Science from the Start event series in Carnforth Library, July-August 2014
Science from the Start provides science-based play learning activities for pre-school aged children (and primary school age children where appropriate) and their parents/carers, and information and support for adults to facilitate their children's science-based learning and build their confidence in doing so.
To provide, along with singing and storytelling, themed science activities each week for children of pre-school and primary school age, along with the accompanying adults. Activities were accompanied by accessible scientific background information.
Summary of activity:
Each week was themed, in order “Colour”, “Space”, “Seasons”, “The Beach” and “Weather”. In each session storytelling and singing was alternated with science-based play activities, accompanied by background information. Each event included at least one activity that was suitable for, or produced an item suitable for use with, children aged from birth up and were adaptable for older children. For example, during the “Space” session, space and rocket themed books were read to the children, songs such as “Twinkle twinkle, little star” were sung (and signed to), and activities included space/alien themed sensory bags and bottle rockets. This was very much a collaboration between the library and Science from the Start, rather than just a series of events held in the library, and worked very well.
Verbal feedback was gathered at the end of each session to inform the planning and implementation of the next. At the end of the event series, adults and children were asked to choose their favourite activities, with the top three to featured on the Science from the Start Facebook page and repeated at the library later in the year.
What went well:
1. The events were well attended; this was in part due to the efforts and existing fantastic relationship with local customers of the Library Manager, but some families had never been to the library before.
2. Adults and children really enjoyed the activities and got very involved in them.
3. Children of a broad range of ages attended, from babies to 8 and 9 year olds.
What was learned:
1. For the first session, five or six science activities were planned - in the end only three were possible and fewer activities were planned as a result.
2. It was sometimes necessary to stagger participation in activities due to the number of children attending.
3. Stories and singing work really well in alternation with science activities.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Allow extra time for each activity, as they may take longer than expected if the children get really involved in them.
2. Be flexible (and plan to be!) about the structure of the event and activities undertaken wherever possible.
3. Allow for at least two adults to actively run (not just assist with) each session.