Cultivate Wonder

Exploring Science with Children

Talking STEAM

Here is the presentation for the Franklin County Head Start STEAM Conference, presented March 20, 2017:


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Pattern Mania

Today in Wonderworks Storytime, we learned about patterns: action patterns, visual patterns, and musical patterns. After our opening Energy song, we started off by going through a pattern obstacle course that I had created around the perimeter of the activity center using painter’s tape.

pattern obstacle course

Each shape denoted a different action that the children were to follow and the shapes repeated as they circled around the room, creating a pattern. The pattern went as follows: hopping, spinning, spinning, hopping, squatting, squatting, hopping, spinning, spinning, hopping, squatting, squatting, hopping, etc.  After the children each went through the pattern obstacle course twice, they took a seat on the floor in front of the storytime chair, and we talked about the action pattern we had just created.

Then, we read the book Pattern Fish, by Trudy Harris and illustrated by Anne Canevari Green. This is a great book that describes fish related patterns of varying difficulty (starting out easy and growing more difficult as the book goes on). The pattern is begun and then the children have to finish it on the following page. For example, yellow, black, yellow, black, yellow, black, yellow, (turn page), black. That is an example of the first, and easiest, pattern. The patterns grow longer and more interesting as the book nears its finale.

pattern fish

When we finished Pattern Fish, we talked about how not only are there visual patterns and action patterns, but also musical patterns. We talked about rhythm and beats and practiced making patterns with knee slapping and clapping.  Then, we did Jim Gill’s song, “Toe Leg Knee,” from his album, Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on His Toe Leg Knee.  After that we talked more about patterns in music and how music has refrains which creates patterns, and we did Laurie Berkner’s song, “The Goldfish,” from her album Victor Vito.  

We then read the story Hop Jump, by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  This book is about a frog who notices that all the other frogs do nothing but follow the same pattern of “hop, jump, hop, jump” every day.  This frog, named hop jumpBetsy, decides she wants to dance, as well as hop and jump. In the end, the frogs decide that there is room to make up your patterns. 


After our final story, the children got to go through the pattern obstacle course two more times. Then, the children had a chance to make their own patterns. With long strips of poster board and clip art patterns, they got to decide whether or not they would stomp, clap, squat, and/or jump, how often, and in what order. After they created their patterns, the children then took turns showing them off.

 child made patterns

We had a wonderful time learning about some of the many different kinds of patterns today.  If you have any questions, or would like the power point for the pattern activity, feel free to contact me or Robin.  Happy storytimes!


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Apple Counting

If you’re ever looking for a great fall counting theme, this was a yummy one.

We read Ten Red Apples, by Pat Hutchins and Ten Apples Up on Top!, by Dr. Seuss (writing as Theo LeSieg).

ten red apples

ten apples

We also did the participatory song/flannel board Farmer Brown Had Five Green Apples and jumped and froze to Jim Gill’s Jumping and Counting song.

For our activities, we did apple seed counting, for which the children had to count the number of seeds in each apple and match them to the corresponding numbered apple.

apple seed counting

They added dollops of whipped cream (cotton balls) to numbered apple pies.

whipped cream on pie

And finally, they got to make apple crowns to wear home.

apple crowns

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Round in a Circle

How much fun can you have with circles? More than you might think! This week’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Storytime explored circles (and other round things!) We read Maggie’s Ball by Lindsey Barrett George and What is Round? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Other great choices are Round like a Ball by Lisa Campbell Ernst and Round is a Mooncake by Roseanne Thong, which is also available as a Tumblebook.

We also made a great big circle and sang “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” “Ring around the Rosy” and “the Hokey Pokey” and went on a circle hunt through the children’s area. There are lots of circles and round things in our library! Just look at the red wall:


Finally, we made a circle mural on a big, mostly blank – except for circles of various sizes – piece of paper and children created whatever they wanted with these circles.



I spy a magnifying glass, numbers (using the circle as the zero), and  . . .



A circle becomes a face, with circles added for the eyes and for the dress. And look at those hearts for the cheeks and hair!

So much creativity! An open-ended art and math related activity that puts the “A” into STEM . . . to get STEAM!

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