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Curious Kitties: My Body’s a Pretty Cool Thing

Bi-monthly I present a super-fantastic science and math storytime called Curious Kitties for ages 2-5. I provide two unusual times so families that cannot make our typical storytimes have a chance to come to a program. There is one on Thursday night and one on Friday morning. You know when you do a program for the second time and it is infinitely better than the first one? Yup, guilty as charged for this one. I should definitely start doing dress rehearsals.

guilty as charged and raising hand

This month, we studied our body and all the cool scientific facts and mathematical tools to examine it. What’s not to love about the mass of gooey substances that are held together by a hairy elastic coating? Our bodies are so cool that they can do this:

little vogueing

Or we can try to do this:

toast fail

Our bodies are capable of so many things! For this Curious Kitties, we looked at separate parts of our body and measuring and comparing our body to other things.

Storytime (20-25 minutes)

1. Opening Song: Shake Your Sillies Out

2. Importance of scientific observation addressed to parents—A great tool to use when doing science and math with young kids is a more simplified version of the Scientific Process: make predictions, test, discuss. You will be able to use this later during our lab portion of the program so remember those three simple steps: make predictions, test, discuss.

3. Book: What is a healthy body? Let’s see with Healthy Kids by Maya Ajimera

 Healthy Kids by Maya Ajimera

4. Flannel: Bippity Boppity Boo

5. Book: We have now looked at our healthy body and we’ve identified certain parts of our body. Now let’s look at the size of our body compared to other animals. Let’s see how big some of these animals really are. Life-Size Farm by Teruyuki Komiya

life-size-farm

6. Activity: Those were some big animals–and some just our size! Adults, help me measure the children with crepe paper and then we will tape them to the wall to see where the measure up.

our measurements on the wall next to height  mesurements

7. Activity Rhyme: Head Shoulders Knees and Toes (do 3 times, getting faster and faster)

8. Flannel: Brain Stomach Lungs and Heart – organ template at Make Learning Fun,

Brain Stomach Lungs and Heart

Lungs and Heart

Brain Stomach Lungs and Heart

Lungs and Heart

Eyes and ears and mouth and nose

Brain Stomach Lungs and Heart

Lungs and Heart

9. Warm-Up for Lab: Identify what body parts we will be studying (heart, lungs, stomach) then clap out big, scientific words on posters around the room. These included: circulation, respiration, and digestion. We clap out words by doing it normally, then loudly, then softly.

Lab Time: I got my inspiration for this whole Curious Kitties through The Show Me Librarian (which my fingers always mistype as The Shoe Me Librarian, which is a much, much better name, Amy). I LOVED her activities. They were so simple yet have so much opportunity for conversation and scientific observation.

There were a few new tactics that I wanted to take to encourage scientific conversation and using the scientific method. I decided to add posters of a few vocabulary words that did not overwhelm with information and I added a large picture of the featured organ. Books were also available to provide parents with talking points. I also wanted to encourage a more fulfilling experience with these activities that could potentially be zipped through without any conversation. At ALA, I went to a presentation that included the Vice President of RIF, Reading Is Fundamental, Judy B. Cheatham. I gave her my contact information and was sent about 40 free books dealing with STEAM! How cool is that! So, after the kids completed 2 worksheets (one for the stomach and one for the heart), they were given a free book to take home forever. I know this is not always a possibility with smaller budgets but giving away books just became easier! Scholastic offers a program called FACE that includes a discount of 43%-80% off of books that are being GIVEN AWAY. Pretty cool, huh?

Speaking of the worksheets, one question on The Heart worksheet asked what sound the heart makes. Results include: thump, bump bump bump (2), dump, pump, whoosh whoosh, beepity bumpity, and boom boom. Such a wide assortment!

