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Ariel Wander
Professor Stephanie Shteirman
ILS 562
19 November 2014
A. W. Cox Elementary Library Media Center: Creating an Interactive Center in Limited Space
The Library Media Center (LMC) at the A. W. Cox Elementary School has unique physical
characteristics that make introducing any new element particularly difficult. The most notable of
these characteristics is that the LMC is located in a hallway and therefore has no walls separating
it from other parts of the school. Bookshelves, a circulation desk, and a table for students take up
the vast majority of the limited space. In addition to the problems posed by the physical
characteristics, the budget for this undertaking is fairly small, not more than $750. Despite these
restrictions, Ms. Kate Summerlin, the Library Media Specialist (LMS) at the A. W. Cox
Elementary School seeks to introduce an interactive area for students in the LMC.
While addressing the physical space and budgetary limitations, identify interactive
projects that would be engaging for elementary school students for short periods of time (10-15
minutes) while they wait in line to check out books and/or have other non-structured time.
The Standards set forth by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) encourage
students not to be merely receptacles of knowledge, but to be active participants by thinking,
applying what they have learned to new contexts, and sharing their knowledge (American
Library Association). Interactive areas in the LMC provide opportunities for students to engage

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in each of these activities. In order to use these areas or complete the projects, students must
think critically how to best interact with the given project, apply knowledge that they have
gained while both in and out of school to the task at hand, and in some cases, work with others to
find a solution or to create something. In many respects, these interactive projects and areas
present the perfect opportunity for students to meet and achieve the AASL Standards set out for
There are two areas in the LMC that could be used for interactive areas. Each area presents
opportunities as well as challenges in terms of both design and cost.
The first area is across from the circulation desk and is where students line up while they
wait to check out books. As it stands now, this space contains a large piece of furniture for book

Front and back views of the first of two potential areas that could contain
interactive projects/areas: A large piece of furniture for book displays that is across
from circulation desk.

displays. There are also three small, connected stools for students to use while browsing the
displayed books. This piece of furniture is large and a bit oddly shaped. It takes up a substantial
amount of room in an LMC where space is at a premium. On the other hand, there is no cost to
keep it and it has the ability to serve not only as a location to display items but also as a storage

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area for some of the interactive products when not in use. For these reasons, I suggest keeping
the furniture, but using it as part book display and part area for the interactive projects.
The second area for potential interactive projects/areas is the section of the LMC that is
currently set up for reading and
presentations. There are three
large wooden tables set up in a
U formation facing a SMART
board. The chairs surrounding
these tables are made of heavy
wood. Due to the size and
weight of these pieces of
furniture, there is little

The current tables and chairs present obstacles to small group

activities and collaborative learning.

opportunity to rearrange the furniture to best suit the needs of the activity.
New furniture that is sturdy enough to withstand repeated use by an entire elementary
school population can be costly. According to The Library Store, stackable chairs in appropriate
sizes cost approximately $30-50 each (Link to The Library Store) and 48 square adjustable
activity tables cost approximately $150 each (Link to The Library Store). In order to stay within
the given budget of $750, options other than buying replacement furniture were explored.
Should the school decide to expand the budget, additional steps could be taken that would
better enable students to participate in additional hands-on activities. For example, smaller,
square tables with more lightweight, moveable chairs could replace the current furniture, which
would allow the LMS and students to rearrange the furniture to accommodate small group
activities as well as whole class activities.

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Finally, storage space needs to be considered. As mentioned above, the first area
described above has some limited space for storage of the interactive projects. While some of the
items will come with their own storage container, it should be expected that additional storage
containers will need to be purchased separately.
1. Polls
Perhaps the simplest interactive project that students could participate in while standing
in line is a poll. Although the poll could be on nearly any topic, one suggestion would be to use
the poll to gauge interest in future interactive projects by asking students to select which project
they would like to see offered in the LMC. Another possible topic could be which books should
be added to the LMC. These polls would help the LMS to identify areas of student interest and
would engage students in LMC decisions, which would assist them in becoming civic-minded as
well as developing a sense of ownership of the LMC.
These polls could be completed on paper and placed into a box or by using one of the
librarys various technology devices, such as an iPad or the SMART board.
2. Riddles and Trivia
Similar to polls, riddles and trivia can engage students without requiring significant
amounts of time or money. These activities could be completed while students wait in line to
check out their books and could help students get to know the LMC better. For example, one
trivia question might be How many books are in this library? Each student could provide an
answer and the student whose guess is closest to the correct answer could get a small item, for
example, a pencil or sticker, or will be given a desired preference, such as having first choice of
seats when the class next returns to the LMC.

