Monthly Archives: July 2014

Storytime: Thunderstorms

This was the biggest storytime I’ve had yet – 7 children!


big stormtap tap boom boombears in bed

The Big Storm: A Very Soggy Counting Book by Nancy Tafuri
—> I made this interactive by having the children add a “raindrop” to the “sky” every time an animal entered the cave. They took the raindrops away as the animals left.

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle
—> I also made this story interactive by having the children make noise when I read “tap tap” (tap feet on floor) or “boom boom” (clap hands against thighs).
The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm by Paul Bright

We sung the song between the 2nd and 3rd books.

“I Hear Thunder” (tune: Frère Jacques)
I hear thunder, I hear thunder, (Drum feet on the floor.)
Don’t you hear, don’t you hear? (Pretend to listen.) *I changed this line a bit.
Pitter-patter raindrops, pitter-patter raindrops, (Flutter your fingers for raindrops.)
I’m wet through, (Shake your body vigorously.)
So are you! (Point to your child.)

1. Thunder Shaker – Each child received two tiny plastic cups and some beads. With help, they taped the cups together to make a shaker. It would have been more effective with aluminum pie plates, but I was not able to find the single size ones.

2. Shaving Cream Storms – Because I only had three little squeezy bottles, I paired the children up. Each group had a clear cup filled with water (sky). Then I sprayed shaving cream on top (clouds). The children took turns making it rain by squeezing drops of food coloring on the clouds. As the drops worked their way down, they “rained” in the water. I also attempted to have them make it hail using jelly marbles as well, but that was a failure. At the end of storytime, I gave each child a small cup with some jelly marbles in it to take home.

Graphic Novels + Common Core + The Dust Bowl

I am taking a Young Adult Literature course this summer, and had to make a short (2-4 minute) video presentation.  I had a lot of fun making it, actually, even though I’ve never made a video before.

Storytime: Wind


wind edisonwindy wednesdaywindblown

Wind (Weather Basics) by Erin Edison
One Windy Wednesday by Phyllis Root
Windblown by Edouard Manceau

Books (Other Possibilities)
Feel the Wind by Arthur Dorros
I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb
The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins
Like a Windy Day by Frank Asch

We went through this twice. The first time I did the actions and the children watched. The second time, the children stood up and acted it out with me. We did this between books #2 and #3.

I See the Wind (ChildFun)
I see the wind when the leaves dance by (dance hands around)
I see the wind when the clothes wave, “Hi!” (wave hand)
I see the wind when the trees bend low (bend arms over and down)
I see the wind when the flags all blow (wave arms high)
I see the wind when the kites fly high (raise arms high)
I see the wind when the clouds float by (wave hand gently)
I see the wind when it blows my hair (lift hair with hands)
I see the wind ‘most everywhere (hold hands out, palms up)

I had three different sequential activities set up.

1. Windblown Collage – I segued from books to activities by having the children make a collage inspired by Windblown.

wind rocket 005

2. Wind Tray – I put various heavy/light objects on a plastic tray for the children to try to move by blowing through a straw. Before they experimented, the children had to guess which objects they thought would move.

wind rocket 001

wind rocket 006 ed

3. Fan Play – I set up a box fan and gave the children streamers to hold in front of it. They also held up feathers for the fan to blow as well. The blowing feathers was the hit of storytime. I almost bought confetti for them to play with as well, but didn’t make it to the story.

Bubbles (Family Science)

This is the first of my two family science events. In theory, it is geared towards families with younger children. However, attendance was split evenly between the younger-than-elementary set and the middle school set. I think the switch from a Saturday to a Tuesday (the date I’m doing school age science sessions) confused people to the exact nature of the program.

That being said, the kids had fun, and I think it was a success overall. The lone high schooler, who was there chaperoning his younger siblings, was playing with the bubbles by the end even though he was adamant at the beginning that he was only there to watch.

