Category: Back to School & Library Games

Library Games #3: GeoGuesser: Where in the World?

Lesson Overview:

In this game, students try to locate places, landmarks, or even stadiums all over the world.  If students do not have experience in world travel, they can focus on a specific country (Brazil, USA) or even city (London, New York City).  Use this lesson after the atlas lesson just for fun as the kids try to help each other figure out where special places and sites are.  You will be surprised at how much they know!  (Electronic devices and an internet connection are required to play.)

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

3-8

Objective:

To play three different GeoGuesser map games to practice using an atlas and to share geographical knowledge and understanding with classmates.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will play three different GeoGuesser games.  Each student will also bookmark GeoGuesser in his or her toolbar for future play.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind students that this year (or in the last lesson) they have learned to use an atlas.  Today’s lesson is all games to challenge them to share their understanding of geography and their atlas skills.   How many points can the students score?  Who can outguess their classmates?

Introduce GeoGuesser by going to the web site and demonstrating how to choose and play a game.  The web site is found here:  https://geoguessr.com/

Be sure you include the following in your demonstration:

  • One person vs. multi-player games
  • Choosing the map

The only way to keep track of scores and keep results is to create an account.  In our school, students have school Google accounts that can be used for sites like this one without the students giving away any personal information.  If you have a similar arrangement, have the students use their school IDs to set up a user account.  This is also the only way that they can challenge each other.  If your kids do not have school accounts, have them play as a guest without logging in.  The site will work fine either way.

2. Main:

Give the kids enough time to play several rounds of GeoGuesser.  Check to see how they are doing.  Don’t let anyone get frustrated!  Some students who have specialized knowledge or are particularly well traveled may really shine in this lesson, but it’s just for fun!

Ask the kids to keep track of how many rounds of which games they play.  They can create simple tally sheets for this.  They need to play three different games, so each student should turn in a sheet with his/her name and the names of at least three map games.

3. Conclusion:

Draw the kids back together for a few quick reflections.  What did they learn today that they did not know before?  What was the most unusual place they “visited” on the maps?  What was the hardest clue?  Did the atlases help at all?  How accurate could they be with the online tools?  Would they ever want to play again?

Resources:
  1. Computers and internet access.
  2. Ability to project your screen so that the kids can see the demonstration.
  3. GeoGuesser web site found here: https://geoguessr.com/
  4. Scrap paper and pencils for keeping score and keeping a tally of the names and number of games played.
Notes:

Although I’ve put this lesson in the games section, it could be played as part of any Unit of Inquiry that focuses on geography.

Be sure to share the game on the class Weebly or in the school newsletter.  Families can have a lot of fun playing this game together!

Recommended books for this lesson:

None

Key Terms:

Maps, Geography, Games, Landmarks, Tourism

Library Games #2: Library Basketball

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will review some of the highlights of their year in the library.  They will record their ideas on small slips of paper, scrunch the paper into small “basketballs,” then shoot the hoop!  I usually play “Boys vs. Girls” to wrap-up the year with thoughtful reflection and good, old-fashioned fun!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

3-5

Objective:

To reflect on the year in the library, lessons learned, projects completed, activities and experiences.  (IB Key Concept:  Reflection.)

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will think about and answer five short questions about his or her experiences in the library program this school year.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Explain to the children that today they will get to play Library Basketball.  In Library Basketball, you get to make a basketball for every question you answer.  Then, you “shoot the hoop” with your balls.  One point will be awarded for every ball that makes it into the bucket.  The competition is girls against boys (or whichever way you wish to divide the class).  Sportsmanship counts!  Be respectful, do your best, and have fun!

2. Main:

Have each child pick up a packet of papers and a pencil.  Prepare a “court”, which is a waste can or bucket in the center of a large space.  Use pieces of tape or string to mark a circle around the bucket.  I like the circle to be as big as you can make it so that there are no easy shots!  Students can shoot from any point in the library outside the circle.  Usually I do not let the kids climb on furniture although they are welcome to do a jump shot from the ground.

