Most of my Science Storytime themes tend to be science related, with a little math thrown in. I wanted to explore the T in STEM, technology. Understanding that we use tools to help us accomplish tasks more efficiently and easily is an age-appropriate discussion of technology for preschoolers, with the added advantage that most young children I know are fascinated by construction tools.
We read I Love Tools by Philemon Sturges. Tap, Tap, Bang, Bang by Emma Garcia would have been another good choice. We talked about the tools we use every day and why we use them. Some things, like forks and spoons, are often overlooked as “tools”, and yet they are. The focus of the discussion mostly centered on hammers, nails, and other construction-type tools since that was what the children were most familiar with and excited to talk about. I had a range of tools that I had brought with me, and we took each one out and discussed how, why, and where we would use each one.
Next, I put the tools out on a table and let everyone play with them. I had measuring tapes, hammers, golf tees to use as nails, pliers, nuts, bolts. I had originally intended to have enough styrofoam for everyone to bang nails into, but a co-worker found my stash of styrofoam two days before the scheduled program and “helpfully” threw it away. I still had a few pieces of styrofoam that we were able to use, and I broke out some of my egg cartons for nailing into. I brought golf tees rather than nails because I thought it would be easier for young children to hit the top of a golf tee rather than a nail, and because the golf tees are not sharp and thus less of a hazard both to children and furniture. One particularly enthusiastic boy still managed to pound a golf tee into my wooden table, since the golf tees were a little longer than would have been ideal.
Pulling the golf tees out with pliers was a surprisingly popular activity, as was threading the nuts onto the bolts. Everyone enjoyed the hammering. One of the boys in particular was simply overjoyed to be using real tools “like daddy”. His mother was a little surprised at the strength of his response, and said that she will definitely find some styrofoam so she can recreate the hammer and nails aspect of the program at home.