Category Archives: Storytime Ideas

“A Bear’s Year” by Kathy Duval

This is a read aloud/craft program for ages 3 to 5 courtesy of Kirsten Cappy from Curious City DPW.  You can download the read aloud kit here: Bears_Years_Read_Aloud-Kit.pdf.

The kit comes with everything you need to run this program including printables and step-by-step instructions.  There are two options for the printable bear, already colored or black & white.  The set-up needed is that of a typical storytime with craft.  The program ran approximately 40 minutes but can be adjusted for less time if necessary.

What’s great about this program is you can add science and vocabulary elements by discussing the words in the book and the activities bear does in different seasons.

This program was presented by Rosemarie Birofka from Syosset Public Library as a part of the workshop Book Themed Programs: From Baby Time to Harry Potter..  For more information please contact Rosemarie through email:


STEAM Programming: AMESS

At the Peninsula Public Library, we encourage children to make a mess! Our young patrons in 1st-6th grades enjoyed an interactive — hands on/imagination on — three-session program involving art and mathematics, engineering, and science through non-fiction stories. The program is called AMESS: Art and the Marvelous Exploration of Science through Stories. Each one-hour session begins with the reading of a non-fiction book or online book on a topic. Here’s an example of a three-week program.

Week 1: Snowflake Exploration

SnowflakeExWe used a smartboard to show the online Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. After the reading, we talked about snow crystals and how they form. We mixed Epsom salts and water (1 part salts to 2 parts hot water in a cup) to make “ice-crystal paint.” The kids used this paint to make designs on black construction paper. As the paint dries, the crystals form. The kids viewed crystals in the book for ideas on how to create their own. We also looked up paper snowflakes and made them as well.

Week 2: Marshmallow Challenge

MarshmallowThis fun design/build exercise teaches some simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation, hidden assumptions, and creativity that are central to the engineering process.

Children listened to the book Building by Elisha Cooper; other construction/design books were on display. Children were given white paper and pencils to design their own tall buildings. After sharing their designs, the children were separated into groups of 4 to 6 to plan their building strategies. The instructions and rules for the Marshmallow Challenge were given out.

Week 3: Oobleck Experiment

We read Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss, then made oobleck! The recipe follows:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5-2 cups corn starch
  • a few drops of food coloring

Mix together in a bowl. Point out how it is first a liquid, then hardens when pressure is applied.

–Ilene Madden, Peninsula Public Library



Webinar Replay: Using Children’s Literature to Teach Math

MathBookMarilyn Burns, a mathematics educator and the founder of Math Solutions, leads a webinar on mixing story times with math. In this webinar, she shares how she uses books to introduce math topics, stimulate problem solving, and develop students’ reasoning and thinking skills. Scholastic will let you watch a reply of this webinar at any time.

Webinar Replay

STEM Story Time: Read, Explore, Create

RobotStemThe Freeport Memorial Library’s Read, Explore, Create is an informational story time during which a non-fiction story or two are read to the children, then a related hands-on activity or experiment is performed by the students. The library runs sessions for first and second graders and for third and fourth graders. The Powerpoint presentation included here shows highlights from recent programs.

Read, Explore, Create

–Jessica Jansen, Freeport Memorial Library

Meow! Cats STEM Story Time

Here’s an outline for a STEM-oriented story time based on a favorite pet — CATS!

STEM: Discussion-Science-Animal Species

  • Does anyone have a cat as a pet?
  • What sound does a cat make?
  • Is a lion a cat? (Show cover of a book on lions or tigers.)
  • Can you name some big cats? (Mention lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards.)
  • Using an iPad play sounds of cats — big and small


  • Mr. King’s Castle by Genevieve CoteMrKingsCastle
  • Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • Matilda and Hans by Yokococo
  • Have You Seen My Cat by Eric Carle
  • Assorted non-fiction books on big cats
  • Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
  • Little Beauty by Anthony Browne
  • What will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas

Flannel Story: Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

STEAM: Arts-Music
Action Song: Paws, Whiskers, Ears and Tails (sung to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes)

Paws (curl hands in front)
Whiskers (make whiskers on sides of face — this is also the American Sign Language sign for “cat”)
Ears (touch ears) and Tails (touch tail)
Ears and Tails

We’ll lick our fur (pretend to lick)
And nap right here (pretend to nap)
Paws, whiskers, ears and tails, ears and tails (repeat actions as before)

STEM: Engineering
Build a Block Castle!

