By Awnali Mills
For today’s Science and Stories, our theme was Ocean. The books I chose were Nugget and Fang by Tammi Sauer, I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry, and Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood.
I started with a stuffed octopus in my magic bag, and I casually mentioned that octopuses live in the desert (No! They live in the ocean!), that they make their homes in trees (No! They live in the water!) and that they have twenty-nine legs (No! They have eight legs!). That was a lot of fun, and warmed the crowd up nicely (and I had quite a crowd).
Our first book was Nugget and Fang, which is about the friendship between a minnow and a shark. The kids gave me a big sharky smile, and we went on to sing Slippery Fish. My colleague had made a flannel for the song, which starts out with a small slippery fish, and each successive critter gets bigger and covers the smaller one. This was pretty cool.
Slippery fish, slippery fish, sliding through the water, (press hands together and wiggle back and forth)
Slippery fish, slippery fish, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by an …
Octopus, octopus, squiggling in the water (wave arms like octopus tentacles)
Octopus, octopus, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …
Tuna fish, tuna fish, flashing in the water, (Press hands together and wiggle back and forth)
Tuna fish, tuna fish, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …
Great white shark, great white shark, lurking in the water, (make hands into jaws with teeth and act like they’re biting)
Great white shark, great white shark, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp!
Oh, no! It’s been eaten by a …
Humongous whale, humongous whale, spouting in the water, (open arms into a wide arc out to the sides)
Humongous whale, humongous whale,
Gulp! … Gulp! … Gulp! … BURP!
(Cover your mouth.) Excuse me!
My colleague had also made a flannel called Five Pretty Sandcastles that she got from Katie at Storytime Secrets.
Five pretty sandcastles standing on the shore, the tide came in (whoosh!) and then there were four.
Four pretty sandcastles standing by the sea, the tide came in (whoosh!) and then there were three.
Three pretty sandcastles standing by the ocean blue, the tide came in (whoosh!) and then there were two.
Two pretty sandcastles standing in the sun, the tide came in (whoosh!) and then there was one.
One pretty sandcastle just out of reach, the tide came in (whoosh!) but it stayed on the beach!
Each time the tide came in, we whooshed our arms from one side to another and gave a big Whoosh!
Then we read I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean, which is always a lot of fun, and always gets a good laugh at the end.
Then we all stood up and sang The Waves in the Ocean, sung to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus.
The waves in the ocean go up and down,
Up and down, up and down.
The waves in the ocean go up and down, all day long!
The fish in the ocean go swim, swim, swim…
The lobsters in the ocean go snap, snap, snap…
The clams in the ocean go open and shut…
The jellyfish in the ocean go wibble, wobble, wibble
The crabs in the ocean crawl back and forth…
The dolphins in the ocean go splish, splash, splish…
Our last flannel was Five Little Sea Stars by Ione Sautner:
One little sea star so bright and blue,
Along came another, then there were two.
Two little sea stars, all that I could see,
Along came another, then there were three.
Three little sea stars on the ocean floor,
Along came another, then there were four.
Four little sea stars, as sure as I’m alive,
Along came another, then there were five.
I didn’t get to my last book, since it was Science and Story day, and we kind of needed to move into our science portion of the program. So, I held up a picture of tube coral, and we talked about the kind of tubes that you find in the ocean. I also held up a picture of a giant pyrosome and talked about how all the little zooids get together and make themselves into one big creature. We also talked about different kinds of tubes that we have around us, while I demonstrated with a paper towel tube. I explained the stations, and let the kids loose.
- PVC pipes and connectors: This station was a huge success. At the end, people were still playing avidly at this station, and I had to call a halt in order to clean up. Kids had started to collaborate on their structures, experimenting together to see where marbles dropped into one end would come out, and seeing how they could change the structure to make marbles come out in different places. It was totally cool. I even had one child who stayed there the entire time.
- Straws and Bubbles: This was a last minute addition to the program, creatively thought up by my colleague. A plate of bubble solution in a large aluminum pan, and plastic straws. It is actually harder than it looks to blow bubbles with straws, since you have to blow gently.
- Pipe insulation: This was the least popular station, but it’s bendable pipes. I also provided marbles for experimenting with, and kids did so, but it didn’t have the attention-holding power of other stations.
- Toilet paper and paper towel tubes with colored electrical tape: At this station, kids were free to create whatever they wanted out of the materials, and I provided marbles in case people wanted to create marble runs. In the process of playing, kids discovered that the air conditioning unit grate that runs the length of the room made for a marvelous marble ramp. It wasn’t a tube, but I overheard parents talking about differences in grade, and why the marble would roll from one place to another while kids experimented, so that’s always a win!
- Cardboard tubes, marbles and toy cars: This station was the home for all the large cardboard tubes that I’ve been hoarding since before Christmas. Wrapping tubes, poster paper tubes, fabric tubes, mailing tubes—I stashed ‘em all. This station kept kids engaged for quite a while, and was the second most popular. I asked that kids NOT use the tubes as swords, and nobody did. There was lots of excitement at this station, and lots of experimentation going on.
Does anyone else have that little voice in the back of their head? That voice of doom that says, “Seriously? Tubes? Really, what were you thinking? You think you can just set out some tubes and that’s going to be enough? Kids and parents are going to look at you like you’ve really disappointed them this time. They can do all this at home—why would they come to the library for something this ridiculously simple?” Well, just smack that little voice, because this was a spectacular success. Parents were wide eyed with wonder, saying to me, “Who knew that just a few pipes and cardboard tubes and a few marbles could be so engaging?”
I smiled sweetly and said “Thank you.”