George Crum: A Potato Chip STEM Challenge

In honor of Black History Month, I held a mini-virtual history lesson, paired with a fun STEM challenge. This was a challenge I’d seen from pictures in the past and I even tested it out a few months ago with my 4-6th grade book club.

The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum. Or so the legend tells it. Crum was a Native American/African American chef at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. When a customer complained that his fries were too thick and soggy, Crum sliced them as thin as he could, added lots of salt and fried them to a crisp! And so chips were born.

After giving the kids a mini history lesson about the potato and what we know about George Crum’s life. We discussed the various myths and then we talked about how stories can often change through the telling, like the telephone game and how history can sometimes be biased based on whose telling.

From there I introduced our challenge. The challenge: Build a ring using only Pringles potato chips. For this challenge, you need a full sized can of Pringles and a flat surface. I warned the kids NOT to eat their chips or else they might run out before they completed their ring.

We thought about three questions in getting ready to do the building:

  1. How will the base of your ring be support the top?​
  2. How will you layer your chips? Will you work off a set pattern? If so, what pattern?​
  3. What will you do if you need to reevaluate your plans?​

Then we went in to a little of the science. We talked about how as the sides of the ring get taller, gravity pushes down on the chips. This can cause them to slide down as your ring begins to curve. In order for the chips to not slide, there has to be enough frictional force on the sides of the chips so that gravity can’t push them down​.

And then the race was on!

How’d it go:
It ended up being a snow day at my house, so I had a three year old and a 6mo old “helping” me with the program but other than that it went great. We had a great turn out and some of my colleagues helped me to commentary and spotlight the kids rings as they were building.

The success of this program has me thinking up so many STEM/History possibilities. Time to get my research hat on!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Virtual Family Storytime – 2/20/2021 SCARVES

For this virtual storytime, I decided we would focus on play using our scarves. Symbolic play and dramatic play help children to develop language skills.
Here’s what I have planned:

  • Hello Friends (ASL)
    • This is a popular hello rhyme. We teach the ASL signs for hello, friends, time and say.

Hello friends, 
Hello friends, 
It’s time to say hello.  

  • ASL for Rainbow
    • Going along with teaching our ASL, I am also going to show them the sign for “Rainbow” because a lot of what we are doing today involves colors.
  • Scarf Tissue Box
    • I am going to introduce our scarves by pulling different color scarves out of a tissue box. We will identify the colors as we go.
  • Write
    • Using our scarves we will then write the letters “R” and “S” in the air.
  • Song – 1,2,3 Wee by Eric Litwin
    • I’ve never played music through Zoom before but I love to use scarves with this song, so I am going to give it a go.
  • Rhyme – Popcorn Kernel
    • This is a great rhyme to do with scarves because we thrown them in the air when the kernels pop!

Popcorn Kernels (wave scarves overhead)  
In the pot (make their scarves ‘disappear’ by bunching in your fists)  
Shake them shake them shake them (shake fists)  
Shake them shake them shake them (shake fists) 
’til they POP (Toss scarves up into the air) 

  • Book – “Katy Duck Meets the Babysitter” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, Illustrated by Henry Cole, read with permission from Simon & Schuster 
    • This a beginner reader book, but short enough for storytime and, bonus, has scarves!
  • Song – Wheels on the Bus
    • We are going to do the movements with our scarves.

The wheels on the bus go round and round, 
Round and round, round and round.  
The wheels on the bus go round and around, 
All through the town. 
(Wipers, Horn, Babies) 

  • Flannel – Rainbow Stew
    • Kids always love when you put something in a pot or bowl and out it comes as something else!

Take an apple, put it in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest red you ever did see. 
 
Take an orange, put it in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest orange you ever did see. 
 
Take a banana, put it in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest yellow you ever did see. 
 
Take some peas, put them in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest green you ever did see. 
 
Take blueberries, put them in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest blue you ever did see. 
 
Take some grapes, put them in the pot 
Stir it, stir it, stir it a lot. 
Take it out. What will it be? 
The prettiest purple you ever did see. 

  • Book – “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!” by Karen Beaumont, Illustrated by David Catrow 
    • I love singing this one and using our scarves as paintbrushes to identify the different parts of our bodies.
  • Rhyme – This is the way we wash our face
    • Another great one to do with a scarf.

