Friday, September 11, 2015

Little Engineers: Geeky Star Wars Storytime

Last summer my library tried a new type of program that incorporated STEM along with school readiness activities.  (Read about it in the "Exploring Science with 'Little Engineers'" article in the May 2015 ALSC Matters.)  This new program was very well received.  Which made us feel very good about the expensive robotics kit we purchased for it. 

This summer I wanted to give an encore of this Little Engineers program, but with a different twist.  Inspired by the geeky storytime ideas I saw over at the Green Bean Teen Queen blog, I decided to do my own geeky storytime with the Star Wars universe as the focus.  

This program is designed for children 3 to 6 years old.

It starts off with a quick storytime on the floor in the center of the room. 


Books - 
Star Wars Colors (Scholastic 2013)
Star Wars 1, 2. 3 (Scholastic 2012)

Action rhyme - In Tatooine’s Sky (adapted by Carol Hopkins)

On Tatooine in daytime light
(stretch arms out)
We can see 2 suns shine bright
(make circle with arms)
We can see the dust clouds white
(sign language for the color “white”)
Following speeders in their flight
(zoom one hand through the air)
In the sky in black of night
(stretch arms out)
We can see 3 moon’s light
(make circle with arms)
We can see the stars in sight,
Twinkling high with all their might.
(wiggle fingers)

After the short storytime, the kids were eager to get going on the many stations I had set up.  I gave everyone a check list to make sure they went to every Padawan training station.  Here is a copy of the checklist.  I called the stations “Trials” to make it sound more “Jedi” like.  The children received a pencil and a drawing ticket into our summer reading raffle for completing the check list. 


Scissor-force Trial – Cutting with scissors of course!  The children could make a Yoda ears headbands or a Princess Leia buns headband.  I also put out color pens for decorating their creations.

Design a MSE “Mouse” Droid Trial – I used Chinese take out boxes as the basic shape of the droid.  These can be found in large quantities for cheap at a restaurant supply store.  I had the children decorate the droid by gluing craft foam shapes onto the outside of the box.  I also put out color pens.  I had a couple of kids get really into this and made some boxes that looked like real droids. 

Lightsaber Practice Trial – I had to put in lightsabers somewhere!  I just took two pool noodles and cut them into 3 equal lengths.  One of my teen volunteers then decorated the “hilts” with duct tape to make them look like lightsabers. I put out some balloons for the children to hit with the sabers. 

Mini Droid Experimentation Trial – We picked up a Cubelet set last year for this Little Engineer program. Tiny mini robots fit right into our Star Wars theme.  Now I have gotten two uses for these expensive toys.

Augmented Limb Trial – The Zoob Jr. set came in the same preschool robotics kit we bought last summer that contained the Cubelets. I thought I could make them work in the Star Wars theme.  It met with variable success.  About half the kids experimented with them and about half could not figure out what to do with them. 

In the center of the room on the floor was our building zone.  I brought out three different building toys the library already owned and gave them a Star Wars twist.  Although I made a suggestion of what to build with the naming of each toy, I let the children build whatever they wanted. 

Death Star Straw Connector Trial – These Straw Connector toys are rather inexpensive and have come out in many library programs.

Lego Duplo Space Fighter Trial – We decided to use Duplos rather than everyday Legos because we were afraid children would never leave the Lego area.

Wood Blocks Moisture Evaporator Tower Trial – Children are always creative with a variety of wood blocks to play with. 

Reflections - I found that most children this age actually know very little about the Star Wars universe.  They might know some basic characters and star ships, but most have not seen any of the movies.  The parents on the other hand, they know all about Star Wars.  I think I had 5 different parents ask me if they could use the activities from this program in upcoming birthday parties for their kids.  I consider that type of request to be a compliment.  

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