Science Storytime should technically be STEM Storytime, since we also cover mathematics concepts, such as in today’s program about Patterns. (Why didn’t we call it STEM Storytime? After some discussion we decided that while STEM is a well-known buzzword in the school and educational system, it’s not as widely known by the general public. Since the target audience was families with preschool children who have not yet entered the school system, we were worried that some families might not realize the intent behind the program. It’s hard to stop and read all the details when you have a small child in tow, and seeing a sign for Science Storytime is more straightforward.)
We read the book Pattern Fish and talked a little about what makes a pattern. The book is great for sharing patterns and gives the children a chance to predict what the next part of the pattern is going to be. For example, it might say yellow, black, yellow, black, yellow…(page turn) black! Participation in yelling out what the next part of the pattern was going to be increased dramatically as I read further into the book. We had a mix of younger and older preschoolers, and the older four and five year olds helped to model for the younger children.
After reading the book, I made some simple patterns using megablox, and we examined the patterns. By this time almost everyone was ready and able to tell me the next color in the pattern. Then I dumped the megablox on the floor for the children to make their own patterns. This was a lot harder, especially for the three year olds and younger four year olds. If a parent helped, they could say what the next color should be, but left to their own devices they tended to just randomly build towers and then seemed confused why it wasn’t a clear pattern. Building the towers helped them practice this new skill. When their towers were built, we shared them with the group to show off the patterns they had created.
After the block towers, we made pattern bracelets. I had pipe cleaners and beads, and the children strung the beads on the pipe cleaners in patterns. Two of the younger children just wanted to string beads without patterns, which I was happy to let them do, since learning should be a fun exploration at this age. The rest of the group very intently created patterns both simple and fairly complex (wood, blue, green, blue, wood,…. was a sophisticated pattern done by a five year old.)