Pencil Pouches for Chapter Books

Confession: I love to read. I love to read anything, but I especially love children's chapter books. My passion for reading developed at a very young age. I devoured all of The Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley High, and Nancy Drew books that I could get my hands on. I sometimes think that the reason that I became a teacher would be so that I would have an excuse to indulge my love of children's chapter books. When I first began my AmeriCorps service, the classroom teacher asked me what I would most like to do. I'm sure you aren't surprised that I wanted to jump in to reading groups, literature circles, and anything else that involved the opportunity for passing on my passion for reading.

So to make a long story short shorter than it could be,  I began to stock up on books. Scholastic, with their amazing dollar deals, which used to be a whole lot better, was the quickest way for me to build a collection. At first, I bought about 10 copies of each book so I would have a good selection for guided reading at various levels. I suppose I should mention here that I haven't worked in many schools that rely on a basal. In fact, I was lucky to begin my teaching career in a school where we didn't touch the basal, but instead taught everything with mentor texts and chapter books. It was hard work because I had to create a lot of units on my own, but it made me a better teacher and I honestly loved every second. About five years ago, we divided our students by level, and I had the "high readers". I had 28 students, each brilliant and wonderful and full of love for learning. That year, I did a ton of literature circles, a lot of whole group discussions, and I bought tons of chapter books for discussions that made my head spin. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. I was able to explore with them, try new ideas and approaches, and they soaked it all up. It was so awesome! 

Needless to say, I've built up quite the collection over the years. Note that this does not include anything from my classroom library because this room simply wouldn't hold both. These are only the books I have multiple copies of: 

So it's an investment, right? I store most of these in Rubbermaid containers at my house and grab what I need when I need it since I've yet to find a classroom that can accommodate this collection. But, when I use them in class, I really want students to keep them in good shape. If all of these were a $1, which you all know they weren't, it would be a decent chunk of change out of my own pocket. I wanted students to hold these, love these, throw sticky notes on them, and dive in to a passion for reading, but I didn't want my books ruined, so I devised a little plan: 

Do these pencil pouches look familiar? Office Depot, baby! 

Look at that, a chapter book just happens to fit in there perfectly! 

Oh, and that little pencil pouch? Just perfect for sticky notes or your current graphic organizer folded in to fourths! 

This little idea has put me at ease when students borrow books. I no longer worry about what will happen to them if they keep them in their desk, as they are well protected! 

This year I bought more pouches in a variety of colors because I wanted to use them for my guided reading groups. I want each group to have a different color pouch. I'm still working on building my collection, as I've already cleared out Office Depot during their $1 sale! 

Just a little idea I thought I'd pass your way! 



Pick Me! Book Folder Presentation

For years, at the end of the year, I struggled to find something engaging and academic to fill in the last week of school, which for us includes end of year picnics, practice for our fifth grade promotion ceremony, and down time in between. I like to keep lessons and academic activities going right until the last second so that things aren't totally chaotic.

Last year, I came up with the idea of a "Pick Me! Book Folder Presentation". Students are able to choose any book that they have read during the school year, including the chapter books I have read aloud throughout the year. They use the folder to present the book to next year's students. I call it the "Pick Me! Book Folder Presentation" because it's their job to make my future students want to read the book that they are presenting. They are encouraged to be creative, are asked to make their work bright and colorful, and must include the following:
  • The title of the book and author's name the front with an illustration that represents their favorite part from the book. 
  • An interesting book preview on the inside of the folder. Students are asked not to give the ending away, but to write an interesting preview paragraph that will convince the student reading the folder that this could be the best book of their fifth grade year. 
  • Present five parts of the book that they can't resist. This can include the setting, characters that they like, a part that they really enjoyed, anything. They can present this as a list, make a collage, draw pictures, print pictures off of a computer, etc. Creativity is encouraged!
  • Word splash! Students are asked to write down 10-15 words that are related to their story, then go to www. and create a word cloud that they will print and glue into their folder.
  • Extra! Extra! Students have to come up with their own "extra" to include. It can be anything they want, but must represent the book in some way. Past selections have included dog collars to represent a dog character, swords (made out of pipe cleaner) to represent a favorite battle in their story, an additional illustration, a map of the setting, and more. The sky is the limit on this one. 
I have now done this for two years and my students love it! It's a great way to keep them focused and engaged, allow them some creativity, and really sums up a lot of their reading skills and strategies! I do not ask them to put the folders in any certain order, with the exception of the title and author name being on the front with an illustration, and the book preview being somewhere on the inside. 

If you are interested, I have this as a freebie here:

Here are some examples: 

A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin, 2 different examples: 
                Front of Folder                                                     Inside the Folder

Back of Folder


The Anybodies by N.E. Body
 For this one, she created a diary for her favorite character. Loved it! 

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass:

Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell:

As you can see, these came out really awesome. What's even better is that they made the perfect display for back to school night!

This year, I am also going to put the books next to each folder presentation on the first day of school, so that students can actually sign the books out on the first day if they want. It's been such a success that I might do these sometime during the year as well, perhaps to allow students to persuade their own classmates to read a book they've read halfway through the year. If they enjoy it and they are engaged, it's definitely worth considering how I can use it more often without overusing it. 

I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer break! We've just finished a family vacation and now I'm enjoying a little down time. With a heat index of 108 predicted, I'm going to stay inside and enjoy the central air today! 


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