This Book Belongs To...

Organizing a personal library is not an innate skill for most children. Without clear instructions and modeling, even eager helpers are likely to stack and pile books in directions and categories that you never imagined. In the beginning, just focus on getting all the books right-side-up with their spines facing out. Then you can use the organizing process to build awareness of genres and/or alphabetizing.

To instill a sense of ownership and appreciation for your classroom or home library, let little readers label their books with fancy book plates. This makes book lending simple. Friends can share books and easily remember where to return the ones they borrow.

To get started, here are a bunch of cool, free printable book plates. Print them out on sticker paper, so you can snip them apart to use right away.

Get these sweet and summery illustrated book plates from Issa at Executive Homemaker.

Find this set of colorful, animal book plates, designed by Shirley Ng-Benitez, at Frugal Life Project.

Also take a look at these fairytale perfect printable book plates from Lizzy House.

I love the cool 3D-look of the printable plates from Squish, Suzanne del Rizzo's dimensional illustration blog.

Images from Executive Homemaker, Frugal Life Project, Lizzy House, Squish.


Secret Messages

As a kid, I loved codes, "secret" passageways, and optical illusions. Anything that seems to happen mysteriously is a fun experience for kids and grown-ups alike. When you're in the mood for a little seemingly unexplainable fun (or you're learning about chemical reactions), this secret message activity is the perfect solution.

Students start with a blank piece of paper, some q-tips and some acidic liquids. In my class we tried out milk and lemon juice. Using a q-tip as a brush and the liquids as invisible ink, students can draw or write any secret picture or message they'd like.
Once the painting is done, the next step is to reveal the hidden message. We started with the iron on very low, but then we ended up turning it up a little bit to make the message appear darker. The heat from the iron will burn up the acidic liquids, turning the paper dark in places that were painted.
We found that the lemon juice appeared much more clearly than the milk. It would be fun to test and compare the results of using several different "paints." This activity would also work in a social studies lesson on espionage.