This is the way we wash our face, 
Wash our face, wash our face. 
This is the way we wash our face, so early in the morning. 
(knees, arm, tummy…) 

  • Book – “Mommy’s Khimar” by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn 
    • I wanted to read a very different type of book about scarves. This introduces kids to a scarf called a Khimar.
  • Sing – Shake Your Scarves by Johnette Downing 

Scarves up, scarves down, shake your scarves all around 
Scarves up, scarves down, shake your scarves all around 
Scarves in, scarves out, shake your scarves all about 
Scarves in, scarves out, shake your scarves all about 
Right knee, left knee, shake your scarves fancy free 
Right knee, left knee, shake your scarves fancy free 
Right hand, left hand, shake your scarves with the band 
Right hand, left hand, shake your scarves with the band 
On your back, on your tummy, shake your scarves nice and funny 
On your back, on your tummy, shake your scarves nice and funny 
Scarves up, scarves down, put your scarves on the ground. 

  • Goodbye Friends (ASL) 
    • We end the same way we started but with “Goodbye” instead of “Hello.”

Goodbye friends, 
Goodbye friends, 
It’s time to say goodbye. 

How’d it go:
A super fun storytime! I did end up cutting out my last song because “My Mother’s Khimar” ended so soothingly and we were running out of time, that I didn’t want to wild up the kids again before our goodbye rhyme.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Virtual Book Discussion: The Shadow Cipher W/PigPen Cipher Challenge

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby is the first book in the York series, a juvenile fiction, historical re-imagining, series for 4-7 graders. 

 In 1855, the Morningstarr Twins, the greatest and most mysterious architects New York City has ever seen, go missing and in their place, a cryptic puzzle promising to lead to a treasure greater than can be imagined. But decades later the puzzle still hasn’t been solved.  

 In the present day, twins Theo and Tess, along with their friend Jamie are determined to solve the puzzle and save their home, one of the original Morningstarr buildings, from being torn down by rich developers.  

 Most people have given up on the puzzle and don’t even think it ever ends but Tess, Theo and Jamie believe that the puzzle is just waiting for the “right” people and time to be solved.  

 Will they solve the cipher before it is too late? 

Discussion Questions: 

1. What is this story about? What are the main themes? 
2. What is an alternative history? What are some examples of this in the book?  
3. Tess, Theo, Jamie and the rest of the residents of 354 W. 73rd Street are about to lose their home. If you were in their shoes how would this make you feel?  
4. Explain why Tess says their effort to solve the Cipher seems “adorable,” as though it were more than a coincidence. 
5. In this version of the world, people have hybrid animal pets. What type of hybrid pet would you want to have?  
6. Chapter 11 – “People like to fool themselves into thinking that they could never be fooled.” In chapter 11, Tess and her dad have a discussion about a “black box.” What is this and would you open the black box? 
7. Chapter 21 – Jamie wonders if maybe the Morningstarr creations are actually alive. What did you think of this? 
8. Does the design of a machine influence how well it is accepted? Why do people sometimes have trouble accepting scientific advances? Advances in engineering? 
9. Slant says, “the solution is not in the streets or the buildings of this city, but in us, in its people. We are the magic. We are the treasure.” By the end Tess wonders if Slant is just a little bit right by saying that “we are the treasure,” What do you think is meant by this? 
10. At the end of the book, is seems as though a battle has just begun. What war is coming?  

STEM Challenge: Decode the secret message 

STEM Supplies Needed: Pencil & Paper 

A PigPen cipher is a geometric simple substitution cipher, which exchanges letters for symbols which are fragments of a grid. For example “C” would look like an uppercase L , and “L” would look like an uppercase L with a dot in the lower left hand corner.  

First, I explained to the kids how this cipher works. Then I pinned the cipher and our first challenge, saying “using the above cipher, let’s see who can decode our secret message first.” I moved on to each cipher, making them a little longer each time.   

