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socially distant classroom library

Managing Your Library in a Socially Distanced Classroom

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Hey teacher besties! Can I get real for a second? It has NOT been an easy Back to School season this year. In fact, it’s been downright challenging, emotional, and confusing. But, back we go…and my hope is to make it a little less stressful for you.

With the new social distancing and CDC guidelines, many teachers are ditching their classroom libraries. Guys! Please don’t! You can use your library, even during this “new normal”. So today, I’m sharing two creative ways you can keep your classroom library open in your classroom this school year!

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Creating a “Quarantine” System for Your Classroom Library

In the past, I was always very open with my classroom library. Students were encouraged to grab books throughout the day to read. And I know that your classroom is probably the same.

But now, that type of “open book” practice isn’t safe and isn’t compliant with the new CDC suggestions of cleaning between uses.

But, we don’t need to completely shut down our libraries…We just need to think differently…

How could this look different?

How can this still work?

How can we make it safe for our students to look at the books in our library?

I know these are questions you’re wondering too!

So, I’ve got two solutions to share with you. Good news: both suggestions include materials you probably already have in your classroom… That way you won’t have to buy a bunch of extra stuff. #SCORE

Socially Distant Classroom Library Solution #1: Individual Book Boxes

The first solution is a book box labeled for each student. I know a lot of us already use book boxes or have boxes like this. I grabbed this one from Michael’s for about $2. It’s a nice plastic one. Target gets them around back to school time, and Ikea has them too! (I’m in love with these cardboard ones from Amazon!)

book boxes for socially distant library

How to implement in your classroom:

Using a book box routine is pretty easy!

At the beginning of the week, have your students pick five or six books to put in their own box. When it’s time for your students to read, then they go to their book bin and grab their books.

At the end of the week, you collect all the books. Let them sit over the weekend in quarantine and you can put them back in your library the following Monday.

This system works well because the CDC says to allow two days to be in the clear. That’s why public libraries are able to be open right now. So two days in quarantine – Saturday and Sunday – and then on Monday morning, you can go have students pick out new books for the week.

Classroom Library Solution #2: Rotating Book Rest Bins

Solution two is to do a Book Rest system.

book rest box

For this system, you would have two dedicated boxes (I just used these plastic ones from Amazon!) for your books to “rest” while they are quarantined. (You can download the book rest bin labels here!)

How to implement in class:

When students are done with a book, they return it to the first bin. At the end of the day, you pull the book bin and place it somewhere out of sight for the books to “rest”.

The following day, place out a second book rest bin. Students would do the same as before. When they are done with a book, they would place the book in the 2nd book rest bin.

On the third day, you can place back the books from the first book rest bin. Then, place out the bin again to collect the completed books.

This system allows you to rotate between the two days of books, so you’re always putting books back every two days and replenishing your library.

social distance library

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Making it Work for You

I know this seems like one more thing you need to do. Who has the time?

To help lessen the load, think about how you could have students help with the process. (What a great way to add a job to your classroom community!)

A student could help with putting books back or pulling books out. Remember you’ll want them to wear gloves or wash their hands before/after.

So those are two suggestions for making your classroom library work with this school year.

Either option works, but I do think it’s probably less work to do student book boxes. Both options have their positives and negatives, but it’s better than not using your classroom library!

So are you convinced to keep your classroom library up and running this school year? If so, share below! If you have more ideas, be sure to comment with those too!

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Hi, I'm Leigh.

The Applicious Teacher is all about creating hands-on and engaging lessons that align with the standards while still having time for your life. This is your place for ideas, tips, and resources for the REAL teacher!


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