Family Activities 2021


Check back each day for fun and creative ideas for things for your family to do at home.

As with our Summer Reading Program activities, we would love to see pictures of your completed artwork, craft projects, or how your family has completed each activity. And with the parent’s permission, we will post your pictures on our Northeast Regional Library website and social media.

If you have any suggestions or comments on the types of activities you would like to see, please let us know!

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Suggested Family Activities January 2022

Suggested Family Activity • ♥ Thinking of You Cards

If you didn’t get around to sending out holiday cards, don’t worry!  New Year’s cards are an option for those who have too many holiday activities to get everything they want done.  Sending out a quick note to say “Thinking of You” or even a long letter getting your friends and family caught up on what your family has been up to this past year is a great way to spend the first few days of the new year.  And since getting a ‘real’ letter in the mail is such a rare thing these days, your thoughtful gesture could make someone’s day. 

To dress up your cards or letters, the U. S. Postal Service has debuted a new Forever stamp featuring Ezra Jack Keats iconic book The Snowy Day.  Four different designs are in the set, each picturing Peter in one of his scenes from the book.  To see how the stamps look and check out the opening celebration, which was held at the Brooklyn Public Library, check out the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website at

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Suggested Family Activities December 2021

Suggested Family Activity 🎈 Balloon Stomp

Looking for some creative ways to entertain kids on New Year’s Eve?  Have a balloon stomp!  Blow up some small balloons and have fun watching as your kids jump, sit on, and stomp the balloons to pop them!  Not only does it make a loud popping noise that children love, but it can be a good way to burn off energy.  You could also hide small prizes, like quarters, inside the balloons. A fun alternative is to have children (or adults!) have a race with a balloon held between their knees.  Or you could see who can pop balloons the fastest.  If you have enough space, you could do this activity indoors but doing it outside will give kids lots of room to move around.

Other fun outdoor activities for tonight are to head out and try to catch glow-in-the-dark balls or Frisbees.  Don’t have any that already glow-in-the-dark?  No problem!  Just tape glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets from dollar stores onto your ball or Frisbee to make your own.  Or get out a flashlight for a game of Flashlight Tag. It is basically like hide-and-seek, but in the dark, and the seeker gets a flashlight and “catches” players by shining the beam on them.  Even if it’s cold outside and you have to bundle up, it would still be worth it to get some last-minute outdoor fun in before 2021 ends!

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Suggested Family Activity 🎉 New Year’s Books

As 2021 draws to a close, check out some of the New Year’s picture books available through your local library branch: Angelina Ice Skates by Katharine Holabird, Happy New Year, Beni by Jane Breskin Zalben, Shanté Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport, and Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller.  And don’t forget NERL’s recorded StoryTimes – on December 31, a recording of Ripley Librarian Eric Melton reading P. Bear’s New Year’s Party by Paul Owen will be added to the line-up, as well as a recording of NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Just in Time for New Year’s by Karen Gray Ruelle on January 1.

Frog and Friends Celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve by Eve Bunting and Just in Time for New Year’s!: A Harry & Emily Adventure by Karen Ruelle Gray are perfect for children venturing out to reading on their own.  Happy New Year! by Emery Bernhard and We Celebrate New Year by Bobbie Kalman are great titles if you want to learn how the new year is celebrated in other locations around the world.  Or if you are an adult who likes to read holiday themed fiction, check out New Year’s Eve Murder, a Lucy Stone mystery by Leslie Meier and The New Year’s Quilt, an Elm Creek Quilts novel by Jennifer Chiaverini.

Need some help (or maybe just some inspiration) for your New Year’s Day meals, Southern style?  Check out Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing, Dispatches from My South: Reflections and Recipes From a Southern Food Scribe by Hattiesburg’s Robert St. John, Cat Cora’s Kitchen: Favorite Meals for Family and Friends by Mississippi native Cat Cora, No Taste like Home: A Celebration of Regional Southern Cooking and Hometown Flavor by Kelly Alexander, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge (Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi), South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations by Sean Brock, and Sunday Dinner in the South: Recipes to Keep Them Coming Back for More by Tammy Algood.

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Suggested Family Activity 🃏 National Card Playing Day

Tomorrow is National Card Playing Day so why not have a family game night?  Playing card games together is a lot of fun for all ages.  Families with very young children can play one of the many matching games that help children learn colors, numbers, and the alphabet.  Older children might enjoy a great beginner’s game such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, War, Concentration, or Uno, while teens might enjoy card games such as Munchkin, Exploding Kittens, and Unstable Unicorns.  Children can even be taught to play Solitaire on their own.  Playing card games is a great way for children to learn social skills such as taking turns, being fair to others, and being patient while waiting for everyone else to have a turn.  It also helps children practice other necessary skills such as adding and subtracting, matching numbers and patterns, colors, and shapes – but all while having fun!

This week is your last week to try to Find Santa’s Reindeer at your local library branches!  Scattered around some NERL branches are pictures of all of Santa’s reindeers in random places.  Pick up an answer sheet at the front desk and see if you can find them all!  Everyone who completes the activity will be able to pick out a small prize.  (Because of size constraints, this scavenger hunt is only available at the public libraries in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, and Ripley.”

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Suggested Family Activity 🎄 Holiday Reading

Christmas Eve is the perfect night to celebrate your friends and family.  Maybe you will be able to visit with them tonight or maybe you will call a friend or family member who lives out of town, just to let them know you are thinking of them.  It is also a great night to settle in and watch a holiday movie together.  Does your family like to watch the black and white classics It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street?  What about classic cartoons, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town?  Maybe you like A Polar Express, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special, Merry Madagascar, or Shrek the Halls.  Many of your favorite characters have their own holiday specials, such as Arthur, Barbie, and the characters from Thomas the Tank Engine, Sesame Street, and Dora the Explorer.  There are also lots of versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, including cartoon versions with the Muppets, Mickey Mouse and his friends, and the Flintstones, as well as live action movies starring George C. Scott and Kelsey Grammar as Ebenezer Scrooge.  Maybe your family enjoys comedy holiday movies, such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, those in the Home Alone franchise, The Santa Claus, or Scrooged with Bill Murray.

And who could forget the Grinch?  A list of holiday movies would not be complete without mentioning all the different versions of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, including the original 1966 version with Boris Karloff, Jim Carrey’s 2003 version, and 2019’s version with Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Suggested Family Activity 🎄 Holiday Reading

Your local NERL branches will only be open today and tomorrow this week so hurry by to check out last minute books to enjoy during the holidays.  Selections vary by branch so call your local library today to see what they have available.  Some great picture book titles by your favorite children’s book authors include A Chick ‘n’ Pug Christmas by Jennifer Gordon Sattler, Construction Site on Christmas Night by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas by Tedd Arnold, and How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace.  Chapter book readers might enjoy the classic The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson or contemporary titles such as The Dog Diaries: Happy Howlidays by James Patterson, When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Caroline Funke, and Magic Tree House: Christmas in Camelot by Mary Pope Osborne.

Adult fiction titles about the holiday season include mystery titles such as Eggs on Ice by Laura Childs, A Garland of Bones by Carolyn Haines, and Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson, while romance readers might enjoy Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis or Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber.  Christian fiction titles in our collections include ‘Twas the Night Before: A Love Story by Jerry B.Jenkins, An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County, and A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen

Kingsbury, while western readers might like Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale or William W. Johnstone’s An Arizona Christmas.

Today is the last day this week to pick up an activity and craft packet and FREE book at your local library branch before they close for the holidays!  In the packets, you will find lots of fun things to keep children entertained this week, such as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, mazes, connect the dots, a Gingerbread House Shape Match, a Spot the Items Santa sheet, holiday letters and a bookmark to color, holiday jokes, a Christmas Acrostic Poem, a Candle Burning Experiment, and many others.  Craft projects for the 6 and up age group include a Paper Plate Snowman and an Elf Puppet, children ages 7 – 11 will have an Elf Puppet and Christmas Ornament Quilling instructions and supplies, and those 12 and up will have the quilling activity.  So stop in today or tomorrow for your packet!

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Suggested Family Activity ❄ Winter Solstice

Tomorrow is the date of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere– the longest night of the year.  It is the day when the Earth’s Northern pole has tilted as far as possible from the sun, which means that the day light hours are the shortest and the nighttime hours are the longest.  One way to celebrate this longest night is by having a fire outside and roasting hot dogs and toasting marshmallows.  Having a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate will also be a great treat tonight.  Once you go inside, cuddle up on a bed or couch with your family and read stories to each other.  Or you could watch some of the holiday story times that have been recorded by NERL staff and are available through the NERL website.  Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain has a recording of The Winter Witch by Clay Bonnyman Evans, which is about the Winter Solstice.  Other titles available include NERL Director Dee Hare reading Bear Stays Up Late for Christmas by Karma Wilson, NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Click Clack, Ho! HO! HO! by Doreen Cronin, Cody Daniel from the Corinth Public Library reading selections from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters, and Eric Melton from the Ripley Public Library reading Little Rabbit’s Christmas by Harry Horse. Upcoming titles include Sandy Donahue from the George E. Allen Library in Booneville reading Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by James Dean.

Reading Clement Clarke Moore’s holiday classic The Night Before Christmas (sometimes listed as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) is a fun tradition in many families.  Your local libraries have lots of versions available to be checked out so make sure to pick up a copy before the big day!  Illustrators such as Hilary Knight, Arthur Rackham, Jan Brett, and Richard Scarry, just to name a few, have put their own spin on the story over the years.  There are even specialized versions such as A Cat’s Night Before Christmas and A Dog’s Night Before Christmas by Henry Beard and The Night Before Christmas, Deep Under the Sea by Kathie Kelleher.  And don’t forget your library card gives you access to e-books through Hoopla and the Libby app through OverDrive.  Accessing these titles is quick and easy.  For more information, check the Digital Resources page on our website or call your local library.

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Suggested Family Activity 📔 Book Tree 🎄

A fun holiday craft project this week is to turn an old, outdated book or thick magazine into a tree by bending the pages.  Any size book or thick magazine will do, although Reader’s Digest magazines and books are a perfect size.  To make the tree pictured below from the Iuka Public Library, follow these instructions:

Fold the top right corner into the fold.

Fold the right edge into the fold.

Crease the folds with your finger.

Repeat until the entire volume is done.

You can leave the pages as is or apply a little acrylic paint, spray paint, tempera paint, or even spray snow to put some seasonal color on your tree.  You could also cover the edges with glue and sprinkle on glitter. As a final touch, cut out or make tiny ornaments to decorate your tree.  If you make three or more trees, you can even create your own little winter forest!

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Suggested Family Activity ❄ Winter and Holiday Crafts and Activities

Have you picked up an activity packet of winter and holiday themed crafts and activities yet?  Each one has lots of fun things for everyone in your family to enjoy.  We have lists of Winter Activities for your family to do, as well as a special Winter Bucket List for those ages 12 and up.  There is an Advent Reading Countdown, a Scavenger Hunt of things to look for as you travel around your communities, a sheet that breaks down How to Draw a Reindeer, and holiday writing prompts.  Each packet also contains a holiday bookmark to color.

In the packets for children 6 and under, they will have lots of coloring sheets, as well as other specialty sheets, such as a Gingerbread House Shape Match, a Spot the Items Santa sheet, and a holiday letter template to color.  Craft projects for this age group include a Paper Plate Snowman and an Elf Puppet.  Children ages 7 – 11 also have lots of fun activity sheets.  In addition to crossword puzzles, word searches, and mazes, there are Holiday Jokes, a Christmas Acrostic Poem, and a Candle Burning Experiment.  Craft projects for this group include an Elf Puppet and Christmas Ornament Quilling instructions and supplies.  

Those ages 12 and up set will enjoy holiday writing prompts, Acts of Kindness prompts, a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets. A FREE book is included in every packet as our holiday gift to you so stop by one of our branches today and get your packet and free book!

