Over the Rainbow ~ 2022 - 2023

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I love everything we made! However, some of my favourites include:

~The Cyclone: The base was created from a tomato plant cage, stuffing from thrift shop pillows, random toys, strip lighting, and ridiculous amount of zip ties.

~Corn stalks: The Base was scrap wood and wooden dowels left over from our house renovations, and the corn were plastic water bottles wrapped in paper.

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~Dorothy's Slippers: It was important for me to stay true both to the book and the movie. That meant having both ruby and silver slippers. Most of the credit goes to my hubby who found the best thrift shoes to Modge Podge with red glitter, and a pair of kids silver shoes (perfect the way they were) at the local Salvation Army.

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Like last year, I am reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a podcast for the students for our school wide prep time on Thursdays (Over the Rainbow Thursdays). 

We've been over the rainbow with this year's theme from L. Frank Baum's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

August 2022: Unlike previous years where I had the luxury of using my entire garage for decoration creation, I had to relocate production to my in-laws' basement due to house renovations.

My mother-in-law graciously put up with the complete chaos that took place, and I was joined by many family members and friends to creating some of the pieces due to our new location.

Blacklock in Middle Earth ~ 2021 - 2022

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Middle Earth didn't come into being until the middle of the summer. My husband needed a theme that incorporated salmon due to a few projects and field trips that would be happening during the year. I wasn't ready for "Ocean" again so.... Middle Earth was born!

While I love all the decorations, Smaug the Dragon is my favourite.

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With the help of my husband, we paper-mached the 5 ft Smaug in our garage during the last week of summer, Inside, Smaug s made of paper and chicken wire which makes him relatively lightweight.

His scales and nails are made out of craft foam, his eye balls are styrofoam balls, and his wings are made out of pool noodles and fabric. I just love him!


Like last year, I am reading The Hobbit as a podcast for the students while they eat lunch on Wednesdays (Middle Earth Wednesdays). I've "PG"ed a version for my little Kindergartens to Grade Twos!

 

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Blacklock in Wonderland ~ 2020 - 2021

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September 2020: Would we even use the library this year?

That was the question as we started the school year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, I use the last two weeks of summer to set up the library, but it wasn't until the end of September that we decided to open the library as safely as we could.

 

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Blacklock in Wonderland was a cheerful, wild, and colourful theme that brightened everyone's year!

From October to January, I created weekly Wonderland Wednesdays podcasts of my reading of Alice in Wonderland for the whole school to enjoy while eating their lunches. (One version for primary and one for intermediate grades.

 

I was so late setting up that I never had time to make Mome Raths. 

Why are Mome Raths important? 

Our house teams were Cheshire Cats, White Rabbits, Deck of Cards, and Mome Raths. (I stayed away from Mad Hatters as I was trying to be sensitive to issues surrounding mental illness).

So, one of my Grade One students made Mome Raths out of paint sticks for me! 

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Welcome to the Jungle ~ 2019 - 2020

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A Year at Hogwarts was a tough theme to follow!

However, I am truly enjoying the relaxing ambience of the tropical rainforest for the 2019 - 2020 year. This is the second year that the entire school has adopted my library's theme which is combined with "The Love of Reading" initiative.

Lead by our fearless administration leader, Aussie Gal, our halls have been transformed into lush jungle habitats with the 3 pods (K/1, 2/3, and 4/5) named after the Australian Rainforest, the Congo, and the Amazon.

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The best investment I made for this year's set up was buying a huge roll of brown craft paper from the amazing staff at Creative Children in Port Moody, BC.

The paper made all the vines all over the school, paper bag monkey for 80+ students, covered several bulletin boards, and many other decorations!

Massive props go to the staff at Creative Children, who searched high and low for the roll in their warehouse and made sure I had everything I needed despite the busyness of back-to-school shoppers! Love these guys!

Once again, I checked out Marketplace and Craigslist for stuffed monkeys and I was not disappointed! I even located a beautiful green snake too!

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A Year at Hogwarts ~ 2018 - 2019

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September 2018

My principal, Aussie Gal, twisted my rubber arm so that the theme would be Harry Potter/Hogwarts. Luckily, I had quite a few props and decorations left over from the previous summer's alumni reunion I co-hosted at a church camp.

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No More Flannel Bulletin Boards!

It was fabulous to start the year with new-to-me black bulletin boards to replace the sexy forest green, fire red, and mustard yellow flannel boards on my main wall. Those colours should never have been a colour palette! 

I choose to create a simple castle wall background using a pre-printed plastic wall sheet from Turkeys and for the first time ever, I used plain borders of a muted grey to finish off the edges. Ta-da! (You can see some of it behind the Whomping Willow).

The castle extended around the library. It covered the bulletin boards that displayed the four Hogwarts house banners (many thanks to Rook and Weezie for making them with me!)
and
it covered the back office wall where the circulation desk resides.


Tip: Double-sided tape is forever!