I read two books to open the program. I gave the kids their own bubbles and blowers (made from zip ties) so they could make bubbles as I read about them. I know they weren’t paying a whole lot of attention to me, but they have fun with the bubbles. Bubble Trouble caught their attention because of its tongue-twisting prose.

pop a book about bubblesbubble trouble mahy

Pop! A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy

Books (other possibilities)
Bubbles Float, Bubbles Pop (Science Starts) by Mark Weakland

Idea Books
The Ultimate Bubble Book: Soapy Science Fun by Shar Levine
Soap Science by J.L. Bell


1. Bubble Painting – This station was the least successful, and if I had to do it over again, I would have done this version instead. The children had trouble when they tried to imprint the bubbles onto the paper – they pushed too hard and soaked in the solution. I also split the bottom 1/2 inch of the straws into fourths and bent the flaps flat. This helped make more bubbles.

I filled four trays with bubble solution and A LOT of paint – both poster and finger paints, the finger paints worked better at color transfer. The kids put their straw at the bottom of the tray and blew bubbles while swirling the straw around (this makes better bubbles). Once there are enough bubbles, gently lay a piece of paper on top, push  down enough to get most of the bubbles on it, but not so much that it touches the solution.

bubbles 002bubbles 003


2. What Makes Better Bubbles? – This station was exploring what objects make bubbles. I brought utensils from my kitchen (tray on the right), and made some additional bubble blowers following the instructions shown in Soap Science.

bubbles 0043. Bubbles in a Cup – Three cups, three liquids (milk, bubble solution, water). Stick a straw into the cup and blow. Which liquid makes the most bubbles? Which bubbles last the longest? This one is messy. One of the boys wanted to see how big of a mountain he could make .

bubbles 010

4. Hula-Hoop Bubbles – This was a popular station, even with the wind blowing. A few times, the children were able to lift the hula-hoop up about 3-4 feet before the wind would pop the bubble. Mostly they were lucky to lift it 18 inches.

To do this (and it really needs to be outside on a flat surface with no killable plant-life nearby), I borrowed a 4 feet wide plastic pool from one of our patrons, and filled it with water, concentrated dish soap, and corn syrup. The bubbles weren’t holding very well, so I poured in an additional four gallons of bubble stuff. Next time, I will use two gallons of the dish soap instead of one.


Storytime: Shadows

More science! Still fun!

Books Used

what makes a shadowmy shadow

What Makes a Shadow? by Clyde Robert Bulla
My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Monique Felix

Books (other possibilities)
Moonbear’s Shadow by Frank Asch
Shadows by April Pully Sayre
Shadow by Suzie Lee

We did three different activities during this storytime:

1. Shadow Box – I did this in between the two picture books. I cut the flaps off a smallish cardboard box and taped two layers of tissue paper over it. On the bottom of the box, I cut a hole large enough to stick objects and the end of a flashlight in. Making sure the objects were hidden, I placed one inside the box, close to the tissue paper and shined a light behind it to create a shadow. The children had to guess what the object was.

The next time I do something like this, I will modify it. A bigger box, with a bigger hole in the back, and cut-out shapes glued to a stick. The 2D shapes would be better, I think, than 3D ones.

2. Shadow Collage – The children glued black construction paper shapes onto a piece of paper. Mot of them made houses of one sort or another.

shadow1 shadow2

3. Make a Shadow – My husband let me use a portable shop light he has at work, without which, I could not have done this. I set it up on a table to shine against a bare wall in our community room, so the children could make shadows. How do you make a shadow bigger/smaller? How do you make it blurry/in focus? We tried to make shadow animals as well – birds and bunnies.

States of Matter (Summer of Science)

The first of four school-age science programs was a success! It started out a bit slow, but by the end, the kids were entranced. Dry ice crystal balls will do that.

I broke the program up into two main sections: education and experiments. The kids would rather have jumped straight into the experiments, but I wanted them to have some knowledge about what was happening.

I pulled a lot of the information from the matter section of Chem4Kids.

Notes to self: next time do more prepwork so as much of the individual experiments are ready to go, such as putting corn starch in the bowls, or pouring the raw ingredients for ice cream into the baggies.

I opened by asking what matter is (everything around you; anything that takes up space), and asked who knew what the three states of matter are (technically there are five, but I didn’t want to go into plasma and BCEs, in large part because they’re a mystery to me). We talked about the characteristics of solids, liquids, and gases, and how they change states. I used examples of sitting down (solid), walking (liquid), and running (gas) to show how much energy is used in different states.  I gave the children a blank graph to fill in showing how molecules arrange themselves in the various states.