Ask the children to write their names on EACH slip of paper.  Any paper that makes it into the bucket without a name will not count for a point!  Ask the children five questions.  For each question, the students will write their answers on one of the slips of paper, crumple the paper into a ball, then take turns shooting for the “basket.”  I usually ask them to write their answers and crumple their answers into a ball, but wait to shoot until everyone is ready to shoot.  All boys shoot together, all girls shoot together.  There is only one shot per ball, so once they shoot, the balls that didn’t make it into the bucket lie on the ground.

I often use questions like:

  1. What was your favorite library lesson this year? (You may have to prompt their memories.  I find that kids DO have favorites but sometimes need a few hints to remember.)
  2. What book did a friend recommend to you?
  3. What book did you recommend to a friend?
  4. What did you read that this year that was not a book?
  5. What is the name of our library catalog?
  6. If you could change one thing about our library, what would it be?
  7. Which genre is your favorite?
  8. Which genre would you like to try next year?
  9. Which author (illustrator) visited our school this year?
  10. Who is your favorite author?
  11. Who is your favorite illustrator?

(You’ll probably only have time for 5 questions.  Choose whichever questions would be most meaningful for your kids.)

The lesson typically follows this pattern:

  • Kids mark their NAMES on all five slips of paper first.
  • ASK a question. Everyone answers.
  • Everyone pulls that slip of paper out of the packet by gently tearing it off the staple.
  • Kids Make their basketballs.
  • Boys shoot their basketballs all at the same time.
  • Girls shoot their basketballs all at the same time. (Reverse the order on the next question.)
  • Balls that do not make it in the bucket stay on the floor. No second shots!!

3. Conclusion:

After the last group of children shoots their basketballs, quickly grab the bucket so that no more balls find their way in.  All children then clean up the library floor and dispose of the basketballs that didn’t make it into the bucket.

The score is then determined.  Ask a boy/girl pair to unfold and read the papers and another boy/girl team to record the answers and tally the points.  Determine a winner, but emphasize that everyone worked together and enjoyed the game as a class.

Resources:
  1. Paper packets. I cut sheets of scrap paper into four parts.  Then, I staple five pieces of scrap paper together.  Each child needs a stapled pack of five slips of paper.
  2. Extra slips of paper, because there will be a few who do not follow instructions or who rip their papers up.
  3. Pencils, pens.
  4. A bucket or open-top rubbish bin to serve as the “basket.”
  5. Tape or string to mark the “no shoot” zone around the basket.
  6. List of questions for your students to answer.
  7. Flip chart and markers to record the responses and tally the score.
Notes:

This lesson is usually loud, rambunctious, and great fun!  Don’t let the kids take it too seriously.  It’s just a chance to think about the year and look forward to the following year.

If you have small treats or rewards to give the kids, this would be a great time to do that.  The very last lesson of the year should be a presentation of the summer reading program.  But, if you are not running a summer reading program, this works well as a final library lesson.

Recommended books for this lesson:

None

Key Terms:

Games, Basketball, Reflection

Library Games #1: Free Rice!

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will learn how to play games on Free Rice, the web site that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.  On Free Rice, students learn vocabulary, flags of the world, chemistry, anatomy, maths, and much more!  Each time a question is answered correctly, rice is donated to the World Food Programme, helping to end world hunger.  If you need a filler or last-minute lesson that requires no preparation, this is as good as it gets!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

3-unlimited

Objective:

To become familiar with the Free Rice web site and to play at least two games on Free Rice, thus helping to eliminate world hunger while learning.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will find and bookmark the Free Rice web site and play two Free Rice games.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Explain to the students that sometimes they catch a break, a lesson so enjoyable they’ll want to tell all their friends.  Today is the day for that lesson!

Because of field trips / scheduling complications / teacher illness or absence / earned reward, this period gets to be one of great learning but also great fun.  Grab a device, a partner, and get to work on freerice.com.

2. Main:

Demonstrate how to play games on freerice.com.

Teach the children that this web site is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.  So, every time they answer a question correctly, ten grains of rice are donated to help end world hunger.  Demonstrate how answering a question correctly results in grains of rice in the bowl on the right.

