By Awnali Mills
Today was our regular Science and Stories session. The theme for storytime was Up and Down, and I chose the books Peepsqueak! by Leslie Ann Clark and Gravity by Jason Chin.
We started by singing This is Big, Big, Big and then I pulled out my magic bag. Inside was my friend tree frog who likes to jump up and jump down. He kept trying to hop out of my hands while the children guessed our storytime theme. So, he went back into the bag and we read Peepsqueak!. This book is all about a little chick who just wants to fly—and he’s absolutely determined to do so. No matter what people tell him, he tries and tries again. He goes up….and falls down. Each time, he is not deterred and continues on. The book has the refrain, “Because why? He was on the move!” So, I coached the kids ahead of time that anytime I said, “Because why?” they were to say, “He was on the move!” They did a fantastic job, and even started saying the “Because why?” with me.
We all stood up and sang The Noble Duke of York a few times, and then I did the flannel Jack and Jill. Of course, the parents all know this one, as well as many of the children, so I said it first and then we all did it again together as I pointed to the pieces (I did have the words on PowerPoint for anyone who needed them). Then, we counted the pieces as I took them off.
Then we stood and did The Elevator Song, and just bopped up and down and turned around. I did the flannel Humpty Dumpty the same way that I did Jack and Jill, and then we sang The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Yep, we were just loaded with activity this morning!
Our final book was Gravity by Jason Chin. I really love this book, and it was the perfect segue into our exploration of gravity. Once the book was finished, I pulled out a stool and climbed up on it with a pail of things. I talked about gravity and then we tested a bunch of objects to see if they would fall or float. Would you believe that every darn one fell? Yep. Every one. The kids loved this, yelling “Drop it!” to me.
Once we had dropped all of our objects, I explained that we were in cramped quarters (we had been unable to book the meeting room, and our outdoor game plan was a rainout, so we had to split our activities between two spaces), so would have to be extra polite to one another, then I explained the stations. While I pulled people into the Children’s Room, two coworkers who had set up out there during storytime went behind us and set up in the Storytime Room. In the Children’s Room were three stations:
Slinkies: The assignment here was to see if the kids could get gravity to drop the slinkies down a slope of hard cushions. Two parents asked where I had gotten the slinkies so that they could purchase them because they worked well and fit nicely in the children’s hands. I got them two for a dollar at Dollar Tree.
Large Tube Gravity: the kids were to put toy cars into large tubes and use gravity to see how fast and how slow they could get the cars to move through the tubes. This was a VERY popular station.
Rubber Band Gravity: Here there were wooden yardsticks with thick rubber bands on them supported between chairs. The kids were to take different sizes of shoes with hooks attached (made from large paperclips) and hang them on the rubber bands. The goal was to see which shoes pulled the rubber bands the lowest. Those were the shoes that had the most mass. Weight=Mass x Gravity. (Our big fear here was that a rubber band would snap, but I used brand new thick rubber bands. The trick is to get them thick enough not to break, and thin enough to actually stretch when attached to shoes.) I wiped down all the shoes we used (from baby shoes to adult male) and provided baby wipes for germ-conscious folks.
In the Storytime Room there was one more station:
Gravity Painting: We rolled out plastic and set out trays with diluted tempera paint and pipettes. Each child was handed a tray with a large piece of paper, and offered an apron. Grownups held the paper vertically over the trays while children used pipettes to suck up paint and drip it on the top of the paper. Gravity, of course, then takes the drop down the paper. Because we used blue, red and yellow, there was nice color mixing going on as well. As the paper is rotated, the drops roll in different directions. We covered some tables with newspaper and let the paintings dry on them. We also provided newspaper as an absorbent support for taking the paintings home. Paint-y trays were put directly into our sink. I wiped up off-tray drips as quickly as I could to prevent tracking.
Altogether, this was a fantastic science time. Parents and kids seemed very pleased, and I heard lots of discussion about gravity going on in my painting section (I’m told there was more, but I didn’t hear it myself). Two slinkies gave up their lives for the program: they, unfortunately, do not make good articles of clothing. The program couldn’t have happened without the support of my colleagues Tracey, who demonstrated slinkies and manned the shoes, and Roman, who kept the toy cars rolling. They’re the ones who set everything up outside (and inside) the Storytime Room while I was doing storytime, and kept the set-up safe from marauding young’uns until it was time to start.