Celebrate A Grade & A Simple Passive Program

One of our easiest and most useful initiatives is our Celebrate A Grade initiative.  We’ve run it for the past three school years and it has lots of applications.  Every month celebrates a specific grade.  We begin in October with kindergarten. When kids in each grade come up to the desk and tell us their teacher and school they get a sticker, eraser, bookmark (depending on grade) and we make a big deal over them.

Some of the ways we run the program:

  • As each month begins, I send an email to all the teachers of each grade inviting them to visit the library, have us come for a class visit, or even just include info about it in their parent newsletter.  This is a good way to make individual contact with teachers and get them thinking about us. It’s definitely led to an increase in school year library tours – I think teachers like the specific reminders and it’s a motivator for field trips.
  • We make displays of books for each grade (running the spectrum, of course, of books for low level to high level readers in each grade) which I have found parents are wild about, they LOVE the idea of graded reading and this gives us a way to do it with some control and without being READ BOOKS IN YOUR GRADE ONLY!!1 about it.
  • We have an easy display for our lighted display case – so no more scrambling for themes to fill it up.  This could work for any display areas/bulletin boards you have and are constantly stumped for. You can even theme it – our winter theme was a snowman for second grade, etc.

In the past few months, we’ve taken a whole new step – adding some passive programming to the mix. We have a huge wall space across from our front desk.  It’s a really boring concrete, so we’ve tried to spice it up with displays.  =(turns out you can use hot glue on it …) Turns out it’s also the perfect place for giant passive programs too. (This is where we put up our Poetrees, for example.)

Browsing teacher blogs I saw a teacher who had set up a Boggle board on one of her bulletin boards for her early finishers. There wasn’t much explanation, but hey it’s Boggle.  So, it felt like this was a great fit for the Celebrate A Grade.  Chelsie, my co-worker who used to be a teacher and is the most creative person in the world, put together the board.  We put the rules of Boggle all around it and made the letters interchangeable so that it was a new game every week over the course of the month.  We made the theme of the whole month puzzles, including a simple crossword puzzle using Dr. Seuss titles. Then we made sheets for patrons to either play in the library or take home – passive programming at its best.

Let’s look at some pictures!

big boggle

Here’s a picture of the big display with the rules around it.  And a cute slogan about books, of course.  (and a book display case.)

word games


The information table with sheets right by the front desk where we could promote away!

third grade month

Our display case celebrating third graders and featuring the second puzzle.  The orange sheet has all the clues for the Dr. Seuss puzzle and the sheet in the top left corner explains that this is part of the Celebrate A Grade initiative and third graders can come get book recommendations and a prize at the desk.  This is the same puzzle that is featured in the sit-down/take home sheet on the yellow table above.


A sheet in progress as one of our patrons played along. (This was another free printable from a teacher blog.)

In all this was a huge hit for the amount of work we put into it.  It did take a little time to assemble, but only because we chose to laminate and create the letters on our own.  You could use a die-cut, print out a set, or buy a set for a few dollars and get a board assembled in no time. It’s also really easy to make crossword puzzles online – there’s tons of sites that let you do it.  (like this one from Discovery Education.)

We had some patrons determined to find EVERY POSSIBLE word and it really encouraged inter-generational (I had some grown-ups find really long words and rush to tell us, haha) and all ages play.  Like our poetrees, I saw many parents and kids engaging and interacting over it.  I heard more than one kid ask their parents if they could go home and play REAL BOGGLE and at least two sets of kids told me about how they had played an app just like this.

The puzzles were tons of fun and so perfect for customization. We loved them and so did patrons.  I highly encourage them as passive programming – but seeing the way so many people interacted with them (and with staff about them!) it felt almost wrong to call them passive. It was also a great boost to the Celebrate A Grade initiative, so what’s not to love?

Have you ever had a puzzle theme or passive puzzle programming in/around your area?  What other puzzles or games do you think could be included in a theme like this? What do you think about Celebrate A Grade?  Are there any details I left out that you want to hear more about?  Leave a comment here or let’s talk about it on Twitter!

3 Responses to “Celebrate A Grade & A Simple Passive Program”

  1. Abby johnson

    Oh, man. I was just thinking today about how we needed to change our bulletin board display and this would be so fun and easy to keep fresh! I will present this to my staff tomorrow. THANK YOU for the idea!!

  2. Julie Sélesse

    Hello, we also have a giant Sudoku in display near the circulation desk and it’s always a hit. Like you, it really encourages inter-generational and all ages play. Really fun to see!