STEM in Preschool Storytime

I really love STEAM. Which is a weird thing for an English major-turned-librarian to say, perhaps, but there’s something really satisfying about connecting traditional literacies to more recently recognized ones.

I’ve been connected with a lot of great resources through the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, City of Learning, and the Children’s Innovation Project. This week I decided to start pulling some of their information into a new setting – my preschool storytime.

The first week, I’ll admit I copied from the always super amazing Show Me Librarian. She has a showcase of STEAM programs for children, and the one about the Three Little Pigs was just perfect.

We had a small group, so once we danced with our imaginary hula hoops, read through The Three Little Pigs by Bernadette Watts, and retold the story together, we broke out the materials.

I encouraged parents to come down and build. Each child built three small houses – one out of bubble tea straws, one out of popsicle sticks, and one out of Duplos. The kids took about 20 minutes to build all three, though they could have taken much longer. What kid doesn’t like building?

But the real fun was in trying to blow them over. We all blew together and blow the straw buildings apart. Even the stick building fell down with just a good huff and puff (the Big Bad Wolf would be proud). But the Duplos, as predicted, didn’t budge even when we used the Super Big Bad Wolf (aka my blow dryer). The kids loved it. The parents loved it.

And that gave me my opening for talking about integrating more STEM into our storytime. Apparently, a few of the kids had been asking if we were going to do experiments ever since my PreK Art and Science program ended.

The parents are interested in pulling in some more STEAM concepts, and I’m excited to test some of the learning scaffolds that the  Children’s Innovation Project has been studying in an informal learning environment.

It’ll be a great experiment in its own right, and hopefully will lead to some really excellent learning and fun here at preschool storytime.

Stuffed Animal Sleepover

Stuffed animals hanging out

We hosted our first stuffed animal sleepover (a program where children have a storytime and leave their stuffed friend at the library overnight for photographed shenanigans).

Another program I inherited after a staff member left, I wasn’t entirely sure how this program would go. It was scheduled the week of Christmas, and we don’t have any other programming this week, so I was a little nervous about the timing.

We had a small group register – only about 6 kids, but they were all kids that knew me and the library well, something I found to be really important when they had to leave their stuffed animals in my care at the end of the storytime.

The storytime had been scheduled early in the morning – 10am, which isn’t something I’d repeat. It gave me lots of time to take pictures before the end of my shift, but it made it harder on the kids that had to leave their friends here for much longer than otherwise necessary.

We started with a registration form for the stuffed animal friends. It was simple enough, but let the kids share some great information about their animals. Here’s the form:

Child's Name, Friend's Name, Drawn Picture, Friend's Favorite COlor, Friend Likes To, What Child likes best about their friend, What the friend needs before bed

Once they had completed that, we did the storytime. Here’s the breakdown:

Children bring their stuffed animal into the room. We put a name tag on it and snap a picture of the child with their stuffed animal. The child also fills out a quick “questionnaire” to gather some information about their animal.

Books: I offered a choice to the group, but they ended up wanting to read all of them!

  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems
  • Waking Dragons by Jane Yolen
  • Found by Salina Yoon
  • Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

Songs:

Rockabye Bear by the Wiggles
We danced to this! 

Five in the Bed
There were five in the bed (Hold up five fingers)
And the little one said, “Roll over, roll over!” (Make rolling motion)
So they are rolled over and one fell out. (Hold up one finger & surprised face)
// Count down until
There was one in the bed (Hold up one finger)
And the little one said, “I’ve got it all to myself!” (Spread out arms) (via StorytimeKatie)

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground
Teddy bear, teddy bear, reach up high
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the sky
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch your knees
Teddy bear, teddy bear, sit down please

Little Stars
Little stars (fingerplay):
Little stars way up in the sky (hold hands up and wiggle fingers)/ little stars us so very high (stretch hands up higher and wiggle fingers)/ they twinkle brightly through the night but during the day they are out of sight! (pull hands down quickly and hide them behind your back)
(via Storytime All Stars)

Craft: Decorating a picture frame for the photo of the child and their stuffed animal. (I put the picture I took of the child and their friend into these frames for pickup the next day).