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3. Origami
One of the wonderful things about origami projects is that they can be tailored to any
group. Some students may like to make cooty catchers/origami fortune tellers. Others might
prefer to make paper airplanes or footballs. Regardless of which items they choose to make,
these projects are fun and inexpensive while also useful in helping students learn math, physics,
and other important school-related topics.
For this project, the LMS could create some sample items and display those items next to
cards that provide suggested instructions and resources for students. Resources might include
books, websites, and iPad apps. In addition to creating these items, the LMS could provide
challenges. For instance, the LMS might challenge students to create a paper airplane that can fly
at least 10 feet.
The LMS could set up the iPad or SMART board to show a playlist of YouTube videos
that students can watch while they are waiting in line to check out a book or while sitting at a
table. These videos can help to get the students excited to participate in the project.
Some resources for these projects include:
a. How to Make a Cootie Catcher available on WikiHow
b. Kids Paper Airplane Book by Ken Blackburn and Jeff Lammers: $11.92 (Link to
c. Traposo USs YouTube Playlist: How to Make Origami, Easy Folding Paper Models
for Kids
d. Origami Kids: 32 Projects Designed by and for Kids by JC Nolan: $9.95 (Link to

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e. Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far
Away by Chris Alexander and Tom Angleberger: $9.60 (Link to Amazon)
f. Global Art Folia 6-Inch by 6-Inch Origami Paper, 10 Colors, 500 Pack: $8.75 (Link
to Amazon)
4. Jewelry and Crafts
There is a large range of materials that could be used by students to create jewelry and
other crafts, from simple yarn to pipe cleaners to beads. Unlike the materials for some of the
other projects, the materials for these crafts will mostly be one-time use because the students will
be able to take the items they created with them. For this reason, the cost for this project will be
ongoing. Thankfully, most of the materials are inexpensive.
Whichever materials are chosen could be set out on a table where students could select
the specific items they want to use. Some potential materials include:
a. Bulk Plastic Awesome Alphabet Cube Beads (250 count): $3.48 (Link to Amazon)
b. The Beadery 1-Pound Bag of Mixed Craft Beads: $6.08 (Link to Amazon)
c. Pepperell Rexlace Plastic Lacing Cord, 450-Feet, Primary: $6.63 (Link to Amazon)
d. Lanyard Hook Craft & Hobby ID Card Key Chain Parts (200 count): $6.99 (Link to
e. Iris 105-Pack Embroidery Giant Floss Pack, 8m: $10.99 (Link to Amazon)
f. Chenille Kraft Big Box Of Pipe Cleaners - Jumbo Stems Assortment Idea Book (150
Pieces): $7.59 (Link to Amazon)
Suggested instructions could be displayed on the table along with finished samples.
Additional resources could be provided as well, including books, websites, and iPad apps.

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a. Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy: A Complete Guide to Bending Funny Sticks by Peter Fox
(Link to Amazon)
b. Pipe Cleaner Mania by Christine M. Irvin: $4.47 (Link to Amazon)
c. String Games by Anne Akers Johnson: $4.15 (Link to Amazon)
d. This Book Made Me Do It edited by Baines, Brown, and Finch: $5.15 (Link to
e. Friendship Bracelets 102: Friendship Knows No Boundaries Over 50 Bracelets to
Make & Share by Suzanne McNeill: $8.99 (Link to Amazon)
f. BeyondBracelets YouTube Playlist: Beginner
5. Group Story Telling
A quick interactive project that students could participate in while standing in line is a
collaborative group story. An introductory statement or phrase could be written on a white board,
an iPad, the SMART board, or even a piece of paper. Alternatively, a picture or illustration could
be used in place of an introductory statement or phrase. Each student in line could then add a
word, phrase, or whole sentence to continue the story. The completed story could be read during
the classs next trip to the LMC or it could be put on display.
Other versions of this project might include having students fill in words for a Mad Libs
story or identify rhyming words (this option could be appropriate for younger students). The
LMS could allow students freedom regarding the topic or structure of the story or she could
direct the students to focus on a particular topic or format. In this way, students could work
together to create a story that aligns with a form of writing that the class is studying. For
example, this project could result in a short memoir during the time when students are nearing
completion of the unit on memoirs.

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Because the LMC already owns iPads and a SMART board, this project could be
accomplished without any additional costs.
6. Magnetic Book Cover Puzzle
These puzzles are a fun and fairly inexpensive way to get students interested in a book or
to remind them about a book they may have forgotten that they enjoyed. To make the puzzle, the
LMS would print a picture of a book cover and attach it to a magnetic sheet. The LMS would
then cut the magnetic picture into pieces. The pieces could be put into a container next to a metal
cookie sheet. Students could complete these puzzles either while in line to check out or while
sitting down at a table. To assist students in identifying the book cover, the LMS could write a
short description of the book or a list of the main characters and display it next to the puzzle.
This project was taken from the No Time for Flash Cards blog. More detailed instructions
on making the puzzles, including pictures can be found on that blog.
There are fairly few materials required for this project:
a. Silhouette Adhesive Magnet Paper (4 8.5x11 sheets): $7.95 (Link to Amazon)
b. New Star 36831 Commercial Grade 18-Gauge Aluminum Quarter Size Sheet Pan
(9x13): $7.99 (Link to Amazon)
7. LEGO Challenges
At this LMC, a large container of LEGOs could be set out in one of the two areas along
with some plastic cups and LEGO baseplates. The LMS could present a challenge for the
students to make certain things, such as a racecar, that the students could choose to participate in
or not. While the students are in line, they could select a baseplate and fill up a cup with pieces.
Once they are done in line, they could then sit and build their creations. Another possibility is
that a designated LEGO area could be set up where students could go after checking out a book.

