Guest blogger Amy Koester of The Show Me Librarian blog returns with her monthly series! This series focuses on weaving STEM principles and concepts into the arts & crafts programs youth services librarians are already doing. We just love these program ideas, and I think you will too! ~Katie
by Amy Koester
Every April, many libraries observe Money Smart Week—a week-long event to promote financial literacy for everyone. There are many possibilities for Money Smart programs for kids, but one particular STEAM option is my favorite: the art market.
Intended for school-age audiences, grades K-5; or preschool audiences, ages 3-6
The arts and crafts aspect:
The basic premise of this program is simple: kids can use available craft supplies as they please to make their own creations.
For school-age audiences, that means making a wide range of craft materials available for open-ended use. In my recent program, we had a variety of craft “starters”: think paper, cardboard picture frames, foam sheets, and even plastic banks (provided by our Money Smart event partner, a local branch of PNC Bank). We also had an assortment of leftover craft supplies like beads, brads, chenille sticks, stickers, feathers, etc. Then we provided access to craft tools: crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, and craft glue.
For preschoolers, the craft activity was to make a necklace. I pre-cut strings of elastic, and a variety of beads were available to crafters.
The STEM hack:
Add math to a simple craft program by requiring crafters to purchase their supplies. Not with real money, of course, but with fake currency. I created my own one, five, and ten dollar bills, each with children’s book characters on them.
For school-age children, I gave each child an envelope with $30–a ten, two fives, and ten ones. I also assigned prices to each of the types of craft supplies. The aforementioned starters were $2 each; craft odds and ends were 3 for $1; and tools were $5. As I handed out the envelopes filled with money, I talked a bit about budgeting. We discussed why it can be useful to plan ahead how you want to spend your money so you don’t run out, and several kids used scrap paper to make a list of craft supplies they wanted to make sure to buy. We also talked about purchasing something together with a friend; why would you and a friend both spend $5 on scissors if you can split the cost and take turns? Once everyone grasped the concepts at hand–budgeting, paying for supplies–I set up my makeshift cashier station and kids could come make their purchases to get crafting. Plenty of simple math resulted as kids added together their totals and made change.
For preschool children, I gave each child $15, all of it in one dollar bills. We focused on two simple, age-appropriate math skills: counting, as kids counted the beads they wanted for their necklaces; and one-to-one correspondence, with one dollar bill being equivalent to one bead. I quickly mentioned these concepts to caregivers as I handed out the envelopes of money, and then caregivers were able to help their children practice these skills while “purchasing” their beads. We took our time choosing beads and counting money, and the resulting necklaces were quite lovely.
That’s how I hacked the STEM potential in a craft program to correspond with Money Smart Week. All ages of kids were able to engage in art and math activities that were age appropriate, and they each got to take home a unique creation to boot. Not a bad way to promote financial literacy with young kids.
Amy Koester is the Children’s Librarian at the Corporate Parkway Branch of the St. Charles (MO) City-County Library District. She shares youth services programs and library musings as the Show Me Librarian, and she shares a STEM program every month on the ALSC Blog. She served on the 2014 Newbery Committee.Pin It