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson 
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” by Albert Einstein
“Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” by Lewis Carroll

 Sources: 
https://www.walden.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/YORK-THE-SHADOW-CIPHER-EDUCATORS-GUIDE-FOR-CLASSROOM-USE.pdf  

How’d it go:

Meh, this was not our favorite book or our favorite activity. But the kids got through it and are excited to here that next week we are back to our messy STEM activities!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Virtual Storytime: 1/6/2021 MoComCONline

I have a special storytime I am doing for our library system’s MoComCon event. MoComCon is a library comic convention and this year we are going virtual–MoComCONline! <Cute right?! For this storytime, I am doing all things superheroes. Here is what I have planned:

  • Say HELLO Superheroes 
    • This is an original by yours truly. I wanted a fun opening and closing, so I made one up!

Say HELLO superheroes brave and true. 
The world needs saving, the world needs you!  
Buckle your belt, fasten your cape. 
We cannot let those bad guys escape!  

Stretch out those arms, first this way, then that. 
A quick little toe touch, now arch back like a cat.  
Another stretch high and now one way down low. 
We’re ready to fight crime, let’s go go go!  

You are ready now to fly up, up and away! 
Get ready, get set? Let’s all save the day! 

  • ASL –  Smart, Fly, Brave 
    • I always incorporate some American Sign Language into my storytimes. This week, I went with superhero attributes.
  • Book – Supertruck by Stephen Savage 
    • This is a fun story about a garbage truck by day, superhero truck by night!
  • Finger Play – Superhero Turn Around 
    • A simple movement rhyme I found years ago for a superhero storytime and I can’t remember where I got it from.

Superhero, superhero turn around 
Superhero, superhero touch the ground. 
Superhero, superhero put on your suit 
Superhero, superhero put on your boots. 
Superhero, superhero jump up high
Superhero, superhero fly, fly, fly! 

  • Book – Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker 
    • This one is generally a little long, but like the lessons in it. I may cut a few pages from it as I am reading if it feels too long.
  • Folder Story – My Many Colored Capes 
    • Check out my post for more information on this one. It is such a great rhyme and super fun to do as a folder story. I also find folder stories adapt well to a virtual environment.

My cape of bravery 
Goes over my head 
It makes me feel bold 
And its color is __________ (red) 
Up, Up and AWAY! 

My cape of honesty 
Makes villains speak true 
And chases out lies 
Its color is ___________(blue) 
Up, Up and AWAY! 

My cape of fairness 
Conquers those who are mean 
It makes me feel strong 
And its color is _________ (green) 
Up, Up and AWAY! 

My cape of calmness 
Makes me feel mellow 
It quiets the world 
And its color is ____________(yellow) 
Up, Up and AWAY! 

My cape of wisdom 
Helps me to think 
And solve tricky problems 
Its color is __________(pink) 
Up, Up and AWAY! 

My favorite cape 
Gives me a nice glow 
Its all these great colors—In a RAINBOW!!! 

  • Finger Play – Five Brave Superheroes
    • A nice finger play with a counting element.  

Five brave superheroes (hold up five fingers) 
Ready to save the day. (hands on hips in ‘superhero stance’) 
One flies off to chase a villain, (“fly” one finger behind back) 
Up, up and away! (stretch arms up into the air, i.e. ‘flying pose’) 

 Count down from 4, 3, 2… 

One brave superhero 
Ready to save the day. 
She flies off to chase a villain 
Up, up and away! 
Hooray for superheroes! Hooray! (clap hands, shout hooray!) 

  • Book – Superhero Mom by Timothy Knapman 
    • Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. This one has nice big pictures and all the moms out there will enjoy it.
  • Action Rhyme – Have you ever seen a hero 
    • This can be a lap rhyme with swaying back and forth or the kids can pretend to fly. I don’t know that I’d do the additional verses. I may just do the original twice.

Have you ever seen a hero, a hero, a hero, 
Have you ever seen a hero, flying through the sky? 
Fly this way and that way, and that way and this way 
Have you ever seen a hero flying through the sky? 

Verses: Putting on their cape, hopping on one foot, saving the day, twirling around 

  • Say GOODBYE Superheroes 
    • The goodbye to my hello

Say GOODBYE superheroes, the day is through. 
You’ve worked really hard, you’ve chased every clue.  
Every dragon’s been slain, every bad guy subdued. 
The city is safe, thanks to your fortitude. 

So roll your head round and shrug your shoulders, 
You lifted, you pushed, you lugged heavy boulders.  
With a yawn and a sigh and a shake of the head, 
Even superheroes need to rest in their bed.  

