Guest Blogger

Simple STEM at Storytime

By now, most everyone knows that STEM components are becoming popular at storytimes.  Adding science, technology, engineering and math, along with the usual arts of music, crafts, dance, etc., is helping to make storytime even more vital toward preparing young children for kindergarten.  Some libraries are creating entire programs based on STEM.

Here at Deschutes Public Library in central Oregon we’re starting small and simple.  We’re using our regular storytime format and just adding “Math Minute” and “Science Spot”.

Math Minute means adding (pun intended) a rhyme, flannel board, or song that features addition and subtraction.  Of course, we’ve been doing counting books and rhymes all along.  But we’re trying to make sure that Math Minute is more than just counting from 1 to 10 or 10 to 1.  For instance, here’s one I wrote about clouds:

Cloud flannel board1 little cloud, sailing in the blue.
Along comes another one, now there are 2.
1 plus 1 equals 2.
2 clouds coming, now there’s more.
Help me count, 1, 2, 3, 4.
2 plus 2 equals 4.
1 cloud floats away, happily.
How many left?  1, 2, 3.
4 minus 1 equals 3.
Here come 3 to join the mix.
How many now?  1-2-3-4-5-6.
3 plus 3 equals 6.
5 float away, to visit the sun.
Now all we have is little cloud ONE!
6 minus 1 equals 5.

Science Spot features learning scientific concepts as part of the theme.  The following rhyme teaches about what happens when autumn comes.  The flannel board pieces represent each of the items, and the children eagerly call out which object is the correct answer.  If they don’t know, we have a great discussion, and an opportunity to learn.

Autumn flannel boardFall is the season when animals scurry.
Winter is coming, it’s time to hurry.
Fall is the season when nothing stays the same.
Try to guess the answer in this surprise game.
What turns many colors in the fall every year?
A candy cane?  A cow?  Leaves? Or a deer?
Who gathers food for the winter to come?
A chipmunk?  A star?  A hat?  Or bubble gum?
Who harvests crops in the cool autumn air?
A fish?  A Bone?  A farmer? Or a hare?
Who flies to the south when winter comes?
A turtle?  A robin? A train? Or a drum?

Science Spot can also be a brief excerpt from a nonfiction book, to show the difference between a hare and a rabbit, what makes a bubble, or how a tadpole changes as it becomes a frog.  This shows the children and care givers that resources in the library can help answer all those questions toddlers and preschoolers are so eager to ask.

Whenever we do Science Spot or Math Minute we make sure to celebrate with the children.  We encourage them to clap for themselves as we say, “You just did math!, or  “Aren’t you clever?  You know so much about science!”  By using those words frequently, and showing them how much fun science and math can be, we hope they enter kindergarten ready to learn more, more, more.

(Photos courtesy of guest blogger)

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Heather McNeil (Courtesy photo)
Heather McNeil (Courtesy photo)

Our guest blogger today is Heather McNeil.  Heather is the Youth Services Manager at the Deschutes Public Library, a Specialized Master Trainer in Oregon on Every Child Ready to Read, and the author of “Read, Rhyme and Romp: Early Literacy Skills and Activities for Librarians, Teachers, and Parents.”  You’re welcome to ask questions about this program in the comments below or email her directly at heatherm@dpls.lib.or.us.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

One comment

  1. Vicki Kouchnerkavich

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. I know I have been wanting to add elements similar to this for a while-I think you just some ideas how.

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