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School-age: For children 5-12 years old

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Dial A Story / Telecuentos

For over 20 years the children of San Antonio have been calling in to Dial-A-Story to hear a children's story.  The children's librarians record new stories every Monday and Thursday, one in English and one in Spanish. 

Just call 210.207.4466 to listen!

STEAM at Home

Robots and Circuits

Make Your Own Doodle Bot

Supplies Needed:

  • Paper cup
  • Tape
  • Motor (small DC hobby motors can be found in old toys)
  • Battery pack (usually found in old toys)
  • Batteries that are compatible with your battery pack
  • Markers

Step 1: Tape three markers evenly around the cup, while also keeping cup face down.

Step 2: Next, take the small motor and connect the black and red wires of the battery pack to the small eye loops on the motor.  The metal portion of the wires should touch the motor loops to ensure connectivity.  Twist the wires to make sure they stay in place.  (Tip: Should you need to expose more of your wire, gently cut back the red or black coverings with care as to not cut fully through your wires.)  Either wire can connect to either side of the motor.  Do not add the battery to the battery pack yet.

Step 3: Tape the battery pack to the side or top of the cup.

Step 4: Create a propeller on your motor that will spin when the motor turns on to help give your bot movement.  Something quick you can do is tape two pieces of tape together and add a penny for weight.  Then securely tape your new propeller to the small stem of your motor.  Tape your motor to your cup, making sure that the propeller won't hit the cup as it spins.

Step 5: Place your bot into paper with the markers open and add the battery.  It should begin to move and create a doodle.

Recycled Robot Craft

Gather as many different recycled materials as you can find - cans, cereal boxes, bottles.  Build a robot out of the materials you find.  As you build, think about your robot's story.  Where does it get fuel from?  What can it do?  Does it have any powers?  What sort of adventures does it go on?  Write down your robot's story or tell it to a friend or family member.

Hula Hoop Circuit

Electricity travels through a circuit - a circular path that begins and ends at the same place.  The circle must be complete with no breaks for electricity to flow and give things power.  To play this game, you need a hula hoop (to act as the electricity) and at least one other person to help you be the circuit.  One person in the group will put the hula hoop on their arm before everyone playing holds hands to make a loop.  You need to pass the hula hoop (the electricity) from person to person around the circle.  Make sure not to let go of each other's hands and break the circuit!  If the circuit breaks, the electricity has to start back at the beginning.


Gravity is always at work around us, keeping us firmly on the ground and making objects fall towards the Earth's surface.  A scientist named Galileo helped prove that gravity affects everyone and everything at the same rate.  Miss Valerie shows you how you can recreate Galileo's experiment in the video below:


If Galileo's experiment proved that gravity makes everything fall at the same rate, then why do feathers still take longer to flutter to the ground than a hammer?  It's because of air resistance!  Air resistance is a force that works against a moving object, and some objects are slowed down more by air resistance.  If we were able to drop a feather in a place without air resistance (like space), then it would fall just as quickly as the hammer.  Astronauts tried this exact experiment on the moon when they dropped a feather and a hammer at the same time.  Take a look at NASA's video and see what their results were:


Painting with Gravity

You can use gravity as a tool when you paint!  Here are three techniques you can try when you paint with gravity.

  • Splat Painting: Dip a sponge, pompom, or other object in the paint and drop it onto a piece of paper.  Drop painted objects from different heights to see how the splatters are affected.  Does the size or texture of your object that you drop affect the painting?
  • Drip Painting: Mix paint and water together to make it thin and runny.  Lean a piece of paper at an angle, and use a pipette or a spoon to drip your paint mixture on to the paper.  Gravity will make the paint run down the paper.  What happens if you change the angle of the paper so that it sits up taller?  Or lower?  What if you turn the paper sideways while the paint is running down the paper?
  • Roller Painting: Find a container with tall walls, like a roasting pan or a shoebox, and put a piece of paper flat in the container. (Optional: Tape the edges of the paper down.)  Put a few spots of paint on the paper, and find a few balls or marbles to drop in.  Tilt your container so that the marbles and balls roll through the paint and color your paper.  How does the number or the size of your marbles affect the painting?

Egg Drop

Can you build a protective case for an egg?  Use items from around the house like cereal boxes, cotton balls, toothpicks, and tape to find a way to keep the egg from breaking when it lands.  Make sure you drop the egg outside!


Ocean Activities

Summer is hot, and taking a dip in the ocean can be a great way to cool down.  Whether you'll be taking a trip to the beach or learning about the sea in your own backyard, try some of these activities below:


Sink or Float?

