Shapes in the sky. Shapes on the ground.
Shapes are everywhere – look around!

Image by anarosadebatiani. CC0 – public domain.

Lately, everyone seems to be talking about STEAM. It has become a hot topic in the delivery of library Storytime. But what is STEAM and what does STEAM mean for your preschooler? Well for starters, STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Some of these subjects may seem a bit lofty for young children to grasp. However, children can develop a strong foundation for future learning by exploring STEAM skills and concepts through play, discussion, craft, stories and books.

Research has shown that reading to babies, toddlers and preschool children is one of the most beneficial things an educator or parent can do. STEAM can be incorporated into Storytime by choosing picture books that integrate science and maths skills into the story. For young children, maths deals with numbers and counting, as well as patterns, shapes and organisational skills. Picture books, rhymes and crafts about shapes, for example, can be incorporated easily into Storytime. In this way, we can help encourage the natural desire of young children to explore and discover early learning concepts and start building a foundation in STEAM.

Books About Shapes

Perfect square by Michael Hall

Perfect Square is the story of a perfectly happy red square. However, a series of unexpected events take place. Firstly, the square is cut into pieces and poked full of holes. Adjusting, the square turns itself into a fountain that babbles and giggles and claps. Then on Tuesday the square is torn into scraps. It then re-invents itself into a garden. The square continues to have more adventures of this kind and each time is able to adapt in a positive way.  It is a story of adaptability and creative vision.

I have featured this book because it is highly recommended as a STEAM resource. A square of construction paper can provide an endless stream of possibilities. Let children investigate what they can create with only a square piece of paper. The paper can be cut or torn or shredded or crumpled to make anything from butterflies and gardens to dragons and sailing boats. Encourage children to use their imaginations and let their creativity flow.

Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen introduce a new trilogy this year. The first book, Triangle, was released this month. The idea for the books developed from characters Klassen made from shapes. Triangle is a trickster and he’s sharp! He is going to play a sneaky trick on his friend, Square. He knows that his pal, Square, is afraid of snakes. What will happen when Triangle plays his sneaky trick on Square? This is a funny tale about some very sneaky shapes. There’s a lot to like about this book and children will enjoy the humour and sneaky tricks.

This story provides a great opportunity to look at the similarities and differences between squares and triangles, as well as differences in size. Children could also create their own characters made from different shapes.

Walter’s Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood

This is not only an engaging introduction to shapes for young children, but is also a story about determination and perseverance. A small, endearing spider named Walter is trying to weave a sturdy web. Each web he weaves is a different shape. But each web gets whooshed away by the wind. And then Walter gets whooshed away by the wind too! Poor Walter. What can he do? Luckily Walter refuses to give up and eventually makes a truly extraordinary web. By using Walter’s webs to demonstrate various shapes, Hopgood makes exploring shapes interesting and fun.

This book is a wonderful resource for teaching children about shapes, as well as providing an opportunity to discuss arachnids as a science topic. Children could be encouraged to participate in a nature walk and explore different shapes found in nature.

Other books I recommend for a shapes themed Storytime include Square Cat, Mouse Shapes, Shapes at Play, Dino Shapes, Bear in a Square, and Shapes, Reshape!

A Shape Song

The Shape Song Swingalong

Source: The Shape Song Swingalong written and sung by Stevesongs

Can you dance like a shape,
Then change into another?
That’s a funny move to make!
Show your sister or your brother.

Come on everybody, let’s sing it together!

We can do the line, line,
(hold arms out to the side in a straight line)
circle, circle,
(make a circle shape with your arms curved above your head)
square, square, square, square,
(make a square shape with one arm above your head and the other in front of your chest with your hand turned up)
triangle, triangle …
(make a triangle shape with your arms pointed above your head)

Repeat chorus.

Craft Idea

Discover shapes through craft.

In the same way Jon Klassen made a character from a triangle, we are going to make a character from a triangle too!

Method: Cut a triangle shape from some construction card. (I used purple). Draw some facial features onto your triangle using a black marker. Encourage children to draw the eyes, nose and mouth themselves. Let children position and draw the features in their own way. Cut four 2.5 cm strips from a different coloured card or colour-in. (I used yellow). Concertina the strips and then glue them onto your triangle shape to make the arms and legs. Cut two triangle shapes from some yellow cellophane. Glue these over the Triangle character’s eyes to make cool shades. You now have a super sharp and sneaky triangle character of your own!

Did You Know? Academic and author, Chris Ferrie, writes picture books about scientific concepts for babies. His children’s books are designed to stimulate your baby and introduce them to the world of science. Topics in the Baby University series include physics, relativity and rocket science. Ferrie believes that it’s never too early to become a quantum physicist!

And Remember Reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child. Happy reading!

Image by pixelea. CC0 – public domain.

Discover and investigate shapes on a nature walk.