Category Archives: Story Time

Early Learning STEAM Programs: Art Start

Library Programs

In April 2017, I presented with a coworker on Low Cost/No Cost STEAM programming ideas at the Texas Library Association annual conference in San Antonio.  Today’s post will share one of the program ideas we talked about, an early learning program that combines story time and art for a STEAM-based program for little learners.

The Program

Art Start is a program offered by the Plano Public Library.  It’s described in our program brochure as:  Stories to inspire your little artist, followed by a different hands-on art activity each week.  Things may get messy!  Smocks and materials provided.

Intended Audience

This program is designed for children between the ages of a 3 and 6 years old, the same audience that we target with our preschool story times.  Parent/caregiver participation is required, and adults stay in the room and work with their children during the program.  To keep costs down and the room manageable, we limit the number of families allowed in each session.


A typical session costs $5 to $10 for simple crafts, with a greater investment for continuing supplies or more elaborate programs.  Funding for our Art Start program is provided by a grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).  The activities are easily modified based on craft supplies that you already have on hand.


This program requires basic craft supplies, easily modified based on the activities you choose.  Think craft essentials like crayons, markers, construction paper, and paper towels.  It’s easy to choose your theme for the week around supplies that you already have on hand, or pick projects that use similar supplies to make the most of what you do order.

How It Works

Staff read a book related to the day’s art project.  When I present this program, I also include a related element like a flannel story, just to incorporate a little more of the story time feel.  However, the focus is really on the art.  After the story time portion, we explain a little about process art.  The focus with every project is on the process of creating the art rather than the finished product.  One of the most important things to do as a facilitator of this program is to encourage the parents/caregivers to work with their child, instead of doing the project for their child.  The program lasts approximately 30 minutes, with about 10 minutes for the welcome and story and the remainder of the time for art.  Depending on the project, the room can be set up with tables and craft supplies, but it’s also great to allow plenty of free space to work on the floor as well.

Sample Topics

Some of the outlines that have worked in the past include:

  • Balloon painting
  • Chalk with buttermilk
  • Feather painting
  • Folded paper prints
  • Fruit prints
  • Glitter art
  • Hole punch collage
  • Ice painting
  • Paper cutting
  • Sand art
  • Shaving cream art
  • Tape resist art
  • Texture rubbing


This program is very open ended, so it’s easy to customize to the type of projects that your patrons find most interesting.  Many crafts can be found and modified from Pinterest.


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Filed under Library Programs, Story Time