Incorporating STEM into Storytime Pt. 1

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Image Credit:  StockVault

STEM has been on my mind for a long time.  For the better part of the past year, I’ve been saving posts that talk about STEM programming (many of these posts can be found on the ALSC blog) and pinning STEM activities to my Pinterest account.  However, no matter how many ideas I accrue, I haven’t really had a chance to host an official STEM program at my library.

Then it hit me:  I don’t need to create a new program devoted to STEM (though I plan to eventually because they are awesome)…I can incorporate STEM into existing programs!  One of the easist programs to STEMify is preschool storytime.  As a matter of fact, many librarians – myself included – have been promoting STEM in storytime all along!  With a little forthought, STEM aspects can fit into storytime without drastically altering the normal storytime plan.  How can we do this?  By introducing STEM concepts through fingerplays/rhymes, books, activities, and demonstrations.

Because this post ended up being a little longer than I originally expected, I’m going to talk about fingerplays/rhymes and books today, and I’ll post about activities and demonstrations tomorrow.

Fingerplays/Rhymes:

This is one of the easiest ways to incorporate STEM into storytime, and it’s something that most librarians have been doing all along.  All those 5 little or 10 little whats-its rhymes teach counting, which is preschool level math!  You can even go a step further and initiate some addition and subtraction by doing your typical 5 little whats-it rhyme, then telling the children, “Okay, I’m going to take two of these umbrellas/flowers/snowflakes away.  How many do we have left?”  Some children may figure it out quickly and shout out the answer.  For the benefit of the others, you can count how many are left.

Rhymes can also be useful for explaining basic aspects of science.  For example, I’ve found very simple rhymes that talk about what happens in Spring or about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.  The rhymes are short and the concepts are simple, but it’s a great way to introduce a science topic!

Some of my favorite fingerplays/rhymes that promote STEM include:

Counting/Math Rhymes:

The Ants Go Marching

Science Topic Rhymes:

  • In the Spring (Storytime Magic, Page 90)
  • Butterfly (Kindergarten Magic, Page 217)
  • Climb Aboard (Kindergarten Magic, Page 167)

Books:

Another easy way to sneak STEM into your existing storytime is through books!  There isn’t a rule that says that all storytime books must be fiction.  In fact, I have found that certain nonfiction books are a big hit in storytime and promote great discussions!  Most nonfiction picture books are very readable and they introduce STEM concepts simply while captivating young audiences through pictures.  Nonfiction books are great to add to storytimes about seasons, animals, weather, colors, counting, etc.

While not traditionally nonfiction, concept books are also a good resource for introducing STEM into storytime.  What better way to discuss STEM concepts such as counting, opposites, shapes, etc. than through concept books?  And, like rhymes and fingerplays, concept books are something that we librarians have been including in our storytimes for ages.

Some of my favorite nonfiction and concept books to include in storytime include:

Nonfiction:Baby Penguins Slips and Slides

  • Shapes in the Sky:  A Book About Clouds by Josepha Sherman
  • Watching the Seasons Series by Emily C. Dawson
  • Baby Penguin Slips and Slides by Michael Teitelbaum
  • Flying Colors:  Butterflies in Your Backyard by Nancy Loewen

Concept:

lemons are not red

  • One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano
  • Over in the Forest:  Come and Take a Peek by Marianne Collins Berkes
  • My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
  • Lemons are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Fingerplays/rhymes and nonfiction/concept books are so easy to include in storytime that it’s a stealthy way to add STEM to your program.  Tomorrow on the blog, I’ll be talking about a less stealthy/more obvious way to include STEM in your storytimes:  Activities and Demonstrations!

P.S.  What are some of your favorite fingerplays/rhymes and nonfiction/concept books to include in storytime?

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