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Suggested Family Activity ☕ National Cocoa Day

Today is National Cocoa Day – the perfect day to celebrate during the holiday season.   When it is cold outside, what better way is there to feel toasty and warm than drinking a big cup of hot cocoa?  Different than hot chocolate, hot cocoa is made by heating milk and cocoa powder with sugar.  (Some people may like to substitute hot water for the milk.)  Wondering why you would need to add extra sugar?  Cocoa is not naturally sweet, so sugar (or a sugar substitute) is necessary to make it taste more like the hot chocolate many of us are used to.  Hot cocoa, just like hot chocolate, is a great drink by itself or you can add extra toppings to it, such as the traditional marshmallows or whipped cream.  You can also add cinnamon for extra flavor or garnish it with peppermint pieces or a candy cane.  Some unexpected toppings might be toffee bits, mini chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coconut, or even crushed butterscotch candies.  And If you like flavors drizzled over your whipped cream, you can try fudge or caramel. 

There is some indication that drinking hot cocoa may have health benefits.  Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants, which can help fight the effects of aging and may even help prevent cancer.   Some research also indicates cocoa can help you digest your food better.  The flavonoids (compounds that are found naturally in various fruits and vegetables) found in cocoa could also help your arteries stay clear and healthy.

To go with your hot cocoa drinks today, try baking a holiday treat with one of the cakes and cookie pans available to be checked out at the Iuka library.  They have two different star-shaped cake pans, a Christmas teddy bear, a Christmas tree, two different Christmas wreathes, a Santa Claus face, and two different Snowmen.  Also available are pans for making gingerbread or cookie kids and heart and round cookie pans to make a large chocolate chip cookie. 

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Suggested Family Activity 🏠 Gingerbread House Day

Gingerbread House Day is Sunday, December 12th so this weekend is the perfect time to decorate a gingerbread house as a fun family activity.  To make it faster and easier, you can purchase pre-made kits with pieces cut to size, pre-mixed cake icing, and decorations.  You can find kits in many different varieties – themed houses, such as those from How the Grinch Stole Christmas or even kits made of yummy ingredients, such as Oreo houses.

Did you know NERL has been posting recordings of staff reading holiday children’s books on our website?  On Monday, December 13, a video will be posted of NERL Director Dee Hare reading Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun.  This sweet holiday tale follows a little mouse as she loses her home in the forest but finds a new one in a family’s gingerbread house.  Recorded readings already available on our website include Gwen Spain from the Iuka Public Library reading No Two Alike, a cute story about snowflakes by Keith Baker, Eric Melton from the Ripley Public Library reading Ian Falconer’s Olivia Helps with Christmas, NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood reading Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell, and Sandy Donahue from the George E. Allen Library in Booneville reading Santa Duck by David Milgrim.  Upcoming selections include Cody Daniel from the Corinth Public Library reading Jan Brett’s The Wild Christmas Reindeer and Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner.  New stories are being added every weekday in December and will remain available through the end of the month.

Story Times

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Suggested Family Activity 🤶 Christmas Card Day

Tomorrow is Christmas Card Day – the perfect time to sit down and write out some Christmas cards.  You can buy pre-made cards or order photo cards to send out but making your own cards is a great holiday activity for all ages.  The necessary supplies are very simple.  All you need is paper and something with which to write, so use whatever you have at home.  Colored pencils, crayons, markers, or regular pens and pencils are all great choices to add a little extra flair.  Children will especially love drawing and illustrating cards to give to friends and family.  They can even embellish them with glitter or stickers.

Another fun idea for making your own cards is to repurpose cards you have received in the past by cutting out pretty images from them and gluing them onto your paper.  There are lots of ideas online for other things to do with old cards, such as cutting out designs from them in a circle shape and gluing them together to make holiday ornaments. Another idea is to cut out beautiful images from old cards and glue them into empty shoeboxes to create dioramas.  Children can use odds and ends to embellish their diorama, such as cotton balls to represent snow or small twigs from outside to make trees.

Holiday cards are a great way to communicate with friends and family who live in distant places.  They are also a way to acknowledge once a year those around us who help us or give us support, such as teachers and co-workers.  They are a classic way to tell someone you are thinking of them.

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Suggested Family Activity • Winter 📸Photography🖼

⛄ Winter holidays give us a great opportunity to take beautiful 🖼 pictures with our families.  If you decorate your home, take pictures of your family not just in front of a decorated tree, but try out other places as well, such as a holiday village if you have one or in front of a holiday wreath on your 🚪 door.  And don’t forget taking pictures 📸 outside too.  Taking pictures at night in front of decorations that are bright with festive lights 🏮 make beautiful photos too.  If you don’t have decorations in your home, most businesses in your town have put up beautiful decorations.  Many will not mind someone snapping a quick picture!  Most communities also have decorations on their streets and downtown areas as well.  So look around you as you drive through town to see what types of great opportunities you can spot to snap a quick pic.  And while you are driving around looking for a place to take a photo, check out all the beautiful lights and outdoor decorations around your town.  Going out to look at holiday lights and outdoor decorations is a great family tradition. 

You can take pictures of your family doing fun things like working on a gingerbread house, trying to fold a ❄ snowflake, or stringing 🍿 popcorn to use as a decoration.  Another fun idea is to have a picnic lunch or dinner under your 🎄 tree.  It doesn’t have to be fancy – just spread out a blanket on the floor, take your plates of food with you, and enjoy your meal and spending time with your family under your tree.

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Suggested Family Activity • National 🍪 Cookie Day

Tomorrow is National Cookie 🍪 Day so it’s the perfect time to start enjoying your favorite holiday cookies.  People love to bake, decorate, and (of course) eat cookies at any time of the year but December cookies are always the best!  Cookies make a great holiday treat for not only your family, but also other special people in your life – friends, co-workers, neighbors, or teachers at school.  Now is also a great time to start practicing baking special cookies to leave for Santa!

If you need help trying to decide what cookies to make this weekend, check out some of the titles below from your local libraries’ collection: Christmas cookies: 75 Irresistible Holiday Treats, Christmas with Paula Deen: Recipes and Stories from my Favorite Holiday, the Christmas With Southern Living yearly annuals, and A Home-Baked Christmas: 56 Delicious Cookies, Cakes & Gifts from Your Kitchen.  While you are waiting for your cookies to bake, read one the our children’s picture book titles, such as  Arthur’s Christmas Cookies by Lillian Hoban, Christmas with the Mousekins by Maggie Smith, Merry Christmas, Strawberry Shortcake! by Mickie Matheis and Prissy & Pop Deck the Halls by Melissa Nicholson.

Adult fiction titles about holiday baking include An Amish Christmas Bakery by Amy Clipson, A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford, The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman, and Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke.

According to the National Day Calendar, the first National Cookie Day was celebrated in November 1976 by Sesame Street, inspired by their lovable character Cookie Monster.  Several years later, the date was moved to December 4 by a national cookie company.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Authors’ Day

The holidayseason is here and with it, another special packet of winter and holiday themed crafts and activities that have lots of fun things for everyone in your family to enjoy.
Northeast Regional Library Holiday 2021 craft and activity packets include:

A Family set that has a ⛄ ✔ Winter Activities To Do List, 📅 an Advent Reading Countdown,  🔎 a Scavenger Hunt, 📝 a holiday writing prompt, and other fun sheets.
(A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a 🏠 Gingerbread House Shape Match, 🎅 Spot the Items Santa sheet, ⛄ a Paper Plate Snowman craft project, ✂ an Elf Puppet craft project, and lots of other crossword puzzles, word searches, mazes, and coloring sheets.

A 7 – 11 set with activities that include ⛄ Holiday Jokes, 🎄 a Christmas Acrostic Poem, 🧪 a Candle Burning Experiment, ✂ an Elf Puppet craft project, 🎄 a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets

A 12 and up set that includes a 📝 holiday writing prompt, 📃 a Winter Bucket List, 😇 Acts of Kindness prompts, 🎄 a Christmas Ornament Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

🎁 A FREE Book is included in every packet as our holiday gift to you!  So stop by one of our branches today, get a packet or two, and pick out your free book!  Share your photos with us at

November 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • National Mississippi Day

Tomorrow is National Mississippi Day – a day to recognize the state we live in and some of the great things to be found here!  Mississippi is well known for being the home of wonderful writers, entertainers and athletes including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Eudora Welty, John Grisham, Richard Wright, William Faulkner, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Henson, Robin Roberts, LeAnn Rimes, James Earl Jones, Jerry Rice and Brett Favre, just to name a few.  How many famous Mississippians can you name?  And did you know Mississippi added another famous resident last year when Miss Mississippi Asya Branch of Booneville was named Miss USA?

Mississippi is home of the Delta blues and the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, which can be explored online at  To find out more about the Delta blues, visit their museum at  Our state is full of beautiful scenery and natural wonders, such as those found along the 444-mile long Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs through our area.  This ancient pathway began first as a trail used by herds of bison and then was used by the hunting and gathering mound builders in the area.  Later, it would become a passageway for those transporting goods from the northern U.S. to the river town of Natchez. To learn more about the Natchez Trace, visit their website at

Another great treasure in our area is the Tishomingo State Park.  It was named after Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo, one of the last surviving full-blooded Chickasaw Chiefs, who lived to be over 100 years old.  Chief Tishomingo fought on the same side as the U.S. military during military campaigns of the late 1700s and early 1800s before he and his people were removed from their land in Mississippi in the early 1830s.  Two counties, one in Mississippi and one in Oklahoma, two state parks, a town, organizations, and a beautiful bridge have been named in Chief Tishomingo’s honor.  To find out more about Tishomingo State Park, visit their website at

If you have young children, do they know how to spell Mississippi?  If not, teach them the “M, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, crooked letter, crooked letter, I, humpback, humpback, I” rhyme that has been used for generations to teach children how the word is spelled.  Another fact about Mississippi is that people all over the U.S. count seconds of time by saying, “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc”.  No one knows why – it could be just that it is a fun word to say! 

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Suggested Family Activity • National Native American Heritage Month

November has been National Native American Heritage Month. The website for the event contains lots of great materials, such as selections of both audio and video programs, as well as a special resource section for teachers. In collaboration with the Smithsonian and the National Museum of the American Indian, the website has a virtual presentation titled “Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces” that showcases quotes and testimonials from those who have served, both current and historical photographs, information about the Navaho Code Talkers, and much more. The site also has links to a series of recorded online discussions, webinars, and presentations of special art gallery programs that were created for this month. Participants include Joy Harjo, the first Native American U. S. Poet Laureate, Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, and several filmmakers from a Native Cinema Showcase, among others.
To view this fascinating resource, click here:
Your local libraries also have resources to help you learn more about Native American culture. Picture book selections include Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, Listen to the Storyteller: A Trio of Musical Tales from Around the World, and We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell. To introduce slightly older children to the Native American philosophy regarding the natural world, check out All Our Relatives: Traditional Native American Thoughts about Nature by Paul Goble. Or for a broader view, check out American Indian Voices, which includes songs, myths and legends, stories, and poetry of various Native American peoples, as well as biographical information about key figures. Other interesting new titles include Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids, a collection of intersecting stories told by various Native writers and #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, a collection of stories for young adult readers.

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Suggested Family Activity • Leaf 🍂 Scavenger Hunt

Even though it is colder outside this week, you can still bundle up to have lots of fun with your family!  Fall days are a great time to go on a spider hunt around your yard and see how many cobwebs you can find.  Some spiders (the good kind that eat annoying insects, such as mosquitos) like to build large webs stretching along the ends of porches or from the eaves or gutters of your roof to a nearby tree or fence.  Look closely at all your surroundings – some spiders’ webs are hidden in small places, such as in bushes or around flower beds.

For a fun STEM activity with your children, send them on a Leaf Scavenger Hunt: Go out to your yard ahead of time and find leaves from each of the different trees near you.  Tape or glue the leaves onto paper or index cards and write in the name of the tree from which it fell.  Then send your children out into the yard to find similar leaves from each tree.  If the wind is blowing, it makes it every more fun!  Kids can try to catch the leaves as they are falling and floating around in the air.

