Monthly Archives: June 2014

Fizz Boom READ! Sense-ational!


senseational thaumatrope

As one of our first summer reading activities, we did a Sense-ational! event, with different experiments to explore the five senses.

For sight, we made thaumatropes.  A thaumatrope is a kind of optical illusion that occurs when you rapidly spin a double sided disc and your brain combines the two images into one.  Made by Joel has a free great bird/branch printable that is available in black and white or color.  I printed out the black and white ones and let the kids color them, then we glued them onto plastic drinking straws (less expensive and lighter weight than dowels, but just as effective!)

For sound, we made a noisemaker from a straw like this one.  This project is a little harder than it looks.  It takes some patience and practice to make a sound with the end product, but when you finally make a sound it’s loud and very worth it!  We talked about air causing the straw to vibrate, then our ears picking up those vibrations as sound.



For taste and smell, we did a simple experiment using assorted flavors of gummy bears. (I got the basic idea for it here, but I didn’t like the idea of eating raw potatoes, so I substituted gummy bears.  You could use any candy that has homogenous size and shape but is available in different flavors, like jelly beans, Skittles, or Starburst.)  Each child got a handful of assorted gummy bears in a Ziploc bag.  First, they were instructed to eat a gummy bear as they normally would and try to identify the flavor.  Many of them easily did this because they used their senses of sight, smell, and taste to determine the flavor.  Next, they were asked to close their eyes while they pick up and eat a second gummy bear.  This was a bit more of a challenge because they didn’t have the information of what color their bear was, but many of them were still able to do it.  Finally, they were instructed to keep their eyes closed, pick up a gummy bear and eat it while holding their nose closed.  It is typically really hard to identify the flavor while doing this because our senses of smell and taste are interrelated.  When I did this experiment myself, I really could not taste it at all until I released my nose.  So cool!

senseational touch stationFor touch, I had six boxes with a different item in each–cotton balls, feathers, rubber duckies, foam ball, blocks, and a doll shoe.  The kids were instructed to put a glove on one hand and keep the other hand bare.  They put the gloved hand in first and were asked to describe what they felt and guess at what the item might be.  Then they put the bare hand in and were asked to answer the same questions.  Of course, most of the time the objects were difficult to identify while wearing the glove because the glove interfered with the skin receiving all the information about that object.  The idea for this guessing game, as well as the suggestion to use baby wipes containers, came from the amazing No Time for Flash Cards.


STEAM Storytime–Fix it, Build it!


This summer I am doing two sessions of Preschool StoryLab each week, plus one session of Book Buddies.  For the summer, I have eliminated my customary opening song and rhyme in favor of the collaborative block building activity from Library Makers, for the most part, it’s going great!  (Note: I have tried both regular blocks and Duplo blocks, and it seems that Duplo works better for my groups.  I think Duplos work better because it is less tempting to knock them over and, if the structure does get knocked over, it is generally less catastrophic).  It has been an adjustment incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) concepts into my storytimes, but I think it’s definitely worthwhile and not as scary as I first imagined, thanks to trailblazers like The Show Me Librarian and Read Sing Play sharing their expertise and experiences.  Thanks, y’all!

STEAM focus:  Technology/Engineering

fix itFix-it, by David McPhail (E READING MCPH).  I got this book title and the plate fixing activity from the wonderful and amazing Teach Preschool (here and here).  This book is not only perfect for the theme, but also sneaks in the “turn off the TV and read for heaven’s sake” message that we librarians are so fond of.






b is for bulldozer   B is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC by June Sobel and Melissa Iwai. (E ALPHABET SOBE).  This book has a lot of great opportunities for discussion.  We talked about why construction workers need to wear hard hats, and we guessed at what they might be building.  We also talked about places we have seen tools and equipment like what is seen in the book.










tip tip dig digTip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia. (E MACHINERY GARC).  Believe it or not, this was my first time using this fantastic book in storytime!  We did motions to go along with the text as I read.  When the beautiful playground was revealed at the end, I went back to the beginning picture and showed the kids a “before and after”.  We talked about the amazing things you can build and make with imagination, hard work, and the right tools!










tool puzzle bookLet’s Pretend Builder’s Tool Kit.  This awesome board book has thick cardboard puzzle pieces that pop out of the book’s pages.  The space for each tool tells what it is and what it is used for.  The opposite page has a seek and find and gives a scenario where the tools might be used.  For example, the saw and screwdriver can be seen on the “building a doghouse” page.  This little gem was a donation and I keep it in my office just for storytime use.





building and fixing toys After our stories, we played with pretend tools and built with blocks.  The tools were loaned by a library staff member–they are used to receiving emails from me asking for random items for programs!






I hplate fixingave admired the “fixing” activities on Teach Preschool since the moment I saw them.  I think that it is absolute genius, and I WANTWANTWANTWANT a station for colorful tape just like Deborah has!  As you can see, I just used regular old tape, and it was fine.  I cut square paper plates up into 2-5 pieces and put them in piles on the table.  The kids “fixed” their plates, decorated them using markers, and practiced using a ruler by measuring them.








toolbox craft Craft: I printed out a tools coloring page onto cardstock and cut a handle onto regular long envelopes to make a toolbox shape.  This activity is perfect to take home for pretend play and vocabulary development.