Explore! STEAM for preschoolers: Sensory

September 11 at 11:00 and September 12 @ 10:00 with 30 and 45 participants respectively

The program was very successful. It was the first meeting for me since this is the start of the new school year and many of the regular attendees have now started kindergarten.  A very interactive and interested group of children, and adults did a great job leading children through discovery.

I read the book Cats Are Cats by Valeri Gorbachev---it was a very loose tie in to the shredded paper activity as the children were looking for cats in the box.  Great for asking interactive questions while reading it.

Materials Used:

Flour, water, trays, dish, ½ cup measure, Tablespoon & spoons…The children measured ½ cup of flour into the dish that was on their tray.  This gave them the chance to feel & smell their own dish of flour. Water was added a tablespoon at a time.  This gave the child/adult pair the opportunity to talk about how the consistency changed with each addition and to feel the changes as they mixed the two items together.  Spoons were provided for children who have sensory issues.
Tactile items-sandpaper, contact paper, variety of fabric textures-this station gave them the opportunity to predict how the item might 

What worked and what didn't:

The flour/water station was by far the biggest hit.  The majority of children did not want to leave the station and after thoroughly drenching the dish with water they dumped it all out and started all over again.  The digging through the boxes of shredded paper to find the plastic cats was the second most popular.  They enjoyed the process of touching the shredded paper and digging through it.
The least successful was the “feely” box (not pictured)-it lacked appeal and excitement for them.

Set up:

Flour/water station
Flour/water station
Texture station
Balloon and item prediction
Shredded newspaper and buried plastic cats

Flour and water station:


When this child started he did not want to put his hands in the mix. Through careful guidance, Mom encouraged him to try and by the end  he was totally immersed in mixing and exploring.
Texture station:

This dad had the most awesome interactions with his son. The questions he asked were right on the mark!

Shredded Paper:


Summer Reading 2014 Displays

Summer Reading is over! Here's a look at a couple of ways we promoted Fizz, Boom, Read! to the kids in our library.

Bunny Rex is a mad scientist! We put out the recipe we use to make playdough for storytime to make it easy for patrons to do science at home. 

This Greg cut-out has helped us sell several displays. This time he is next to a Science Fiction display. He's super excited about it, can't you tell?


Explore! STEAM for 3-5 year olds: Math and Yoga

When: Thursdays @ 11 and Fridays @ 10 (program repeats)
Attendance: this week 40 and 21, but there are usually more in each session-it was nice weather!

This week children explored math through counting, comparing amounts (see guided sheets below), in addition to math, physical well-being was explored through yoga. The program started with a brief gross motor activity and deep breathing. I read the book My Little Sister Ate One Hare by Bill Grossman. I used the book for the counting aspect as well as humor.  Then the group stood up and we did some deep breathing which led into explanation of exploring yoga as well as the counting activity.


The yoga worked much better the first day as I had a volunteer who knew how to do yoga and was able to spend the time interacting with the kids. This enabled me to spend time interacting with the children and adults on other activities. The second day, my volunteer was different and she did not know anything about yoga (note to self-make sure the volunteers know how to do an activity that I might need help with).  I used yoga cards-the children were able to pick a card and the leader would have the group do the exercise.   

The math exercises were a hit. 

Math stations (5): 

1.  Making chain loops using 3 different colors of paper: the children practiced creating a pattern and counting the number of loops in the chain they made. 

2.  Cups: one contained buttons the other small bears.  Children counted the amount in each cup and then compared to see which had more.  

3. Cups: same as #2 only using two different types of beads. 

4. Cups: same as #2 using two different sizes of pompoms.  


5. Coin flip: children flipped a play coin 10 times and wrote down the number of heads/tails then compared

Guided Sheets



Spark Your Imagination: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

Spark Your Imagination is a weekly program, held Mondays at 1pm, for all ages where we go beyond the pages of a book to explore and create. This program is new this summer and still growing.
This week there were 29 in attendance.

Rachel is the presenter for this program and felt it was the most successful Spark yet. Definitely one that could be repeated in the future.