Without much further ado, here are the stations and my resulting pictures:

Station 1: Our Beating Heart

Supplies: Toilet Paper tubes, worksheet

Station 2: Our Digesting Stomach

Supplies: Activity sheet, ziploc bag, duct tape, pudding, saltines, cereal

Station 3: Our Breathing Lungs

Supplies: Paper Bags (I only laid out a few but a friendly volunteer suggested that I have one for each child, due to rampant and the unrelenting spread of sickness)

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Curious Kitties: Animal Adaptations

Another successful STEAM program deployed–with very happy kids and grateful parents. I gave a brief description of STEAM in my last article about my STEAM program on weather so I will jump right in to my second program on animal adaptations.

Room Setup

  • Half of the room is dedicated for storytime. This time I opted for no chairs and had the parents sit on the ground with their kids. Everybody was on the same level and kids weren’t attracted to sitting on chairs and being disconnected from the stories, rhymes, and activities.
  • The other half of the room has stations for each activity. They are partially setup with items that aren’t distracting to children during storytime. After storytime, my lovely assistant (hi, Ann!) and I set up the rest of the stations. There are usually more stations than staff so we help at the stations that require the most guidance and/or supervision. This would be a great program for teen volunteers to help (because some are probably sick of the wax on/wax off cleaning of books)

Storytime Outline

1. Welcome song: We start with Shaking Our Sillies Out, Clapping Our Crazies Out, Bashing Our Brainies Out (that last one is NOT real)

2. I emphasize to parents the importance of the scientific observation–even at this young age. To put it simply: make predictions, test, observe & compare

3. Intro to theme book: Rain Forest Animal Adaptations by Lisa J. Amstutz

Rain Forest Animal Adaptations4. Body Movement: Bird Song (to the tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”)

5. Book: Where in the Wild? By David M. Schwartz & Yael Schy

witw_106. Flannel: Camouflage Rhyme

Girl playing with magnet paper

I used magnet paper to print out camouflaged animals. I cut out the animal beforehand and revealed the animal after each verse

Camouflage Rhyme

Oh where oh where can my little frog be?
Oh where oh where can he be?
With his big, buggy eyes
And his smooth, brown skin
Oh where oh where can he be?

Oh where oh where can my tiger be?
Oh where oh where can he be?
With his stripey fur
And his big, sharp teeth
Oh where oh where can he be?

Oh where oh where can my owl be?
Oh where oh where can he be?
With his amber eyes
And his short, curved beak
Oh where oh where can he be?

7. Transition: I Wiggle (Tune: For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow)

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,
My thumbs are starting to wiggle,
My thumbs are starting to wiggle,
Around, and around, and around.

…Arms, Legs, Head…

All of me is starting to wiggle,
All of me is starting to wiggle,
All of me is starting to wiggle,
And now I need to rest.

8. Book: Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky

4784-EveryAutumnComesTheBear

9. Experiment: Duck Oil

  • 3 clear plastic cups with water
  • 3 cotton balls
  • 1 container with oil

How do ducks float? Paddling moves them, but how about when they sit there, bobbing in the waves? Their feathers have oil to protect them and help them float on the water. I tested to see how much oil their feathers need to keep the ducks afloat. The first cotton ball had no oil, the second cotton ball only had oil on the bottom half, and the third cotton ball was covered in oil. The more dense the cotton ball, the better. I also had the “ducks” dunk under the water to search for plants. The first didn’t come up, the second barely did then sank, and the third bobbed right back up.

experiments with water and oil

10. Book: 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter

11experiments

EXPERIMENT STATIONS

Station 1: Blubber Gloves

Station 2: Camouflaged colors

Station 3: Bird Beaks

SUPPLIES NEEDED

Station 1: Blubber Gloves

  • Two large ziplock bags
  • Shortening
  • Duct tape
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Bucket

Station 2: Camouflaged colors

  • 4 sheets of butcher paper (5’ tall)
  • Cut out animals to color
  • Crayons in the colors of the butcher paper

