STEAM-y Storytime 2: Under the Sea, Matey!

Wow! STEAM-y Storytime 2 was part fabulous, part controlled chaos. With almost 70 kids and caregivers, we managed to read, sing, experiment, and create!

A storytime friend returned to the library to read this week. I provided him with a few pirate and sea books that he brought to life between songs on his guitar. This volunteer is a great addition and I love introducing storytellers to the library families.

Under the Sea books...

Lots of rhyming in this week’s books! All were kid-pleasers.

sheep on a ship

~POUT-POUT 10x10 jkt-P1.tif


Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw and Margot Apple (Houghton Mifflin, 1989).

Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Jill McElmurry (Harper Collins, 2012).

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008).

Under the Sea activities…

I was a little worried when I looked out on the crowd before me and explained what was happening at the three activity stations we were offering. There were a lot of kids! I quickly described the stations and how caregivers could help their little ones explore. Not to worry. With the help of great caregivers, the kids dove right in discovered new ideas and tools at the multiple stations. Storytime lasted longer than the usual hour, but I was happy to let kids experiment. Here is what we did for the latter part of storytime:

Sink and Float

sink float Sink and Float is a classic preschool activity, but it was a first for storytime at our library, perhaps because of the water that ended up all around the station! Clean was pretty easy though, thanks to plastic table covers.Photo Jun 05, 4 27 48 PM

I had four tubs of water with a variety of objects and a laminated sink-float chart alongside. Caregivers were instructed to help kids predict if each object would sink or float and why. They placed the object on the chart under sink or float based on their decision. Then they tested their prediction.

The best moment at this station was watching a little one’s face when we made an aluminum foil boat that floats and placed an object that sunk on top of it…and it floated. His mind was blown!

Squiggle Fish

This station was a hit! It allowed kids to do what they do best: create and explore across media. Using fish drawn on 1/4 page white cardstock and the Squiggle Fish app on an iPad, we turned over twenty-five fish into a digital sea swimming with creatures!

squiggle fish2

The trick with this app is having kids draw and color fish on the white paper and outline the fish with a thick black pen. I had kids write their names inside the black outline so we could easily identify the fish on-screen.

Once the fish were finished, I held the iPad over the drawings and the picture of the fish, minus the white background, was digitized and animated on screen. We had everything from a family of fish to an octopus. While the finished sea of creatures isn’t shareable (maybe in an update?), I took screenshots of different views of our sea and posted one on our library’s Facebook page for families to download.

Are you looking for other apps to integrate into storytime? Check out the field-tested apps for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary age kids pinned on Little eLit’s Pinterest boards. Each pin includes technical information and suggested storytime use.

Fish in the Sea

fish craft At the last minute I added this simple craft station, fortunately. This one was most popular with younger kids and allowed almost every kid to find something that captured their interest. I found the idea on Pinterest. The minimal materials made it affordable and easy to put together.

A sheet of cardstock folded on each of the short edges and down the middle was cut horizontally (to the side folds). Small fish were cut out of 1/8 page scrap construction paper and stapled on to the slats. I had several fish already cut out as samples, but kids and caregivers cut out many more. Some paper was cut in wavy lines making the scene look even more sea-like. This craft was perfect because it was self-explanatory and the teen volunteer and I could focus on the other two stations.

images: Macmillan, Nerdy Chicks Rule


This week I decided to bring out the pirate fun. I couldn’t wait for the official Talk Like A Pirate Day to come around again. There’s just something about storybook pirates and their socially acceptable mischief.

pirate booksWe had a regular guest reader join us for stories and songs this week at the library so he read the stories while I worked with kids on the letter ‘P’ scavenger hunt and the pirate crafts. It’s amazing how many kids don’t know how to make a pirate hat out of newspaper! Twenty more do now! It’s great rainy day fun and offers adults a bit of nostalgia.

This morning, I headed out the road for my outreach program. This week’s only stop was the fire station. The group of kids and parents that regularly comes to the fire station is not as big as at the library, but that’s fine. They are all familiar faces and we are getting to know each other better in a more intimate setting. I am happy to see everyone because there are a few faces I tend to see at the library only in the summer. It can be difficult to get into town for specific events during the winter-either because of weather, kid schedules, or just because of a shift to the wintertime mental state.

During storytime on the road, it was my turn to read the pirate books.  While everyone got settled, a couple of kids and I talked about the letter ‘P’ and looked through My ‘P’ Book.  They quickly rattled off a list of other words beginning with the ‘P’ sound while the littlest ones took turns playing with my felt ‘P’. We then moved on to stories. I read the tongue twisting Sheep on a Ship, The Pirates Next Door: Starring the Jolley-Rogers, a great book about differences, and Pirate Girl. Feisty girls need role models, too.

The flannel board was a success! I was proud to create this one and the kids loved it. The older kids chimed in on the song’s refrain and the youngest storytimers bee-lined to the board and the felt pieces as soon as I added them with each verse.  After which the little ones spent the rest of storytime taking off and putting on the pirate pieces.  Win, win. I got the flannel board idea (and the song suggestion) from Sturdy for Common Things.

pirate felt board

Pirate Song (Sung to “This Old Man”) via Work of Heart
This old pirate, has a hat
Where a skull and crossbones sat.
With an Ar, Ar, Ar, and an Ay Matey!
This old pirate sailed the sea.
This old pirate had a patch
Sailed the sea without a scratch.
With an Ar, Ar, Ar and an Ay Matey!
This old pirate sailed the sea.

Additional Verses:
This old pirate has a hook, uses it to hold a book.
This old pirate has a map, keeps it handy in his lap.
This old pirate has a bird, barely knows a single word.
This old pirate has a ship, travels the world in a single trip.
This old pirate looking for treasure, more than anyone can measure!

parrotAnd on to craft time! We made our hats and pet parrots before doing the letter ‘P’ treasure hunt, well, because pirates need accessories to find treasures!  If you need a tutorial on pirate hat making, check out Instructables. There are some other curiosities there also worth your time! As for the parrot, I took a template and instead of making one designed to wear on the shoulder, I modified the drawing so the parrot could be carried with the help of a Popsicle stick. It worked well for the wide range of ages at the library storytime and at the fire station.P treasure hunt

For the ‘P” treasure hunt, I laminated letters in different kinds of paper (2 of each) and then made a treasure hunt map with one of each kind of ‘P’. The others I placed around the room so that kids could explore and identify the letter. They brought the letter back to the map and taped it next to its match. Once we had all of the letters on the map matched, it was time for the treasure! I gave out library pencils to smiling pirates and we found out those pencils make great drumsticks!

By the way, if your library has access to Mango Languages, you should check out the Pirate tutorial. What a great sense of humor they have! I often show school age kids Pirate on Mango Languages because it is a great gateway to learning other languages on the site and exploring our library’s online resources.