Materials used:
-face paints
-watercolor pencils
-finger paint
-cups or tubs with water to clean the brushes and dip watercolor pencils in

What worked and what didn't
What worked was that I had painted myself with each medium to show them the sort of effects they could get, and our volunteer did the same.
What I would have done differently is put signs out. Even though I repeated over and over that these were safe for skin, and easy to clean up, I still had hesitant parents who almost didn't let their kids participate. The only reason I didn't put out signs was because I didn't want that to become the object they painted. The only other hiccup we experienced is that if the watercolor pencils get too soggy they are difficult to sharpen, but I just suggested they try the other paints.

This was the perfect book/activity combo. I printed out a take home sheet to make bathtub paint, so they would continue the activity at home.

 I really appreciated that most of the parents just let their kids at it, and didn't care that they painted all over their face, and the others who were hesitant lightened up once they saw the other kids get all messy.



Dance Party in the Library

Dance Party is for all ages and we schedule it every Monday during the summer from 10:30 to 11:30. The program is drop in, however, so folks can come any time during that hour. Attendance runs between 65-110 people. This is the third year we've done Dance Party and I don't anticipate it will be our last.

This program is so simple, it's ridiculous.

What you need:
-A room
-Music! We have a sound system and an iPod on which I have made a playlist, but CD's and a boombox would work, too. Most the music comes from Freegal.
-Things to dance with. You don't need a lot, but some people feel better with a scarf or shaker in their hands. I pull out different things each time: scarves, bells, dancing ribbons, egg shakers, etc.
-People. Don't worry, they will come.
-Comfortable shoes and cool clothes, because you will be dancing your tail off!

There are only 2 rules: everyone, especially parents, must dance while in the Dance Party room and everyone must be safe and kind to each other. If grown ups don't dance I go dance next to/with them until they do. Which is pretty much the best way to enforce rules. 

Our Dance Parties are not structured because I like seeing kids dance any way they want, instead of how we tell them to. There are a few songs on the playlist, like the Cha Cha Slide which some kids love because they can follow the directions and feel like they have accomplished something amazing. Basically, there's something for everyone! And when Splish, Splash comes on, it's bubble time (totally optional, but it's pretty fun)! Bubble time is blurry time (pictured below)

If you are interested in our playlist, let us know in the comments and we'll get it to you. 


Lab Rats: Book Dominoes

In February I took over our monthly school age science program from our usual science pro, who will be out on leave any time now. She took pity on me and passed me an idea she'd been sitting on that is low on prep and supplies and high on fun: book domino chains!

How To

I stored weeds and triplicates for about a month, particularly hardback J Fiction, and ended up with about 10 boxes of books. Honestly, I could have saved more. They were all processed before the program so afterward I simply boxed them back up and sent them off in delivery.

If you're not lucky enough to work at a big branch in a larger system you could collect sooner, host the program during a heavy weeding period, or have volunteers help you pull a ton of stuff from the shelves and put them back nicely afterwards.

Lately, the format of Lab Rats is to present attendees a challenge, in this case to make a book domino chain including a 180 degree turn. I provided a whole list of questions for those that wanted to stretch the challenge. I also wrote up a quick and dirty explanation of energy which a few parents stopped and read aloud before leaving the program.

Finally, I showed Seattle Public Library's record-setting book domino chain video on our iPad to inspire everyone. I also provided yard sticks in case anyone wanted to measure their work. Otherwise, there were no supplies required. 
Here's how I presented the challenge. Please, feel free to use the text but not our mascot, Nicodemus.
After the first group of kids completed the challenge they began making longer and longer chains, eventually deciding to use every book available to create a chain around the room. Here is the result:

All in all, 30 people attended and most stayed between 30 and 45 minutes. Not too shabby.


Recall Info for Patrons: a quick parent resource

This is the cover of the binder using the CPSC logo
Inspired by a former co-worker who did the same, I receive recall information in my personal feed reader and print updates at work as often as they're published. They're organized in a binder by month and kept as a reference item in what we call our Resource Collection - a small parenting collection housed in our Early Learning Center (or "play area" as most people call it). We keep 6 months worth. It's a quick, awareness-raising resource for families for the cost of a binder and paper!