When they finished the pictures, I talked about what the changes in states of matter are called and put up a handy-dandy chart so the relationships could be seen:

  • Solid –> Liquid = Melting
  • Liquid –> Solid = Freezing
  • Liquid –> Gas = Boiling/Vaporization
  • Gas –> Liquid = Condensation
  • Solid –> Gas = Sublimation (think the smoke rising off dry ice)
  • Gas –> Solid = Deposition (frost forming on windows or snowflakes)

The fun part of the program! We did four experiments:

  1. States of water
  2. Oobleck
  3. Freezer bag ice cream
  4. Dry ice crystal ball

States of Water
Purpose: To show vaporization and condensation.
This was a simple one. I had baggies filled with ice, water, and gas/empty. The water went into a pot on a hot plate (I should have used ice, but in the name of saving time, I didn’t). I put a lid on the pot and left it alone for a few minutes until there was enough steam to condense on the underside of the lid. At that point, I walked around with the lid to show the water droplets.

Purpose: Is it a solid or a liquid? (It’s a colloid!)
The basics for oobleck is one part water to one-to-two parts corn starch. Food coloring can be added if you’re so inclined. Each child had a bowl with the ingredients in it, and had to mix it with their fingers. Oobleck is fun in that it acts like a solid if you put pressure on it, but like a liquid if you move it slowly. You can feel it shifting when you hold it, and it’s a weird sensation.

While the children were playing with the oobleck, I explained what colloids are (a solid suspended in a liquid, but the particles are small enough to make it appear homogeneous). Examples of colloids would be Jell-O and milk.

Freezer Bag Ice Cream
Purpose: Liquid to Solid.
This experiment was a mixed bag (ha ha). It was split fairly evenly for who had actual ice cream and who ended up with a milk shake. There are many recipes out there, so a quick search will overwhelm you with results. I used one that called for a 1/2 cup of milk versus 1 cup (I figured it would harden faster).

Make sure to have something to wrap the baggies in – towels, newspapers, etc… – as the baggies get very cold. Also make sure to have extras of both quart and gallon baggies since there will be some breakage and you might have to double/triple bag it.

Dry Ice Crystal Ball
Purpose: Sublimation and because it looked cool.
This is an awesome, crowd-pleasing experiment, and if you have a source of dry ice nearby, I highly recommend it. The gist of the experiment is trapping the smoke in a film of bubble stuff that has been wiped across the top of a bowl. The children LOVED IT! I ended up using a bunch of plastic cups in addition to the bowl I brought so each table could have their own crystal ball to play with.

In a large-ish bowl (mine was 12″ across), or a much of smaller cups for individual tables/children, fill about halfway with water. Drop some dry ice pellets in.

In a small bowl, pour a little bit of water and a whole lot of dish soap. Take a strip of fabric and immerse it in the solution. Make sure the fabric is longer than the dry ice/water bowl is wide. Once it is soaked, take it out, hold it taut and wipe it across the rim of the bowl (make sure the rim is wet). You should be able to see the bubble film form as you pull the fabric across the rim.

cheezeburger dry ice

Storytime: Rain/Water

The first science family storytime was this past Tuesday. Admittedly, there was very little in the way of actual science (unless you count painting with melting ice cubes), but the kids had fun.


all the water water can be rain stojic

Song – “Jump in the Puddles” by Judi Cranston
Out of the four children in attendance, only one danced with me. The other three watched from the sidelines. I felt somewhat chumpish about being the dancing adult, but the girl who danced with me had fun.

The librarians on the Storytime Undground Facebook page were a wealth of information for songs and action rhymes relating to rain/water. One of the recommendations was “Jump in the Puddes” by Hugh Hanley. I really liked that one, but unfortunately, there wasn’t possible for me to get my hands on a copy of the song in time. The song I ended up using, I downloaded from iTunes.

Activity – Tempera Ice Cube Paint
I mixed tempera paint with water and poured the mixture into ice cube trays. After a few hours in the freezer, I stuck popsicle sticks in them. The kids loved painting with them (a mom took the unused ones home to put her her freezer for later use), and because the paint didn’t mix thoroughly with the water, the colors had interesting textures. The next time I do this, I will use finger paints instead.