As a group, build a giant castle, referencing the book Mr. King’s Castle using cardboard bricks or other empty boxes.

STEM: Math
Fingerplay: “Five Little Kittens”

Five little kittens, standing in a row (hold up 5 fingers)
They nod their heads to the children so (“nod” fingers)
They run to the left, they run to the right (move hand left and right)
They stand up and stretch in the bright sunlight (lift hand up)
Along comes a dog, who’s looking for some fun (move other fist toward cat fingers)
MEOW! see those five kittens run! (hide hand behind back)


Fingerplay: “Little Kittens”

Five little kittens (hand in fist), all back and white
Sleeping very soundly, all through the night.
Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow (raise each finger individually)
It’s time to get up now!

STEAM: Arts-CraftCisforCat
Create a letter C “cat”

–Michele Rudzewick, North Bellmore Public Library


Peninsula Public Library Explorers

Fully funded by a grant awarded by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, the Peninsula Public Library Explorers program for students in grades 3–6 brought STEAM to the library. The Explorers learned about simple machines and built catapults, and explored community building, science experiments, technology, and artistic expression. Here’s a round-up of each session:

Session 1: Catapult Into Success
Explorers learned about catapults, then built their own using popsicle sticks, rubber bands and spoons. Then they competed to determine which device could launch the marshmallows furthest. They also talked about the factors affecting each launch.

Session 2: Design Your Space
Using shoe boxes, poster board, and other basic craft materials, the Explorers built their own community. They had to figure out what basic services the community would need, how the area should be laid out, and how things could be done differently.Keats

Session 3: Glow in the Dark Lava Lamp Sensory Bags
Explorers learned about chemical reactions and what unexpected things could happen when ordinary substances combine. What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar? How do oil and water react when mixed? How does glow in the dark pain change what we see?

Session 4: Light It Up
The Explorers learned about light and basic electricity and how to make their own light using a few everyday objects.

Session 5: Expand Your Tastes
How do we decide what things taste like? With our mouths only? Explorers did some taste tests to help solve these mysteries, then celebrated with some homemade ice cream.

Session 6: See Your Self Differently
Starting with their own photos, Explorers used different mediums to make a work of art. Inspired by the unique artistry of Ezra Jack Keats, the Explorers changed the way they look at themselves.

–Irene Madden, Peninsula Public Library

Marshmallow Challenge: A STEM-Based Activity

For this program, small groups of children are given bags or large envelopes of materials. They have exactly 18 minutes to build the tallest structure they can using ONLY those materials. The structure must support the weight of the marshmallow when measured. The group with the tallest structure wins. Groups have a chance to repeat the challenge again within 13 minutes using a fresh bag of the same materials. They may manipulate any of the materials except for the marshmallow.

spaghettiMaterials needed:

  • 2 large bags or envelopes for each group of children (pairs or up to 5 kids per group) containing 20 sticks of spaghetti, 1 yard of string/yarn, and 1 marshmallow
  • 1 yard of masking tape per group
  • instructions/rules for each group
  • tape measure for instructor
  • timer
  • scissors for each group


The goal is to build the tallest, freestanding structure, with the marshmallow on top, using only the materials in the bag! The winning team is the one with the tallest structure from the table top (or floor) to the top of the marshmallow.

  • The entire marshmallow must be on top.
  • You don’t have to use everything in the kit.
  • You can cut or break any of the materials — except for the marshmallow.
  • You cannot use the bag or pieces of it.
  • When time is up, you must stop.
  • The structure must stand up by itself. It cannot lean against anything or hang from anything. No one in your group can hold it up.


Children will learn from their mistakes — as well as observe what others do. They’ll also learn the importance of working within a deadline. STEM skills stressed including simple physics, measuring, design process, and scientific inquiry.

Ages: Recommended for grades 3rd-5th, but can be used for any age groups.


–adapted by Mary Shannon Heuman,
Manhasset Public Library