Thursday, May 8, 2014

Secret Agent Book Club

Librarian-students all had a chance to create/report out a program they developed as a final project. Each considered the goals of the program, format (active, passive), how much time/money it might take and described how it was or would be done. Jennifer from NE shared this idea.

Type: Active book club program

Location: On-site at the Main Library in the programming room

Age range: Grades 4-5

Length and scheduling strategy: Every Monday at 5-5:45 and Thursday at 3:30-4:15 (This scheduling works for us because the Main Library is across the street from one of the elementary schools. Most kids from that school attend the Thursday session because they can simply run across the street after school.  Most kids from the other schools attend the Monday session, which is hopefully late enough for parents to get home and be able to bring their child.)

Presentation time and budget: Presentation time totals about 2 hours per week for both sessions.  This includes overflow time and commuting to and from the Main Library.  In total, book club cost about $8-$10.  The only materials we needed to purchase were baking soda, lemon juice, and Q-tips. 

Collection connection: Secret Agent Book Club includes discussing read-alikes and nonfiction books in our collection.

Preparation time: This program took a few hours to plan, including picking out a book and finding questions and activities. This does not include the time needed to read the book, although who really counts that as work, anyway? 

Program description: Secret Agent Book Club is a program we offered this semester and I felt the kids really enjoyed.  The description here is both a summary of what we did do and an improved I-should-have-done-this version. The kids registered for this program ahead of time without knowing what the book was.  We read Spy School by Stuart Gibbs.  I wrapped the books in brown paper and twine so they got to open them together.  The sessions went like this:

Week 1
Introductions, including what books the kids like to read, where they go to school, etc. (If needed.  I was new so all of these kids were new to me.)

Talk about what will happen each week in book club (They’ll be given a certain number of pages to read,  we have to be respectful to everyone, etc.)

Open the book and talk about the cover.  Read the summary on the back.  Ask questions like “What do you think it’ll be about?  Do you think it’ll be funny, serious, fantasy, real-life, etc?”

Read the beginning letter out loud and then let them start reading silently (They were chomping at the bit at this point.)

Stop them at the finish time and remind them of what they need to read to and hand-out homemade bookmarks with their assignment.

Weeks 2-6 (Most sessions were similar in structure)
Let them talk about any parts of the books they’re bursting to talk about.
Ask questions thought of beforehand.
Segue to the activity

Week 2 (Kids have read chapters 1-6): Yarn Obstacle Course
Use red (or whatever color) yarn and packaging tape to create a “laser” course between Book Sale bookcases in the programming room.  Start the course before the kids arrive.  Challenge the kids to make it through without touching the tape.  Count infractions.  Then challenge them to continue the course farther along the bookcases.

Week 3 (Kids have read chapters 7-11): Invisible Ink
Use lemon juice, Q-tips, paper, and a hair dryer.  Let them write messages to each other or as the characters with the lemon juice and Q-tips.  Show them how to reveal the messages using a hair dryer.

Week 4 (Kids have read chapters 12-16): Fingerprinting
Use ink or a pencil to have the kids fingerprint themselves or each other.  Examine the fingerprints and use books from the library to see what kind they are and any other interesting facts.  If there’s time, use one of Ed Emberley’s fingerprint drawing books to make pictures with fingerprints.

Week 5 (Kids have read chapters 17-19): Wanted Posters
Create a wanted poster and print one for each kid.  Have the kids use pencils and crayons to create a poster for the person who they think is the mole.  Talk with them about why they think it’s that person.

Week 6 (Kids have read chapters 20-25): Baking Soda & Vinegar Bomb
Use a tablespoon-ish of baking soda wrapped up in a paper towel and a baggie of vinegar to make a baking soda bomb.  Once they’ve done it once, challenge them to brainstorm ways to make the bomb better and try them out.

Engagement: There are a couple ways in which this program engaged the older school-age children.  They love the spy theme and the silliness of the book.  They loved the activities and being able to experiment with the projects.  The independent aspects of the sessions are important because the older kids like being able to make their own decisions and it’s a safe place to let them.

Graphic courtesy of Pixabay

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