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Linda Ernst's picture

2018 PSDG midwinter notes

Preschool Services Discussion Group – ALA Midwinter Conference

Co-conveners – Linda Ernst and Sue McCleaf Nespeca

February 11, 2018       Attendance – 8




Denver Public Library:

Saturday program that is STEM based for ages 2-5 years

  • Consist of short story time (opening song, book reflecting topic, flannel board to illustrate topics, then stations to do activities
  • Includes guided questions/prompts and information at each station to encourage adult/child interactions.
    • Sink & float – sponges, other items to test in water
    • Engineering & building – items such as red solo cups for stacking, natural items such as branches (for examples see Lakeshore Learning or Nature Blocks)

School age – have created STEM based backpacks available for checkout on topics that families can do at home.


Brooklyn Public Library:

Baby & Toddler STEM play dates

Science Baby - Science Baby is a program created by teaching artist Emma Gordon, and is part of BPL’s First Five Years initiative which is supported by generous funding from the NY City Council as part of City’s First Readers. (Gordon’s website is Science Baby)

Topics included are:

Cause and Effect

Light and shadow

Push & Pull

Baby Loves Thermodynamics – new board books are coming out with such topics that may put you off but keep in mind if the parent enjoys the topic it may encourage dialog, talking with child.

Toddlers – great item is a ziplock bag (strong as possible) reinforced on all four edges with tape (masking) fill partially with hair gel and then put beads, buttons, etc. in bag before sealing. Children enjoy moving them around when pressing on the bag.


Block Party:

Offer different varieties of blocks: Duplo, brush blocks, log blocks, wood blocks magnetic blocks, colored blocks, and let group “build” something.  Partner with a local building company might give you options for supplies &/or funding.



  • Include not only fictions titles in your programs but non-fiction as well.

Example: Give Bees a Chance by Bethany Barton – transfer small yellow pompoms on flower to honeycomb. See picture at right:                            

  • Talk about what you are doing and encourage children to tell you what they think will happen, what they see happens and if possible write it down.  For example: a scientist observes and documents/writes down what they observe.  Have children draw write down what they think will happen or what they observe/notice what happens. 
  • Sandpaper letters encourage children to touch and trace.
  • Check with local children’s museums, science museums, etc. to see if they do outreach programs.


The Snowy Day – good for water freezing program

Colors – color white icing red/blue/yellow. Child can create different color after selecting two different icing dollops to be placed on a graham cracker. Book: Mouse Paint.


FLOAM – sculpting product and very tactile. Post by stations with FLOAM on them info for parents to encourage engagement with their child.  (Thanks to Betsy Diamant-Cohen/Mother Goose on the Loose for tips) Some of the things that playing with FLOAM encourages:


  • Problem solving
  • Visual processing
  • Finger exploration
  • Creativity
  • Tactile exploration
  • Imagination
  • Pincer grasp
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Write rotation
  • Part/whole relationship
  • Range of motion
  • Reaching sorting- colors & sizes
  • Finger & hand strength and control
  • Play!


Note: FLOAM may last a year. Don’t mix colors together or it turns gray. (just expect this if you use multiple colors, hard to separate once mixed together)  Plastic table cloths work well to cover & protect  surface. Make sure kids use hand sanitizer before and after using FLOAM. This product is good for use with autistic children.



“More Than ____” series: fill blank with one of the following words: Letters, painting, magnets, counting, or singing. Very useful for ideas (Redleaf Press)

Teaching STEM in the Early Years: Activities for integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics by Sally Moonmaw.

Making & Tinkering with STEM by Cate Heroman (NAEYC book)

Robotics for Young Children by Ann Gadzikowski

New York Hall of Science - https://nysci.org/

KidsQuest Museum http://www.kidsquestmuseum.org/

Every Child Ready to Read

Early Lit: Website of Saroj Ghoting, Early childhood Literacy Consultant.


2018 ALA Annual offering:  Saturday, June 23, 10:30am

STEM for Babies & Toddlers: A powerful foundation for language & libraries.


Topic for 2918 ALA Annual: Preschool Story Time for parents who are bilingual. (possible speaker Rachel Payne)