library over the last couple of years.  Certainly, economics have played a big part - when schools have many choices for their field trips but limited funding for the buses, the library often suffers.  After meetings with our school library media center colleagues, they expressed an interest in having all second graders come to the library for visits and that got us inspired to look at visits for all ages.

So we put our heads together to see if we could ratchet up our usual tour and make a trip to the library into an adventure!  Our first step was developing more age/interest specific content so fifth graders had an entirely different experience than preschoolers or early elementary aged kids.  Our second was committing ourselves to enthusiastic presentation of info that may be old to us but is new to the kids.

For preschoolers through early elementary kids, we focus on basic collections they use (print and non-print); book check-out, book return area and info desk and fun explanations of how a library works; how to get a library card; and how to use our huge boat facade (as a place to read!!).  We wrap this "business-as-usual" tour around a theme. 

This school year, for younger kids, we are using a search for Knuffle Bunny and Mo Willems' book as our theme.  First we read the book to the kids. Then we tell them our Knuffle Bunny stuffed animal is lost and needs to be found - by them.  As we share the story, colleagues are putting book character dolls at strategic points in the library that we want to highlight (see above).  The kids then join us as we find characters and describe collections and points of interest.  We have no luck finding Knuffle Bunny, so return to the program room where Knuffle Bunny is discovered hiding.  A few more stories shared and we are good to go! 

Part of the fun with younger kids is explaining how a library really works.  Here is the way we do it:

We  ask the kids who the books belong to (the librarians?  Nooooooo; the library? Noooooo; You?  YESSSSS!!!!)  The books belong to and are shared by all the kids and grownups in the community!  Then we tell the kids them the library is like a house that the books live in. But books love to visit with kids at their house! With a library card, children can take home materials for a nice visit. And, just like a visit from a friend (we all know that visiting friends don't stay forever), the books have to return home to the library after a few weeks so they can visit with other children. This simple explanation hits home with kids and helps them see how a library works.

For first and second graders I am tempted to use John Perry's The Book That Eats People as the shared story and play with the concept that books aren't dangerous. Or maybe Eric Kimme's Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock  - we could search for stuffed animals that might also live in the village. Hmmm or.....?????  Any ideas out there for a good focusing book for first and second graders that would lend itself to field trip fun?

For older kids, we show a bit of the OPAC; the non-fiction and fiction. We talk about how a non-fiction collection is arranged very much like a grocery store - like thing is next to like thing.  And just like they may know words in a world language (Hola!), our language is Dewey and that's how we know what all those numbers mean.  The groups get a choice of a culminating activity pre-chosen by their teacher/leader activity - a chance to be cataloged and shelved (complete with barcode and a dewey number based on their interest); fiction booktalks; an easy experiment; some spine poetry; playing Book Bingo; or doing a easy origamil keepsake.

For our teens, we are in great shape because we have tied in mini-tours of the Teen area with middle school groups coming in to learn how to do research for projects for National History Day competition.  We see a large percentage of middle school kids on these visits and it is a golden opportunity to familiarize them with that area. It is a win-win situation.

We have been test running a few of the new field trips prior to heavy advertising after the first of the year.  Here's hoping for good results!
Image: 'Tour ->' http://www.flickr.com/photos/15923063@N00/298346278

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! I always found library tours sort of boring, but will definitely try your strategy next time I do a tour!