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In either case, using cups would help to limit the number of pieces each student would get at one
time, to prevent arguing over pieces, and to make clean up time faster and easier.
Below are a variety of LEGO options along with their respective prices. As shown, the
prices vary dramatically. It is recommended that not all of the LEGOs identified below be
purchased at one time. Instead, the LMS should choose an assortment, determine whether her
students are interested in these projects, and then make further purchases as she deems
Although the initial start-up costs are high, these items are all reusable and can stand up
well to repeated use. In addition, if enough students express an interest, the LMS and other
teachers may want to consider creating a LEGO club during which students could use these
materials. Finally, students may be interested in learning about how to build specific designs.
Purchasing some books on this topic could be beneficial to students.
Potential materials and their costs are outlined below.
a. LEGOs
Name of Item
LEGO Bricks & More 10662 Creative Bucket
LEGO Bricks & More Builders of Tomorrow
Set 6177
LEGO Education Wheels Set 4598357
LEGO Education Doors, Windows & Roof
Tiles Set 4587438
LEGO Education Community Minifigures Set
A Set of 30 Family and Community Figures &
Over 40 Accessories Lego Compatible
LEGO Education Brick Set 4579793
LEGO Education Fairytale and Historic
Minifigures Set 4598356
LEGO Education Vehicles Set Trucks
Motorcycles & Cars 4579789
LEGO Education Sceneries Set 4579794
LEGO Education Harbor Set 779337

Number of Pieces






256 total, including 22

30 minifigures and over
40 accessories
227 pieces, including 22












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b. LEGO baseplates
a. 5-Inch By 5-Inch Blue Dots Baseplate Lego Compatible 10 Piece Bulk
Party Pack: $27.99 (Link to Amazon)
b. LEGO Education Small Building Plates Set 4646267 (22 pieces): $30.59
(Link to Amazon)
c. Plastic cups
a. Hefty Cups Easy Grip 18 Oz Party Cups, 50 Count: $3.48 (Link to Amazon)
d. Books
a. The LEGO Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz: $14.09 (Link to Amazon)
b. LEGO Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life by Daniel Lipkowitz:
$14.87 (Link to Amazon)
c. LEGO Chain Reactions: Design and Build Amazing Moving Machines by Pat
Murphy and the Scientists of Klutz Labs: $14.84 (Link to Amazon)
d. Cool Creations in 35 Pieces by Sean Kenney: $11.69 (Link to Amazon)
e. The Little Box of LEGO Projects by Joachim Klang, Oliver Albrecht, Lutz
Uhlmann, and Tim Bischoff: $13.59 (Link to Amazon)
Although not a book, The Little Box of LEGO Projects could be used the LMS to think
of LEGO challenges. It could also be used by students to aid them in figuring out how to create
specific items.
8. Circuit Boards
The areas of computers and robotics are extremely interesting to many students. For this
reason and others, maker spaces often include some computer and robotics components in their

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projects. While this LMC does not have the space or other resources to create a true maker space,
that does not prevent the LMC from incorporating these areas into potential interactive projects.
There is a wide variety of items that can be built using circuit boards. For instance, the
Elenco Snap Circuits SC-300 Physics Kit enables students to create AM radios, burglar alarms,
and doorbells while the Snap Circuits Alternative Energy Kit teaches students about alternative
These projects are definitely more complicated than the others presented in this paper.
Consequently, it would be best to offer these projects to students in grades 2 through 4, although
some of the younger students may also enjoy experimenting with them, especially if they have
some adult assistance.
Possible circuit board kits are listed below. One of the benefits of the Elenco Snap
Circuits kits is that they are compatible with each other. Each kit could be used by approximately
1-4 students at once except for the Snap Circuits, Jr. kit, which would be best for 1-2 students.
Thus, it is recommended to purchase multiple Snap Circuits, Jr. kits as well as a couple of the
other kits.
Elenco Snap Circuits
Alternative Energy Kit
Elenco Snap Circuits PRO
SC-500 Physics Kit

Pieces Potential Projects

Over 125

Elenco Snap Circuits

Extreme SC-750
Electronics Discovery Kit


Elenco Snap Circuits Jr.

SC-100 Kit



Price Link
$51.99 Amazon

Over 500, including digital voice

$65.95 Amazon
recorder, AM radio, digitally tuned
FM radio, AC generator, screaming
fan, whistle switch
Over 750, including sound activated $89.99 Amazon
switch, lie detector, adjustable light
controller, am radio, rechargeable
Over 100, including sound-activated $20.99 Amazon
switch, a musical doorbell, a voicecontrolled lamp, a flying saucer,
and a light police siren

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Works Cited
American Association of School Librarians. Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. American
Library Association, 2007. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.