The Three Little Pigs & the Preschool Science

Photo by Amy Koester.

My name is Miss Amy, and I will be your STEM librarian today for a Three Little Pigs edition of Preschool Science!

I am a firm believer that STEM programming knows no age limits, and this philosophy led me to develop a preschool science series of programs at my library. Each Preschool Science Story Time involves a few main components: an age-appropriate story; a group retelling of the story with discussion of the science in the story; and hands-on activity. The most recent Preschool Science Story Time featured the well-known tale of the Three Little Pigs. The program is easily replicable; I hope you’ll try it at your library!

First, we read our story. After a brief intro song to get everyone settled into story time mode, I pulled out Bernadette Watts’s The Three Little Pigs. The illustrations in this new version are big and clear, allowing us to focus our attention on the materials in the story: straw, sticks, and bricks. Several children hadn’t heard the story before, but by the end they were huffing and puffing like the biggest, baddest wolves you’ve ever seen.

Photo by Amy Koester.

Next, we retell the story together. I started our retelling by setting the scene of the three little pigs leaving home. For visuals, I used the awesome graphics I found at Graphics by Ruth. As the children chimed in to retell the Three Little Pigs, we paused to discuss the scientific principles in the story. Why was the wolf able to blow down a house made of straw? What makes a material strong? Our science buzzwords for the program were material and strength, and our retelling really focused in on those concepts.

Photo by Amy Koester.

We always have plenty of time to be hands-on with the science. I’m a big fan of stations in preschool science programming–since caregivers tend to stay in the program room with their children, each child usually has a grown-up guide to help them through different activities. For our Three Little Pigs programming, there were three stations set up around the room: one for building structures out of drinking straws; one for building structures out of unsharpened pencils; and one for building structures out of Duplos. Each child was encouraged to build a structure and then test it. Would it withstand being blown on by a person? What about being blown by a hair dryer? After testing each structure, children could make a mark on our simple wall chart that showed the relative strength of our building materials (grown-ups were key in making the chart work, although children were psyched to add to it). I walked around the room asking children how they thought their structures would withstand the air before they tested them. Thus, from start to finish, the hands-on activities hit all the major scientific method steps.

Photo by Amy Koester.

Everyone leaves with a book and/or sheet of at-home activities to reinforce our topic. All of our versions of the Three Little Pigs were checked out after the program, as were most of our non-fiction titles on materials and strength. I also made available a one-page (front and back) activity sheet that would continue to engage children in the concepts we had talked about. One activity called for having a grown-up take the child outside to draw a picture of his or her house, then talk about what it is made of. Another section suggested that caregivers replicate our stations at home, albeit using water instead of air as a test for strength. It is important to me to have these grab-and-go preschool science activity hand-outs accessible both in the program and at the check-out desk for a week afterward; since not every preschooler can attend the in-library program, I want to ensure families have resources to support at-home science if they are so inclined. That way a huge variety of children have access to STEM activities.

Do you offer STEM programming for preschoolers at your library? What do you do, and how do you do it?

This entry was posted in Blogger Amy Koester, Programming Ideas, STEM/STEAM and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to The Three Little Pigs & the Preschool Science

  1. Carey Vance says:

    This is brilliant, I love it! I do a “mad scientist” workshop for 3rd & 4th graders but this concept of tying in basic science to a well known story is great for younger kids. Thank you!

  2. ACE says:

    The illustrations in this new version are big and clear, allowing us to focus our attention on the materials in the story

  3. Tina says:

    How long do these programs take you to set up?

    • Amy Koester says:

      Tina, my prep work and setup breaks down approximately like this:
      -Choosing a book and finding activities to help support the science = 45 min.
      -Creating the at-home activities sheet = 30 min.
      -Pulling books to have on display during the program = 0 min. (I have library volunteers pull these from a list I print)
      -Setting up the room for the program = 30 min.
      -Clean-up = 15 min.

      I am really passionate about creating STEM programs that are easily replicable in all sorts of libraries–I want every interested librarian to be able to share STEM with their kiddos! So if there is anything I can do to make things easier for you, let me know. That includes using my at-home activities sheets; I’m happy to e-mail them so you don’t have to start from scratch.

  4. Heather Isham says:

    This is great. We have just started to really focus on using STEM more in our school. I would love copies of your worksheets and any other books that you have developed STEM activities for. It is so nice to be able to share ideas and not ahve to create everything from scratch.

    Thanks,
    Heather

  5. Alissa says:

    I love doing STEM programming! My weekly story time is entirely focused on STEM, primarily math and science. We sing our opening alphabet book (Jim Ayleworth’s Old Black Fly) and the “This Story Time is Brought to You by the Letters …” and a few minutes on different words that start with the two letters. Then we read the first book and do a short science/math activity (typically science) as a group, a song or fingerplay to regroup, our second book followed by a science/math activity (opposite of first activity) one on one with the parent/caregiver, and our closing book with a quick art activity or craft. I’m going through the alphabet in order one letter from the front, one from the back and I do my best to make sure that the science/math concepts can be connected to the letters that sponsor the story time (for example: next week we’ll be doing D & W and the activities will be around dinosaurs and water; A and Z was apples and zoo, B and Y was butterflies and yoyos, C and X was all C related (cats, color) cause there isn’t much you can do with X)- my 13 week story time season will get me through all the letters and I’ll start over again in the spring cycle.

    Some of my kid’s favorite activities from last season’s story time have included: flight w/paper airplanes (throwing into a fan, in front of a fan, up the stairs, down the stairs, etc.), anything with water (will it sink/float, how much weight can the boat take), sending cars down ramps of different heights and using cars with wheels of different sizes, mixing colors to make new colors, constructing with Legos, sorting buttons/beads (by size, by color), using shapes to make pictures of things (think tanegrams)… there are a lot of great books that give ideas for science activities with preschoolers. I’d encourage anyone to add a little science or math into your story times.

