6 Tips for Teaching Kindergarten in the Library

Recently, I had a colleague who was hired as an elementary librarian.  When I asked her what she was most nervous about for her new role she shared teaching kindergarteners.  It got me thinking about how teaching younger children can be incredibly rewarding but also demands some techniques to ensure smooth lessons.  Here are 6 tips for teaching kindergarteners in the library! 

Establish a Routine

Consistency is key when dealing with young learners. Setting up a clear routine helps them anticipate what’s next and fosters a sense of structure. In our library sessions, we always start on the rug, dive into our lesson, and then proceed to book checkout. While the routine remains constant, I tailor the lesson content to match the curriculum and keep it engaging. 

To make the routine visual and accessible, I use a visual schedule displayed on the smart board.  It is hooked on with Velcro dots for easy adjustments. This keeps the students informed and minimizes repetitive questioning about the lesson.

Incorporate Movement

Given kindergarteners’ short attention spans, incorporating movement helps maintain engagement. Whether it’s through interactive songs, finger plays, or games, adding physical activity keeps them focused. 

Our library sessions always start with a song.  Then, while reading a story, we often integrate finger plays to encourage participation and comprehension. For example, when talking about making connections they can tap two fingers together to show they have a connection.  Not only does this allow them to share, but also lets me acknowledge them without having to stop the story.  One of our favorite post-reading activities is a library-themed Freeze Dance, where students freeze and answer questions related to the story.

Become a Book Buddy

To encourage positive behavior and reinforce expectations, each kindergartener receives a Book Buddy clip at the start of a lesson. This is a simple clothespin with the word “library” on it.  They place this clip somewhere on their clothes and it helps serve as a visual reminder.

If they are following directions they keep their clip.  If they have been given more than one reminder they have to give their clip to me.  They have the opportunity to earn their clip back if their behavior improves. This system allows me to focus on reinforcing positive behavior rather than dwelling on the negative. At the end of the lesson, they return their clip and earn a Book Buddy sticker.  This allows me to promote individual recognition without singling out.

Implement Assigned Seats

I have found that assigned seating simplifies transitions and minimizes conflicts over seating arrangements.  Utilizing a rug with labeled alphabet boxes, each student is assigned a designated spot. Using a cricket and some sticky vinyl, the tables have been labeled with these same letters.  These have also been written on spots used to have students line up near the door.  This system lets students locate where to sit and stand effortlessly.

Employ a Magic Wand

A magical touch adds an element of fun to transitions! A magic wand is used to dismiss students from the rug to move to other activities.  It prevents everyone from going at the same time.  Plus, when you touch them on the head with a magic wand they think the library is magical too!  

Try Sensory Tiles

This was a borrowed idea from Blake Hopper (@travguybrarian).  These sensory tiles allow students to line up when checking out books.  They have stayed in place with a bit of Velcro on the back.  By providing a sensory distraction and a designated spot to stand they have helped students avoid some of the pushing that can happen when you have to wait in line.

What tips or tricks do you have for working with kindergarteners? Please share any ideas you have found helpful!

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Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).



Categories: Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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5 replies

  1. Really great tips. I love the library buddy system. I thought about implementing seating as well because, let’s be honest, kindergartens need a lotnof direction. These are some great tips for me to try next school year for sure. Thank you! -Kelsey k-5 Media Specialist, Ga

  2. Thank you! I have kinders and 1st graders for a half hour each week, including checkout, and have always relied on the classroom teacher to regulate behavior, but it doesn’t always work. I expecially love the magic wand and clothespins – those sound like winners for my kiddos!

  3. I love the images of your rountine! Do you mind sharing?

  4. Thanks Kelly for sharing these strategies, though I have been following routines, I loved the idea of displaying them in front of the kids. Moreover, the assigned seating arrangement is a fantastic idea. Inspired by you I have also prepared book buddy labels.. please keep sharing more ideas to improve learner engagement.

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