Don’t forget to have a fall photoshoot outside with your kids before the round of Christmas holidays begin.  You can take pictures of them doing fun things like jumping in piles of leaves, trying to catch a falling leaf (some people say you get to make a wish if you catch one), and generally taking full advantage of all the beautiful yellow, orange, and red scenery.

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Suggested Family Activity • 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, many of us start thinking of all the things we are grateful for in our lives.  Our November activity packets this month even have a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge for individuals to do by themself or families to do together.  Each day contains an idea for simple things to do to think about who you are grateful for – such as thanking a parent, friend, teacher, or other community members, such as those who work in health care or city support services (fire department, police department, garbage pick-up, etc.).  It also contains prompts to get you thinking about other things around you to be grateful for, such as certain tastes or things you see, as well as prompts that ask you to share something you are grateful for that happened today or write about an animal you are glad exists. 

Keeping a Gratitude Journal is another way of making yourself think about the everyday things you are grateful for.  Our packets contain a simple Gratitude Journal sheet for young children that prompts them to draw a picture of two things they are thankful for today.  Older children also have a sheet that lets them write down something they are thankful for today, as well as asks them to perform an act of kindness for someone else.  As you see from our sheets, Gratitude Journals do not have to be fancy.  All you need is paper to start writing down daily things in your life for which you are grateful.  Having your list of things to be grateful for all in one spot will not only help you to remember them, but it will also give you a good place to go to when you are having a bad day.  If you are feeling down and ‘blue’, pull out your journal to read about all the great things in your life.

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Suggested Family Activity • Lunar Eclipse 🌑🌗

Did you know tonight there will be a rare lunar eclipse 🌑 visible?  So make time to go out and look at the moon 🌙 to see it!  November and December are what astronomers call “eclipse season,” which means that there will be several eclipses visible this month and next.  Lunar eclipses occur when the moon is lined-up perfectly to intersect the path of the sun.  The moon normally crosses the sun’s path twice a month but doesn’t always perfectly align with it.  A full lunar eclipse happens when the moon is full.  Tonight’s moon, known as the “Frosty Moon,” will not quite be in a full position so it won’t be a full lunar eclipse.  But it will be very close!  There will also be another great lunar eclipse on December 4, although it will only be visible in Antarctica.

Need help explaining what eclipses are to young children?  Our activity packets this month have a sheet about solar and lunar eclipses to help.

When the Eclipse Happens Worldwide — Timeline

Lunar eclipses can be visible from everywhere on the night side of the Earth, if the sky is clear. From some places the entire eclipse will be visible, while in other areas the Moon will rise or set during the eclipse.

EventUTC TimeTime in CorinthVisible in Corinth
Penumbral Eclipse beginsNov 19 at 06:02:09Nov 19 at 12:02:09 amYes
Partial Eclipse beginsNov 19 at 07:18:42Nov 19 at 1:18:42 amYes
Maximum EclipseNov 19 at 09:02:55Nov 19 at 3:02:55 amYes
Partial Eclipse endsNov 19 at 10:47:04Nov 19 at 4:47:04 amYes
Penumbral Eclipse endsNov 19 at 12:03:40Nov 19 at 6:03:40 amYes

* The Moon is above the horizon during this eclipse, so with good weather conditions in Corinth, the entire eclipse is visible.

Eclipse calculations usually accurate to a few seconds.

The magnitude of the eclipse is 0.974.

The penumbral magnitude of the eclipse is 2.072.

The total duration of the eclipse is 6 hours, 2 minutes.

The duration of the partial eclipse is 3 hours, 28 minutes.

And for even more information, check out


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Suggested Family Activity • National StoryWalk® Week

Corinth November StoryWalk® Just Like My Brother

Today is National take a Hike ⛰ Day and this week is National StoryWalk® week so why not combine the two and enjoy one of our StoryWalks® while you are taking a walk today?  As a reminder, our StoryWalks® are outdoor reading experiences where children’s books are presented 📖 via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail 🚶‍♂️.  Participants walk the trail, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  Currently, Northeast Regional Library has StoryWalks® in several of our local communities.

This week, the Story Walk ® of Julie Stegemeyer’s barnyard counting story Gobble, Gobble, Crash is being put up at the William M. Sanders walking trail in Blue Mountain and a Story Walk ® of Julia Donaldson’s classic The Gruffalo will be put at the newly opened JC Nance Park in Ripley.  Other Story Walks ® being put in place this week include the funny Chimpanzees for Tea by Jo Empson at the walking trail in the Booneville City Park and the hilarious Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins at the Mineral Springs Park in Iuka.

Current Story Walks ® in Alcorn county include Gianna Marino’s Just Like My Brother, the sweet tale of a young giraffe looking for his older brother, at the Corinth City Park and the barnyard classic Click, Clack, Moo by Dorren Cronin at the walking trail in the Farmington City Park.  All Story Walks ® will remain in place until the end of the month.  For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our at website

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Suggested Family Activity • Fall 🍂 Activities

Leaves 🍂 are falling everywhere! Over the next few weeks (especially next week when kids are out of school), try out some of these fun fall activities if the weather is nice enough to go outside:

Rake up small piles of leaves 🍁 around your yard to make an obstacle 🏁 course. (This is also a great activity to get children involved in helping with leaf pick up – let them have some fun with the leaves first and then get them all picked up!) Scatter the piles of leaves in straight lines or zigzag them around your yard so that the children have to change ↕ direction frequently. You can even make some piles taller than others to increase the difficulty. Children can race 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️ the obstacle course over and over to see how long it takes them.

Some people like to use large pieces of carboard, a tarp, or an old sheet to gather their leaves. If you use that method, let your kids have fun playing with them before you get rid of them. Put a small (or large) number of leaves on the tarp or sheet and then fling them all back in the air for your kids to catch. Sure, it’s a little extra work, but the kids will really ❤ love it!

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Suggested Family Activity 🙏 “Thankful” Activity Packets

Did you know our Iuka branch has cake pans 🎂 you can check out to use?  Thanksgiving 🦃 themed ones include a cornucopia, a 🏈 football, and two different 🍗 turkeys.  Most of them are aluminum (many are the legendary Wilton brand, although a few are made from plastic).  If you check one out today, we would love to see your creation 🍰.  Send a pic to and we will post it on our website and share it on social media!

Have you picked up your November 🦃 activity packet yet?  Our “Thankful” 🙏 packet this month features:

A Family set that has activities such as a Pin the Wattle on the Turkey 🦃 game, a Turkey Race 🏁 drawing game, Thanksgiving trivia ❓, and a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge.  (A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a Five Little Turkeys 🦃 poem, a cut ✂ and paste cornucopia sheet, a Turkey 🍗 Handprint ✋ craft project, and other crossword puzzles, mazes, and coloring 🖍 sheets.

A 7 – 11 set with activities that include a Gratitude Journal sheet, a Thanksgiving 🦃 writing prompt, fun Family Interview sheets that gives you great questions to ask ❓ family members when they visit, a Maple Leaf 🍁 Origami craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

A 12 and up set that includes journal writing 🖊 prompts, Thanksgiving 🦃 trivia, a Fall Family Traditions interview sheet, a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge, a Maple Leaf 🍁 Origami craft project, and other fun activity sheets.

We would love to see your crafts! Send pics to

Suggested Family Activity • Owl 🦉 Puppet Craft

If you have brown paper bags, your kids can turn them into a cute fall owl 🦉 puppet using various colored paper.   They can stick with fall colors such as red, orange, yellow, and brown or use any other colors that strike their fancy.  If you have picked up one of the November 🦃 activity packets from one of our branches, there is a template included to make an owl, as well as a cute owl coloring 🖍 sheet.  Or you could Google similar craft projects online and let your children look at those for inspiration for how to cut ✂ their pieces.  Another idea is to draw an owl 🦉 outline and let your children cut (or tear) pieces of paper into small pieces to glue onto the outline in a mosaic style.  Adding a few small touches, such as a beak, eyes 👀, ears, and claws, will really bring it to life!

An owl 🦉 character figures prominently in Julia Donaldson’s classic tale The Gruffalo, which is currently available as a StoryWalk® at the walking trail at the Mineral Springs Park Walking Trail in Iuka.  Located at 118 S. Pearl Street, this lovely, shaded trail forms the perfect setting to follow a mouse 🐭 as he tries to trick the other forest animals into thinking there is a monster nearby.  The StoryWalk® will be available in Iuka until November 14, after which it will be moved to the newly opened walking trail at the J. C. Nance Park, located at 702 North Main Street in Ripley.  Read more about StoryWalks® here.

We would love to see your crafts! Send pics to

Suggested Family Activities • National Parents as Teachers 🎓 Day and National S.T.E.M. 🧪 Day

Today is both National Parents as Teachers 🎓 Day and National S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. 🧪 Day.  For parents who are looking for a fun experiment to teach or reinforce S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) concepts to their children, try this Candle Burning 🕯 Experiment below from the website  Take caution, though, this experiment does involve fire 🔥 so adult 👴 supervision 👀 at all times will be necessary.

All you will need for this experiment are four tea candles 🕯, four glass jars 🥃 of different sizes that will fit over the candles, matches or a lighter 🔥, some kind of timer (such as a stopwatch ⏱ or the timer on your phone) and paper 📄 and pencil ✏ for them to write down their experiment results. Click the image below for a printable PDF file.

Let us know how your experiment goes!  Send pics to

Suggested Family Activities • Fall Arts & Crafts 🍂

If you are looking for some fall-themed arts 🎨 and crafts projects to do with your family, try out some of these ideas:  Gather leaves 🍂 and other natural elements such as pinecones, acorns, sticks, and rocks to make an interesting fall display for your dining room table.  Don’t forget candles 🕯 to make it super special!  You can also use leaves and small things from nature to make a leaf collage.  Glue everything down to a sheet of paper and embellish it with crayons 🖍, markers 🖊, colored pencils, glitter 🎇, or any other craft supplies you have on hand.  Fall themed colors such as brown, red, and orange are nice but so is letting your children use whatever colors they like.  They can also the power of their imaginations to turn each leaf 🍂 shape into something else entirely.  After gluing a leaf to a piece of paper, maybe they will turn it into a house 🏡 or an animal 🐣.

Look around your kitchen 🍽 and see what interesting things your kids can use to make a fall 🌲 tree.  After drawing a tree trunk on a piece of paper, they could glue small round 🟡 breakfast cereal pieces (such as Cheerios) to represent falling leaves 🍁.  One fun variation is to trace their arm 🙋‍♂️ and hand 🖐 with their fingers spread out onto black or brown paper to be the trunk and limbs of the tree.  If you only have white paper available, no worries!  Just trace it and have your kids color the tree 🌲 trunk.  Another fun way to make falling 🍂 leaves for your tree is to tear up small pieces of tissue paper, crepe paper, or even regular paper in fall colors such as yellow, red, and orange.  Crumple and scrunch each piece to make it look like a falling leaf 🍁.  The picture 🖼 below is a version of this craft created by the mom behind the Resourceful Mama website.  Check out her step-by-step instructions, as well as extra ways to expand the activity, here.

Share pics of your crafts with us here

Suggested Family Activities • StoryWalks®

StoryWalks® have resumed in many of our local communities.  What is a StoryWalk®, you ask?  A StoryWalk® is an outdoor reading experience where a children’s book 📖 is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  Northeast Regional Library is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails this month in Blue Mountain, Booneville, Corinth, Farmington, Iuka, and Ripley.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our at website

In celebration of all things turkey related this month, we have a Story Walk ® of Gobble, Gobble, Crash, a barnyard counting story by Julie Stegemeyer, with illustrations by Valeri Gorbachev.  Can you guess what trouble ensues when turkeys get loose from their pens in the middle of the night?  Go visit the Story Walk ® and find out!  This title will be available at the walking trail in Plumrose Park in Booneville from November 1 – November 16 and at the William M. Sanders walking trail in Blue Mountain from November 18 through the end of the month.

Click here to visit our StoryWalk webpage for more information!