Show the children how to choose different categories to play.  Ask them to play one of the vocabulary games and one other game.  Also point out that if they miss a question, the correct answer is given at the top of the page.  So, even if they answer incorrectly, they can learn the correct answers!  Questions missed are repeated in the game, so go slowly enough to learn the correct responses.  Give students most of the class period to play Free Rice.

Note that a student’s progress cannot be tracked and points saved unless he creates an account and logs in.  I usually don’t have my students create a log-in.  Please adjust this per your own school policy and preferences.

3. Conclusion:

Wrap-up by explaining that their work today really has resulted in a donation to the World Food Programme.  Challenge the children to play the game often to improve their own knowledge and to make further rice contributions.

Resources:
  1. Internet access.
  2. Devices, at least one for every two students.
  3. Flipchart paper or board to record the students’ scores (optional)

Notes:

I usually show my fourth and fifth graders how to play Free Rice.  I’ve been using this lesson for years and everyone loves it!  There are enough categories of questions that everyone has a chance to show his or her expertise.  The students cannot get enough of filling their rice bowls.  The biggest problem you’ll have in this lesson is kids shouting out their scores, “I’ve got 800 grains!!” etc.

This is my “go to” lesson when a class needs cover quickly, or when I need a “filler” lesson due to a staff absence or scheduling complications.  There is no preparation, it’s 100% educational, the kids love it, and it’s quick and easy to get them started.  You need an internet connection and devices, but other than that, the class runs itself.

Recommended books for this lesson:

None

Key Terms:

Games, Vocabulary, United Nations, World Food Programme, Hunger, Rice

Back to School #7: That Book Woman, by Heather Henson and David Small

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students reflect on the importance of access to reading materials.  Using Heather Henson’s tribute to pack-horse librarians, the lesson helps children remember how fortunate they are to have a school or public library.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

3-5

Objective:

To understand the importance of access to reading materials and to appreciate the efforts of those who bring books to children and to the public.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will successfully complete the questions on the lesson handout, thus showing their comprehension of the text and its message.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Ask a few questions to provoke the children’s thinking.  Sometimes I ask:

  1. Do most kids have libraries at their schools?
  2. Do most communities have libraries?
  3. Have libraries always been a part of our culture?
  4. Can you think of a time or a place where people might not be able to get reading materials?
  5. If it was very hard to get a book, or if you could not get any books at all, what might happen to you?
  6. If you or the people around you could not read, how would your lives change?

Tell the children that today’s lesson looks at a family that did not have easy access to books.  This is based on a true story and faithfully represents the lives of a lot of people who lived in the rural United States about 90 years ago.  It could still be the case in many parts of the U.S. and the world today.

2. Main:

Prepare students by pointing out that the author uses language to reflect the regional dialect.  Thus, the words will not sound like words you or I use today.  You will need to listen carefully to understand this story.

Teach That Book Woman by Heather Henson.   Read slowly because the language will seem unusual to the children.   Check the students’ comprehension as you go.

After the story, work through the student handout together.  You may, of course, adapt the questions for your own students.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the kids why Heather Henson wrote this book?  What is her main idea?  What is she trying to say to her readers?

Emphasize that it is a privilege to have a well-stocked school library.  This year we should use it well, reading broadly and sampling deeply from the collection.  In this way, the world will open and we can learn anything.

Resources:
  1. That Book Woman by Heather Henson and David Small.
  2. Copies of the student handout.
  3. Clipboards if the children are seated together on the floor.
Notes:

I have found this lesson to be quite difficult for third graders, which is why I suggest working through the student handout together.  I’ve not used it as much with fourth and fifth graders, but assume that they would find it difficult as well.  The language and setting are unfamiliar to students in an international school, so it is a stretch for them to understand the main ideas without support.

Recommended books for this lesson:
  1. That Book Woman by Heather Henson, pictures by David Small.
Key Terms:

Books, Appalachia, Pack-Horse Librarians, Books and Reading, Librarians

That Book Woman, Student Handout

Back to School #6: A Fine, Fine School, by Sharon Creech

Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students think about what can be learned in school and what cannot be learned in school.  As students return from the summer holidays, it is good to reflect on all that was learned and experienced over the summer and the reasons for returning to school.  This lesson enables kids to share some of their summer experiences while understanding the importance of more structured learning.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

2-5

Objective:

Each child will be able to identify five things typically learned at school and five things typically learned at home.

