Monday, June 30, 2014

Simply STE(A)M Storytime: Color Science

Yesterday was my very first STE(A)M storytime for ages 3 to 6. I've wanted to do a program like this ever since I found out about Amy Koester's STEAM initiatives on her blog. Since this year's SRP theme is all about science, I thought it would be a great time to try this program out.

For this session, I focused on color science. The first half of the program consisted of a storytime and the second half was all about the hands-on activity stations for the kids and caregivers to experience together.


Opening: "Open Shut Them"

Fiction Picture Book: Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh - This fairly short picture book is all about three white mice who step in some red, yellow, and blue paint and end up mixing colors together to discover others. This was a nice introduction to the concept of primary and secondary colors.

Song/Rhyme: "Red Circle, Red Circle, What Do You See?"

This one follows the cadence of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. I just point to each shape and have the kids chant along with me.

Non-Fiction Book: Ruby, Violet, Lime: Looking for Color by Jane Brocket. - This was a great picture book that teaches kids all about the different colors. The author uses different words for colors like turquoise for blue and even covers concepts such as shade in a very manageable way.

Song/Rhyme: "Color Game" from the CD Jim Gill Sings Do, Re, Jim Gill. - I passed out scarves and we followed along to the lyrics. Very fun!

Hands-On Activities:

Then it was time for the hands-on part of the program. I had three different activities for the kids and caregivers to experience together. For each station, I had a sign with short directions on how to do each activity along with some questions/talking points for the adults to ask the kids as they were completing each one.

The first two activities I found in the awesome book, Science is Simple by Peggy Ashbrook. The author lays
out each section by theme: colors, bubbles, butterflies, etc. Her experiments are simple to do and follow and she includes discussion points for each one. I highly recommend this resource if you want to do a similar program!

Station #1: Color Mixing

You Will Need:

  • Acetate or plastic sheets in red, yellow and blue. (Note: I had a difficult time finding sheets that would make the secondary colors well when combined. I tried cellophane, but that didn't work for me. I ended up purchasing a couple of different lighting gels from Amazon. These were the ones that worked for me. I purchased 2 sets and ended up cutting each sheet into 4 squares.)
  • White paper or a white table cover to use as a background.
  • Color Mixing Worksheet - You can use mine or create one of your own.
  • Crayons
The idea with this station was to let kids combine the different color gels to see what other colors they could make and introduce them to the concepts of primary and secondary colors. Then they would record their observations on the Color Mixing Worksheet.

Station #2: Separating Colors

You Will Need:
  • Coffee filters
  • Black markers
  • Water
  • Clear cups
For this activity, I asked the kids to make some black lines on a coffee filter and then dip one end into the cup of water, but making sure that the water was not touching the marker lines. The idea was that as the water traveled up the coffee filter and reached the black marker, it would then separate the colors found in black (blue, green, red, etc...). I wanted to teach them the concept that black contains all colors and can be separated. I'll be honest, I don't know if it was the brand of marker I used or what, but this experiment didn't work as well as I hoped. Maybe someone else will have better luck with it! I think what I might do the next time is have the kids make black dots on paper towels and ask them to drop a little water on the dots and watch the color spread.

Station #3: Color Reactions

I got this idea from Amy's Color Science blog post. It was by far the most popular station!

You Will Need:
  • Baking soda
  • Plastic plates with rims (to prevent spill-overs)
  • Eye droppers
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring
Ahead of time, I poured a small amount of baking soda onto each plate. Then, I dyed the bottles of vinegar red, blue, and yellow. I had the kids drop a small amount of each color onto the plate to see what would happen. This experiment is neat because adults can discuss not only color mixing with the colored vinegar, but also the reaction with the baking soda and vinegar.

I set up a couple of tables with both fiction and non-fiction color books and encouraged participants to check them out. I also made up a take-home sheet with some science/color definitions and more color experiment ideas (found here) and a "What Is STEAM?" handout that Amy Koester created and so generously let me use.

For more STEAM program ideas, check out these links:

Preschool STEM Prezi from Jen Thomas
Simply STEM Wiki
School Library Journal's STEAM Pinterest Board
The Show Me Librarian - All Things STEAM

Did I miss any ideas/resources/etc.? Leave them in the comments!


  1. Hi there! We are planning our own STEAM program and I love what you have pulled together here. I noticed in one picture that you made signage for each station that included instructions and ideas for things to talk about. That is so awesome! Is it possible to post (or send me) one as I definitely want to include that aspect (especially the questions) in our plans.

  2. Hi Shannon. Sure, I can send them to you! Can you reply or email me your email address?