Fill a tub with water and gather some objects from around the house.  One at a time, guess if each item will sink or float in water and then place it in the water to see what happens!


Salt water has a different density than fresh water.  Check out Ms. Valerie's sink or float experiment with salt water and see how it affects the ability for objects to sink or float!


Watercolor Resist Art:

Use crayons to draw an ocean scene.  Paint over your scene with watercolors.  The wax from the crayons blocks the paint from absorbing into that part of the paper.


Some Further Reading:

Sun Prints

Sun prints are a fun project for a sunny day.  It takes a few hours to see the finished product, but the wait is worth it!


What you need:

  • colorful paper
  • an area that will get lots of sun
  • fun objects to decorate your paper (like rocks, leaves, coins, or paper cutouts)


How does it work?

The UV light from the sun is able to break down chemical bonds and bleach colors.  When you lay out a colorful piece of paper in the sun, the UV light will weaken the bonds and the paper will turn a lighter color.  Any area that you cover with rocks and other objects you have will be protected from the sun's rays and stay brightly colored.  The longer you leave your design in the sun, the more of a color difference you will see.


Jumping Bunnies

You may have seen bunnies hopping around outside this spring, but now you can see one hopping inside your house.  Watch as Miss Teague shows you how to make jumping bunnies out of paper cups!  


Step 1:  Gather your supplies:  scissors, glue, two rubber bands, two paper cups, a permanent marker, paper and google eyes.


Step 2: Set one cup aside and decorate the other however you wish!  You don't even have to make a bunny if you would rather make a puppy, frog, or person.



Step 3: Cut four tiny slits on opposite sides of the cup about 1/8 inch high.


Step 4: Tie knots at the end of each rubber band.


Step 5: Slip the rubber band into the slits.  The knot will help keep in in place.


Step 6: Press down and let go!  Watch your bunny jump high!


Related Books

Self Watering Seed Starter

With Miss Jackie


This project will require adult supervision and assistance

For this activity you will need the following supplies:

  • Recycled 2-liter bottle
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Cotton Cord
  • Nail and Hammer or Screwdriver
  • Box cutter or scissors

Step 1:

Unscrew bottle cap and create hole through bottle cap with either a screwdriver and hammer, or a nail and hammer. Do this step outside, and preferably on the ground.  I would advise that you have an adult, or a parental guardian complete this step.


Step 2:

Cut your 2-liter bottle at least 5” from the bottom all the way around so you get two parts. You will need a box cutter for this or scissors. I would advise that you have an adult, or a parental guardian complete this step.


Step 3:

Take your bottle cap and feed your cotton twine through the hole you have created. Tie a knot on the cotton cord on the inside of the bottle cap, so it stops from pulling all the way through. Keep a good amount of cotton cord length on other side.

Step 4:

Screw bottle cap back on. Your cap should have cotton cord coming out of the top if you did correctly.


Step 5:

Place top portion of 2-liter bottle upside down and in bottom portion of your 2-litter bottle.

Step 6:

Add soil. It should be close to the top once filled.


Step 7:

Plant seeds by gently burying them within the first layer of soil.


Step 8:

Pour water directly onto soil. Just enough to get it good and moist.


Your self-sustaining planter is complete. The water, once it falls to the bottom, should recycle itself to help your seeds grow. Once your plant has grown, you may then transfer to a regular pot.


Tip: Other recycled bottles can work too! Clear bottles are best, however.

Alternative option: Create your own Terrarium


  • Recycled 2-liter bottle
  • Box Cutter or Scissors
  • Clear Packing Tape
  • Soil
  • Plants from outside or Seeds

Step 1: Cut 2-liter bottle in half. I would advise that you have an adult, or a parental guardian complete this step.


Step 2: Add soil in the bottom half of your 2-liter bottle.


Step 3: Add seeds, or find small plants already growing outside and plant.


Step 4: Add top of 2-liter bottle back on and use clear packing tap to seal to halves back together.


Step 5: Add a mist of water from top through bottle cap.


Let sit by a window or shaded patio and watch your terrarium flourish.

More resources on gardening:

Marble Mazes

Visit your local branch in April to pick up a Marble Maze craft kit, and check out

the video below to see how Miss Cari put together her maze!


More to try:

What Can You Do With a Penny?

Watch Miss Teague show you some fun things you can do with pennies!  Then read about the science behind the experiments in the links below.

Take a deep dive into the science!

Check out this article from Scientific America to learn more about oxidation and pennies!

