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I have been thinking a lot about STEM lately, specifically how to implement it into my current preschool storytime program. Yesterday I talked about how STEM is already found in storytime through fingerplays/rhymes and how it can easily be introduced through nonfiction and concept books. Today I’m going to talk about some more overt ways to include STEM in preschool storytime through activities and demonstrations.
Kids love to do activities in storytime! Not only are activities a great way to reinforce the concepts that were introduced in the books, but they are also an efficient way for kids to get their wiggles out before starting another story. Activities in storytime can be as simple or as complex (well, not too complex) as your group allows. And, again, many of us have already been doing STEM activities without even knowing it. Here are a few:
I don’t know about you, but sorting activities are always a huge hit in my storytimes. Whether I’m giving children flannel pieces to sort on the board, or some other item to sort into buckets, the kids in my storytimes (from toddlers, all the way up to older children) love sorting. And I love it too because not only does it give the kids a chance to get up and move, but it also forces them to think critically, a trait needed for STEM. To add more STEM to your sorting games, count the sorted groups and record your numbers!
Some of my favorite sorting games include:
- Things to Eat Sometimes vs. Things to Eat All the Time by Sunflower Storytime
- Happy Tooth / Sad Tooth by What Happens in Storytime
- Air, Ground, or Water? By Falling Flannelboards
- Building Blocks by Mel’s Desk
- We are the Dinosaurs by Piper Loves the Library
The other week, I was reading some of the mommy blogs that I have on my RSS feed when I stumbled upon these cute (and free!) count and clip flashcards! Then it hit me that this is something that I can very easily replicate for storytime. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will once my regular preschool storytime resumes in August. I’m planning on printing enough flashcards for each child to have 3-5. I’ll put the flashcards in a baggy with a clothes pin, then hand the baggies out after a story and tell the children to spend a few minutes with their caregivers, counting and clipping for an independent activity. Once everyone’s finished we can go over the answers together. And then everything goes back into the baggy and returned to me.
Along with counting, I also intend to make flashcards for:
Simple STEM Activities:
We see them all the time on the ALSC blog, on mommy blogs, and on education websites: simple activities that reinforce STEM concepts. Most of these activities involve household and craft supplies that are easy to get, and many of them at the preschool level are not complicated at all. Still, it can be difficult to include these in storytime, particularly if you have big crowds, limited space, or limited funds/supplies. However, I think with a little planning and preparation, librarians can definitely include a STEM activity (maybe it could occassionally replace the craft portion of the program if you do crafts.)
- Candy Cane Science
- Fun with Fixing
- Make and Play with Venus Fly Traps
- Ballancing Bubbles
- Mixing Colors
And, yeah, I get, like, 90% of my STEM ideas from Teach Preschool.
And, lastly, we have demonstrations. I see these as simple STEM activities, but instead of having the children do them, you simply demonstrate it to the group. This is great for activities that might be a little more complicated, or that might make a mess, or would be too time-consuming and/or expensive for everyone to do.
I’ll be trying these activities and demonstrations once my preschool storytime starts back up in August.