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

Let There Be Moose

This is a Moose Cover

Some days, you plan everything and it just doesn’t work. Other days, you kind of forget about the fact that you’re actually running storytime until the day of… (I’ve never done that, don’t look at me like that…)

I grabbed some moose books. Yes, moose. We had just gotten “This is a Moose” by Richard T. Morris in, and that proud moose was perched atop the new picture books. It spoke to me, but was a little long for my toddlers. So I started searching.

There are SO MANY moose books.

Duck Duck Moose cover

I ended up using “Duck, Duck, Moose” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, which is great for a small group. It only uses the three title words throughout the story, which leaves lots of room for interaction between the storyteller and the children as they figure out the story. The pictures tell of a very hyperactive moose who always seems to be messing up something that the ducks are doing. But when it’s revealed that the ducks are trying to set up a surprise party for moose, they can’t find him – he’s too sad that he’s in the way. But they good duck friends bring him back to the party – and there ain’t no party like a duck and moose party!

Fair warning: this book is a little small, so if you have a bigger group, you may not like this one.

Looking for a Moose coverWe also did “Looking for a Moose” by Phyllis Root. This is a kind of “Going on a bear hunt” in book form. All we know is we have never, ever, ever, seen a moose, and we really, really, really want to see one. The book takes you through hills and forests and swamps to look for moose. The kids loved this one – it gave them plenty of opportunity to look for signs that moose had been there, along with some great onomatopoeia and nonsense words.

We did some moose songs, too. They are sprinkled about the web (Check out my resources below, but this one went over best:

Action Rhyme : “Mr. Moose” (via The Door2Door Librarian)
Mr. Mr is very tall  (put hands to head for antlers)
His antlers touch the sky (hand high up in the air)
They make a real good resting place (put hands out to sides)
For birdies passing by (flap arms like wings)

Really, what I discovered from this is that kids love to make moose antlers with their hands. Since we did this song before the books, I encouraged them to put up antlers every time I said the word moose during the first book, and everytime they saw a moose clue in the second book. The loved it.

We had a moose craft, too – make your own antlers! We just made construction paper headbands and had them glue on wavy horns that the adults cut out, but they really enjoyed getting to be moose for the rest of the day.

Resources:
Harris County Public Library Moose Storytime
Storytime with Miss Mollie Moose Storytime
Delta Township District Library Moose Storytime