March 18, 2011

Like a Kid on Christmas

The book bins arrived!!!  The book bins arrived!!!
 Take in the beauty...

This week I've been in something of a spring cleaning frenzy...alphabetizing files, putting papers in binders, rearranging the clutter, cleaning out cabinets, you name it.  As I have been trying to make my classroom an oasis of organization, I simply decided that my kiddos' completely trashed cardboard book boxes simply wouldn't do any longer.  (Side note: I took a picture of the old completely destroyed book boxes for a dramatic "before" picture...but obv I dropped my camera after school and broke it.  Pictures to come once I can get them off the memory card!!!  And for those of you keeping track, I have now destroyed in my lifetime 3 cameras,  3 laptops, 1 mp3 player, and god knows what else... :-/)

I wrote Tuesday about how Mr. Principal let me order shiny new book bins for my kiddos from Really Good Stuff and was completely floored when they arrived at school this morning!!!  Opening them, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.  The only ones who could top my excitement were the kids!  I was THRILLED that they were as pumped as I was!  We trashed the old boxes (sending about 4 home with one kiddo for his gerbil!) and filled the new ones with some new book pics and the like.  The kids were overjoyed to be able to pick which color bin they got too.  It still kills me the things that get them so pumped!  Adorable.  Although the OCD part of me hates that the colors aren't in alternating order when they're all lined up on the shelf!!!  Oh well :)

Seriously, how amazing and pretty are these.  You can check them out here if you're interested in ordering some too!  BTW is it sad that I'm this excited about them?  Oh well!

Want to know more about how we use book boxes in my classroom?

After I read The Daily 5 (Boushey & Moser) last year, I decided to adopt book boxes for use during my literacy block.  I LOVE THEM.  Here's what we keep in them:

  • Reading folder with this week's literacy handouts (graphic organizers, response questions, vocab list)
  • Literacy journal for use during morning journal time
  • Reading Record Book (I lovingly created these booklets for the kiddos based off of Beth Newingham's reading notebooks.  They use them to record the books they read each month, set reading goals, and track genres read.)
  • And, last but not least, the books!!!  I have them keep 3-5 books in here at all times to read during Daily 3 and any other independent reading time.  
Here's why I love them:
  • Organization: Literacy handouts (almost) never get lost because they are never supposed to be kept in black holes desks.  Even students who are folder-phobic manage to keep those things in the book box.  Plus, being kept in here keeps the books in better condition.
  • Book Sharing: It's so easy for me to check what the kids are reading and share books when they're kept in the bins.  I can peek in them quickly when they're lined up on the shelf after school, and walk by dropping new books in kids' bins.  You don't need book boxes to share books, but it's fun helping the kids keep them stocked.  
  • No "I have nothing to read!": My take from The Daily 5 was that one of the most important features of the book box is that the kiddos are never without something to read.  If they are doing Read to Self during Daily 3, there is absolutely no time wasted hunting for a book in the desk or pondering titles in the class library.  Choose a book from the book box.  If you don't like it, reach in and grab one of your other books.  Immediately.  Done.  If we want kids to be reading as much as possible, there's no sense in wasting time!  Plus, some days you just feel like reading one book and other days a different one!  The book box lends naturally to choice.

Here's how we use them:

  • The students grab their book box right away in the morning, pull out their journal, and start their morning journal writing.  When they're done, they have a book to read right there.
  • The graphic organizer we use with our Shared Reading (immediately following Morning Work) is kept in the book box.  Kids pull out their shared reading materials and are ready to go!  No time wasted rummaging in desks.
  • When it's time for Daily 3, the kids carry their book box with them.  (Sometimes they need reminders to do this, but I have a feeling that they're going to want to carry the new bins everywhere they go--not just during Daily 3!)  Again, the idea behind this is that they will have everything they need, all the time.
  • After Literacy, the bins go back up on the shelf until the kids need a book again.
Do you use book boxes?  How do you help your kiddos stay organized?


  1. I think you and I must share a brain! :)

    I copied Beth Newingham's Reader's Notebook idea also. I made my own and have implemented them this year. Definitely know some areas where I want/need to tweak them for next year but I LOVE them. The kids write me a letter each week about their reading and it really provides a catalyst for our conference discussions. It's wonderful!

    Love the book bins! I love the variety of colors. I got new ones this year but they are all blue. It's all good though. They are SO STURDY!

  2. YOU Are amazing! You are so far beyond your've got your stuff together girl! I bet you are an EXTRAORDINARY TEacher! You make me want to be back in the game. These book bins are AWESOME!


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