Closing: Tucking in their stuffed animal into the giant blanket (I’m bringing a fuzzy large one from home. Singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as a lullaby, then sneaking quietly out of the room.

After the kids left, we teamed up to take a bunch of pictures – next time I’ll ask a volunteer to help with this, since it took a little more time than I anticipated. But the pictures turned out great!

Stuffed animals reading from Kindle Stuffed animals covering books Stuffed animals on the computer Stuffed animals looking at pet lizard Stuffed animals raiding the vending machine Stuffed animals playing the piano Stuffed animals hanging out

PreK Art and Science: Popsicle Stick Symmetry

POPSICLE STICK SYMMETRY

Symmetrical Drop Butterflies via Splats, Scraps, and Glue Blobs
Symmetrical Drop Butterflies via Splats, Scraps, and Glue Blobs
Resources:

Murphy, Stuart J. Let’s Fly a Kite. 2000.

“Making Shapes.” Education.com. 2013. http://goo.gl/g3aOx9

Schwake, Susan. “Fold Me a Print.” Art Lab for Little Kids. 2013. p 76.

Supplies:

For the Mirror Demo:

Symmetry mirror

Household objects, some symmetrical, some not

For “Making Shapes” Take Home:

20 craft sticks/child

Markers in assorted colors

For “Fold Me a Print”:

Cover Stock

Paintbrush

Poster Paint

Newspaper

Palette

Wash Water

Preparation:

1 Day before:

Prepare bags of 20 craft sticks each, along with instructions and one example set. Be ready to do this activity if there is time, but also make it understandable in case it’s a take home activity.

Day of:

Cover work area with newspapers/table cloths. Create an example of the folded print.

Lightly draw a line of symmetry on the card stock, some vertical, some horizontal.

Set up each station with easy access to a palette of paint, a piece of cardstock, and a paintbrush. Children may choose to use their fingers instead. Have hand wipes available if this is the case. Pre-fold some of the card stock for those who can’t quite fold, making it easier for them to get a good symmetrical fold.

Activities:

Paraphrase Let’s Fly a Kite for the group. Some things are the same on both sides of a line – like the beach blanket, the kite, and the sandwich. What about some other household items? Hold up things like a fork, a mug, and a picture of a pizza. Are they symmetrical? Why? Show them the line of symmetry on each item using the mirror. For non-symmetrical items, have them say what’s wrong (e.g. there’s 2 handles on the mug).

For the activity, have children look for the line of symmetry on their card stock. Ask them to fold it in half. It doesn’t have to be exact, but it should be close, so ask adults to help as necessary. Explain that things that fold in half exactly are symmetrical. Tell them to paint on just one side of their folded line. They can paint any shape they’d like, but after each color, have them fold the paper in half on the line again. After the first print, they will begin to understand that the mirror image of the paint will appear on the other side of the line. They can continue painting until their design is complete.

Question:

What is symmetry?

Can you find a line of symmetry?

Explanation:

Children can apply their understanding of color mixing, learned the past 2 weeks, to this paint and print activity. Allowing them to see their painting after each piece of color added gives them insight into the process of symmetrical prints, and to printmaking in general.  Symmetry is an easy-to-demonstrate concept, but sometimes hard to grasp. By allowing them to see symmetry in things they create as well as things in the world around them, children will have a firmer understanding of this basic geometric concept.

Try it!

Have children hold their hands in front of them, thumb to thumb. Ask them if the shape made by their hands is symmetrical.  Show them that when they fold their hands together (palms pressing together), their hands line up perfectly – they are symmetrical, and the line of symmetry was the line between their thumbs. Are there other body parts that are symmetrical? Face? Feet? Ears?