Blogger Amy Koester

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?


  1. Carey Vance

    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

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

  3. Tina

    How long do these programs take you to set up?

    1. Amy Koester Post author

      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.

      1. Patty

        Sign me up for receiving your STEM program ideas. I may have a few to swap if you’d like.

        1. Jan Elliott

          I’d love to get them stem ideas, too.


      2. Kathryn Breithut

        Please email me more great STEM ideas like this! I love that they use children’s books as a base.

      3. Ellen Williams

        Great ideas. Can’t wait to hear from you. 😉

      4. Darlene Davis

        Please sign me up as well to receive the STEM ideas. I am just beginning to program for STEAM and would love as much help as I can get. These are great ideas. Thanks!

      5. Cathy Wittie

        I just have been assigned my dream job of school librarian/science lab teacher at our pre-k and k campus. Just found this web post as I was searching for ideas. Would love to see your activity sheets.
        Thanks in advance.

      6. Virginia Munoz

        I would like your lesson plans if possible. I teach first grade.

      7. Robin

        I love these ideas. I would love to get your activities for home. I would like to create a family night for my preschoolers, but don’t know how to begin. I love the idea of using literature.

        1. Krista Mullinnix

          I’m really interested in creating a monthly preschool STEM program at my library and I love how you use picture books as a base! I’d love any plans/ideas/insights you could share.

      8. Kerry

        Please sign me up as well – I am doing Preschool STEM programs this summer and need inspiration!

      9. Flavy Moraes

        Hi Amy,

        I like STEM Programs. Please e-mail me some more great STEM ideas. I would love to receive some STEM ideas.

      10. Ellie

        I would love to have these too!!!!

        Thank you!

      11. Debbie Arenas

        Would love to see more on STEM. We have been doing a STEAM program for the past two years, but are always looking for new ideas. Please share all you’ve done, as well as, the activity sheets. I am currently working on uploading our program to Pinterest to be shared too. Thank you, Debbie ( )

      12. Annmarie Kocher

        Hi Amy,
        I just came across your blog while looking for STEM activities for my library. I wasn’t sure if you still are sending your lessons out or not, but I would love to see your lessons and be able to adapt them for my library. Thanks so much!

      13. Mary Watts

        Hello I have just began as the STEAM programmer for my library. Would love to be included in all you do. My daughter adores The Three Little Pigs! Please send me your activity sheets as well. Thanks again Amy.

      14. veronica cuellar

        Hello, I work with young kids from 2-5 years old. We are starting to do early literacy nights with the little kids and their parents. I love this STEM challenge, it gets them going and thinking. I was wondering if you can email me activities sheets. I love this idea.

      15. Diana

        I would love a copy of your at home activity sheet for the three little pigs preschool stem activity.

      16. Donna Bandiera

        Hi Amy,
        My name is Donna Bandiera & I work as an Early Childhood specialist with Ashley Salvano for the Burbank Public Library.
        We truly love your idea of preschool STEM activities and programs.
        Would it be possible to email me your at-home activities sheets to get some ideas. Your blog has been a tremendous help. Thank you!

        1. Amy Koester

          Hi, Donna! I’m so glad you find these program write-ups useful! I no longer have access to all those program documents since I switched libraries a few years ago, but I did share some in another blog post: Hope that’s helpful!

  4. Heather Isham

    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.


  5. Alissa

    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

    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!

    1. Amy Koester Post author

      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!

      1. Kary Henry

        I’ll look forward to reading your posts. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Janet Dumas

    What was the age range of your target audience?

    1. Amy Koester

      My target audience for Preschool Science programs is kids ages 3-6. I would say the majority of attendees were in the 4-5 range, with siblings making up the outliers.

  8. Patty

    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
    Nursery rhyme
    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?

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  11. Kim Englert

    I started a STEM storytime at our library last September. My formula is:
    Welcome song
    action song
    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

    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!


  13. Megan Mosher

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


  14. Lisa Everett

    Please email your STEM ideas – great work!


  15. Barbara Jorda

    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.

    1. Amy Koester

      Barbara, I post all of my STEM/STEAM programs on my blog:

      If you’re interested in additional information, or have questions, go ahead and shoot me an e-mail: akoester (at) stchlibrary (dot) org

      1. barbara

        thank you! appreciate all the ideas. thank you! im doing STEM for preschoolers up to 2nd grade so your ideas are most helpful. will definitely swap ideas!

