Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


Explore! Let it Snow

Yesterday was the last Explore! for the year and the last Monday session ever. 2pm on Mondays does NOT work for our community. So, we’re (read: I’M) letting it go and my co-worker will continue Explore! on Thursdays.

Eventually, I will catch up on all my sessions (there are several I haven’t blogged yet) but this latest was SO much fun and perfect for this time of year. It even snowed last night! Which hardly ever happens!

Theme: Snow

Opener: Hello song with blocks

Book: Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

We had a lot of fun talking about all the supplies used to make the snow people and animals in the book.

Station #1: Paper Snowflakes

Supplies: copy paper, scissors and an example snowflake

Skills: scissor practice, engineering (where can I cut without my paper falling apart?), math (shapes), art, talking (LOTS of talking about what was happening, where to cut, how to cut, what shapes to cut, etc.-mostly between child and adult)


Parents were instructed to experiment with folding and cutting and see what they come up with. Kids were totally blown away watching their parents unfold the paper to reveal a snowflake. I have to remind myself sometimes that these are 3 and 4 year olds and may have never seen a paper snowflake being made.

Station #2: Make a Snowman

Supplies: marshmallows, cotton balls, glue sticks, markers, toothpicks, cardstock

Skills: art, engineering (how can I get these marshmallows to stay in a stack? toothpicks!)


Make a snowman using the supplies on the table. Some used only marshmallows and toothpicks, others glued things to the cardstock to create a whole winter scene.

Station #3: SNOW

Supplies: trays or bowls for mixing snow, corn starch, shaving cream, aprons/smocks

Skills: sensory, science (what is happening?), play (Look! It’s snowing! as he sprinkles snow on his tray) and talking (lots of conversations during this activity both parent to child and child to child)

explore1  explore4

Start with some shaving cream on the tray. Kids add corn starch until it reaches the consistency they like. I had a bowl of pre-made snow on the table as well so they would have an idea of what they were aiming for. After they get a good consistency they could mold it into snowballs and everything. It even felt a little cold! Most wanted to take it home so you might want to have baggies on hand as well. This was the most popular station for all but one little girl who just cannot tolerate messy hands.


Explore! Preschool STEAM: Huff & Puff

Calm and sunny outside, but it was windy in the program room!

We began with the storytime routine. This week we read The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins and I demonstrated a super cool app called Ocarina 2. You blow into your iPad or iPhone to make music! They were amazed.


Station #1: Hot Air Balloons

Stretch a balloon over the mouth of an empty water/soda bottle. Place the bottle in very cold water (I used pitchers), then place the bottle in very hot water. Watch the balloon blow up!

I demonstrated this before letting them loose and they were totally amazed. The moms were even blown away. “How does it do that?” The kids spent a long time going from cold to hot to cold to hot making the balloon blow up and collapse.


Station #2: Blowing Through Straws

Pretty simple! Just stuff on a table with straws and a fan. The kids tried to blow items with just their breathe, blowing through a straw, or with a fan. This led to “How many blows to get it across the table?” and “Look how fast I can blow!”


Station #3: Pinwheels

The kids made pinwheels using pencils, thumb tacks, and origami paper or cardstock. They made one of each and tested them on the next station.  Great scissor practice!


Station #4: Fan

They tested their pinwheels and played with scarves and dancing ribbons in front of the fan. I’m sure none of you will be surprised to learn this was the second most popular activity. Kids love fans and seem to be able to stand in front of them all day (or behind… “Luke, I am your father”).



WonderWorks: I pretty much replicate everything they do. It’s amazing and SO FUN.

The Show Me Librarian: You had all better know about Amy already. SO much inspiration here for my STEAM programs.

Pinwheels: here and here


Explore! A Preschool STEAM Program

Our first Explore! program was Monday afternoon and I think it was a success. There were 30 people in attendance, 17 of which were children. About half came for the program and the other half were in the library at the time and decided to attend. ALL of them had a great time. How do I know? Lots of smiles, half the books on display were checked out, everyone was there for at least 30 minutes, and these exclamations were overheard: “I want to come to every single one!”, “This is the best day!”, “I love this, it’s sticky stuck.”

Need I say more?

Here’s how it went down:

As families came in, children wrote their names on these wooden blocks and took them to the storytime rug where they sat on a lilypad, fish, or stone. The blocks idea came from the Library Makers blog.


Once everyone had their name on a block we sang this song (to the tune of Good Night Ladies):

Hello ________

Hello ________

Hello ________

Come build something with your blocks!


I then invited those 3 children, and only those 3 children (this is great patience and taking turns practice, parents) to come up to the tray where my name block was sitting and add their blocks to it. They chose to stack it like a tower. Then I asked them to sit back down and we did the next 3 names and so on until everyone had placed their block.  As Library Makers mentions, the engineering part of this activity is awesome. I did not rush the children as they were having great conversations about where to put things after the tower collapsed everyone had to come back up and fix it. They had a LOT of fun working together on that one. Best part: one girl asked which was her block and I picked it up and said I think it is this one because it has the first letter of your name on it. She said “Yes, the M!” and pointed to the letter. Work those literacy skills, little ones.


After the tower was all fixed up we sat back down for another song and a story.

This one is sung while getting a beat on your knees.

Song: Now It’s Time for Storytime (tune of Camptown Races)

Now it’s time for storytime, doo, dah, doo, dah

Now it’s time for storytime, oh de doo dah day

Raise your arms and say “Hooray!” it’s a library day

Now it’s time for storytime, oh de doo dah day

We repeat on our heads and tummies.

Book: Bubblegum, Bubblegum by Lisa Wheeler (it was between this and Hippospotamus so I just randomly grabbed one form the table-I hate hard decisions!)

Exploration time: Oobleck

I explained the activity to the children and parents, emphasizing that all Explore activities are designed to be done with parents and children working together. We have prompts on the tables in case parents want some ideas for questions to ask their children while exploring.


Corn starch was placed in orange dishes and there were pitchers of water on the tables. Kids dumped the cornstarch from the orange dish to the black dish they were given and took some time to play with the corn starch by itself. Some kids (like me) did not like the way it felt but others loved it saying it felt soft. Then they added water. Some added too much and had to decide if they needed more corn starch (I had more on hand to add upon request). That meant asking their neighbors what was happening to theirs and asking me whether it was right. I described what it might feel like and if they didn’t feel that they might need to add either water or starch. In the end they all ended up with white goo they were happy with. One boy could NOT understand why it felt like he could pick it up but then it “went away”. It was fun to watch him try over and over.


After they were done with Oobleck I had baggies of orange Flubber (aka Gak) for them to play with and then take home. Originally I was just going to have them take them home as I thought they would spend more time on the Oobleck. I’ve noted that for future programs we should have 2 stations of activity.

I also had some Flubber and 2 Ingredient Slime for them to play with if they wanted to save their Flubber for home.

People left gradually after having their fill of Oobleck and Flubber, but not before I handed out Explore Journals suggesting to parents that they ask about what they saw, heard, felt today and let their kids write or draw about it in the journal. They can add an entry each week after they attend the program.

Other handouts: Recipe sheet and Prompt sheet (see image with pitcher above)

My coworker will repeat this program on Thursday.

*Note* We planned to have the kids playing with Oobleck the whole time. But that did not keep their attention so at the last minute I added the Flubber free play, We’ve decided for future programs we need to have 2 stations of activity for them to move between.  Since 3 year olds are in a different place than 6 year olds it makes sense to provide a station-like atmosphere so those who need to vary their tasks can and those who want to focus on one thing for an hour can do that.

Next week’s theme: Fizz!