Activities and Lessons
for Language Arts

Browsing Boxes
~ Lori Jackson

A browsing box is a collection of books which are a sort of personal library for each individual student. With younger children, the number of texts varies with student reading ability. My children keep 8 books in their tubs,which are self-selected with guidelines. I require diverse reading, so they have 3 fiction, 3 nonfiction and 2 poetry (which can be stories based on songs, stories told in rhyme or a collection from our extensive poetry library). I also ask students to
be mindful that that can do REAL reading with the books they use. That is, that they are able to use the WORDS to tell the story. We talk about how we are being respectful of other writers when we use their words. The exceptions are the wordless books and I do allow one book to dream on or browse through. My kids typically keep animal reference books.During Reading Workshop, my children are expected to have these with them at all times. I keep my theme books, my records of student progress, running records, conferences, etc., in individual browsing boxes. That w3ay I can simply pull it out when I sidle up to a reader for a conference. As the year progresses, any texts used in guided reading are added to this collection. I understand that some folks may 'stock' those boxes differently.

As to the box itself, many folks in my building use heavy duty ziplock bags or cardboard magazine boxes. One uses covered and cut-off cereal boxes. I used cheap garbage cans for a long time, but this year wanted to condense the space. While I am shopping for just the right plastic containers, I garbaged fancy, smancy packaging boxes for National Geographic themed units purchased for reference bookcarts throughout the school.

I have a very long counter, it runs the whole length of the room and I am blessed with a big room. I have kept them on the counter in the past and this year I am keeping them on shelves under the counter. I can adjust the shelves, as they need to be tall for my boxes. The narrow top shelf houses shoe boxes of unifix cubes. Some teachers who assign seats use a larger tub per table. One in our building has those chair sleeves, and those become the browsing boxes. I think the container you pick has to do with the size you have.

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