Because planning a program doesn't just take 5 minutes

Roads & Bridges (STEAM Storytime)

Our STEAM Storytimes are limited to 18 children.  Often we do ages 3 to 5, but this time we went with 3-6 to make sure we had programming this week for the kindergarteners.  All attendees are required to have an adult with them, and programs are 45 minutes (our usual storytimes are 30).

I basically took the theme and all of the activities from WonderWorks: Mazes, Trails, Pathways, and Roads, although I ended up using mostly the Variations.

Opening Song: “I Am Here & You Are Here” by Peter & Ellen Allard (on Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It! Vol. 3)

Story: Wherever You Go by Pat Zietlow Miller.  I was amazed to actually find a book that was about roads.  Not vehicles, not construction, but just roads and how you can go different places on them.  I thought it was lovely, but it was probably too quiet for this kind of event.  If I had it to do over, I might swap it out for Roadwork by Sally Sutton instead.

Song: Take You for a Ride in My Car.”  I played this on the guitar and let the kids choose the vehicle, the destination, and the activity.  We got some very strange combinations.  A few of the kids gave the majority of the responses, and they were very into South America.  (Take you for a ride on my bike… Let’s all go to Venezuela… and drink water!)

The story and song took about 10 minutes, and then I introduced the activities.  Most families stayed for the full program time – about 40 to 45 minutes – or longer.  The last family to leave had stayed almost 90 minutes.
lego-marble-3Activity #1 (table):
 Put out Lego base plates and pieces for kids to build a marble maze.  (Idea from WonderWorks: Mazes, Trails, Pathways, and Roads )  There were a few kids who never left this station.  I put out a base plate and a small plastic container of Legos at each seat, along with a few marbles.  We have scads of Legos for our monthly Lego Club program, and I dug through the bins to stick to the basic rectangular pieces here – no wheels, curves, odd bits of pirate ships, etc.  Some of the kids worked with the marble run concept and some just built, but they all had fun.

sensory-marble-mazeActivity #2 (table):  Squishy marble mazes (idea from Therapy Fun Zone.)  This was probably the least popular table overall.  Although in this picture, all 6 marble runs were occupied, so maybe it’s just that they didn’t spend a long time at this station.  We had just made a bunch of sensory bags for Fun with Science, so I had a pretty good idea of what works well.  To make the mazes, I doubled duct tape over a craft stick and slid it into the Ziploc bags, working from the bottom up.  The mazes ranged in difficulty.  Two were gel (aloe and/or hair gel), one was dish soap, one was silver glitter paint, one was conditioner, and one was glycerin.  For most of the bags, I also added liquid water color and glitter, although once I put them on top of our gold glitter tablecloths, I probably could have skipped that step.  The glycerin and the dish soap worked the best for sliding the marble through.  The conditioner and the paint were a little bit too opaque to really see the marble, which made it hard.  It was interesting to watch the younger kids try to do this; it took some experimenting to see how to press on the marble to make it move the way they wanted it to.

magnetic-carActivity #3 (table):  Drive a vehicle on a cardboard road using magnets and paper clips.  (Idea from Almost Unschoolers.)  I had three vehicle types – car, bus, and plane.  Kids made a range of roads, from general scribbles to specific paths.  One little girl drew her house and chose a school bus to take her to a building with lots of kids.  I thought it might be school, but she said it was a friend’s house.  I told the kids they could take home their roads and vehicles but not the wand magnets.  Many of them left their creations here, which makes me wish I had gone with my first instinct and had them make their own magnet wands with round magnets and craft sticks.

train-tracksActivity #4 (floor):  Bring in Thomas trains and tracks from home for the kids to play with.  This was, predictably, a big hit.  I think my kids have finally agreed to leave their trains at the library permanently, so these may make a showing in our play area again.  There were a few families that stayed and played trains while I was cleaning up the rest of the room.

streamer-obstaclesActivity #5 (floor): Use chairs and streamers to make an obstacle course for the kids to drive their bodies through.  (Idea from Teach Preschool.)  This was really fun.  We tried to make some streamers high, to go under, and some low, to go over.  A few of the kids decided to try runs in which they only went over or only went under, which led to some interesting scooting and a few broken streamers.  One of the unexpected benefits of this station was the mending of the broken streamers, which the kids really enjoyed.  I always forget how much fun kids can have with just tearing and taping.  A few families said they were going to make these at home.

“Take You for a Ride in My Car”

Take you for a ride in my car, car.
Take you for a ride in my car, car.
Take you for a ride,
Take you for a ride,
Take you for a ride in my car, car.

Let’s all go to the library.
Let’s all go to the library.
We’re gonna read lots of books.
Let’s all go to the library.

Repeat, changing vehicle, location, and activity.

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