Available in our November activity packets this month are the supplies for children to make a handprint turkey, as well as a colorful Thankful 🦃 Turkey craft project for the whole family. Game sheets included in the packets are a Pin the Wattle on the Turkey 🦃 game and a Turkey Race 🏁 to see who can draw a turkey the fastest.  So pick up your packet today! We would love to see and share pictures of your Turkey Craft!  Send pics to

Suggested Family Activity • National Authors’ Day

Today, on National Authors’ Day, we pay tribute to author 📚 and illustrator 🎨 Jerry Pinkney, who died suddenly recently.  A beloved figure in the world of children’s literature, Pinkney worked on more than 100 titles during his career.  He is perhaps best known for his 2010 Caldecott medal winning rendition of the fable of The Lion and the Mouse. 🦁🐁 In addition to working on picture books for young children, often with his wife Gloria Jean, he also illustrated book covers for such luminaries as Virginia Hamilton and Mildred D. Taylor.  He illustrated the original 1971 edition of her acclaimed novel Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.   During his long career, Pinkney won five Coretta Scott King awards 🏆 from the American Library Association (ALA) and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators.  For more information on the life of Jerry Pinkney, check out this article from NPR.

Your local libraries have lots of copies of Pinkney’s works for you to check out, including his Caldecott title The Lion and the Mouse and the Caldecott Honor title John Henry by Julius Lester.  Many of Pinkney’s work involved legends and fables.  He illustrated a version of Aesop’s Fables, as well as an edition of Rudyard’s Kipling’s The Jungle Book.  Additional fables he illustrated include Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Ugly Duckling and The Little Red Hen.  Other popular titles he worked on include Pat McKissack’s Goin’ Someplace Special and Mirandy and Brother Wind.

October 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity National Frankenstein Day

Just in time for 👻 Halloween, today is National Frankenstein Day, a day to recognize author Mary Shelly.  Originally published in 1818, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, is the story of the horrific monster the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein creates.  Since its publication, there are been several new editions, along with feature film 🎬 versions.  To celebrate today, you can dress up like your favorite character, whether it is 👨‍⚕️ Dr. Frankenstein, the 👺 monster, or even his ill-fated 👰 bride.  You could read the original version or watch one of the many movies about the story, including I, Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein (co-starring Daniel ⚡ Radcliffe), or the classics Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein vs. the Mummy.  Copies of all the book and movie titles are available through your local library. Click Here to view the titles and their availability in our Online Card Catalog.

For a funnier, child-friendly take on the Frankenstein monster, author Adam Rex has written several picture book titles – Frankenstein Takes the Cake and Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.  Other fun Frankenstein themed ideas to do this weekend include baking cookies (or a cake) in the shape of Frankenstein’s head, making up your own crazy sandwich combination, conducting a science experiment, or drawing your own version of the monster.

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Suggested Family Activity Leaf 🍁Prints

As trees 🌳 start to lose their 🍁 leaves, don’t forget that in addition to all the work it brings, there can also be a lot of fun to be had with fallen leaves.  One great arts and craft project idea is to make leaf 🍂 prints using paint and paper.  Have your children go outside and look for a fallen leaf that has a pretty shape.  (You can also look for unique shapes as you take a walk around your neighborhood.)   If rain 🌧 threatens to ruin your family’s leaf collecting, you can even pick a whole bag to keep for other craft projects and things to do over the next few weeks.

This project will be quite messy.  If the weather is nice 🌞 outside, why not go out to a sidewalk, porch, or other flat outdoor space to do your 🎨 painting?  Even if you decide to do the project inside, covering the area with newspapers 📰 or an old sheet or tablecloth will help with accidental spills 💧 and make clean-up go faster.  To make the leaf print, use a paintbrush 🖌 to coat one side of the leaf with paint.  Before you start painting, though, help your children look at both the front and back sides to decide which one will make the best imprint.  After the paint is applied, press the leaf onto a piece of 📄 paper.  Plain white paper will show the color they have chosen to its best advantage or a colored construction paper will have different results.  You may need to help them press down on the leaf gently to make sure all the paint 🎨 transfers to the paper 📄.

If you haven’t decorated a 🎃 pumpkin yet, Woman’s Day magazine has a fun and easy idea for a quick way to decorate a pumpkin without carving it.  They simply melted crayons 🖍 down the pumpkin to create a colorful effect.  To see how they did it, click here:

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Suggested Family Activity

Halloween 🎃 Kindness Cards

October is a time of ghosts 👻 and bats 🦇 and scary monsters 👹, but have you ever thought about spreading kindness 🙂 on Halloween, along with candy 🍫 treats?  The mom behind the website Coffee and Carpool suggests handing out Kindness Cards this year to go along with your usual selections.  What are Kindness Cards, you ask?  They are simple cards that have a positive ➕ message, such as “I love ❤ your costume” and “Hope you get lots of candy 🍬 tonight.”  To view them, click here:

Kindness Cards would also work well for those participating in the Teal Pumpkin 🎃 Project.  It is a national project that encourages families to also pass out non-food items (such as stickers 🏓 bubbles, erasers, ✏ small bouncing balls) to trick-or-treaters for kids who have food allergies, food sensitivities, or cannot have candy.  To find out more information about the project, click here:

It is never too early to teach children how to be kind 🙂 and to respect those who are different than they are.  Some titles available at your local library on the subject include It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr, All for Me and None for All by Helen Lester, The Berenstain Bears Kindness Counts, Cara’s Kindness by Kristi Yamaguchi, and I am Enough by Grace Byers.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Color Day 🌈

Today is National Color Day 🌈 a day to celebrate all the beautiful color that is around us.  Did you know that color can affect your mood or the way you feel about something?  Red, for example, is often used to show excitement, while blue is considered a calming color.  What is your favorite color?  Often, we use color in our home 🏠 to reflect our creativity 🎨 or we pick our favorite colors to wear on our clothing or on our belongings to reflect our personality.

One way to celebrate color today is to … well, color 🖍 Whether you use crayons, colored pencils ✏ markers or paint 🖌 you can celebrate all the shades rain of color found in the world.  Coloring as a relaxing hobby is not just for children anymore either.  Adults and teens are also enjoying the fun with coloring books and sheets made just for them.  There are lots of great coloring sheets available in NERL’s October activity packets – have you picked up yours at your local library yet?  We even have teen and adult coloring sheets that have fall and Halloween 🎃 themes so get yours today!

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Suggested Family Activity • Pumpkin 🎃 STEM Experiment

If you have a pumpkin 🎃 on your front porch or steps, you have everything you need to conduct a STEM experiment 🧪 with your children.  To learn how vegetable matter decomposes, have them make a chart 📊 or write down each day’s progress as the pumpkin rots.  Small children can draw pictures, while older children can record details 📝 about how the pumpkin looks, what the temperature 🌡 is outside ☁ and other details about the weather, such as if there is a frost or it rains.  They can even document how the outside of the pumpkin feels 🎃 if they are brave enough to touch it!  This experiment has just enough ‘yuck’ factor to entertain children of all ages.

If your children love all things oozing and slimy, check out these directions from the Little Bins Little Hands website to make pumpkin slime using liquid 💧 starch and school glue:   The website also talks about the science behind slime for those interested in the ‘Why’ behind it.

As you are waiting for your 🎃 to rot, check out some of the following titles at your local library branch:  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara, Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll, The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Arnold, and In a Pumpkin Shell: Over 20 Pumpkin Projects for Kids by Jennifer Storey Gillis.  Also don’t forget the Peanuts classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, available in both movie and book form.

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Suggested Family Activity • Winnie the Pooh’s 95th Anniversary

This month marks the 95th anniversary celebration of the publication of the first Winnie the Pooh book by A. A. Milne.  Illustrated by artist E. H. Shepard, the beloved stories have been treasured by generations around the world.   Which is your favorite character from the Hundred Acre Wood?  Do you prefer Pooh?  Or do you like adventurous Tigger or continually worried (but brave in the end) Piglet?  What about kind Kanga or wise Owl, gloomy Eeyore or workaholic Rabbit?  Let us know at  Your local library branch has lots of story books about the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood, as well as copies of all their movies, so check one today!

For this momentous occasion, Disney has released a new animated short in honor of the celebrations.  To view it, visit  Their website also has lots of other Pooh related information, such as craft projects, Hundred Acre Wood inspired snacks and food ideas, other short clips from classic Winnie the Pooh movies, and a downloadable storybook.  For more information about the making of the short, as well as other 95th anniversary happenings, also check out

NERL Director Dee Hare is crazy for all things Pooh related.  See pictures of her collection below!

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Suggested Family Activity • Clever 🎃 Costumes

If you like to make your children’s Halloween costumes, your local library has books available to give you inspiration.  Clever Costume Creating for Halloween: An A to Z Guide of 200 Costume Ideas by Suzanne Singleton and A Ghostly Good Time: The Family Halloween Handbook are good choices for ideas to fit any budget and skill level, from beginner on up.  For any experienced knitters out there, Monster Knits for Little Monsters by Nuriya Khegay contains twenty designs for animal themed hats, mittens, bootie sets and more to knit to give your little ones a costumed look for every day.  Costumes are not just for children either, Halloween: A Grown-up’s Guide to Creative Costumes, Devilish Decor & Fabulous Festivities by Joanne O’Sullivan and The Halloween Handbook: 447 Costumes by Bridie Clark has ideas for adults and older teens too.

To start getting kids into the Halloween spirit, check out some of these picture books featuring classic characters that they know and love: Clifford’s Halloween by Norman Bridwell, Curious George Goes to a Costume Party and Happy Halloween, Curious George by H. A. Rey, Froggy’s Halloween by Jonathan London, The Halloween Parade by Rosemary Wells, Minerva Louise on Halloween by Janet Morgan         Stoeke, Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion, and Scaredy-Cat, Splat! by Rob Scotton.

Suggested Family Activity • National Bring Your Teddy Bear 🧸 to Work and School Day

Today is National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work and School Day, a day to celebrate and show off your favorite stuffed Teddy.  Teddy bears bring a lot of comfort to people of all ages.  They are the perfect size to give a quick hug to get through a difficult time or to help young children fall asleep.  Your first Teddy bear is often a prized possession of many adults.  Some people even collect Teddy bears and have them displayed in their homes, in their vehicles, and in their office or work space.  Teddy bears are also a great gift idea to give to someone to cheer them up.

Did you know Teddy bears first became a ‘thing’ when President Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in the Mississippi Delta and refused to shoot a young bear cub that had been tied up?  Cartoonist Clifford Berryman even drew a cartoon for the prestigious Washington Post newspaper depicting the incident.  But when a New York store owner saw the cartoon, he decided to create a new toy – a Teddy bear – and an instant classic was born.

Send us pictures of your Teddy today at  Don’t forget to tell us if it has a special name, other than Teddy!

Suggested Family Activity • October Activity Packs 🎃

Have you picked up an October activity packet at your local library yet?  In the packet for children 6 and under, supplies are included to make both a Mosaic Paper Maple Leaf by tearing up pieces of crepe paper and gluing them to a leaf template and a Paper Plate Mummy craft project using one of our favorite basic items – white paper plates.  Another easy craft project idea for children joins together ideas from each of these projects – white paper plates and torn pieces of paper.  Children can make a Pumpkin decoration very simply with orange construction paper (or white paper colored orange) that is ripped into small pieces.  Children then glue the pieces to their paper plate.  (If you do not have any paper plates, you can just draw a pumpkin outline for them.)  Do not worry about filling in every spot – the messier the better!  Adults can then help them cut (or tear) a brown stem and some green leaves and maybe a vine wrapping around the plate to create the finishing pumpkin effect.

