In putting together the pictures for the last post I realized I hadn’t talked about a couple of quick, easy changes I made to the story area this year that I’m really loving!
I inherited this big, wooden rocking chair and whiteboard easel on wheels with the rest of the library. My first few years here, I would have the easel right next to the rocking chair at the head of our story rug. I don’t have any pictures of the two of them together but this picture from a Johnny Appleseed unit I did with Kindergarten one year gives you an idea of how large it was and how much room it took up next to my rocking chair.
I used the easel occasionally during class and stored our books for the day on the bottom but, it took up a lot of space for how much I actually used it. I disliked how much of the back shelves it blocked from view when I was standing at the circulation desk so eventually, I moved the easel out of the area and only pulled it in when I needed it. At that point, I used a car organizer (which was like an oversized fanny pack) to store our books for the day and hooked it to the back of the rocking chair. This worked fine but (scandalous confession alert) I never loved the rocking chair. I never sat fully back in it, instead of perching on the edge of the seat so I could feel like I was closer to the class on the rug. I worried about accidentally rocking onto kids fingers. Kids would sit in it or play with it during book exchange time and often, other kids walking behind the chair looking for books would get hit by the back fo the chair. It just wasn’t ideal for me and how I liked to do storytime on the rug.
So this year, as we were cleaning out other rooms in the library, I made the decision to pull the rocking chair from the library. Another teacher saw it labeled for storage and snatched it up for their room instead so it’s off living its best life in another room. And I’m living my best life here with our new and improved story rug, which now looks like this:
In the great room shuffle that happened with the offices located within the library this summer, I came across a wiggle stool someone was looking to get out of their room and snatched it right up! It moves me closer to my students on the rug, frees up physical and visual space in the area, no more worries about crunched fingers and, it’s just plain fun to use! The original wiggle stool was bright blue but I just had to turn it into a fun little toadstool! All it took was a weekend at home with some paint (spray and acrylic), some Modge Podge for sealing, a cheap round pillow, a yard of fabric, some needle and thread (and patience) and viola! A magical toadstool for magical story times!
I also bought one of those little supply carts you see all over Pinterest to go next to the stool. Mine is from Target but I’ve also seen them at Michael’s and Ikea. It took less than 30 minutes to put it together and fill up with the things I want on hand during stories. Speaking of, here’s what I keep on my cart:
- Two metal cups from Target Dollar Spot (same ones I bought and turned into mini garbage cans for the tables)
- In the white cup I keep spare pens, pencils and, extra dry erase markers for the Happy/Sad board
- In the black cup I keep our Tapple Sticks
- I also use these extra strong magnets to keep the cups in place
- Extra felt circles (one of each color) from our homemade sit spots, I use these as visuals for calling groups to line up, get books etc. They were also very handy the first few weeks of school when the kids were still getting the hang of which circle indicated their group/assigned seat.
- Two magnetic cafe curtain rods, stacked on top of each other. I use these as a makeshift easel stand for the Happy/Sad board when we’re on the story rug.
Middle Tier: This is where I store the books I’ll be using/reading at the story rug that day.
Bottom Tier: Overflow (props, extra supplies, additional visuals etc).
Front of the Cart: I used some of the extra strong magnets to attach our Story Rug expectations matrix to the front of the cart. That way, I can pull it off and review it with the whole class when necessary or, after making eye contact with a student who needs a reminder, just point to certain expectations.
Side of the cart: On the side of the cart closest to the toadstool, I use a magnetic hook to hold my clipboard with my seating charts.
And there you have it! Two simple, fast updates to the story rug that are making things organized and fun (my favorite combination!) around here.