A place to share cool science ideas for storytime!

Winter Hibernation

When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by Susan Gaber. This beautifully illustrated book explains where the leaves, flowers, caterpillars, songbirds, field mice, deer, and fish go in winter.

Another wonderful picture book that describes what happens in winter is Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, by Jean Craighead George with pictures by Loretta Krupinski.  The author’s note contains a wonderful explanation of the summer and winter solstice.

Ridiculous is a funny tale of a tortoise that decides not to hibernate and instead goes to explore winter. A dog, cat, duck and bird ask how the tortoise can keep warm like they do with humorous results.

There are some great hibernation activities for preschoolers at http://trilliummontessori.org/animals-in-winter/ including making animal tracks in Play-Doh, a bear in a cave craft, and a bird migration game.

Big science for little people: 52 activities to help you and your child discover the wonders of science written by Lynn Brunelle is filled with great activities including making a crystal snowflake; perfect for winter!


Science experiments : shiny, slimy, stinky, shocking by Steve Parker.

Many fun and easy to create experiments for younger children are included in this book including light and color, slimy science, shocking science (static electricity) and lots and lots of stinky science using the sense of smell.

100 science experiments with paper by Steven W. Moje.

Lots of fun activities with paper, including a popping paper bag, a paper bull-roarer and a paper cup telephone!

Science in seconds with toys : over 100 experiments you can do in ten minutes or less by Jean Potter.

This book contains easy to do science experiments including some that are safe to use with preschoolers.  The categories are:

Reflecting, Refracting, and Glowing.
Mixing, Molding, and Stretching.
Rolling, Sliding, and Sticking.
Balancing, Swinging, and Spinning.
Throwing, Flying, and Falling.
Floating, Bouncing, and Pushing.
Plucking, Banging, and Blowing.

One example from the book is Friction Flurry, Why Will a Toy Car Roll Farther Than a Lump of Clay? Use a toy car, and a lump of clay to roll down a flat board to determine which rolls faster to explore the science of friction.

A great recipe for Play Plubber helps explain polymers to children and something the preschoolers would really enjoy playing with!

How Come by Kathy Wollard  answers many questions that preschoolers might have.

A few examples are:

Why does rain fall in drops?

Is it true no two snowflakes are exactly alike?

How come flowers have scents?

Why do some animals hibernate in winter?

How do birds sleep?

The answers are technical, but can be adapted for a preschooler’s understanding.

Super Science Concoctions by Jill Frankel Hauser is wonderfully illustrated and easy to follow.

Learn about water tension with water robots made from aluminum foil and a pan of water, try starched designs with string and starch or make spicy art with spices, paper and a bowl of water.

Moose Tracks

Moose was a recent storytime theme. A great introduction to this theme is with a nonfiction book with a few facts to share with the children.  Moose by Grace Hansen works well for preschoolers with its brief text and wonderful color photographs.

A picture book that helped describe the size of a moose was Ernest, The Moose Who Doesn’t Fit by Catherine Rayner. The book ends with a foldout page that shows how big Ernest really is.

The children really enjoyed the humorous book Moose Tracks which led into our science activity with animal tracks.

I began with a brief overview of the book Wild Tracks by by Jim Arnosky. This book features fold out, life size drawings of a variety of animal tracks, including moose. There are  details on how to interpret the footprints as well.



For visuals I used animal track identification sheets from the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  These printable sheets include ten images of common Minnesota animals and the life sized tracks they make.

I printed out color images of a moose, bear, wolf, raccoon, squirrel and wild turkey to display and handed out a variety of laminated footprints: one per child. The children enjoyed figuring out which tracks to match to each animal.

They compared the footprint they had to the others and determined if it was the smallest, next smallest, largest or not quite as large or looked different such as the turkey footprint. They noticed the difference between the moose hooves and the bear claws to determine which tracks belonged to each animal.

Here is a link to the animal tracks pdf:  http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/education_safety/education/project_wild/animal-tracks.pdf

For more information about animal tracks:

Animal Tracks & Signs by Jinny Johnson.


Best Foot Forward: Exploring Feet, Flippers and Claws by Ingo Arndt.

The Color Brown



This week’s storytime theme was the color brown.

The children enjoyed the book Brown: Seeing Brown All Around Us by Michael Dahl.  The children looked at each other’s eyes and talked about their eye colors as we read the page featuring brown eyes. Here’s a link to exploring eye colors in families.


The book featured several delicious brown foods.  A great science activity to pair with the color brown would be to create sensory containers with a variety of brown spices and flavors such as cinnamon and cloves, or coffee and cocoa. Here is a link to instructions and other sensory ideas.


This book also included a fun recipe for peanut butter clay.

