TRC Read to Kids

Welcome to The Reading Connection’s blog, where you’ll find the best guidance on reading aloud to kids. Whether you are a TRC Read-Aloud volunteer, parent or student, the book themes and crafts ideas, child development guidelines and recommended websites will expand your world. For 25 years, The Reading Connection has worked to improve the lives of at-risk kids by linking the magic of reading to fun experiences that inspire a passion for learning. Visit our website at

Monday, March 25, 2013

STEM Read-Alouds: Volunteer Seminar overview

What do Lincoln Logs, sun dials, rockets, grizzly bears, rainbows and oobleck have in common? TRC volunteers found out at a volunteer seminar all about incorporating STEM topics into weekly Read-Alouds.

For the record, STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. It is one of the hot topics in education circles these days, but TRC isn’t just being trendy by focusing on STEM. Here are good reasons for exploring science and math with books and activities:

First and foremost, it’s fun. Shooting rockets, making rainbows: that’s fun. TRC Read-Alouds are intended to help kids build positive experiences with books and reading. In many cases, we’re helping kids and families overcome anxieties or stereotypes about reading and readers just by having fun with books. What's more, STEM topics may appeal to kids who don’t get excited about more traditional Read-Aloud themes.

STEM-themed Read-Alouds can help kids overcome anxieties and stereotypes about math and science, too.  A kid may say she’s not good at math, but she does like baking. Baking is full of fractions, proportions, temperature and time. You start with a book about baking and the next thing you know, you are doing math, with a tasty result. When you put it that way, math is fun and delicious, not scary or boring. 

It’s not just fun and games, though. Science and math use many of the same skills as reading. In science, you predict, observe and evaluate. You make guesses, look for patterns and outcomes. Afterward, you circle back to evaluate. In math, you often make guesses and look for patterns. Reading involves the same process and skills. You also use your imagination and your background knowledge to predict what might happen in science, math and reading.

A great book can foster curiosity, imagination and creativity. These traits are essential for success in math and the sciences. A STEM-themed Read-Aloud isn’t about getting a certain predetermined result.  It’s about asking questions, exploration and reading great books. 

Check out these STEM-themed Read-Aloud outlines prepared by TRC staff. Books and activity materials were provided for the volunteers to use at the volunteer seminar. In each outline you'll find books, activities and conversation starters for your Read-Aloud.

Science:  States of Matter and Colors

Technology:  Rockets
Engineering:  Building Houses
Math:  Time and Measurement

Many of the books and materials listed on the outlines are available at the TRC office for volunteers to use at their Read-Alouds.

Next week's post will explore the great STEM Read-Aloud ideas generated by TRC volunteers and more resources for creating your own STEM-themed Read-Alouds.  

Get inspired. Try something new. Explore, wonder, imagine!  The kids will love it.

To receive credit for this online training, please fill out the form here.


  1. I made oobleck as a kid in 5th grade and still remember what a fun experience it was! It's super easy to make and can keep you entertained for hours. Here's a an easy how-to:

    I also learned how to make "gak" in that same science class. Instructions here:

  2. Virginia Wallingford, Columbia Grove VolunteerApril 1, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    I really wished I could of attended this event. Thank you for sharing this on the blog. Awesome

    -Virginia Wallingford