Suggested Time:

40-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each child will complete a “T Chart” with two lists:  Learn/Do at School and Learn/Do At Home.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Welcome children back to the school and especially back to the library!  Emphasize how good it is to be together and how much you are looking forward to another year’s learning journey with them.  Ask provocative questions like these:

  • I wonder . . . . Do we learn everything we need to know in school?
  • Are there some things we learn at home or during the holidays?
  • To be very smart, should we go to school more?

2. Main:

Share A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss.  Check for understanding as you go.  When I teach this book I usually pause and ask the children, “Would you like to go to school on Saturdays?”  “Would you like to go to school on Sundays?”  “Would you like to go to school during your holidays?”  “Would you like to go to school over the summer?”  The kids enjoy screaming “NOOOOOO” every time.

If you can arrange it, ask your principal to stop by and ask the children if they would like to go to school on the weekends or over the holidays.  This is a perfect book for a principal to read to a class, so see if you can arrange for him/her to make a guest appearance.

Once you are sure that the children understand the story, show them how to construct a “T-Chart.”  You can do this as a class or ask children to work in groups.  The T-Charts should be set up so that there are two lists:

  • Learn At Home
  • Learn At School

You may wish to use a graphic organizer with three columns and let the column in the middle be a “Learn BOTH at Home and at School” category, but I prefer to keep the categories separate.  Doing so forces the children to think about the differences between learning at home and learning at school and that conceptual difference is key to this lesson.

The children will have their own ideas, but some of them could include:

Learn At Home                                                           Learn At School

How to brush your teeth                                            How to read

How to wash dishes                                                    How to write

How to walk the dog                                                   How to walk in a line

How to care for a younger child                               How to take turns

How to grow a garden                                                How to raise your hand

How to climb a tree                                                     How to play basketball

How to go shopping                                                    How to use a computer

How to do laundry                                                       How to play an instrument

How to take a phone message                                  How to sing in a choir

How to wrap a present                                               How to do math

How to bake a cake                                                     How to use an atlas

Give the children about ten minutes to work in small groups on their T-Charts, then come back together and compile a class chart.  Students can finish their own charts as the class chart takes shape.  Make sure that each child has at least five ideas from the “Home” category and five ideas from the “School” category.

3. Conclusion:

Ask the children where they do most of their learning.  They answer, and the big idea, of course, is that we learn different things in different environments, but that we can always learn.  We are all lifelong learners.

Collect the work and make sure that the homeroom teacher has the T-Charts for the children’s language notebooks.  The T-Chart or graphic organizer is a writing extension and fits nicely as a short piece of written work as the response to a piece of literature.

Resources:
  1. Paper
  2. Pencils
  3. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss
  4. Flipchart paper and markers, a whiteboard, or a smart board for scribing the class T-Chart.
  5. If you choose to do the art extension, you’ll need paper and markers for the word strips.

Notes:  If you like the idea of this lesson, but are looking for a different instructional plan, please check out the excellent ideas from The Picture Book Teacher here:  http://thepicturebookteachersedition.blogspot.ae/2013/07/a-fine-fine-school-by-sharon-creech.html  She has done a lot more work than I have, and there are more lesson ideas to choose from.  However, not all those ideas are writing or reflective.  I like the way this lesson is structured because it asks the kids to do some original thinking and reflect on their summer experiences.

If you don’t yet have a display in the library, this would be a great lesson to extend with a simple art project.  Make a giant backpack out of light colored paper and have the kids make word strips or pictures with their ideas about what they like to learn in school.  Paste these onto the backpack.  Likewise, create a giant house or apartment block and let kids make word strips or pictures for things they learn at home.  The title of the display could be “Learning at Home and Learning at School.”  You could even add their pictures next to their ideas to fill up your school house at the beginning of the year!

Recommended books for this lesson:

  1. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech, pictures by Harry Bliss
Key Terms:

School, Students, Principals, Holidays, Learning