"When oxygen binds with copper, they form a new molecule known as copper oxide. Copper oxide is brownish or sometimes black in color (depending on other things in the penny's environment). This is why most pennies you see look dirty or tarnished—it’s not actually dirt but copper oxide that makes them look so dull."

Steve Spangler describes how water droplets on a penny help demonstrate surface tension!

"The cohesion and surface tension of water becomes apparent when the drops of water you add to the penny reach the penny’s edge. Once the water has reached the edge, you begin to see a bubble or dome of water forming on top of the penny. The bubble shape is a result of the water molecules clinging to one another in an optimal shape (just like the bonds on the surface of a blown bubble)."

PBS explains paper bridges!

"Changing the shape of a material can change the way it resists forces. Although a piece of paper seems flexible and weak, it can be folded, rolled, twisted, or otherwise altered to support quite a bit of weight."

Related Books

Dissolving Candy Hearts

An Experiment with Solubility 

Solubility is how well something is able to dissolve in a solvent. Dissolving candy hearts is a fun and easy way to explore solubility using items you already have at home. In our experiment the solute is a candy heart and the solvents are the liquids we place them in. To try this at home all you need are candy hearts (or any other candy), some cups, and whatever liquids you can find in your kitchen. We used hot water, cold water, milk, vegetable oil, and vinegar but you can take a look around your kitchen and try different things. Ask your parents which items you can use. Once you've gathered your materials, watch the video to find out which solvent dissolved our candy hearts the best! 

Learn more about solubility with this informative video.


Check out these books from for more fun experiments you can try at home:


Create your own Bird Feeder!

Watch the video below for ideas!

Check out these books on bird feeders and birds:

Design A Snowflake

We might not see a lot of snow in Texas, but that won’t stop us from making our own snowflakes!

Snowflakes are a good example of symmetry (when one side mirrors the other side) and pattern (when part of a design repeats) because each branch of a flake is designed the same way! You can assemble different shapes together to make many unique snowflakes.  Here are two ways you can design your own snowflakes:

Method 1:

Cut out different shapes to use as the building blocks of your snowflake. You’ll want a lot of each shape. Choose one shape to be the center point. Build your branches by adding one new shape at a time. Remember to follow a pattern by using the same shape in the same order on each branch.

Method 2:

Cut strips of paper that you can glue or tape into a ring.  Fold the rings into triangles or squares so that you have many more shapes to work with.  Choose one shape to be the center of the snowflake. Glue a new shape around the edge to start your branches. Keep adding shapes to your branches until your snowflake is as large as you want it to be.

Traditional six-sided snowflakes may be too difficult for younger kids to mimic. You can still practice symmetry by talking about if the right side of your design looks like the left side.  Since no two snowflakes look alike, the possibilities for snowflake design are endless!



Learn more about snowflakes:

Craft Stick Creations!


Stop by your local library branch to pick up a craft stick kit and watch

the video below for inspiration about how to use your sticks!



Check out some of these awesome books to discover more fun things to do with craft sticks!


Forensic Science!

Have you ever wanted to find clues and solve a crime?  Forensic science can help you do that.  Biology, chemistry, and physics are some of the branches of science that will help a forensic scientist in their work.  Try some of these experiments at home to sample some forensics work. 



Supplies: a balloon (lighter colors are best), an ink pad, your finger

Step 1: Roll your finger on the ink pad. 

Step 2: Gently press your finger onto the uninflated balloon.  Carefully lift your finger straight up to avoid smudging your print.

Step 3: Once the ink has dried, blow up your balloon to enlarge the print’s details.

The patterns on your fingerprint could be made up of loops, arches, or whorls.  Read more about the different patterns at What do you notice about your fingerprint?  Compare your fingerprint to others in your family.  Do you see any similarities?  Any differences?


Blood Splatters:

Warning: This project can be messy!  Protect against staining by laying out newspaper or an old sheet in your work area.

Supplies: fake blood (recipe follows), a pipette or eye dropper, several sheets of cardboard

Fake blood recipe: Mix ¾ cup of corn syrup with ¼ cup water.  Add red food coloring until you reach a color you like.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon of corn starch and let thicken for ten minutes.

Step 1: Lay a sheet of cardboard flat on the ground and hold your pipette full of fake blood 1 foot above the cardboard.

Step 2: Drip several droplets of fake blood onto the cardboard, try not to drop them in the same place so you can tell each drop apart.

Step 3: Measure the diameter of your drops to see how big they are.

Step 4: Repeat on a new sheet of cardboard with your pipette dropping blood from 2 feet.  Now try from 3 feet.  What do you notice about the drop splatters as the pipette gets farther away? 