Other books featuring the color brown:

Owls and Orange

Owls and the color orange were two of my recent storytime themes. I did a fun preschool activity with the book Wow, Said the Owl. It’s an engaging picture book about an owl that stays up during the day and sees all kinds of beautiful colors.

I asked two of the preschoolers to hold a long piece of twine, and handed out colored clothespins for the other children to pin on as I read about the colors.  The book ended with a rainbow, and the children were happy to see the rainbow they had made with their many colors of clothespins.

Another fun activity to go with this theme is called Light and rainbows, found in the book 365 Science Activities.

Image result for Cover image for 365 science activities365 science activities365 science activities

On a sunny day, hold a glass of water up to the sunlight and over a white piece of paper. When the light shines through water, it splits into the colors of the rainbow. You can also have the children paint the colors right on the paper. If it’s not sunny, you can shine a flashlight through the glass of water in a dark room to make a rainbow as well. There are several other rainbow activities in the book, such as Sky in a jar, Rainbow bath, Outdoor rainbow, and Rainbow paper.

You can find directions to make your own spectroscope out of recycled materials here:http://buggyandbuddy.com/homemade-spectroscope/

A spectroscope is an instrument used to split light into different wavelengths, which we see as different colors of the rainbow.

For the color orange storytime, the children enjoyed the book Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert. This beautifully illustrated and colorful picture book shares the life cycle of four common butterflies from eggs to caterpillars and their transformation into butterflies. The book includes butterfly and flower facts and identification tips, as well as a guide to planting a butterfly garden.

Image result for Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert.

An activity that would pair well with this book is an experiment from 365 Science Activities called Paper, wood and water. Cut out simple flower shapes from paper, card stock and paper towels, fold them, and then watch them unfold as you add water. The paper fibers absorb water and expand, pushing open the flower petals.

You’ll find an experiment that combines color and butterflies by exploring chromatography here : http://buggyandbuddy.com/chromatography-butterflies-separating-colors-in-markers/

Chromatography is about separating mixtures. Coffee filters are used to separate the various pigments in markers to see how each color was created. After the experiment the colored filters can be used to create butterfly art.

Fall Leaves


A favorite October storytime theme is fall and leaves. This week I started my storytime by sharing a leaf identification guide that showed a few different leaves. You can download it here: http://www.imom.com/printable/leaf-identification-game/#.V_QXq6Knyso

Tap The Magic Tree by Christie Matheson is a fun interactive book that invites the reader to tap, rub, touch, and wiggle as they read to make an apple tree bloom, produce fruit, and lose its leaves.

The preschoolers really enjoyed this book. I asked them questions as I read to see if the children noticed what was happening to the tree. They were excited to share their knowledge!

Another book the children enjoyed was A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas.   This book showed a variety of jobs leaves can do. I asked the children if they knew leaves had jobs. They were surprised and ready to hear what these jobs were. At the end of the story there are several pages that explain the jobs in depth as well as a glossary of terms. This book is beautifully illustrated by Violeta Dabija.

Here are a few links to leaf related science experiments and activities.

This site shares a fun activity called Jumping Leaves.  Rubbing the balloon on your sweater or hair charges it with static electricity which attracts the tissue paper. This makes the tissue jump up to the balloon where it will stick until the charge wears off. http://www.science-sparks.com/2015/11/09/jumping-leaves-static-electricity/

When the weather is dry pine cones open up and when it’s going to rain they close down. It’s a really fun way for children to start to think about the future and what the weather will be doing.


Observing leaves, learning about leaf structure and how they breathe are explored here:


Here you’ll find an easy fall leaf science experiment: Exploring Colors & Chlorophyll with Kids




Water and STEAM!

Recently I attended a workshop at the UNL extension office in Lincoln titled STEAM* in Early Childhood. STEAM stands for *Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math.

The training included several hands-on activities including taking an ice ball formed in a balloon and adding salt and food coloring to it. The food coloring showed the patterns made by the salt melting the ice. This activity was really fun! Here’s a photo:



We also built structures out of newspaper and made a birdseed feeder with cookie cutters.

The training informed us about the inquiry process and how to facilitate it for preschooolers by encouraging inquiry, giving them time, fostering questions and helping them to reflect.

I included this process in my boat themed storytime. I had the children make rafts of popsicle sticks and colored duct tape. We took the rafts down to the courtyard to a small wading pool with a couple of inches of water. The children were able to see if the rafts actually floated. We provided small plastic animals for them to experiment with as well. Incorporating STEAM activities is easy and fun!

Here is a link to water themed activities. http://handsonaswegrow.com/water-experiments-for-kids/

Here are some titles for encouraging water experimentation for children.

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