While we call it Science Storytime to help easily market it to the target audience, the program is really a STEM Storytime. Today’s theme was focused on the T: Technology. We wanted the children to explore the tools and technology of paper crafting. The nature of the activity meant that this became a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program. The great part is that I really did hear every part of the acronym being mentioned! We talked about how paper is made (appled Science), we used tools (Technology), some of the children made 3-D art (Engineering), the craft aspect was obviously Art, and Math was covered when I heard some parents say things like “oh, you made a pattern” or “which piece of paper is bigger?”.
We were supposed to start the program by reading Trees to Paper, part of the Rookie Read About Science series. I love those books because while I think they were intended to be for beginning readers, the simple sentences and basic explanations generally make them perfect for sharing with preschoolers. Unfortunately, and embarassingly, I had brought the book home to share with my own preschooler, and forgot to bring it back to the library. So instead we just jumped right in. I talked very briefly about how paper is made, but since I could see my young audience was restless and very distracted by the array of fun materials on the table, I kept it to only a few sentences. Next, I demonstrated how to use my paper tools, such as a stapler, hole punch, tape, or scissors. Most of the children had not seen a scrapbooking hole punch before, and there were some gasps of amazement when I punched out a large star, which I hadn’t been expecting.
Finally, I brought the children over to the table, and told them they could explore the materials however they wanted. “I can do whatever I want with this paper,” one boy kept repeating, so clearly I struck a nerve there. I emphasized to the parents that since the children were exploring the tools, there was no wrong way to use them. If they wanted to do nothing but punch holes, or staple and then remove the staples immediately, that was fine.
For most the children, they were thrilled with the opportunity to use tools that may have been off-limits or never introduced. The staplers were very popular, as were the tape dispensers. I suspect that these are items many children have been told not to play with before. But I had plenty of tape and staples, so it was not “going to waste.” The hole punches were, unsurprisingly, also very popular, especially after they realized how useful the punched out shapes could be.
The range of scissors cutting was wide, from proficient to emergent to essentially nonexistant (I heard one parent ask, “Have you ever used scissors before?” in all sincerity). Everyone tried cutting to the best of their ability, and seemed to be happy with their results.