How would the splatter shapes change if you repeat this experiment with your cardboard tilted at a small angle?  What about a large angle?



Chromatography is a process that separates a mixture into its individual chemicals or molecules.  Forensic scientists can use this process to find clues in the ink of a document at a crime scene and match it to the ink in a suspect’s pen.  Check out the video under the chromatography tab above and try it yourself!


Books on forensic science:

Grow Your Own Crystals

with Miss Jackie


Do you like crystals? Are you fascinated at all the different kinds one can find in the world? Then this DIY is for you! Creating your very own rock crystals from home is a project the whole family can enjoy.

This project is simple and inexpensive. Most items can be found at home or at your local grocery store.


To start, you will need a cup and/or jar, hot water, Epsom salt, measuring cup, and a spoon to stir.  

NOTE: Epsom salt can usually be found at your pharmacy, or in the health/wellness area of your grocery store. 


Optional supplies:

A pencil, string, something to weigh the string down at the bottom like a paper clip, and food coloring. Use what you have that is similar. Recycle an old pickle jar or the like. Use a small stick in the place of a pencil. Don’t have a paper clip? Use a bobby pin. These are optional supplies.



NOTE: You will use 1 part hot water and 1 part Epsom salt.

Step 1

Measure ¼ cup Epsom salt and pour into cup or jar.

Step 2

Measure ¼ a cup of hot water and pour into cup with Epsom salt already there.

Note: Water needs to be hot. Adult supervision is highly recommended. You may us very hot tap water, bowl water, or warm water up in microwave for about 45 seconds. No matter which option be careful and be sure to have a good space when working.

Step 3

Stir for 1-2 minutes.

Note: This is when you may add food coloring. Usually about 4 drops is a good amount. The more drops, the darker the color.

Step 4

Once done, add a pebble, or paper clip. I read online that this is because the crystals want something to attach too; however, with my trial and errors, I still got good results without this. See what works best for you.

I used what I had at home. I had paper clips and beads from a broken bracelet. I used them to help put things in my cups to see if this would yield more crystals.

Step 5

Place in refrigerator overnight.

Step 6

Wake up and pour out any excess water. You should have some crystals.

Photos from my Trials:


Next day! Of all the ones I did, only 2 gave the best crystals.



Pictures of crystals once I poured out the excess water.



Photo of other cups. I had crystals in all the cups. Some were just at the bottom. Some crystals were also more fragile than others.

Overall, I found this experiment to be fun, educational, and inexpensive. What I learned was that it made no difference if I had a string attached to a pencil within my cup. The crystals grew regardless. I thought adding fun objects I had would help create large crystals, and I did not get that. Some of my trials yielded more crystals than others, and I think this factored into not using hot enough water and not stirring long enough. Please keep this in mind when doing this.

I encourage everyone to have fun with the project. Try and see what you can grow by adding things into your cup. Does hot tap water work better than hot water heated on the stove? Do more crystals grow for you with adding a string or pipe cleaner? If you add pebbles from outside, do you yield more crystals? Trial and error is always the best way to discovery. Have fun!


For further reading on crystals and fun experiments:

Building a Bug with Shapes

What you will need:

  • construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors

Cut out your bug pieces from construction paper in a variety of colors. You'll need small dots for eyes, spots, and antennae tops (these can be made with a hole punch). You'll need circles and semi-circles of different sizes for heads and bodies. Finally, you'll need skinny strips for legs, antennae, and mouths.

What kind of bugs can you make with your shapes?


Check out some of these books on bugs and shapes!


Chain reactions are a series of events in which each event causes the next one.  Watch Miss Teague talk a little bit about chain reactions and show some examples of how chain reactions work.  If you'd like to learn more about this topic, check out the videos and information below!  



This is a really cool chain reaction!  Notice how there are many items used, not just dominos!



Rube Goldberg Machines are a really cool example of how chain reactions work!

Check out the link above to learn more about Rube Goldberg Machines and then go below to watch videos or check out a book to see how they work! 

 This really cool app lets you make a Rube Goldberg machine on your phone or tablet!

Make your own boat out of Lego bricks, foil, paper, or anything else you can find. How many pennies can it hold before it capsizes?

If you would like to do your own chromatography experiment, you'll need:

Coffee filters

A few different black markers

A glass of water

If you want to try your own chemical reaction, gather these items:

flat pan or tray

baking soda


a dropper or spoon

food coloring (optional)

towel to clean up any messes you make