Station 3: Bird Beaks

  • Eye dropper or liquid medicine syringe (hummingbird)
  • Large spoon (spoonbills, pelican)
  • Clothespin (robins, blackbirds)
  • Bowl of water (nectar)
  • Bowl of water with paperclips (fish)
  • Bowl of dirt with jelly worms (clothespin)
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Curious Kitties Launches – STEAM at Play

It has been more than 6 months since I started my splendiferous job at Fremont Public Library. Now that I have all the basics down (including collection management, working the desk, and storytimes), I want to set my sights higher and offer more programs. In addition to storytimes, I intend to provide more popular character programs (like Dr. Seuss, Thomas the Tank Engine, Ninjago, etc.), Hands-On crafts for one- and two-year-olds, and STEAM programming for preschoolers.

STEAM is a very exciting format and guide for developing thought-provoking programs. I was inspired to include a regular STEAM program by the lovely Amy over at The Show Me Librarian. The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. This concept began with STEM (excluded the “arts” aspect) and has been most commonly pushed in the school setting. Francis Eberle, the executive director for the National Science Teachers Association, describes a successful STEM education as providing “students with science, math, engineering and technology in sequences that build upon each other and can be used in every day situations” (Adamowski, “STEM @ Your Library“). While I may not be able to build upon each program from the last due to large gaps in time (I intend to start with bi-monthly programs), I can still create wicked programs.

Enter the ‘A’ in STEAM. There is a growing push to add “arts” to this educational agenda because arts and science go hand-in-hand. Arts oftentimes spurs the ingenuity of science, connecting creativity with innovation. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, explains that science, math, and arts are not at odds but that they “are avatars of human creativity” (Pomeroy, “From STEM to STEAM”). For preschoolers, art is a form of expression they are familiar with and are drawn towards. Providing answers to their world through science and math, and expressing that curiosity through arts and crafts, is a natural connection that gets their hands connected with their brains.

Curious Kitties is for ages 2-5, with older or younger siblings. The wide age range allows two siblings to engage equally in the program which is a nice change from our smaller age ranges (Preschool Stories is ages 3-5, Toddler Time is for twos). The first half of the program is formatted like a storytime, and the second half is hands-on activities. During the storytime, parents sit on the floor near their children and are encouraged to engage in the activities. For preschoolers, this program is equally as important. Our first class was on all types of weather. Let’s see what we did!

IMG_0616

Opening Song: Shake Your Sillies Out

Note to Parents: Importance of scientific observation & the scientific method—question, predict, experiment, observe, conclusion

Intro to seasons book: What Makes the Seasons? by Megan Montague Cash

Flannel: What Will Teddy Wear? Patterns found at Measured in Moments

This would work better with flannel material because you are dressing the bear, but I printed the pattern out and made it with magnets. No magnets on Teddy – he was taped.

IMG_0617

It’s hot, hot, hot in the sun, sun, sun.
What should teddy wear to play in the sun?
It’s cold, cold, cold in the snow, snow, snow.
What should Teddy wear to play in the snow?
It’s wet, wet, wet in the rain, rain, rain.
What should Teddy wear to play in the Rain?
It’s chilly,chilly, chilly in the wind, wind, wind.
What should teddy wear to play in the fall leaves?

Stretcher: Act out the weather – rain, sun, wind, rainbow, tornado, snow

Book: If It’s Really Cold…And Other Weather Predictions by B. A. Hoena

Transition: The Wiggle Song (Tune: For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow)

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,

My thumbs are starting to wiggle,

Around, and around, and around.

…Hands, Arms, Toes, Legs, Head…

All of me is starting to wiggle,

All of me is starting to wiggle,

All of me is starting to wiggle,

And now I need to rest.

Book: Like a Windy Day by Frank Asch

Fingerplay: Water Cycle Song

Book transformed into Flannel: This is the Rain by Lola Schaefer

IMG_0619

This is the ocean, blue and vast

That holds the rainwater from the past.

This is the sunshine, hot and bright,

That warms the ocean, blue and vast,

That holds the rainwater from the past.