  6. Kary Henry says:

    This is fantastic! I’m leading a preschool teacher inservice in March called “Why? Science for Preschoolers.” I hope you don’t mind me borrowing a few ideas from this post! Thanks!

    • Amy Koester says:

      Kary, I should be posting at least one more Preschool Science program plan, probably two, before your inservice in March. Please use what you like! Spread the word about STEM!

  7. Janet Dumas says:

    What was the age range of your target audience?

  8. Patty says:

    We are working to bring STEM concepts into some of our library programing. We have a pretty traditional approach to storytime. For example:

    Opening Song
    Book
    Fingerplay
    Nursery rhyme
    Book
    etc.
    Closing Song

    Coworkers and library patrons seem to like what we already do. I want to come up with a plan to do more Lego/STEM activities without “upsetting the fruit basket.” I’m curious if you are doing the science/math programs as an additional storytime or if you have worked it into a traditional storytime or morphed into something entirely different. Do you have other children’s staff members? and do they buy into what you’re doing?

  9. Pingback: Oh, the Weather Outside is Delightful–for Preschool Science | ALSC Blog

  10. Pingback: Color Science: A STEM Program for Preschoolers | ALSC Blog

  11. Kim Englert says:

    I started a STEM storytime at our library last September. My formula is:
    Welcome song
    story
    action song
    story
    song
    story
    game
    experiment
    goodbye song
    The program lasts 30 to 40 minutes and the kids love the action. The experiment is tied into the theme for the day (Rainbow theme Rainbow in a jar experiment).
    I also send home a sheet that explains the experiment so the children and their parents can duplicate it at home. I also suggest how they can change the experiment to get different results so they can compare the experiments.
    I would love to see your activity sheet.
    At first I was kind of stumbling my way through but it has gotten easier and I look forward to the reaction from the children. Last week the experiment did no go as planned but we talked about variables that may have caused things to go wrong. Everyone was excited to go home and try the experiment so they could report back to me the next week.

  12. Kristie says:

    This is a great idea! We are just starting to use STEM in our kindergarten classroom. Our last project was to create a paintbrush, paint a picture with it, and then reflect on what they would change. We are trying to find ways to incorporate our STEM projects into LA. We are doing the 3 little pigs this week and creating houses. I just cannot figure out if they should work in groups, alone, or if we should do it all together as a class. I am interested in the worksheet that you send home. Is it possible to get that emailed to me? If not I understand. Thank you so much!

    Kristie

  13. Megan Mosher says:

    Please e-mail me your STEM ideas, they are so wonderful!

    Thanks,
    Megan

  14. Lisa Everett says:

    Please email your STEM ideas – great work!

    Thanks

  15. Barbara Jorda says:

    This is awesome! Would love to have access to your stem ideas. Do we sign up for your newsletter or can you email? Would love to swap ideas as well.

  16. Fiona says:

    If possible could you please email me your STEM handouts.
    Thank you
    Fiona

  17. Pingback: Chemistry Science for Preschoolers | ALSC Blog

  18. Cynthia Olsen says:

    I guess I’m engineering challenged. How did you build a house with straws? paper clips, glue, tape? Ande how do you get a house to stand from unsharpened pencils?

    • karen tiedt says:

      How do you build the house from unsharpened pencils? And with straws?

      • Amy Koester says:

        You can build just by stacking them, Lincoln Logs-style. That’s what kids will do as soon as you give them the materials and tell them to build a house. It won’t be a sturdy structure, but that’s part of the point.

  19. Pingback: Body Science for Preschoolers: Using our brains to learn about our bodies | ALSC Blog

  20. Pingback: Make a Splash: Water Science for Preschoolers | ALSC Blog

  21. Ann Nguyen says:

    We are planning to do some science based storytimes this year to see if they work in our library. If possible could you please email me your STEM handouts.
    Thank you so much.
    Ann

  22. Sue Brooks says:

    I was recently hired as an early lit specialist for our local library system. I am intrigued by your idea of STEM library programs for PreK’s and their family/caregivers. Please email your take home sheets. I’m interested in the content and the format. Thanks so much!
    Miss Sue

  23. Melissa Blom says:

    I love your STEM program ideas. I have just been tasked with creating a year-round preschool science and math program like this for next fall and would really appreciate seeing some of your take home sheets. Thanks!

  24. Joan says:

    I love this site and I plan on reading everything in it. I am a teacher and have also been teaching after school science to Prek-2nd grade for six week programs. Our last one was all about chemistry. I would love to share some of my fun experiments with you in exchange for some activity take home sheets.

  25. Michelle says:

    Thank you for such awesome ideas! I am in the beginning stages of doing STEM/STEAM activities at our library. Your handouts would be a huge help! Would you be able to email those to me?

  26. Julie Thomas says:

    Nice idea! How did they build with drinking straws? They don’t naturally stack or have ways to stick together. And with the popsicle sticks, did they just stack them?
    Thanks!

    • Amy Koester says:

      You can build just by stacking them, Lincoln Logs-style, in a square shape. That’s what kids will do as soon as you give them the materials and tell them to build a house. It won’t be a sturdy structure, but that’s part of the point.

  27. laace says:

    Could you please email me your handouts and any information you have for STEAM in libraries.

  28. Carol Simon Levin says:

    Great idea. I’ve been doing a “Houses, Homes, and Habitats” program with an interactive storytelling version of The Three Little Pigs, but this is a great additional idea I would like to incorporate into a program in the future. I linked to it from my blog
    http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2013/03/houses-homes-and-habitats.html — hope that is ok!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>