Pairing STEAM with Stories: 46 Hands-On Activities for Children

ALA Editions. 2020. 136p. pap. $49.99. ISBN 9780838947494.
This book from McChesney, a 2012 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, and museum educator Nicholas was born out of a long-term collaboration between the Chicago Public Library and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry designed to combat summer slide and develop critical thinking skills in children. The authors offer 46 book-based STEAM activities, and though some of the referenced titles are somewhat old, they are all available in print. Eight activities are designated for preschoolers, and the remaining are categorized for older children—though a specific age range would have been helpful for the uninitiated. However, safety warnings are useful (“Rain sticks are made for children three years and older because of sharp objects and swallowing hazards”). Examples include making a barometer (paired with Judi and Ronald Barrett’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and a rain gauge (paired with Linda Ashman’s Rain). For each activity, the authors list a learning objective (“learn how to measure rainfall”), the scientific term associated with the activity (the definition of meteorology), materials needed, a “Science in the Library” section that describes the scientific reasoning behind the topic, step-by-step instructions, and, occasionally, a visual. Pointers on how to incorporate STEAM into existing programs, a planning rubric, and a vendor list for less common materials (pipettes, T-pins) round out this handy volume. While the book was written with summer programs in mind, it can be used year-round and most of the projects can be done in an outdoor space. Many could also be adapted, given library closures—librarians could stream read-alouds and offer “make and take” projects for families to complete the activities on their own.
VERDICT Providing book-based, library-centric STEAM projects, this is a worthwhile purchase.

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