  16. Fiona

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

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  18. Cynthia Olsen

    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?

    1. karen tiedt

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

      1. Amy Koester

        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.

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  21. Ann Nguyen

    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.

  22. Sue Brooks

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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?

    1. Amy Koester

      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

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

  28. Carol Simon Levin

    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 — hope that is ok!

  29. Denise Thomas

    Would love the STEM resources! I am a newbie LMS! Thanks!

    1. Amy Koester

      Denise, if you are referring to my take-home activity handouts, I just posted about them here:

  30. Maxine Gasser

    I love what you have done with the STEAM program. I am just beginning to organize the program at our library, and whatever you can email me would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thanks so much,

  31. susan kerwin

    Hi –

    Really liked your approach. Please sign me up for preschool stem storytimes.


    Susan Kerwin
    Goldendale Community Library

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  33. Elisabeth Biernik

    I love your STEAM lessons. Can you please share your home activity sheet as well? Thanks!

  34. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and ideas. I would love to start a STEM story time, please send me your take home activity sheets.
    Thank you!

  35. GayLynn Reynolds

    Love your ideas and information! I’ll be reading everything here and waiting for more!

  36. karen Schaffer

    I am in charge of the STEAM program for kindergarten class at our preschool/daycare center. I have been using a skeleton book on STEAM but have found I invent more of my curriculum than I use of theirs. Do you have a list of themes I could use and build from there. This is my 5th month and I’m needing some inspiration for the rest of the year. Thank you,
    Karen Schaffer

  37. Michelle Liggett

    Hi, Id love to see any and all of your worksheets you are willing to share, thanks for sharing! I will use them in our local library.

  38. Colleen Lee

    I am in an elementary library media center and would love to get your emails and lessons for any grades- but I would focus here on K and gr. 1. Thanks so much.

  39. jess

    i’d LOVE to see all your worksheets for the whole series if they’re still available. this seems like an amazing set of programs, i can’t wait to try some of them out. thank you so much for making them available.

  40. Patricia Lynch

    Thank you so very much for being willing to share your STEM ideas and activities.
    I am taking you up on your offer to email the at-home activities sheets for the programs you have offered. Material on themes of The Three Pigs, Dinosaurs, and Nocturnal Animals would be very much appreciated!

  41. Patricia Lynch

    Am interested in having followup activities for The Three Pigs, Colors, and Weather programs emailed to me.

    Thank You!

  42. Mary Lamping

    I would love to have your stem ideas. I have toddler and preschool storytime every week!

  43. Jill

    Hi Amy! Love this program! I’m replicating it in a couple of weeks. I have a very basic logistical question about the hairdryer. How did you keep groups from accidentally blowing down other people’s structures with a stray blast of air? And did you use an extension cord so it could travel around the room? Our program room only has a couple outlets. Thank you!

  44. heyam

    I’m planning to start Stem program for children ( 8 years old) in my library next month , I try to make concept paper for this program, honestly, this website is a very rich resource .
    But I want to ask how I can set my program objectives, that measurable

  45. Penny Vick

    I want to do Stem programs for my Summer Preschool storytimes. I am starting with the 3 Little Pigs. Could you email your take home sheet to me? Thank you!

    1. Debbie

      I would love to use these ideas in our summer reading program this year. Could you please email me the take home sheets?

  46. Charlotte Nance

    Count me in to receive your files by email. My kids love STEAM, and we successfully implemented your Angry Birds idea during last summer’s Summer Reading. I hope to catch as much enthusiasm this summer, as well as in the two tech clubs I’ve created specifically for STEAM activities.

  47. Cyndi Darnell

    Please email me the take-home sheets. I can hardly wait to get started!

  48. Lisa Nye

    I would love to receive your STEM ideas!

  49. Michelle Walsh

    Great ideas! Could i please have the take home sheets? many thanks

  50. aya soudy

    thanks loads for sharing your experince.

  51. Rosie Francis

    Hi Amy,
    Are you still involved in pre-school STEM? Please let me know, I would love some advice to start something similar at my library.

    1. Amy

      Hi, Rosie! I’m in a different role at my library now, with a different scope and focus, so I’m not developing or running preschool STEM events–although I have colleagues who are. Are you an ALSC member? If you are, you could pose a question about preschool STEM practitioners on the ALSC community space of ALA Connect–I see some strong discussions happening there.

  52. Jay

    I really enjoyed the “Walter has a Beard” program where he got glue and stuff stick in there

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