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Back with more STEM story time activities.  This week we covered math skills.

Math isn't just numbers and counting. The Erikson Institute Early Math Collaborative has a ton of ideas about sets and sorting, matching, patterns and sequencing, graphing, etc. Many have great book suggestions to get you started and be sure to look for the home activity cards to download.

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Our main book this week was the rollicking fun classic Ten Apples Up On Top! by Theo. LeSieg and illustrated by Roy McKie.

It was well received. I made a story board with contact paper (see instructions below) and cut out foam apples to count.

The red foam circles started out on the tree and we moved them over as we read the book. The yellow ones are because the kids added extra "apples" later.

Although I put a hold on it at the library awhile ago, I didn't get my other choice, The Water Hole by Graeme Base, until after the class.

After I opened it up, I realized why the patron who had it previously didn't want to to give it up. It is gorgeous!

Given that it was initially published in Australia, I thought this reading of the story was appropriate. It is sad when the water hole disappears.

I'm considering buying a copy so I have it on hand next time.

STEM Activity Station 1. Window Shape Sorting

Original idea seen at Happy Tot Shelf.

Gather for adult to make ahead of time:

  • Clear Con-tact paper (found at hardware store)
  • Foam sheets (art/craft supply)
  • Foam shapes - best if don't have sticky back - for kids to sort
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Round shape to trace around such as layer cake pan (optional)

Make square, rectangle, triangle and circle frames out of foam sheets (I used a layer cake pan as a template for the circle.) Lay the frames on the contact paper (with backing still in place) and trace around them. Cut out the contact paper, peel the waxy backing off, and press the contact paper to the frame. Retain the waxy backing and press onto the sticky side again if you are going to transport the frames (keeps them from sticking together).

Notice the bowl of foam shapes to sort in the chair.

Comments:

The window sorting activity may have been better for younger kids. No one in my group was interested in sorting the shapes. It wasn't a complete bust, however, because after learning the technique I made the story board for the book (see above) and that was a huge hit.

Also, the clear contact paper is an awesome craft ingredient because it can cling to something and then be removed again. Will be using it again.

STEM Activity Station 2. Measuring Volume

Gather:

  • Bin
  • Filling material such as rice or beans. (I used different colored lentils) - check about allergies first.
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Geosolid shapes  (optional, but very popular)

These are geosolids (Amazon Affiliate Link).

 

No need for instructions here. Scoop up the materials, fill a shape and then transfer the filling to another shape.

Comments:

This was the most popular station by far. Saw a lot of exploring and creativity.

Next time:  Have pictures of the shapes labelled with the correct name and have the children match them. For example, have a picture of a cone and have them look for the matching cone geosolid shape. They seemed ready to learn the names.

STEM Activity Station 3:  Busy Bugs

The Environmental Education Center supplied this Busy Bug sorting and counting kit. Also comes with pattern cards.

Kids probably could have spent hours with these if they hadn't spent so much time at the measuring bin.

STEM Activity Station 4:  Feed the Squirrels- Counting

 

Gather:

  • Acorns - at least 10
  • Container for acorns (optional)
  • Squirrel counting printable
  • 4 Plastic cups
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Instructions (optional)

Adults:  print out the counting printable. Cut out the squrrels and tape each one to a cup.

Have the children count the number of acorns  indicated on the squirrel's tail into the cup.

STEM Activity Station 5:  Sorting Natural Objects

First read the comments below. Second, ask about food allergies if you decide to use nuts.

Gather:

  • Natural objects such as rocks, different kinds of pine cones, or seeds/nuts
  • Bowls or egg cartons to sort into

Because of the squirrel counting activity, I offered different kinds of nuts in shells.

Comments:

Using nuts in shells was not a good idea because the children wanted to crack them open and see what was inside. When we cracked one open, they wanted to eat the contents. It would probably have been just fine at home, but under preschool conditions it was not ideal.

Conclusion:  I'm bringing rocks to sort next time.

We also sorted colored pom poms by color.


Next time I will offer less sorting activities.

STEM Activity Station 6:  Measuring with Inchworms

(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Cut fuzzy stems (chenille) to different lengths and measure with "inchworms." (Somehow I didn't get a photograph of this station.) The children seemed to like both measuring activities.

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I also offered two types of number/counting puzzles and a sequencing activity.

This is really a quick overview. please let me know if you have any specific questions or suggestions.

 

Visit our Pinterest Board for more preschool math ideas.

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For STEM Friday we have a picture book that is much more than the usual, Book of Flight: 10 Record-Breaking Animals with Wings by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sam Brewster.

Why "more than the usual"?

At 10.5 x 12.8 inches, this book is larger than many picture books.

Inside, you will discover a challenging quiz format. The author sets up questions such as "Guess Who is the Fastest Flyer" and then gives plenty of details so the reader can figure it out. Included in the question spread is a blueprint-style illustration of the animal (like on the cover) with key features labelled. Turn the page and the answer is revealed in full color. To add a bit "more," the animal has a textured overlay on the paper that begs to be felt. Take a minute and rub your fingers over it. Then read the first person point of view story of that animal.

Although you would think that a book about flight would be about birds, the author has included insects, bats and even a fish. The last spread talks about human flight. Again, more than you expect.

Finally, the reading level is Lexile Measure: 680L, but the first book in this series (see below) got glowing reviews from the parents of preschoolers. Obviously, with a bit of help from an adult reader, these books appeal to more than the suggested age range.

Book of Flight is a perfect choice for young readers interested in animals, those in flying things, and also those trivia buffs who like facts about records. It is guaranteed to fly off the shelf!

See our related post about human versus insect anatomy.

Age Range: 5 - 8 years
Publisher: Phaidon Press (June 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0714878634
ISBN-13: 978-0714878638

Previous title in series:
Book of Bones: 10 Record-Breaking Animals by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sam Brewster

Wow, Book of Bones also exceeds expectations.

The format is similar to Book of Flight. Readers are asked which animal has the most bones, the biggest bone, etc. One difference is that instead of a blueprint, the illustration in the question spread is of animal's skeleton in white (and light gray) against a stark black background. What is even cooler is that in the full color answer spread that comes next, the texture overlaying the animal is in the shape of creature's skeleton. Basically, the reader can feel (and see) the skeleton as it would be positioned inside. Wow!

Other than that major difference, the rest of the highlights are similar in both books.

Book of Bones is a great introduction to comparative anatomy that is easy to swallow. Open up a copy today!

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publisher: Phaidon Press (September 18, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0714875120
ISBN-13: 978-0714875125

 

Disclosure: These books were provided by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Even though we're well into the new year, here are a few photo favorites from 2019. By the way, none of these photographs have been edited.

Honey bee flying with loaded pollen baskets (legs)

Butterflies love zinnias.

Dragonfly perching.

Flower fly on a brittlebush flower

Cabbage butterfly caterpillar

Queen butterfly chrysalis

 

Web on a leaf

Let's end with another honey bee.

Happy New Year!