Tomorrow’s a new day, there’s nothing to fear. 
Goodbye superheroes. 1…2…3… CHEER!   
 

How’d it go:

This was a really fun storytime! The kids especially liked it when I put them on spotlight, so they could show off their superhero moves. Man, do I love MoComCon season!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Virtual Family Storytime: 1/9/2021

I’m so excited to get back to doing virtual storytime after my maternity leave! My first one back, just happens to fall on Law Enforcement Appreciation day, so I thought we could do all things community helpers.

Here’s what I had planned:

  • Hello Rhyme – H.E.L.L.O 
    • For this one, we clap out each letter of the word “hello.”

Let’s clap and say hello… 
H.E. L. L. O. 
H.E. L. L. O. 
H.E. L. L. O. 
Let’s clap and say good morning. 

  • Stretch – Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes 
    • I wondered about doing this one virtually but I don’t want to get rid of all my fun movement exercises just because we are using Zoom.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, 
Knees and toes.  
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, 
Knees and toes.  
Eyes and ears and mouth and nose, 
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, 
Knees and toes. 

  • ASL – POLICE / FIREFIGHTER / DOCTOR 
  • Book – Whose Hands Are These? By Miranda Paul 
    • I love this book. It has cute rhymes and can be read as a guessing game.
  • Finger Play – This Little Helper 
    • This is an easy finger play about helpers in our neighborhood.

This helper builds our houses. (thumb) 
This helper brings our mail. (pointer) 
This helper teaches the children. (middle finger) 
And this one has groceries to sell. (ring finger) 
And this little helper, yes, it’s me (pinky finger) 
When I grow up, (Stretch arms above head) 
Which will I be? (Point to self) 

  • Prop/Felt Board – Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat 
    • For this one, I have a felt board with different helper hats. I hide the cat under one of the hats and we look for it using the rhyme below. Via Zoom, I just wait and give the kids a beat to answer but I don’t actually un-mute them.

Kitty cat, kitty cat are you under the _________ hat? 

  • Book – Police Officer on Patrol by Kersten Hamilton 
    • This is another fun book. A little long but with a neat rhyme, so I thought it would work better for a family storytime audience.
  • Prop/Rhyme – What is my job? 
    • For this one, I printed out community helper people, with their uniforms and I am going to show the people as we say the rhyme. It goes to the tune of Frere Jacques.

What is my job? 
What is my job? 
Can you guess? 
Can you guess? 
I help people get well. 
I help people get well. 
Who am I? 
Who am I? 

*Other verses: I make meals for you. I keep your pets healthy. I put out the fires. I grow food for you. I can help you stay safe. 

  • Rhyme – Early in the morning 
    • I found this one on Jbrary. It’s a little weird of a rhythm, so I would look up the video. I plan on pulling out my felt letters from Valentines Day.

Early in the morning at 8 o’clock  
You can hear the postman knock  
Up jumps Ella to open the door  
One letter, two letters, three letters, four! 

  • Book – I’m Brave by Kate McMullan 
    • BookFlix has a really cute animated version of this and I am SOO going to try to copy the voice of Brave from that video clip.
  • Rhyme – The More We Get Together 
    • Everyone knows this one and adding the ASL signs for more, together, friends and happier bring a nice movement to it.

The more we get together 
Together, together 
The more we get together 
The happier we’ll be 
‘Cause your friends are my friends 
And my friends are your friends 
The more we get together 
The happier we’ll be 

  • Goodbye Rhyme – See You Later Alligator 
    • And finally, a fun goodbye rhyme!

See you later, alligator (Wave goodbye) 
In a while, crocodile (crocodile arms) 
Give a hug, ladybug (Hug yourself) 
Blow a kiss, jellyfish (Blow a kiss) 
See you soon, big baboon (Salute) 
Out the door, dinosaur (thumb over shoulder) 
Take care, polar bear (Hands on hips)  
Wave goodbye, butterfly (Wave goodbye) 

How’d it go: This was a fun storytime and worked well virtually. I had a bit of mic trouble, so I ended up using my laptop for the video and my phone for the audio. But ultimately fun was had by all!

That’s all for now!

-M-