Another fun alternative for children (and adults) of all ages is to color a paper plate orange (or cut a pumpkin shape out of white or orange paper) and then cut apart an old magazine, looking for funny expressions on people’s faces or various parts (noses, eyes, mouth, etc.) to mix and match to make a face collage for their Jack o Lantern.  Everyone in the family can get into the fun and make one.  You can make your face scary, funny, or try to make it look like yourself!  Whatever you do, we would love to see a picture of it!  Send your pictures to

Suggested Family Activity • I Love Yarn 🧶 Day

Tomorrow is I Love Yarn Day.  Do you love to knit or crochet?  Have you always wanted to learn?  Check out these books from our collection to help you with your craft:  The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits by Julie Carles, Colorful Crochet by Therese Hagstedt, Baby Knits Made Easy, Easy Toys: 25 Delightful Creations to Knit and Crochet, Hip to Knit: 18 Contemporary Projects for Today’s Knitter by Judith L. Swartz, Knits for Nerds: 30 Projets: Science Fiction, Comic Books, Fantasy by Toni Carr, Crochet a Zoo: Fun Toys for Baby and You by Megan Kreiner, Knitting a Kiss in Every Stitch: Creating Gifts for the People you Love by Nicky Epstein.

If you love reading works of fiction about knitting and crochet, check out The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club series by Gil McNeil and The Shop on Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber.  If you like mysteries, check out some of Monica Ferris’s “Needlecraft” series set in a cozy craft shop, Maggie Sefton’s series set in a Colorado yarn store, one of the Seaside Knitters mysteries by Sally Goldenbaum, or the crochet mysteries by Betty Hechtman.

If you want to introduce children to a love for yarn, check out the picture books Angelita’s Magic Yarn by Doris Lecher, Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, Mr. Putter & Tabby Spin the Yarn by Cynthia Rylant, Knit Together by Angela Dominguez, or Knitting Nell by Julie J. Roth.  And if they are ready to learn the craft, get them Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick or Knitting for Children: 35 Simple Knits Kids Will Love to Make by Claire Montgomerie.

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Suggested Family Activity • Fall 🍂 Craft and Activity Packets

October is here and with it a new set of fall craft and activity packets for families and children of all ages!  Our seasonal themed packets have lots of fun things for everyone in your family, including:

A Family set that has activities such as a sheet to make a leaf rubbing, a Fall Bucket list, and a Resolve to Read 30 day reading challenge.  (A Family set is included in each 6 and under and 7-11 packet.)

A 6 and under set that includes a fall matching game, a cut and paste fall objects sheet, and other crossword puzzles, mazes, coloring sheets, and Mosaic Paper Maple Leaf and Paper Plate Mummy craft projects.

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A 7 – 11 set with activities that includes a How to Draw an Owl sheet, a scary story writing prompt, a STEM Design Challenge sheet, a soil experiment, other fun activity sheets, and Bat Launcher and STEM Hand craft projects.

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A 12 and up set that includes journal writing prompts, a STEM Design Challenge sheet, a Why Do Leaves Change Color science experiment, a sheet to create your own emojis, copies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and a retelling of the myth “Arachne and the Weaving Contest,” and Bat Launcher and Origami Owl craft projects. And we also have a new set of adult coloring sheets for fans of this relaxing pastime.  If you are an adult or teen who likes to color, ask for a packet of coloring sheets just for you!

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Each age group packet also contains a suggested reading list from NERL’s card catalog that is specific to that age group. And don’t worry, if your child is on the cusp of two groups or one of the other sets or craft projects sounds interesting, you are welcome to ask for multiple packets!  So stop by a branch of Northeast Regional Library soon to get your October packets.

Suggested Family Activity • National Do Something Nice 🙂 Day

Tomorrow is National Do Something Nice Day so try to take every opportunity you can over the next few days to do something nice for those around you.  Who knows?  Your kind deed could have the power to change the course of someone else’s day from a bad one to a good one.  It often doesn’t take much time at all to do something for someone else.  It could be as simple as letting someone go in front of you in line, holding the door open for someone, or picking up your neighbor’s newspaper out of their driveway and putting it on their doorstep.

Sometimes doing something nice can be as easy as listening to someone talk.  Maybe you can help someone with a problem they are having.  Or maybe an elderly neighbor or someone who lives alone just wants someone to visit with them.  All ages can get involved with doing nice things.  Children of all ages (and adults too!) can practice giving other people compliments, which is always a nice thing to do.  And anyone who drives can notice someone’s signal in traffic and allow them into your lane if it is safe to do so or let the other driver go first whenever possible.

Suggested Family Activity • Yard 🍁 & Garden 👩‍🌾

October is a great time to spend time outside working on your yard and cleaning up the remains of your summer garden.  It’s the perfect weather – slightly cooler temperatures and breezes make it more pleasant to spend an extended time outside.  Why not organize a family work party this weekend?  You can plant bulbs that will flower in the spring – annuals, such as pansies, violas, wildflowers are great ideas.  Or you can plant perennials, such as daylilies 🌷 irises, Shasta daisies 🌼 and peonies.  You can also pot herbs, such as basil, rosemary, and sage, to keep on a sunny windowsill inside this winter.  Other fall tasks that you could do include removing limbs and debris from your yard, cutting out dead limbs from trees 🌲 so they don’t fall during winter storms, and removing or mulching fallen leaves.  All ages of the family can get involved with this activity.  While adults are wielding pruning shears and chainsaws, younger children can drag limbs to the side of the road or help dig holes for plantings.  And when you are finished for the day, the cooler temperatures make it pleasant to spend time outside relaxing on a blanket, in lawn chairs, or hanging out on a porch or patio.  For more information about fall gardening chores from the experts at the Mississippi State Extension Service, check out their website at

September 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Entertaining 🧸Toddlers

If you are looking for ways to entertain your toddler, while also gently teaching them kindness, empathy, and responsibility, try these activities:  Give them a doll or plush toy, and encourage your child to hold, talk, dress, and take care of it for the day.  Demonstrate what kind of behavior you expect to see in this ‘game’ by showing your child how to treat their doll or stuffed animal gently instead of being rough with it.  Also show them how to talk to it in a nice tone of voice and ask your child to mimic how and what you say.  This fun activity also encourages their creativity and imagination, as well as their language and social skills.

Another fun activity for young children is to hide a toy somewhere in the room or house, depending on how mobile they are, and ask them to find it.  Use verbal cues such as “warmer” and “colder” to guide them.  This is also a great time to work on directional concepts, such as “left,” “right,” “up,” “down,” etc.  If you hide the object in a dark area, it will also be fun to use flashlights to helpthem look.

For more learning activities and entertaining coloring sheets for pre-school aged children, don’t forget to pick up your Early Literacy activity packet before September ends.  It has sheets to help your child learn letters, numbers, and colors, as well as two sheets of practice paper to start practicing writing their name or letters.

Suggested Family Activity • National Good Neighbor 🏡 Day

Tomorrow is National Good Neighbor 🏡 Day, a day set aside each year to remind everyone that it is a great idea to get to know their neighbors.  Why is it important to know your neighbors?  Neighbors can watch out for each other when one of them is not at home or during times of stormy or wintry weather.  Neighbors can also lend a helping hand to each other, whether it is to help remove a tree limb from their yard or keep an eye on pets when you’re not at home.  Sometimes our neighbors stay our friends, even if one of you moves away.

🌳 🏡 🌳 🏘 🌳

To have a good neighbor relationship, you have to be a good neighbor in return.  So if you see someone in your neighborhood who needs help with something, whether it is mowing their yard occasionally or carrying a heavy package in for them, give them a few minutes of your time.  If you have extra produce from your garden, why not share them with a neighbor?  Or if you bake cookies for your family, take a few to a neighbor.  And don’t forget that it is always neighborly of you to check on people in your neighborhood who live alone.  Many times, they will be grateful for a short visit to get to talk to someone.

Suggested Family Activity • Better Breakfast Day 🧇🍳🥓

September is Better Breakfast Month 🧇🍳🥓a time to celebrate what some people believe to be the most important meal of the day.  Taking time to eat breakfast can have helpful health benefits, as many nutritionists believe that starting your day by eating a regular morning meal can help control weight by setting a pattern of eating smaller, healthy meals throughout the day.  Eating first thing in the morning also gives our bodies energy to get through our day.  Children who have a healthy breakfast before school often think more clearly and behave better while they are at school.

A great breakfast should contain a balance of all the major food groups – protein, dairy, fat, and carbohydrates. Including some of each in your breakfast will help you to make it to your next meal without resorting to mindless snacking.  It also may help improve your family bonding if your family makes a habit grabbing a quick bite to eat together each morning before everyone heads out the door.

Sunday, September 26 is Better Breakfast Day 🧇🍳🥓 What will you eat for breakfast?  Cereal, milk, and a banana?  Pancakes, waffles, or French toast?  Toast, sausage, or bacon?  If you need ideas for new things to try for breakfast, check out some of the cookbooks available at your local library branch, including Morning Food: Breakfasts, Brunches & More for Savoring the Best Part of the Day by Margaret S. Fox and A Real American Breakfast: The Best Meal of the Day, Anytime of the Day by Cheryl Alters Jamison.

We would love to see what you eat for breakfast!  Send pictures of your awesome breakfasts to

Suggested Family Activity • Dear Diary 📔 Day

Today is Dear Diary Day, a special time to celebrate the little book that holds all our most precious memories, as well as a few secrets!  There are many benefits of writing in a diary or keeping a journal.  The activity is a great stress reliever as writing down our thoughts and feelings ‘gets them out of our system’ and tends to make us feel better.  Writing down funny family incidents that happen day to day also helps us to remember them. Sure, you remember what happened on special events, but do you remember what happened today, five years ago?  How many times has your child said something funny that you want to remember but forget to write down?  If you keep a diary or a journal, you will have precious memories both large and small written down forever.  Keeping a diary or journal also helps us to sharpen our writing skills, vocabulary, and other language skills.  If you do not have a diary or a journal, consider starting one today.


Today is also the date of the Autumnal Equinox and the first day of fall 🍂🍁 Although many people consider fall to begin after Labor Day, the official start is always on the Autumnal Equinox for those in the Northern Hemisphere.  Why?  Because this day is one of two each year when most places on Earth see the sun rise and set at due east and due west, giving us exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 of darkness.  When this happens twice a year, the sun can be seen directly overhead along the equator, and the result is a change in the seasons.

Suggested Family Activity • Responsible Dog 🐶 Ownership Day

Tomorrow is Responsible Dog Ownership Day so take plenty of time this weekend to give love and affection to your doggie friends.  Dogs need basic things, such as food, water, and a warm place to sleep, but responsible dog ownership goes much farther than that.  Dogs, just like humans, need medical care and check-ups, as well as exercise to stay healthy.  They also get lonely while their humans are away at work and school during the day so catch up on some quality time cuddling and playing with them this weekend.  To help them get some exercise, grab a ball, frisbee, or chew toy to play with outside.  Caring for a pet is a big responsibility but the great thing is that everyone in the family can get involved with caring for them.  Little ones can help fill food bowls and check for clean, fresh water every day.  They also love helping take dogs for walks or playing with them outside.

If you are thinking of getting a dog or puppy anytime soon, there are books waiting for you at your local library that will help you know what to expect:  101 Questions Your Dog Would Ask its Vet: What’s Bothering Your Dog and How to Solve its Problems by Helen Dennis, The Complete Guide to Mutts: Selection, Care, and Celebration from Puppyhood to Senior by Margaret H. Bonham, 97 Ways to Make a Dog Smile by Jenny Langbehn, The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete and Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog– and Your Life by Cesar          Millan are just a few.

 We would love to see pictures of your family’s dogs!  Send them to us at

Suggested Family Activity • National Kids 🍅🥕🥔 Take Over The Kitchen Day

Today is National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day, a day when children and teens can give their parents and caregivers a break and cook up a delicious meal for their family.  Or, if you have little ones, it’s a great day to introduce them to the steps involved in making a meal.  Helping with the planning, preparation, and cooking of meals is also a great way to spend time together as a family.  Did you know children who help out with preparing meals tend to make healthier food choices?  And families who eat meals together feel more connected as they have a chance to hear about each other’s day without the distraction of phones, television, or the internet.

