The library should be a place of wonder and excitement. I think it should be very different from everywhere else students go. But there are some definite organizational issues involved with seeing classes all day long, allowing for continuous open check-out, and maintaining your sanity. Enter stations as a sanity saver.
First. You have to have a plan.
- What stations will you use?
- How often will students go to stations?
- How will students rotate through stations?
- What do students need to know to be effective station users?
- What routines will you establish to make stations work for you?
- Do you want your stations to focus on reading alone or also support a subject area?
A regular class:
- Students come in and sit on the rug or at tables.
- We talk about expectations and I may do a mini lesson or read a story.
- Station/check out time.
- Return to rug/tables for reflection, sharing, and dismissal.
When I first started stations, we practiced moving and voice levels. Everyone station was the same – puzzles. Then I added a second station, and then a third. How long we stayed at each stage depended on how we did with the change. We practiced until everything moved smoothly, then we moved on.
In my early station days, I made them much more work intensive than I needed to. One year, all the stations were science themed oh my goodness that was a boatload of exhausting work. When I got to my current school, I decided to try to use more things already at hand, and I wanted to focus on cultivating a reading culture. Stations are either book/reading based or have books and other reference materials with them.
Here's a list of some stations that came naturally from what was on hand in this library or what I'd already made. They are not grade specific. Sometimes I'll think only the littles will like that one and then be surprised by a group of 5th grades diving in.
- ABC and 123 games/puzzles
- Pop up books – ABC books – Some other theme
- Poetry creation
- Find a fact for the fact-o-file
- Design center
- Puzzles – floor and table
- Board games
- Library skills
- I-O blocks
- Writing – journaling – reflecting
- Math practice
- Leap Pads
- Library helpers
- Read by yourself
- Maps and explorers
There are more, but you get the idea. Everyone's stations can reflect what they have or goals they want to accomplish.
I usually have 10-12 out at a time. Some are seasonal. At each station, there are objectives, instructions, materials. Students do one station a week and check out in small groups.