Library Cat Travels the World!

Meet our library mascot (or would that be mascat?). Ben was a Beanish-Type Baby in a former life, but now he lives in our library by the circ desk and all our students visit him once a week. This summer, several of our teachers will be taking Ben (or one of his litter-mates, purchased on Ebay in the last few days) with them on vacation. Ben will be visiting South Dakota, Central Texas, Upstate New York, Alaska, Victoria, British Columbia, Paris, Dublin, Kazakhstan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Hawaii and many more exciting places around the world! Traveling companions will be taking pictures of Ben in many culturally interesting places, near recognizable sights as well as in more hard-to-guess settings. Next year, students at our school will have a chance to guess where Ben traveled during his summer vacation! Hopefully this will spark some student (and teacher) interest in using our online databases for research. Google Earth, a newly discovered and well-loved tool in my building, will fit nicely into the activity too!

This project ties in with the project described in my previous post, in that for the second year, our library theme will be Travel the World…Read Good Books! This theme is shared by our wonderful counselor, and we plan all sorts of fun and hopefully meaningful activities for our K-5th graders next year to encourage an appreciation for diverse cultures around the world. Would that the district might let us collaborate in a meaningful way with actual people in other countries through wikis, collaborative projects, streaming video, etc. Change is slow…baby steps…must keep reminding myself.
We may be able to get some epals set up or something of the sort, if we are lucky! That would be a step in the right direction! Exciting days for Ben!

Year End Craziness and One Big Success!

Over the years, my poor family has learned that in May, they should just leave me alone as much as possible and let me get through it all so we can go on to have summer! Last week, some colleagues and I were talking about end-of-year inventory time in the library, and it seems that I am the anomaly. Everyone else loves getting the library in order and the books all on the shelf and accounted for. Me? It makes me nervous as a cat and quite, quite irritable! Adding to the stress this year, our lovely daughter is graduating from high school, so the house has to get clean for family visits too! Yikes!

In the midst of graduating our only, getting ready for a trip to Europe and vile inventory, not to mention our book character parade on the last day of school (an old thorn in my side, long story), I also got tapped to help head up a school-wide multicultural appreciation club kickoff! I helped our wonderful counselor, who is ever diligent about keeping up lots of activities that promote tolerance and appreciation for diversity.

We had our premier event last week, and it was a great success. We had 3 sessions about various cultures–France, Mexico and Vietnam. Students rotated from one session to the next and learned a tiny bit about each culture. In one session they did a craft, in another they learned a dance, and in another they heard a folktale. Then we all had a snack from each of the cultures.

We set a limit on students to attend because we’re just getting our feet under us–next year it will go wide. To our surprise, the limit was hit by 9am the morning after the permission slips went home! We had lovely participation from our Moms, many of whom speak little to no English. I think that is potentially the most powerful part of the program! We will be able to tap the knowledge & talents that these Moms have, and honor their cultures! We can get them into the school to have positive experiences, and then it might not be such an uncomfortable place for some of the families. Having lived in Germany myself, I know what it feels like to be the only person in a room that isn’t understanding the language. I can really sympathize with our families that don’t have much English–what a brave and wonderful thing it was for our Moms to be willing to be a part of the club. They did a lot of work preparing too! One pair of Moms made tamales of different types, one prepared a Powerpoint and made spring rolls, one made madeleines for the children to taste. I was just really so impressed and pleased with the afternoon. Tired and stressed…but pleased.

Next blog post: traveling the world with our library mascot!

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