These are the clouds, low and gray,

Full of vapor, moist and light,

Made when sunshine, hot and bright,

Warms the ocean, blue and vast,

That holds the rainwater from the past.

This is the rain, falling all day,

That forms in clouds, low and gray,

Full of vapor, moist and light,

Made when sunshine, hot and bright,

Warms the ocean, blue and vast,

That holds the rainwater from the past.

This is the land, dry, porous ground,

That absorbs the rain, falling all day,

That forms in clouds, low and gray,

Full of vapor, moist and light,

Made when sunshine, hot and bright,

Warms the ocean, blue and vast,

That holds the rainwater from the past.

This is the water, seeking low ground,

That runs into ditches

That pours into creeks

That drain into rivers,

That flow to the sea.

This is the sunshine, hot and bright,

That makes the vapor, moist and light,

That fills the clouds, low and gray,

That bring rain somewhere every day.

—————

Activities

Station 1 – Clouds with Shaving Cream: A mesmerizing look at how rain drops need to gather and condense in a cloud before it finally breaks through the cloud and rains. Simple materials with shaving cream, food dye, water, and a clear cup.

IMG_0607

Station 2 – Can the Wind Move It? (with chart): Predict which objects you can move before starting then test your predictions. Why can you blow them? Why not? Perhaps their mass is heavier than the strength of your gusty blow. Maybe their round and provide less resistance to movement.

IMG_0612

Station 3 – Seasons Trees: Trees change every season, so why not reflect that in an arts activity. The children had four empty trees. With their coloring dots, they filled in the trees to how they look during each season.

IMG_0602

A fun time was had for both parents and children. The parents seemed particularly appreciative of the subject matter (and the irregular time offering at night and Friday morning) and were really engaged with their children–with slight nudges of encouragement from the librarian, of course.

Reading: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Listening: Neon Bible by Arcade Fire
Watching: The Wonder Years

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Math, Science, Literacy, and a Child’s Curiosity

Over the past months, I have been delightfully assisting my teacher and local librarian, Christina, in her preschool math and science programs. There’s so much fun to be had! These programs are meant to ignite curiosity and nurture early learning by exposing children to the world of math and science that exists in every-day activities with fun experiments.

The first program centered around nursery rhymes. Christina started out with story time, using rhymes, songs, reading-aloud, and storytelling to share popular nursery rhymes. Her crowd management skills are amazing! She knows how to mesmerize, intrigue, and encourage participation without totally losing control. She’s not a fun-killer but I think she has a keen ear for when noise is too loud that it disrupts other kids. When this happens she does collective activities that brings everyone’s attention to her like imitating soft, falling rain.

After her story time, Christina had three volunteers (including myself) set up stations of math and science. For the Three Little Pigs, we showed the different weights of material by having kids construct houses out of sticks and bricks. For the Itsby Bitsy Spider, we had kids examine the force of water as it pushed a fake spider out of a tube. I took control of the Hickory Dickory Dock station. I set up a pendulum to reveal the power of force and to show the pattern that a pendulum makes. Yes, it was messy. Yes, kids were having funBut most importantly, kids were observing the way their world behaves. Beautiful!

A few weeks later, Christina and I prepped her Fun with Math & Science for Caregivers and Kids, a workshop provided by the Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition. A small, manageable group of seven showed up–enough for caregivers to listen without too much distraction. What is great about this workshop is the direct encouragement of literacy and curiosity skills because the kids are there to test out the 5 essential skills: reading, writing, singing, writing, and playing. After the introduction and emphasis of these skills, we started with an experiment on ice, which I led. We used the scientific model, something parents were familiar with, as a model for everyday observation. “I think this ice will melt if hot water pours on it, not cold water.” This engaged children to observe and discuss what they saw instead of being told what they were seeing. It was a great experience to lead this part of the program. I have a particular affection towards babies, preschoolers, and early literacy–and nurturing curiosity!

Reading: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Listening to: Aim and Ignite by fun.
Watching: The Wire

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