How To Use The Library Effectively In Home Schooling

by Mary Ann on September 15, 2010

Real Life Planning Part 3 – Using the Library (Part 2 ,available here).

“I can’t see myself running to the library every other day!”

There are a number of ways to make the library work for you and to use the library more effectively and efficiently.

Some families have their structured family learning time at the library once a week.  During this time the children chose books they are interested in reading and mom and/or dad choose books that they would like to use to inspire their children. If you have small children under age 6 choose a day when the library has story time. That way it frees parents up to gather their own materials.

The notebook that I have suggested that you start, to write down Sparks and your own thoughts and ideas, will be very handy. When you think of some topic that you would like to introduce to your children write it on a page you have set aside for your library visit. Then when you go to the library you can find books on those topics.

I have a friend who checks out at least 30 books when she goes to the library. This is a very efficient way to use the library. Some of these books go into The Spark Station and others are placed on a table or in a basket to be looked over any time. One or two will go into your room so that you can think about them and design a plan by doing some research like I showed you in the previous post.

When you are contemplating how to turn a topic into inspiration for your children it helps to keep the book by your bed. Look through it just before going to sleep. Then think about it for a few minutes after turning out the light. This is also a good time to engage in a conversation with your spouse about the topic and get their ideas.

When a book goes into The Spark Station try to think of what you can put with the book to add interest. For example, if you have a book on Americanwildflowers add small books with blank pages and small colored pencils. These can be used as nature journals. Plan a couple of trips outdoors to observe and record what you see in nature. Draw flowers, bugs and leaves. Label the pictures. If it is a book on mask making make sure you have the materials for at least one type of mask.

If the book is part of what you have already researched, as in our Lewis and Clark expedition project, put them in your room where they are not observable to your children but you can access them easily. These books will be added and removed from The Spark Station periodically over the next 1-6 weeks. You may need to renew some of them.

Let’s look at the 30 minutes of research we did in the previous post, Home school resources online-how to, and make a list of possible books.


Shoshone Indians

Any Native American Tribe they visited – Blackfeet, Sioux, etc.

Trappers in America

Any animal on our list – bison, antelope, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, magpies, etc.

Any state they visited. There are great state books for children. Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon

A book on map making/cartography

President Thomas Jefferson

Canoes and keel boats

Native Americans

Teton Mountains

Rocky Mountains

Dams in the USA

A children’s book on the Louisiana Purchase

The next blog, Creative lesson plan example , will take this list of books and show you how to use it, along with the other materials we found in our 30 minute session on line, to inspire your children, using The Spark Station  and other family activities.

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