Students' Classroom Becomes a Library

Little Kelsi Werner led a trio of determined kindergartners through the new library at the Foundation School of St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

The youngsters were in charge of collecting all the books returned to the library on Monday, and placing them back in their appropriate spots.

"This one goes in the books-about-animals part [of the library]," Kelsi, 5, said as she read a book title scrawled on colorful construction paper.

The other students moved about quickly doing their jobs.

At the Foundation School, kindergartners and first-graders have turned their small classroom into a real working library based on the Los Angeles Public Library system. And each book was written and illustrated by the students.

The library was created as part of the school's Discovering the Community program in which the students go outside their school, observe something and then re-create it in the classroom.

Teacher Scott Miller said the program stresses collaboration, critical thinking and internal motivation, and places the emphasis on more traditional subjects, like reading, writing and arithmetic, in later grades.

In this case, large brown blocks serve as shelves with colorful words written on large white paper identifying each section. Anyone with a library card can take out books about storms, animals and other subjects.

Students can unwind with their books on a carpeted reading area in the back of the room.

"We run this just like a real library," Miller said. "The only difference is the kids wrote all the books here."

Kindergartner Jenna Wysocki, also 5, said the library's books have become very popular.

"The grown-ups take out a lot of books," she said looking at the stack on a desk. "A lot.'

Besides the library, the students will re-create a market and a restaurant where they will be the chefs.

"It's a pretty unique program," Miller said. "Through it, they start to get a sense of how things work together.

"If they want to run a restaurant, they realize they need a place to get the food. If there's no market, there's no food and you can't have a restaurant."

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