Institute 2014

The Science of Poetry @ #ALSC14

I love science, and I love poetry, so attending this session was a slam-dunk decision for me! This program was hosted by Sylvia Vardell and featured the poets Alma Flor Ada, Susan Blackaby, F. Isabel Campoy, & Janet Wong Sylvia Vardell started us off by reading a poem call ed “Recycling” by Susan Blackaby, then walked us through the steps of “Take 5 with Poetry & Science:” 1. Read the poem aloud 2. Read again, inviting kids to participate in the reading 3. Discuss and research the poem and its topic 4. Connect the poem to a specific science topic with a demonstration or hands-on activity 5. Share more, related poems & other readings Susan Blackaby shared some of her lovely poems and discussed the connections and similarities between poetry and science. Both science and poetry require precision, careful use of language, trying and trying again, and making revisions. Both use…

Blogger Amy Koester

Excellent Explosions! Chemical Reactions for Preschoolers

Mine is one of the myriad libraries celebrating science this summer through our “Fizz, Boom, Read” summer reading program. Much to the delight of my STEAM-loving heart, all branches across my library system have hosted a ton of science programs this summer for every age. Some were led by outside groups like the St. Louis Science Center (always tap your local STEM resources!), and others have been led by in-house staff. They’ve all been a huge hit with kids and their families. One of my most successful in-house preschool programs this summer was a recent program titled “Excellent Explosions.” Here’s what we did. Excellent Explosions: A Preschool Science Program While I did have plenty of materials on hand for attendees to check out, this wasn’t a storytime program, per se. That is, I didn’t share a book at the beginning of the program as I usually do in my Preschool Science programs….

Blogger Amy Koester

Magnets and Magnetism: A Preschool Science Program

Our latest adventures in preschool science have proved rather attractive. (Get it? That’s magnet humor!) I’ve seen a number of my colleagues (Katie and Abby, for example) offer some great preschool science programs on the topic of magnets, and I figured it was high time I offered something on the topic, too. Here’s what I did: First, we shared a story that provided an introduction to the concept of magnets. I opted for Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, a whimsical story about a young boy whose kite becomes stuck in a tree. He tries throwing increasingly more ridiculous items up in the tree to try to dislodge the kite, but everything seems to get stuck. Quite an amusing story. Next, we retold the story of Stuck using magnet props, and we talked about how magnets stick together. Kids helped me stick the various objects onto our tree on the magnet board, and they experimented with things that…

Blogger Amy Koester

Take-Home Activity Handouts for Preschool Science Programs

Every other month when I post about a preschool science program, I mention the take-home activity handouts that I share with attendees and other library visitors. I get lots of requests from ALSC Blog readers to see what these handouts look like, so today I’m sharing a few. The purpose of these take-home activity handouts is to extend the science learning we do at the library into activities families do together at home. Children learn through experience, and my goal is to facilitate lots of fun, interactive experiences with a science topic to encourage concept learning. As a result, my typical handout includes a few activities and experiments, each with step-by-step instructions and a list of supplies (which I try to keep to common household items in order to make doing the activities easier). I’ll also include important vocabulary, with preschool-appropriate definitions from a children’s dictionary, that relates to our…

Blogger Amy Koester

Preschool Shadow Science

Shadows. We see them every day, inside and outside, but unless we’ve been reading Peter Pan, we probably don’t give them much thought. That makes shadows a perfect subject for a preschool science STEM storytime. We take something that children encounter every day, learn about it, and then experiment with it to create deeper understanding. Here’s what we did with shadows. First, we shared some books that include shadows. I opened the program with M. Christina Butler’s The Dark, Dark Night. The story follows frog and his friends as they try to get across the water at nighttime with only a lantern for light–but a monster keeps blocking their way. The monster turns out to be the shadows of frog and his friends. I followed up with a non-fiction title, What Makes a Shadow? by Clyde Robert Bulla. The narrative explores what has a shadow, how shadows are made, and other aspects of…

Blogger Amy Koester

Up, Up, and Away! School-Age Balloon Science

Hot air balloons and other flying balloon contraptions are a source of fascination for many children. Every year here in St. Louis, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race captivates and inspires wonder for many a child. But how do those balloons work? That’s the exact question, from a third grader at the information desk one day, that inspired this latest school-age science program, Balloon Science. First, we talked about the history and science. I introduced the history of air balloons, from ideas of flying in ancient Greece to the first balloons by the Montgolfier brothers in the 18th century. We also talked a bit about a more recent use for these sorts of balloons in 20th century history: Japanese balloon bombs set across the Pacific toward the west coast of the United States during WWII. Two great books touch on this little-known historical topic: 2013’s Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone…

Blogger Amy Koester

Science Skills for Preschoolers: Observation

In most of my previous Preschool Science programs, we’ve primarily explored a particular area of science (e.g., chemistry) or the science behind some everyday concept (e.g., weather, color, water, the body). As I got to thinking about additional Preschool Science topics, however, I began to consider: what if we spend an entire program focused on one of the key science skills? Kids already use so many of these skills in their everyday lives, but if we talk about them and exercise them in meaningful ways, we can really reinforce the idea of being scientists every day. Thus, this Observation Science program came to be. First, we read some stories. I started things off with Pond Walk by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, a story in which Buddy and his mother go to the pond to observe everything there and, hopefully, see a turtle. This is a slightly longer title, so I paper-clipped some pages together…

Blogger Amy Koester

Geyser Science for the School-Age Crowd

Explosions are almost always a hit with the school-age crowd. When my library offered a Volcano Science program last year, the excitement in the room was palpable as we erupted individual volcanoes; there’s just something about witnessing a destructive force that connects with kids. If that’s what it takes to get school-age library visitors interested in STEAM concepts, well, hook me up with the (child-safe) explosives. Geyser Science is just the thing. First, we talked about the science. I had planned to use some terrific geyser resources from the National Park Service, but my program took place during the government shutdown and so these resources were largely inaccessible. Luckily, one Park Service video was still on YouTube. After watching the video, I pulled out a paper model of a geyser that I had made. Using the pieces of the model, we talked about the geological processes that create a geyser and…