Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

STEAM and Storytime Tips

A librarian helps children as they learn

STEAM in storytime?

But of course. Science, technology, engineering, art, and math suffuse all parts of our lives. Once we are knowledgeable about STEAM concepts and how they “look” for infants, toddlers, twos, and preschoolers, we are able to recognize them in our lives, in children’s lives, and in our storytimes. We are then also able to articulate connections between what we do in storytimes and STEAM concepts.

Science, technology, engineering, art, and math are all part of children’s background knowledge, their knowledge about the world, which helps them understand what they read when they are readers. In that way, STEAM concepts also support early literacy.  We regularly incorporate early literacy tips for parents and caregivers to help them understand how what we do in storytime supports early literacy, and how they can continue to do so at home. By making slight shifts, we can provide parents and caregivers with early literacy learning tips supporting their children’s acquisition of STEAM information and supporting activities.

Here are some examples:

  • As we are reading interactively with children, we often ask, “What do you think will happen next?”
  • When we have children predict what might happen next in a story, they are relating what they already know to make an educated guess. Making predictions helps children learn how stories work, and also helps them make predictions when they do experiments.
  • When we use new words, children are developing their vocabulary, which will help them later understand what they read.
  • By introducing new words like observe, conclude, predict as they play, we help children learn and   use science vocabulary. This is the beginning of helping children to see themselves as scientists, encouraging their eagerness to learn and feel competent.
  • When we ask questions like, “What makes you think that?” or “Why do you think that?” we are inviting conversation. This dialog gives us the opportunity to expand upon their responses, encouraging them to think and talk while developing vocabulary. Knowing the meanings of words will help them be good readers.
  • When we ask questions like, “What do you think would happen if…?” we are helping them develop a hypothesis, a key part of the scientific process.
  • Adults, when we share factual books, like From Tadpole to Frog, children are learning about the world around them. They are learning about the life sciences. This builds their background knowledge and will make it easier for them to later understand what they read.
  • Using a song, The Green Grass Grows All Around (or any cumulative song)
  • In the song “The Green Grass Grows All Around,” there is a new line added after each verse. Recognizing and pointing out the pattern helps children develop a sense of story, how stories work, which will later help them understand what they read and when they try writing stories. Or . . .
    In the song “The Green Grass Grows All Around,” there is a new line added after each verse. This is a pattern, which is a math concept. Recognizing and pointing out the pattern helps develop your children’s math skills.

As we become more intentional around STEAM concepts and early literacy, it becomes easier for us to articulate and share this information with parents and caregivers, helping them to see that STEAM is all around them, and that they can encourage creativity and curiosity in their children just as they can share books and a love of reading.

(Photo Credit: Allen County Public Library/Fort Wayne, IN)


Today’s guest bloggers are Saroj Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz.

Saroj Ghoting is an Early Childhood Literacy Consultant and co-author of several books from ALA Editions. She presents workshop and online courses on STEAM in storytime and on early literacy. She can be reached at sghoting@gmail.com

Pamela Martin-Diaz is Branch Manager and Early Literacy Coordinator at the Allen County (IN) Public Library. She is co-author with Saroj Ghoting of several books from ALA Editions.

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.

 

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.

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