[kids-lib] Low-maintenance science activity table

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Fri Jul 11 11:12:05 PDT 2014

Hi! Below is a great article from ALA’s Association for Library Services to Children about low-maintenance science activity tables for libraries. Summer is almost half over and everything may be going great so you’re looking for easy science programs to do throughout the year or things may not be working out like you planned so you’re looking for ways to improve your program quick. Here is an idea with a link to resources.

Don’t forget your CSLP summer reading manual also has lots of ideas you can use all year round, which you can check out from the State Library if it got lost in the chaos: http://osl-lis.blogspot.com/2010/12/past-cslp-summer-reading-manuals-books.html

Pinterest can be a great resources too:

·         Science program ideas for kids: http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=fizz%20boom%20read

·         Science program ideas for teens: http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=spark%20a%20reaction&rs=ac&len=7

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

[Fizz Boom Read][Girlandcloud]
Summer Reading 2014 at Oregon libraries<http://libdir.osl.state.or.us/>!
Find a summer food site<http://www.summerfoodoregon.org/>.


The Science Explorer Table<http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AlscBlog/~3/GOEUzJl60bE/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email>

Posted: 08 Jul 2014 09:01 PM PDT

A couple of years ago, we introduced a make-and-take craft table in our Children’s Room. The table sits right by our Reference Desk so that it’s easy for staff to keep an eye on it and refill supplies as needed. We found, however, that our craft table did not work so well during the summer months. To accommodate the increased traffic at our Reference Desk, we moved the table a few feet away and we found we were refilling supplies constantly, which was a big pain.

So this year, we debuted our Science Explorers Table. Instead of a craft, we’ve put out various science-related activities for children to explore while they visit the Children’s Room. It’s been a hit! The table is very frequently used and provides a learning experience as well as entertainment for kids.
[Science Explorer Table at the NAFC Library. Photo by Abby Johnson.]<http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/photo-2.jpg>

Science Explorer Table at the NAFC Library. Photo by Abby Johnson.

The table is self-directed, and signage lets parents know that materials stay on the table for the next child to use. We may include some questions or guidance as to how to use the materials, but kids also have fun picking things up and exploring on their own. We switch out the activities every couple of weeks to keep things fresh. The table also provides some space to set out leftover program handouts (all relevant since we’re doing so much science programming this summer!).

We purchased several of the Can Do! science sets from Lakeshore Learning, which are super easy since they come with everything you need. We’ve also used some of our own activity ideas like these magnet wands with pipe cleaner hair<http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2013/10/preschool-lab-magnets.html> (SO simple and popular!) and the mystery boxes<http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2014/06/preschool-lab-five-senses.html> my colleage Miss T made.

I’ve been asked by colleagues about keeping statistics and to be honest that’s a part that I hadn’t thought of and we didn’t figure out for this summer. Some possibilities for keeping stats on an activity like this might be:
§ selecting a week or a few typical days during the summer to keep a tally and extrapolating statistic
§ including some kind of take-home element or something kids can contribute to and then counting up how many were taken or how contributions were made (adding notes or pictures to a notebook, etc.)
§ Angie Manfredi<http://fatgirlreading.com/> at the Los Alamos County Library System posts challenge questions and asks kids to come to the Reference Desk to answer the questions and earn a small prize (I think they use candy, but it could be a sticker or a hand stamp)

I’ve blogged about the Science Explorers Table on my personal blog; see Fizz, Boom, Read: Self-Directed Science Activities<http://www.abbythelibrarian.com/2014/06/fizz-boom-read-self-directed-science.html> for more ideas!

Are you doing any self-directed science in your library this summer? Please share what you’re doing in the comments! We may decide to keep the Science Explorer Table year-round (in lieu of take-home crafts), so I need all the ideas I can get!

– Abby Johnson, Children’s Services Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN

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