I tried using double-sided scrapbooking tape to hang the plastic sheets on the brick walls. It worked like a charm for the entire year... and then some :(   It took some heavy duty scraping and goo removal to finally remove all of it from the walls and the front doors. 

**2019 Update: The wall was still sticky in September 2019 so my jungle sheets stayed up using the tape remnants that never came off. Kind of a win-win... I guess.

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Tip: Marketplace and Craigslist

I didn't have as much time as previous years to make my own decorations so I turned to Marketplace and Craigslist for help. From stuffed owls to Platform 9 3/4 shower curtains, I found many Hogwarts treasures that were being sold in the aftermath of Harry Potter themed birthday parties.

Armed with my trusty ventilator and multiple bottles of spray insulation foam, I created bubbling cauldrons for the Potions display. It was fun to search the local second-hand stores for funky bottles and containers!

Tip: Waste Not, Want Not!

I covered the cauldrons tops with plastic wrap to prevent having to fill the cauldrons with insulation foam. 

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Botany Display: The mandrakes were my favourite handmade additions to the Hogwarts decor. They took 3 days to make, but it was worth it! I got ideas from SweetTreatsbySarah's Blog and to give the mandrakes height in the pots, I filled the pots with river rocks.

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The Rest of the Library:

A Space Odyssey ~ 2017 - 2018

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Well, now I had so many more skills for decorating and it was time to kick things up a notch!

And for that I needed my brother-in-law, Wired Man. He truly is the Batman to my Robin.  The Einstein to my gravity. The tequila in my margarita.

September 2017 became The Space Odyssey. Very fitting, seeing as it was my second year of reading the novel Space Case by Stuart Gibb. (Yes, it took us two years to finish the novel, but it was well worth the wait!)

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I enlisted the help of Wired Man to create an alien space ship that would jet out from the main bulletin board.

Now, I was thrilled to have a 3-D alien ship made out of cardboard big enough for my smallest nephew to fit into, but it wasn't enough for Wired Man.

Overnight, he wired the ship so that the cockpit lit up with LED lightning. 

But not just plain old lightning. Oh no!

With my handy dandy remote control, I could change the colours, speed, and pulses. As you can imagine the collective school mind was blown. The students loved being read to in the dark with the alien ship lit up.

The gargoyle, who had been a pirate the previous year, was turned into a three-eyed alien. He was joined by a suspended astronaut. "Hadfield" was made out of a disposable painters suit and a lot of duct tape.

Tip: Dollar Store Duct Tape Will Disappoint

Sadly, I spent much of the year re-taping and hot gluing "Hadfield's" Spice Girl GoGo boots along with the red arm bands. Buy duct tape from Home Depot. Learn from my mistake! 

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Under the Sea ~ 2016 - 2017

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I spent a solid week at the end of August setting up the Under the Sea theme for September 2016. Four days making the decorations in my garage and one day putting the decorations up in the library. My husband is a very patient man. The car had to be parked in the driveway all week and I almost poisoned us with fumes.
 

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Tip: Spray Insulation Foam Needs Ventilation... Even At Night!

I had gotten the idea to make coral out of spray insulation foam from a Pinterest pin and I was excited to try it. The pin warned that it was important to have lots of ventilation.

So, I made sure to spray wearing a mask and goggles, and with the garage wide open. It was great! (I used wax paper to spray onto which made removal easy.)


When night time came, I closed the garage door. Well, as my husband and I watched a movie, a strange smell started to fill the air of the family room. The fumes were coming in from under the door that led to the garage.

We madly sealed the door to the house with painters tape. Thank goodness for painters tape! 

It was a hit!

I enjoyed the process of spending a full week creating and setting up the library and the students enjoyed the theme all year long. It was exciting to turn on the lights every morning and be greeted by a bright and colourful learning space. I would recommend a yearly theme to any teacher-librarian looking to ease their workload.

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Knights of the Library Table ~ 2015 - 2016

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Tip: Sandbags are Important

The castle was erected just in time for the first day of school. (I learned the hard way that it takes more than three days to set up for a year long theme.) The pillars were cardboard tubes from Home Depot used for creating concrete pillars. I spray-painted and sponged it to look like bricks. Corrugated paper and nails made up the arch and a plastic brick wall hangings from Turkeys Party Store formed the walls. My original thought was that the pillars would be supported enough if I used packing tape to attach them to ends of the shelves. 

I was wrong.

All year the pillars threatened to tip over with each student who leaned against them.

Sandbags.
Sandbags would have been perfect.

It was a learning experience.

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I had planned to only have the castle up for a few months. However, the students convinced me to leave it up for the rest of the year. One student remarked, "We only get to come to the library once a week, so it's like seeing the castle brand new every week".
What!?


Tip: Hard Set up = Easy Year

Armed with that student's sage advice, I decided that I would set up the entire library as a year long theme the next September. No more late nights switching boards and I would use my rolling bulletin board as the a place to create monthly displays.

I was excited to see if this idea would make my life easier and I was not disappointed.

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