Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Fair Frenzy

We do two Scholastic Book Fairs each year and I blogged waaaay back in October before our first book fair about some of the preparations. I wanted to discuss some of the changes that worked really well for both our fall and spring book fairs.

Theme: the fall theme was Here's to our Heroes and to help incorporate the theme, I dressed as a different superhero each day of the book fair. It definitely made a difference for students, parents, and teachers alike. I don't think there was a single person who didn't know that we had a book fair going on. The spring theme was carnival based and I considered dressing as a clown, but I was advised against it as that can be scary to some kids. We did play carnival music throughout in the background and used pennants as our recognition of One for Books contributions.

Location, Location, Location: we moved the registers this year so that they were up on the circulation desk rather than over in the midst of the fair on a table. This accomplished a few things. It utilized a surface we already had, so we didn't need an additional table set up. We were also able to use the shelves below that part of the circulation desk for baggies for change, bags for books, and other materials like rubber bands, one for books slips, teacher book dedication stickers, etc. This freed up space for us to spread out the fair a little more. We also borrowed the cords and stanchions (fancy/real names for movie theater line thingies) from the high school to create a specific place for the line. This was mostly necessary for the evening book fair which can get quite crowded, but I also created a system to match up older and younger partner classes on either side of the line.

Teacher Wishlist: On the location note, we changed up how we make a teacher wish list. In the past, teachers wrote out a wish list and they were posted on the wall by the door. If you wanted to get a teacher a book, you first of all had to know there was a wish list, find it, then find the book you might like to get. Most people didn't know this was an option, and some teachers made wish lists, others did not. This past year, I encouraged all teachers to make a wish list. We made up bookmarks with each teacher's name and grade or area at the top. We gave 6 to each teacher. They came in during book fair preview and selected their books, but instead of writing a list, they put their bookmark in, made a pile and placed the pile on our teacher/classroom wish list display. Then, if a parent or student wanted to get a wish list book, all they had to do was go to that area and pick one up. Easy.

The Little Things that Make a Big Difference: there were a few little changes that helped so much. We got snack sized ziplock bags to give change back in. So much easier than putting it back in an envelope that has already been opened, and good for those kids who come with a fistful of dollar bills and no wallet, envelope, or bag. We color coded the sections, and labeled areas by number, so in each area was a location number. On the student wish lists, there was a spot to write down location number. For orders that were sent down to the library, having a location number made filling orders so much easier. The last copy slips were also organized by color to match the closest location number sign, making it easy to return last copies after a backorder was placed.

Poster Raffle: When you put posters on display, you get to keep the,. Now, as much as I love "Paw Wars", Justin Bieber, and "Fur-ever Friends," I don't know that I would have gotten much use out of the posters. So, we set up a poster raffle. Whenever a student made a donation to One for Books (even a penny), or purchased a teacher wish list book, they were entered into out poster raffle. I kept track of entrants by having the, write their name on a pennant (next year name and homeroom). Then I went through the pennants and entered each name into a Google Spreadsheet. At the end of the week, I used a random number generator to select the number of winners to correspond to the number of posters we had. At times, I made it a job for an older student to type the names into the google doc and I will likely do this again next year.

Calculator Station: We set up a calculator station with a chart that showed how much tax one would owe for different amounts of money. There was another chart with directions for adding up the prices of items and multiplying for tax. There were calculators there. This was a huge time-saver and good math practice for students as well. When they would come to me and ask, "Do I have enough?". I would guide the, to the calculator station and 9 times out of 10, they could figure it out themselves.

Stuff: What better way to put it? Stuff. At a Scholastic Book Fair, there is a lot of stuff, besides books. And it can be really distracting. In the spring, I wanted to try something different. We only sold the stuff during the evening book fair. This did not include posters. I told all students this during their preview week a week before the fair. During the evening fair, it was set up away from the rest of the books. This served many purposes. 1) The stuff did not become a classroom distraction, get lost and cried about, or worse, taken. 2) We did not have the twenty times over repeat customers. This may sound like a good thing, but these are the kids who would work hard to spend every last cent but it took many trips to the register, and much time out of class to do so. Not having erasers, bookmarks, and cell phone pencil sharpeners cut down on this kind of behavior. 3) By selling these items during the evening book fair, we knew kids had their parent's permission to get that item. Previously, there might be complaints that kids spent money intended for books on erasers and giant pointer fingers. 4) Oh, and the giant pointer fingers almost always ended up as weapons, so there was none of that. 5) Timing. So, our fair runs for 6 days. If you are a kid in the class that comes on the first day, you get to have your pick from all the stuff. But, if you come on the last day, it is slim pickin's indeed, so this eliminated that problem. 6) Along the same line, if a student comes on day 1 and fills out a wish list with one of these items, by the time day 6 rolls around, they return the wish list, more often than not, that item is gone. And I'm the lucky individual who had to make the call to customer service to request that a pink sparkly pen with a fuzzy thingie on top be shipped out ASAP. They never knew what I was talking about.

Delivery: On a regular day, we use rolling carts outside of classes in grades K-2 to pick up their library returns and also to place outside the class that will have library the next day as a reminder to bring books back. We were able to use these same carts to make deliveries to classrooms by grade level.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but these changes made things run so smoothly. I'm looking forward to this fall's fair and building reading excitement for our students.

If you are a school librarian and you have some ideas you use in your school, include them in the comments section below.

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