Other national day celebrations coming up this week that you can use for food inspiration include National Eat a Hoagie Day tomorrow on Tuesday, September 14th.  Sandwiches, or hoagies, are a great beginner item for children who can’t reach the stove or microwave to fix.  Plus, everyone can personalize it with whatever bread, meat, cheese, and toppings they like.  Tuesday is also National Cream Filled Donut Day and while donuts might be too complicated to try to cook at home, your family could incorporate them as a side item for breakfast or as a special dessert for supper.

The second Tuesday in September every year is National Ants on A Log Day.  Ants on a Log are a healthy snack that is easy to teach someone how to make.  This classic 1950s snack and appetizer is made by spreading peanut butter on pieces of celery and placing raisins on top.  Wednesday, September 15th is National Cheese Toast Day, which is another classic creation that is very easy to make.  Cheese toast, which is different from grilled cheese sandwiches, is made by placing cheese on a single piece of bread and toasting it until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted.  Adult supervision with operating the oven will be necessary, but it is a great snack or meal that anyone can do.  Like grilled cheeses, cheese toast is also great when it is eaten with soup.

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Suggested Family Activity • Outdoor 🏃‍♀️ 🏁 🏃‍♂️ Fun

If you’re looking for some fun ideas to get your family outside and moving around this weekend, check out some of these great classic activities:

Remember sack races?  Introduce your children to the fun, but challenging, game by marking off a start and finish line 🏁 outside.  Traditionally, burlap sacks have been used but you can substitute large pillowcases for small children or sleeping bags for adults and older kids.  Another classic field day and family reunion game is the two-legged race, where you tie together the right leg of one person to the left leg of the second person and see if they can make it to the finish line without falling over.

Yet another classic outdoor game to try this weekend is hopscotch, which can be played by one person or several.  An adult will need to draw the hopscotch pattern on a porch, patio, or sidewalk with chalk using the following pattern:  Squares 1, 2, and 3 are stacked on top of each other.  Squares 4 and 5 are drawn next to each other.  Then squares 5, and 6 are stacked on top of each other.  The pattern ends with squares 7 and 8 next to each other in a double pattern and single squares for 9 and 10.  There are many ways to play hopscotch, depending on how many people are playing.  The following is just one version:

The first person throws a small stone or other small place marker into the first square. They then try to hop on one foot into the first empty square (#2), and then every subsequent empty square, skipping the square that the marker is on.   At the pairs (4-5 and 7-8), they jump with both feet.  When they reach square 10, they hop with both feet, turn around, and head back toward the starting point (#1).  When they reach the square with the place marker again, they pick up the marker, while on one foot, and go back through the numbers again.  If they can finish without any mistakes, they pass the marker to the next player for them to try.  If they are playing by themselves, they start the process over by placing the marker on square 2.  And on and on … If anyone falls, jumps outside the lines, or misses a square or the marker, their turn is over and they must repeat the same number on their next turn. Whichever player gets through the whole course with the marker at square 10, wins.

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Suggested Family Activity • Dinosaur🐱‍🐉 Craft

Do your kids love dinosaurs and doing arts and crafts projects?  If you have some paper plates, you can let them make their own dinosaur today.  Grab a plain white paper plate and cut it in half to be the body of the dino.  Children color the body whatever color they want, using crayons, markers, or paint.  Maybe they will make a green dinosaur or maybe it will be a  pink, purple, or blue one.  (You can also use left-over colored plates from birthday parties to make a body).  After they have colored the body, help them draw and cut out pieces to glue to the paper plate to finish their dino friend.  Draw a long neck and head to make an apatosaurus or one with three horns to make a triceratops.  Or add spines down the dinosaur’s back to turn it into a stegosaurus or an ankylosaur.  Don’t forget to add a tail (short and stumpy or long and curved) and legs to finish out their dinosaur.

If your family would like to do more dinosaur arts and craft projects, check out Crafts for Kids who are Wild about Dinosaurs by Kathy Ross.  Young children just venturing into the world of dinosaurs will enjoy Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs by Tedd Arnold and Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by National Geographic.  Older children who love dinosaurs will want to check out some of the great non-fiction books available at your local library branch.  They include Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Great Big Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur A to Z by Dustin Growick, and A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Story of the Colossal Fossil: The World’s Most Complete T. Rex by Patricia Relf.

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Suggested Family Activity • Labor Day & Read a Book 📗 Day

The first Monday of every September is set aside as Labor Day, a day to honor all those who work and labor in America’s workforce.  Labor Day also signals the official end of summer, so it is a perfect time for those who work hard all year to take a day to do something fun.

This year, Labor Day also coincides with National Read A Book Day, so combine the two celebrations by spending today relaxing and reading a great book.  In addition to reading your own book today, don’t forget about reading books out loud to your children or other members of the family.  Even older family members or neighbors will enjoy being read to, especially if it is difficult for them to see books themselves.  Children can get into the fun too, by reading out loud to other family members, reading to their pets, or even just reading to their favorite stuffed animals.

All NERL branches are closed today but make sure to visit one sometime this week to pick up lots of great books to read.  Whether you like fiction, such as romances, mysteries, thrillers or westerns or non-fiction titles, such as self-help categories, history or religious studies, your local library has just the book for you!  Branches even have audio books on CD and MP3, large-print books, and digital books through our website at

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Suggested Family Activity • National Food 🍴🥔 Bank Day

Today is National Food Bank Day, a day set aside each year to encourage people to help at their local food banks.  Maybe you can donate cash or nonperishable food items to a local food bank.  Or maybe you can donate your time to volunteer to sort donated items or hand them out.  Whatever you choose to do, your efforts will be appreciated by those in need.

Now is also a good time to get a head start on colder weather by pulling out all your long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants, coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, thick socks, gloves, and mittens to get them organized for winter.  As you are getting the items organized, check to see what items your family may have outgrown or do not want to wear anymore.  Don’t forget to also check to see if anyone has too many of certain items, such as socks.  While you are cleaning out and taking stock of your winter clothes, you can also go through other items in your home to see what you do not want or need anymore.  Any ‘extras’ can be donated to groups and organizations who pass items along to those who need them.

Suggested Family Activity • Back-to-School 🏫 Early Literacy Activity Packet

Starting today, all NERL branches will begin handing out a Back-to-School Early Literacy activity packet.  Inside it, you will find lots of great activities to introduce young children to the joy of learning, such as connect the dots and mazes, as well as sheets that help them with their sight words, shapes, and colors.  The packet also contains sheets that show them how to start writing their numbers and letters, and we’ve even included two primary tablet sheets for them to practice them on.  While most of the activity sheets are aimed at children ages 6 years old and younger, there are also coloring sheets inside each packet that are suitable for any age, as well as a “Have Fun Reading” choice board sheet that will be fun for the whole family.  And don’t worry – we didn’t forget the craft project!  Each packet also contains everything your child needs to make a cute Red Apple.  We hope your family enjoys our fun-filled fall packet of things to do.  Get yours today!

We also have a new set of adult coloring sheets for fans of this relaxing pastime.  If you are an adult or teen who likes to color, ask for a packet of coloring sheets just for you. We would love to see photos of what you and your family have created with our packets and Suggest Family Activity ideas!  Send them to for us to post on our website.

August 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • National Trail Mix candy 🥜🥨 Day

Tomorrow is National Trail Mix Day so get ready today by making up a batch of the delicious and healthy treat.  The mix was originally developed as a nutritious snack to be taken along on hikes because it is lightweight, easy to store and good for you.  Traditional versions have dried fruits (such as raisins, cherries or pineapple pieces), nuts (such as peanuts, cashews or almonds), loose granola and even chocolate chips or M&Ms!  In honor of National Trail Mix Day tomorrow, try making your family’s own version to take with you on your next family walk or for any time you’re craving a great snack.  Child-friendly versions can include pretzels or pretzel sticks, Goldfish or other small crispy snacks, or small cereal pieces like Cheerios or Chex.  To add a little sweetness, you can add marshmallows, something chocolate, or you can even get fancy with yogurt covered raisins.  Package your homemade trail mix in individual snack bags so that family members can enjoy their own servings without worrying about spreading germs with one large bag everyone sticks their hand into!

Suggested Family Activity • National Thoughtful 💭 Day

Tomorrow is National Thoughtful Day so spend some time this weekend showing others how much you appreciate and value them.  Family members of all ages can participate – there are things that any age from children to teens to adults can do to show their appreciation for someone else.  Handwritten notes, cards, and drawings can be done by any age and sent to friends and families far away (or an elderly neighbor on your street who doesn’t get a lot of mail).  You could also help an elderly family member or neighbor with their shopping, carrying packages inside for them, or bringing their garbage can back to their house.  Adults or teens could even mow a neighbor’s yard for them or help in their garden.  You could also bake cookies or a cake to give to someone who could use a special treat.  Or you could even surprise your co-workers next week with donuts or coffee for everyone.

You can also show appreciation for random strangers today by greeting people you see in stores or holding doors open for them.   If you have fresh flowers blooming in your yard or garden, you could take a bouquet to neighbors or places such as nursing homes to brighten a stranger’s day.  And don’t forget, one of the best things you can share with someone is your time, so take your children (or help out a friend by taking their children) outside to play or to a park.  Children always appreciate special time just for them.

Suggested Family Activity • Drawing 🎶 Lyrics

A fun activity today that will encourage your child’s language and storytelling skills, as well as their creativity, starts by pulling out some paper and crayons or markers.  Pick one of your child’s favorite songs to sing (or let them pick) and start drawing a simple picture of what is happening in the lyrics as you sing.  Draw just one part and then take turns with your child filling in additional parts. Here are some examples to get you started:  If you sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” you will take turns drawing stars, the night sky, and a diamond.  If you sing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” you will draw the spider, rain, the waterspout, the sun, etc.  If your child loves the “Baby Shark” song, you will draw all different sizes of the sharks in the song.  And for a long drawing session, you could even sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and draw all the animals mentioned.  After you have taken turns drawing, encourage your child to use their own imagination and draw a picture on their own as you sing or even make up their own song to sing and draw a picture of what is happening in it.

Suggested Family Activity • You’ve Got 📫 Mail

Children love to receive mail.  Have them create a mailbox today by recycling and reusing an old shoe box or small cardboard box and cutting a slit in the top.  Let them decorate it by covering it with paper (patterned or plain) and using crayons, markers, stickers, etc. to personalize it.  Then, make a few cute cards and letters to ‘send’ to your child to give them the thrill of opening mail intended just for them.  Don’t forget to recruit other family members to write letters and notes so that they have something to open every day.  You can also put your household junk mail in their mailbox for children to ‘help’ you open.  They will also enjoy playing ‘post office’ by helping to hand out the real mail to other members of their family. 

After they have had the fun of receiving 📮 mail, let them enjoy the feeling of pride and satisfaction that comes from sending a letter or card to someone.  With paper and pencil (or markers, crayons, etc. if you have them), they can create short notes and cards to send to loved ones or drop off at neighbors’ houses to brighten their day.  Even if they or you 📧 hand deliver the cards and notes, this activity could be a great introduction in how to address an envelope and where the stamp goes.  And one final hint – stickers make a great pretend stamp, although some children might like to design their own stamps.

