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  • meganskipworth

5 Times the Library Definitely Won't be Quiet

My school library is not a quiet place. Sure, there are times when it's quiet, times when students are reading or writing, times when students are seeking solitude, or even times where no one is here at all and it's REALLY quiet. But for the most part, my library space is typically buzzing. During class time, students are collaborating, solving puzzles, and exploring creative solutions to problems. In their free time, students bond over board games, de-stress with crafts, and even geek out over manga and anime. I see the library space as ever-changing to meet students' needs. It is a respite from the stress of their classes. I like to offer programs during the students' free times to give them an opportunity to unplug, be creative, and socialize. So if you're looking for some solid programs to liven up your space, these are my five most popular lunchtime programs.

Crafts

When I moved into the high school library, I thought my crafting days were over. Boy was I wrong! Nothing gets my teens more excited than a playful craft (well, other than free food). One of the most popular crafts is perler beads, which honestly baffled me at first. I didn't think the students would have the patience for it, but they absolutely love it. If you've not heard of them, perler beads are these small little plastic beads that you arrange into different shapes. Then you iron them to melt them together, and voila! A fun plastic shape that kids can use to make zipper pulls, keychains, earrings, barettes, or just to keep as decorations or pocket tokens. This craft does involve a bit of planning. You'll need to purchase perler beads, the plastic pegboards to lay out the designs, wax paper, and an iron. Lots of perler bead packages have templates or you kind find them easily online. Even with my teens, I usually operate the iron, just to prevent any mishaps. The students have so much fun putting their designs together! It's also a great activity for emotional regulation, as it requires a bit of focus, calm, and patience. The best thing about perler beads is that it's fully customizable. You can find or create templates for any holidays or themes, and the resulting designs have a cool, retro, 8-bit feel to them.


Trivia

Trivia is, hands-down, the favorite lunchtime program in my library. I tinkered with a few different methods, first modeling it after the popular "pub quiz" format. Honestly, that was just too much work. We needed something that was quick and mostly automated. It's no fun if the bell rings before you can finish, and no one wants to have to come back later to find out who won. With short lunch periods, it was essential to find a good digital platform that everyone could access easily. The great part for you is that if you've been anywhere in the teacher-sphere for the last ten years, you've probably heard of Kahoot. Quizziz is another great option and well worth a try, but Kahoot fits my school really well. You create the quiz by writing the questions, adding graphics, and giving the students choices. If you don't have time for all that (who does?!), Kahoot has an extensive library of user-created quizzes already made on virtually any topic you could possibly want. You can use them as-is or edit them to suit your needs. When you are ready to play trivia, start your game and display the game code for the students. Anyone who wants to play uses that code to log in on their own device. The game times each question, keeps track of scores, and even displays the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners at the end. It really is that easy! I like to give out buttons/badges for the winners that say "Library Trivia Masters," and the students love them!


Interactive Movies

This one definitely takes a bit of time and planning, but I think it's worth it every once in a while. Students watch so much content that seeing a movie really isn't a big deal any more. Making the movie interactive and giving them space to enjoy and be silly with their friends brings a whole new dimension to a standard movie. Essentially, an interactive movie calls for audience participation at different points in the movie. This will obviously vary for every single movie, which means you have to watch the movie beforehand and decide how you want students to interact. The first of these that I did was "The Sandlot." I wrote up a little card with all the "actions" and directions for the students. They included things like "Every time someone says 'Babe Ruth,' you shout 'The Great Bambino' and pretend you're swinging a bat," or "During the scenes at the pool, toss around the beach balls." We cracked glow sticks during the fireworks scene, chewed bubble gum, ate licorice twists, threw Hershey's kisses at each other, and waved pennants at various points. I provided all the props and snacks in individual bags and had those on the seats before the movie started. It's just a fun way to amp up the movie experience, and you might even be able to find examples of interactive movie "scripts" online.


Poetry Slams

I'll be honest. I did not think poetry slams would go well. It seems like something "teacher-y" that students might enjoy in class, but wouldn't really be something they'd choose to engage in outside of class. I was definitely wrong, because my students always ask when we can do them. I limit these to once or twice per year to build anticipation and give students the chance to write their poetry. Essentially, this is just a time when students take turns reading poetry they've written or poetry that has inspired them. I subscribe to the "music is also poetry" philosophy, so students can also present songs or raps. It's really amazing to experience students' own work, and most of them do write their own poetry or music. Best of all is that students support each other and they get to have their voices heard.


Makerspace

Makerspaces have been all the rage for a while now, and the best part about them is that they can be tailored to your students' needs and interests. My makerspace runs differently every year as students with different interests come and go. Our recording studio is always popular, and the 3D printers are constantly in use. When we started our makerspace, we were funded through a grant and a lot of high-end studio equipment was bought. But over the years, especially as the equipment has become dated, I've found students really just need a space to play. Garageband and some USB microphones are typically all they want. More complicated equipment, while definitely a luxury, has too steep of a learning curve for most students. They just want to get in there and record their music. So while your makerspace can be high-tech, it doesn't need to be. I've had success with marble runs, blocks, popsicle stick building challenges, cup stacking, and even LEGOs. The goal of a good makerspace is to teach design thinking and give students a chance to learn on their own, figure things out, and create something.


So if you come into my library during the students' off time, you aren't likely to find much quiet. The school library is more than just a storehouse of books; it's a center of action. It provides a free area where students can access and share knowledge, encouraging an atmosphere that stimulates curiosity and keeps brains active. The library has evolved from its original purpose of lending books to a vibrant place where students may enhance their digital literacy abilities by learning how to use new technology tools. We provide students with the tools and resources they need to explore, learn, and develop 21st Century Skills. And sometimes that means making a little noise.



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