For my final homeschool program series of the school year, I found a winning combination in picture books and science. The homeschool parents we serve love when I offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programming. I love to share picture books with the homeschool students, no matter the students’ ages! How to combine those two? Use picture book biographies as springboards for STEAM programs for homeschool students.
Elements of Spring
For this post, I’ll focus on the younger students (ages 7-10), for whom I created a series called “Elements of Spring.” The “elements” in this case were wind, water, and earth. Our programming is still virtual, so it was important to choose activities that lent themselves to kits and common household items.
- At the beginning of the first program, I read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, with pictures by Elizabeth Zunon. Although we couldn’t make windmills, we then constructed anemometers! ScienceBuddies.org, which is a go-to STEM resource for me, provided an easy-to-build anemometer project. I created a packet where the students first made predictions; then recorded the results of low, medium, and high wind speeds; and finally graphed their results. The kits contained paper cups, drinking straws, push pins, and an activity packet. A pencil and wind source could be found at home!
- After wind, we then turned to water for our second program. I read the wonderful picture book biography Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and Don Tate. Another fabulous website for STEM activities is TeachEngineering.org. I found this easily replicated activity: Falling Water. These kits contained drinking straws, cardstock, and an activity packet. Household items needed were water, a ruler, and something to write with.
- For our final program, Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeannette Winter provided the grounding (pun intended) for our activity. I ordered tree cookies (tree branch slices) online. Using the activity packet I made, the students first thought about 10 things in their homes that come from trees. They then used their senses to interact with the tree cookie and record their findings. My state’s Department of Natural Resources had a great activity packet called Kids for Trees, portions of which I included in the packet. Finally, the students created artwork on the tree cookie using markers or paint from home.
Next month, I’ll write about the STEAM programs for older homeschool students, which focused on physics and the laws of motion. Sneak peek: Alexander Calder, roller coasters, and paper airplanes!
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.