Suggested Family Activity • Digital Resources

These days, more and more people are turning to digital resources such as E-books and E-audios as they go about their daily lives.  Electronic books, also called E-books, are books that have been converted to a digital format for use on devices such as computers and laptops, smart phones, or e-book readers, such as a Nook or a Kindle.  You need an internet connection to initially download the book but after that, readers can be used almost anywhere and at any time.  Although many people still prefer the traditional book format (or a combination of both), some of the benefits of these devices are that they are portable and can hold many titles at once.  Many people who must commute to work or drive long distances regularly enjoy the benefits of downloading e-audios to their devices so that books can be listened to by syncing their devices with their vehicles.  NERL branches have many patrons who are truck drivers or factory workers who enjoy listening to e-audios during the day to help them pass the time. Did you know NERL has two options available for e-book and e-audio users?  Hoopla is a digital materials service made possible through a pilot program with the Mississippi Library Commission.  Thousands of e-books and e-audios, including titles for both children and adults, can be found through this service.  Hoopla has even recently added a new feature that allows you to listen to audio books through smart TVs, such as those that use Roku, Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast.  Support is even available for those with Alexa devices, so that you can tell Alexa to play your audio book while you are at home! NERL also belongs to the Mississippi Library Consortium through the digital service OverDrive.  Using their Libby app, you can borrow digital titles purchased by any library in the state.  To find more information about these services, visit the homepage of the NERL website and look under the MENU option for “Digital Services”.  You can also call your local library branch for one-on-one assistance.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer 🏃‍♀️ Olympics

The summer Olympics may be over but there’s still plenty of time to get your family involved in Olympics inspired activities.  You can teach young children to do a flip, handstand, or a cartwheel like gymnasts or place down a piece of painter’s tape to mimic a balance beam or tightrope and let them try to walk from one end to the other without ‘falling off’.  You can give them a hula hoop or lengths of ribbon or crepe paper tied to a stick to practice the artistic swirls of rhythmic gymnastics.  Events such as baseball and basketball are Olympic sports, so get your family separated into teams for some outdoor fun.  Children can even mimic Olympic weightlifters by having competitions to see who can lift a can of vegetables or soup (the larger the better) the most times.  Track and field events are also popular Olympic sports, so let them compete to see who can run the fastest, jump the highest, or throw a frisbee the farthest.  You can even make small hurdles (pillows work well to prevent injuries) for them to jump over.

Suggested Family Activity • Self 📸 Portraits

Children love to draw or color the people around them, which can sometimes be an eye-opening experience for their adult caregivers!  Have them try their hand at making self-portraits today to get them thinking about the different parts that make up their face and hair.  Plain paper will work fine, but if you have any white paper plates, they make an excellent form on which to draw face.  Crayons and markers work well but other types of craft supplies could also produce interesting results if you have them.  Let them try buttons, beads, pipe cleaners, or pom poms to make facial features or just let them cut out eye and hair pieces out of colored paper.  Another fun option is to cut different nose, eye, hair, and other features from old magazines, and let them use those to create a fun self-portrait.

To keep the fun going after they have made their self-portrait, they can continue to make funny creatures or silly faces.  Maybe they will make a monster or a fairy or an animal of some sort.  After they have finished, encourage them to tell you a story about their creation.  Working on this project with help expand their imagination and creative skills, as well as work on their language and physical dexterity in cutting and gluing the pieces.

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Suggested Family Activity • Elvis 🕺🎙 Week

Karaoke with Elvis: George E Allen LibraryElvis Week 2021 kicks off today and lasts through August 17.  Held annually during the anniversary of his death, it gives people all around the world a chance to remember the music pioneer.  Elvis Aaron Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.  His birthplace, a simple two-room home, is a tourist destination for many.  (For more information, visit  His family relocated to nearby Memphis, Tennessee when he was 13, a city that would forever remain his home.  After his success as an entertainer, he built a large mansion in Memphis known as Graceland.  Almost ten years after his death, it was opened to

the public as a museum.  In the years since, it has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places (the first site related to rock and roll to be listed) and declared a National Historic Landmark, also a first for such a site. It is the most-visited privately owned home (his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley is the current owner) in America, with over 650,000 visitors a year.  In comparison, other publicly owned houses in the U. S. include the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Hearst Castle in California and the White House.  For more information about Graceland, including a Live Cam view of the estate, visit

To remember Elvis and his legacy this week, play some of his hit songs, such as “Blue Suede Shoes” or “Jailhouse Rock” and watch some of his movies.  Blue Hawaii, G. I. Blues, Harum Scarum, and Viva Las Vegas are some of the titles available at your local library branches.

Suggested Family Activity • National Book 📕 Lover’s Day

Today is National Book Lovers Day so what better way to celebrate it than by making a visit to your nearest public library?  Are you looking for lively picture books to read to your family?  Family Reunion by Chad Richardson follows a young boy’s journey to understand the joy and beauty of gathering with extended family while Bethany Carr’s board book I Love My Family is created to be a short but sweet treat for little ones just learning how to sit through a story.  Marshmallow Pie: The Cat Superstar by Clara Vulliamy is the start of a new picture book series that finds Marshmallow’s new owners wanting to turn him into an internet star.  Children just learning how to read on their own will enjoy Splat the Cat: A Whale of a Tale, a Level 1 title in the “I Can Read” series, while graphic novel readers will enjoy the newest title in the “Bots” series by Russ Bolts, Attack of the ZomBots!

Library staff are happy to help you find something fun and exciting things to read, whether you like fiction or non-fiction, classic or contemporary writers, or any in the wide variety of genres the library carries, such as westerns, political intrigue, romances, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and more.  After you’ve picked out a good book to read today, take it to your favorite reading spot and read the day away!

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Suggested Family Activity • National 🩳 Underwear Day

Today is National Underwear 🩳 Day so remember to wear your underwear today!

Children love all sorts of humorous tales about underwear so check out some of these picture books titles from your local library today:  Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman, Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds, One Big Pair of Underwear by Laura Gehl, and Something’s Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear by Jory John.  Children’s book author and illustrator Claire Freedman even has a whole series of picture books about underwear: Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Monsters Love Underpants, and Pirates love Underpants.

This weekend is National Play Outside Day so hopefully it won’t be 🌧 raining.  Scratch that!  Rain can be really fun ☔ to play in, so don’t let the rain stop you!  Have fun outside this weekend, rain or shine (unless there is lightning, of course)!  It is also National Root Beer Float Day, so don’t forget to have a cold root beer mixed with 🍨 ice cream.  Today is the perfect day to enjoy them mixed together!

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Suggested Family Activity • Sun ☀ Prints

☀ We have been in the middle of a heat wave, with temperatures outside soaring into the 90s.  Take advantage of the sun shining down to create some Sun Prints today.  Sun prints are what happens when you leave an object on a colored piece of paper so that the sun fades the paper but there is a darker space left where the object shields the paper from the sun’s rays.  To make this fun art activity at home, construction paper works best as it fades easily.  Have your children collect several different kinds of objects to experiment with different end results.

Many people use natural objects, such as leaves 🍃 or flowers 🌼 to create sun prints.  But children can try some of their toys 🪀 or odd shaped household items 🛠 to design a great pattern.  Leave your objects on the paper in full sun and check on them often to see how they are progressing.

You can even turn this into a STEM activity by having children make a prediction for how long they think it will take before the paper fades, as well as doing tests to see if different colors fade faster than others.  Children can also test if different types, sizes, or shapes of objects work better than others.

Suggested Family Activity • Family ♥ and Friendship 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

As we begin the month of August, there are several important National Day celebrations that illustrate the importantance of families and friends – Respect for Parents Day, American Family Day, National Friendship Day and National Sisters Day.  Wow, that’s a mouthful!  And a lot of celebrations packed into just one day!  National Respect for Parents Day highlights how important it is to show your respect for your parents, no matter how old you are.  Children should not make fun of their parents, roll their eyes at them, or speak to them with an ugly tone in their voice.  Instead, they should speak to their parents with a pleasant tone and pay close attention to them, as well as do what they say and do what they are asked to do. 

For National American Family Day, there are so many great things that can be done while enjoying your family time!  Outdoor activities are nice, such as hiking, biking, picnicking, or playing at a park.  Fun indoor activities include playing board games, putting together puzzles, or spending time reading.  The main thing is being together and connecting as a family.  When you are having family time, try to disconnect from technology for a while…unless the family decides to use technology for their time together (such as a virtual family day) when family is separated for some reason. 

National Friendship Day is the perfect time to gather with your closest friends or maybe just one special friend.  On this day, make a point to concentrate on your time spent together.  Put away your phone and get rid of any other distractions so that you can truly give your friend or friends the “gift” of your time and attention.  There are many things friends may choose to do together.  You may just want to “chill” together or you may wish to visit while you eat a meal.  Whatever way you decide to spend your time together, just “be there” for your friends. 

National Sisters Day is a chance for sisters to get together!  If you have a sister, make sure to carve out some special time during this day to visit with her.  If you don’t have a sister, maybe you can adopt someone to be a sister for this special day.  The ideas are endless for how sisters may wish to spend their time.  The main thing is to be giving of your time and attention.

All of these national day events for the first of August are wonderful, so pick one or more of them and enjoy your time!

July 2021 Suggested Family Activities: Summer Reading Edition

Suggested Family Activity • Tie 🍥 Dye

Tie-dye patterns have been a popular Do-It-Yourself option for upgrading plain T- shirts for decades.  Today, the method remains a stylish and affordable way to express your creativity with splashes of color.  This weekend, why not get the whole family involved in tie-dying fun and colorful items to wear?  The activity does not require many supplies – a piece of clothing and some tie dye solution are the main things you will need.  Tie dye solution (Ritz is the most popular) can be found at most discount stores in a variety of colors for just a few dollars.  Some solutions require you to submerge the item in the dye, so you’ll need a large bucket or plastic container if you purchase that kind.  Other types are in smaller bottles that give you more precision with how you apply various colors all at once.  You will need something to use to wrap around your items to make the white parts of your design.  Rubber bands are commonly used for this, but you can also experiment with making smaller, more intricate designs with tightly bound twine or string.  Don’t forget to protect your workspace with newspaper or plastic to avoid stains (or try the activity outside for stress-free fun).

Suggested Family Activity • It’s National Milk Chocolate 🍫🥛 Day

Today is National Milk Chocolate Day, a day to celebrate all things good and chocolatey.  You might enjoy this classic sweet in a variety of ways, such as making smores, baking chocolate chip cookies 🍪 or having a plain chocolate bar 🍫.  You can also heat chocolate pieces to drizzle on plain cookies, cakes, or even popcorn.  Or you can add it to milk to make chocolate milk (adults could add melted chocolate to a coffee drink for a sweet surprise!) or use it on your favorite ice cream 🍦.  The book Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook for Dummies by Carole Bloom, and others like it at your public library, will give you lots of great ideas for how to cook up a chocolate treat today.  If you are interested in learning how chocolate is made, check out the book Beans to Chocolate by Inez Snyder in the “How Things are Made” series.

Young children will enjoy the pictures books Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory by H. A. Rey, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael B. Kaplan, or A Chocolate Moose for Dinner by Fred Gwynne today, while chapter book readers might like The Chocopocalypse by Chris Callaghan, the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, or The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis.  There are also lots of great titles for adult readers to enjoy – Joanne Harris’ first novel Chocolat, which was also made into a feature film, or one of several chocolate related mystery series such as the “Chocoholic” series by JoAnna Carl; Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, a Hannah Swensen bakery mystery by Joanne Fluke; or Death by Chocolate, a Savannah Reid mystery by G. A. McKevett.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer 🍅🥒🍉 Gardens

Many summer gardens are producing lots of great fruits and vegetables right now so take advantage of the variety of local produce available to get some fresh and healthy food for your family.  Selections can be picked up from several places – your favorite grocery store, Farmer’s Markets located in many communities, or just roadside stands run by people who want to share their extra produce.  This would also be a great time for your family to try out a new food.  You may be familiar with foods such as tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, blueberries, and melons, but have you tried all the different kinds of squash available?  Or maybe eggplants or asparagus?  The produce aisles at local grocery stores are filled with lots of potential new things, so why not try some today?  Maybe you’ll reach for some kiwi, mango, or pomegranates.  Or maybe you’ll try some raw spinach or Brussel sprouts.

Trying out a new food is fun for all ages.  Children who are exposed to a healthy array of food choices are more likely to grow into healthy adults who eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  Many children have aversions to vegetables and anything ‘green’ but letting them help you pick out new foods to try is a great activity to try to kindle their enthusiasm about trying new things.  Have them look at all the colors of fruits and vegetables, as well as looking at the different sizes and shapes made by nature.  After you get home and decide whether to try your selection raw or cooked, they can help look up recipes, as well as help to prepare it.  Sharing a new dish as a family also helps children avoid feeling as if they are being punished by having to eat vegetables and fruit.  So, make trying out a new fruit or vegetable a fun family adventure today!

