Back with more STEM story time activities.Â  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.

_________________________

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.

• 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.

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 shapesÂ  (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.

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

Next time:Â  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:Â  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:Â  Feed the Squirrels- Counting

Gather:

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

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

Have the children count the number of acornsÂ  indicated on the squirrel’s tail into the cup.

### STEM Activity Station 5:Â  Sorting Natural Objects

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.

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:Â  I’m bringing rocks to sort next time.

We also sorted colored pom poms by color.

Next time I will offer less sorting activities.