By Awnali Mills
Science and Stories this week was about Weights and Scales. Much of this I pulled from Wonderworks. The books I used were You are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, Actual Size by Steve Jenks, and Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda.
We started off with a check of the weather and a stretch to get us all warmed up, and then went right into You Are (Not) Small. This book was a crowd pleaser, as the characters argue about their relative sizes. Since the book established that we were talking about size, I pulled out my magic bag with a ball in it, and a rock. The kids helped me figure out that the ball was bigger than the rock (the ball is one of those that you see in ball pits), but then they had to figure out which was heavier. One young lady came up and held them both and let everyone know that the rock was heavier, even though it was smaller. So we established that size does not necessarily equate with weight—an important concept!
Our next book, Actual Size, is one of my favorites for storytime. It’s a non-fiction book with illustrations of animals at their actual size. This book can be VERY interactive—it’s all in how you present it. Before storytime, I had measured different things around the room, and put some marks out for us. As we read through the book, I had kids come up and compare themselves to things in the book, like one young man stood up and we compared his eye to the squid’s eye, another compared his foot to an elephant’s foot. One young lady stood against the wall, and her father came and stood with her, and then I pointed out how tall an ostrich would be next to them (9 feet tall, ya’ll!). The Alaskan brown bear stands up at 13 feet tall, which is HUGE when you look at the line in the paneling of our meeting room that’s 13 feet up—almost unbelievable (that’s more than 1 story tall, just to give you perspective). One child stood at a piece of tape, while another child stood at another piece of tape to show how long a Siberian tiger is from nose to tail—14 feet! Those measurements don’t mean nearly as much until you see them in comparison to yourself. Then, they’re awe inspiring. The kids were very active and engaged in this book, and their parents were transfixed. I love when that happens!
Next, we sang This is Big, Big, Big that I got from Jbrary (who got it from Mel’s Desk.) Then we settled back down and I read Is It Big or Is It Little? After that book was done, I had everyone stay seated while I explained the exploration stations, and then I let them loose.
Station 1: Weigh Yourself
Children were asked to weigh themselves on more than one bathroom scale and see if they weighed the same or different on each scale. Why might that be? Bonus: does your adult weigh more or less than you? By how much? (FYI, parents laughed when I explained this, but I was amused to find adults who waited until no one was around who then weighed themselves on different scales—I hope it was an eye opener!)
Station 2: Make a Pound
Children were asked to use different objects to see if they could make a scale weigh exactly one pound. Several different scales were provided for this. One little boy and his mother built an elaborate castle on the scale, checking after each block was added to see if they had reached one pound. So cool!
Station 3: Which Is Heaviest? Which Is Lightest?
Children were asked to weigh different objects and then rank them from heaviest to lightest (or vice versa). This station kind of devolved into just weighing things because it was fun. Kids also discovered one of the scales was spring loaded and would fling things off of it if you held it down and released…
Station 4: Make Your Own Scale
I provided many different objects for children to use to make their own scales (wide wooden triangles with flat tops cut from 2x6s (thank you, my sweet hubby!), flat pieces of trim molding, plastic hangers with strap cutouts, yarn, Dixie cups, scissors, clothespins, etc), and objects for them to weigh. This was the station at which most people spent the majority of their time. There was a lot of creativity. Most adults provided gentle guidance and assistance, but some let kids just explore on their own. I didn’t consider that people would want to take their scales home, and I didn’t have enough materials for everyone to make-and-take. If I were to do it again, I might consider that option, because there were some unhappy people when they couldn’t take their creations home.
Each station after #1 had things children could use to weigh. Things I set out included gold painted rocks I had saved from a display (these were VERY popular), dominoes, wooden blocks, feathers, and pompoms. Just a note: rocks and glass do not get along very well. I asked people to be very careful as they weighed, and not to drop things onto the glass scales, even though it was tempered glass (and belonged to me). All of the other scales were loaned by the library staff, who were fantastic about bringing in things for me, and a balance scale was borrowed from another library.