It is second semester, and as those of you in school libraries know, time tends to slow down considerably during the month of March. February is busy enough with President's Day, etc., but at my school, March is four full weeks of school with nothing going on. The students are itching for something new and interesting to do, but since my library has no budget, I have to get creative as far as offering new and exciting things for my students.
One of my solutions to the March doldrums is a game called Library Bingo. I borrowed this idea from a public library's summer reading program, and it has been working beautifully in my library. The concept is simple: I created a bingo card where each square lists something library-related the students have to do. Most of the squares involve reading a book, but there are squares for recommending books to friends (and to the librarian), as well as visiting the library's website or reading book reviews. When a student has completed a square, s/he brings the library bingo card to me and I stamp the square. Each time a student completes an entire row, s/he is given a raffle ticket. At the end of March, I will draw names from the raffle and those students will win prizes - prizes that have been donated by local businesses (as well as a few books that I have extra copies of).
Students who complete the entire bingo card earn a free book from our upcoming Scholastic Book Fair (I will use our Scholastic Dollars to pay for these books). They also have the opportunity to start a "level two" card, which is a bit more difficult than the first level card. I started this program at the beginning of January when students returned to school, and so far six students have completed a first bingo card, two students have completed the second bingo card, and there are well over 100 raffle tickets in my raffle box. Several teachers have used their classes' regular library visits as a time for students to choose one bingo square to work on; I love that the students are browsing the shelves with a purpose, as this helps the under-motivated readers to choose something other than "the skinniest book I can find really fast when the teacher makes me check something out."
The grand prize in our Library Bingo drawing is a Nook E-reader; my wife received this e-reader as a holiday bonus from her work, and since we both already have e-readers, she offered to donate it to my students. Talking to the students about the e-reader has given me the opportunity to explain to both students and staff that there are e-books at the public library that they can check out on their e-readers or phones, and many of them are now taking the opportunity to do just that.
My favorite part of this program is watching the students recommend books to each other (and to me and other staff members). This provides students with motivation to talk about what they are reading as well as an opportunity to explore genres they might have otherwise ignored.
I am more than willing to share my bingo cards. If you would like a copy, you can download it here.