Suggested Family Activity • Disc ⛳ Golf

If you are looking for a fun activity to do outside, disc golf is gaining in popularity everywhere.  And one of the best things about it is all you need to start the fun is a disc (a special disc golf one or just a frisbee) and a course to play on.  Some city parks departments have started incorporating disc golf courses within their parks and along walking trails.

  • City parks in our area that have courses include Corinth, Booneville, New Albany, and Tupelo
  • Nearby courses in Tennessee include ones in Crump, Savannah, Bolivar, and Henderson, as well as one in Red Bay, Alabama
  • National parks have also had disc golf courses for several years, so check out the ones at nearby Pickwick Landing State Park, Tishomingo State Park, or Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo

It is even easy to make a simple outdoor disc golf set up at home if you have tomato cages and laundry baskets.  Just push the cage down in the ground and nestle the basket in the top of the cage.  Another super fun throwing activity to try outdoor involves scattering plastic pink flamingos around your yard and using small hoops to throw at the flamingo’s necks.

Suggested Family Activity • Picnic 🧺

Before the summer ends, make sure you go on a picnic one day.  You can pack a traditional picnic in a wicker basket or just grab some snacks and sandwiches and head outside with a blanket to enjoy your food.  Take time to sit and really enjoy nature, whether you stay at home in your backyard or go to a nearby park.  Make sure to spend at least part of the day barefoot to enjoy the tickly sensation of walking on the grass. 🦶 You can even plan to make a whole day of it and take pillows for relaxing while you read a book.  You could also grab some coloring books and crayons 🖍 or other art supplies, such as pencils ✏ paper 📄 and paints 🎨 to try your hand at drawing and painting the natural world around you.

When your kids need to run off some energy, get the whole family together to have a 🎈 water balloon fight.  Try to stay out all day so you can catch the sunset 🌇 and have fun watching (and catching) fireflies.  Or you can wait to start your picnic time outdoors after adults are home from work.  Picnicking later in the evening by taking your supper outside to enjoy is a fun activity to try out anytime with your family.

Suggested Family Activity • Shark 🦈 Shapes

For a combination craft project and learning activity, try out this fun idea:  On a piece of paper or cardboard, draw a picture of a shark’s head with its mouth spread wide open (or find an image online to print out).  Cut out the mouth area from the center of the picture.  Don’t forget to draw some shark teeth around the whole mouth!  Use tape, such as painter’s tape, to secure it in place up against a table, box, or anywhere else that will allow the shark to stand up and still have some space behind it.  Next, cut out some fish shapes from colored paper (or use white paper and have your children help you color them).  On each fish, draw numbers, letters, or sight words, depending on what your child needs help learning or reinforcing.  Alphabet letters and simple numbers are great for preschoolers, while children getting ready for kindergarten can benefit from using simple sight words.  You can even leave some fish blank and use those to work on the words for colors.

Let your child help you cut out the fish shapes, which is a great cutting activity that lets them learn how to handle scissors safely.  Once the fish are cut out, put them next to the shark and then let the children explore and play.  When they place a fish in the shark’s mouth, tell them the color.  Soon, they will begin telling you the colors of the fish!  The same goes for numbers and sight words that you use.  Gently reinforce the concept to the child until they can repeat it back to you.  You can also turn this activity into a matching game and let them match up fish with others of the same color.

Great book suggestions to go with this activity include Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley, Don’t Eat the Babysitter! by Nick Ward, Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, and Never Take a Shark to the Dentist (And Other Things Not to Do) by Judi Barrett.

Suggested Family Activity • Painting 🐟 Fish

The website has a really great idea for how you and your family can paint fish with your fingerprints.  Check out a sample picture and instructions here.  Did you check out a NERL Story Walk at a walking trail near you this summer?  Unfortunately, we have had to take some of our Story Walks down because of damage and theft but you still have another week to check out the story of The Pout- Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen at the town of Tishomingo Walking Trail located at 63 County Road 108 in Tishomingo.  (To view a list of the remaining Story Walks, check the list of Story Walks under our Summer Reading Program information at  Other fun titles about our fishy friends that you can check out from a library branch to read to your family this week include others in the “Pout-Pout Fish” series, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School and The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark, The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino, Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, and Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau.

If you are looking for a fishy movie to watch this week, you can also check out Finding Nemo and its follow-up Finding Dory or the classic The Incredible Mr. Limpet with Don Knotts.  Children will also love watching episodes of the “Octonauts”, a  courageous crew of ocean protectors who travel the oceans and seas looking for underwater animals in trouble.  Led by polar bear Captain Barnacles, other crew members include Tweak the bunny, Dashi the Dachshund, daring pirate cat Kwazii, octopus Professor Inkling, Peso the penguin and Shellington the sea otter.  Several DVDs are available of this fun series at NERL branches.

Suggested Family Activities • Summer ☀ Reading Packets

Emersyn Shadburn from New Site had a blast making an elephant and all the other fun activities in the summer packets!

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program packets yet?  They are filled with lots of fun activities – coloring sheets; activity sheets such as mazes, color by number, hide and seek, crossword puzzles, and connect the dots; craft projects; and more.  Additional special sheets this week include a recommended reading list for “Water Tales,” a color your own ocean scene that can be cut apart to make three bookmarks, a sheet of “Fishy Facts,” a sheet that lets you tell us what your favorite ocean animal is (and draw a picture), a template to use your own paper scraps to make a cute narwhal, and many others.  Packets are available for families, ages 6 and up, ages 7-11, and ages 12 and up.  We’re also giving away a free book (your choice!) with each packet, while supplies last.  So head to your local library branch this week before time runs out!

Our featured virtual programs for this week are more recorded performances by Music Play Patrol.  In these installments, you can listen to Mr. Frank sing The Speckled Frog Song (and join in, of course!), as well as read the children’s book Do Penguins Have Pediatricians? Visit us at

NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood will be doing a LIVE Story Time at 2:00 p.m. today, so join her as she reads Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton.

Tomorrow, July 20, Ripley Librarian Eric Melton will read I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry LIVE at 2:00 p.m.

Wed. July 21, a recording of NERL Director Dee Hare reading The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy will be posted followed by more Live events

Leigh Hood reading Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever – or Snacktime? by Tammi Sauer at 2:00 p.m. on July 22 and

Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain reading The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen at 2:00 p.m. on July 23.

Suggested Family Activity • Aquarium 🎥 Cams

Even if you can’t visit an aquarium in person this summer, you can always check out some of the great Aquarium Cams located at many facilities.  The Monterey Bay, California aquarium has webcams so you can see live views of sea nettles, moon jellyfish, sardines and leopard sharks swimming through a kelp forest, as well as sharks and many other fish inside their aquarium.  They even have live feeds from outside in the nearby Monterey Bay waters.  Find these cams, as well as animals stories and information about water animals, on their website at  The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California has web cams viewing their Penguin Habitat (from both under the water and above), their Shark Lagoon, Sea Nettles, Tropical Reef, and their Blue Cavern and Coral Predator displays full of many brightly colored fish.  View them here  The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta has a live view of their Ocean Voyager habitat, which even sometimes features scuba divers waving to the audience!  They also have additional webcams viewing their piranhas, jellyfish, whale sharks, angelfish, and Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef.  Check them out here  The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga has cameras watching their otters, penguins, tropical fish, and other exhibits.  View information about this great aquarium at

Suggested Family Activity • Hand ✋ Imprints

If you like to turn your child’s handprint into fun pieces of art, this week’s Summer Reading Theme of “Water Tales” will give you lots of ideas!  If you take an imprint of their hand with the fingers facing down, you can turn it into a cute octopus by painting on a face in the palm area.  Let them decorate an underwater scene around it – and don’t forget bubbles rising to the top!  To turn their hands into a crab scuttling along a sandy beach, make two imprints – one with the fingers pointing left and one with the fingers pointing right.  (The palm areas will overlap).  Arrange it so that the two thumb imprints form a “V” so that these will be the eye stems of your crab sticking up.  Then draw and decorate around the crab with seashells, starfish, and other sea creatures.

Kids can also use our favorite plain, white paper plates to make some cute and colorful sea creatures.  If you fold a plate in half and add an extra piece of paper sticking out one end as a fin, you can turn it into a fish.  Just draw an eye and mouth on the opposite end of the fin and color it in whatever color combinations you like.  Kids can turn a plate into a turtle by coloring a white plate green and gluing or taping on extra pieces of paper to make a head sticking out the top, four legs, and a triangle tail.  For an extra touch, they can draw circles to mimic the turtle’s shell or make it more life-like and draw interlocking octagons.

Suggested Family Activity • National Pet 🐕 Fire 🔥 Safety Day

Today is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a day set aside each year to help us to remember a few safety tips concerning our pets and the hazards of fire.  Our pets are treasured members of our families and we would do anything to keep them safe.  The ASPCA offers the following tips (additional information can be found on their website at

Cole hanging out with Penny and Tommy.

Keep a close eye on pets while you have candles lit or around other open flames, such as in fireplaces, heaters, and stoves.  Their tails could accidentally get into the flame. If your pets are often left unattended in your home while you are at work and children are at school, get in the habit of removing the knobs from your stove when you are not using it so that they do not accidentally turn anything on.  (This is also a good idea if you have a new toddler or very young children in your home.)  For pets who stay outside, use metal or plastic water bowls instead of ones made of glass.  The hot Mississippi sun could cause a fire to ignite nearby as the sun’s rays are channeled through the glass.

Put a sign in your windows that tells how many pets are living inside.  In the event of a fire, this will give firefighters the information they need to make sure everyone is safely removed from a fire.  In the event of a fire while your family is at home, keep pet leashes and collars near the entrance to your home so that they can be found quickly.  Also have a plan so that each family member knows which pet they are responsible for carrying out of the house.

Don’t forget that we would love to see pictures of you and your family members reading out loud to your pets this summer!  Send them to

Suggested Family Activity • Cow 🐄 Appreciation Day

Can you spot a brown cow?

Two different national days this week fit perfectly into our animal theme this summer – Cow Appreciation Day today and National I Love Horses Day tomorrow! So, take this time to appreciate the gently mooing creatures that give us great products such as milk and cheese.  And in the case of horses, we honor how they have helped clear fields, worked on farms, served as reliable transportation, and helped make the settling of our country possible, while at the same time becoming treasured members of our families.

English country veterinarian James Herriot loved the horses, cows, dogs, and cats he cared for during his career so much that he wrote a series of best-selling memoirs about his life.  His first book, All Creatures Great and Small, is perhaps his best-known work, although he wrote many other books, including All Things Wise and Wonderful, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and James Herriot’s Animal Stories, among many others.  A compilation of his best stories can be found in The Best of James Herriot: Favorite Memories of a Country Vet, as well as James Herriot’s Treasury for Children.  His life and books have even become the basis of a highly popular new series on PBS titled All Creatures Great and Small.  If you missed the series beginning earlier this year, check out season one on DVD from the NERL collection and get caught up while everyone is waiting for season two to begin!

Visit our Summer Reading Program about animals here

Suggested Family Activity • National 🛍 Paper Bag Day

Today is Paper Bag Day, a day set aside to remember all the various ways a paper bag can be used. We love using paper bags as a craft supply during arts and crafts projects. You can turn them into puppets, masks, windsocks, and many other items. You can also decorate plain paper bags with crayons, markers, paint, stickers, glitter, or any craft supply you have on hand to turn it into a gift bag to hold a special gift.

During our libraries’ “Farm Tales” week of Summer Reading Program, we turned paper bags into cows, rabbits, pigs, and ducks. If you missed out on that packet, ask your local library branch if they have any left. This week begins our “Water Tales” theme, with activity packets filled with things about the wide variety of animals that live in water – from oceans and seas to rivers, lakes, and streams. Packets are available for Families, ages 6 and under, ages 7-11, and ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, and more. Craft projects for this theme include a colorful Fish Threading craft for ages 6 and under and 7 – 11 and turtle and whale origami projects for ages 12 and up. For the whole family, we have options for making either an Ocean Scene or a jellyfish out of coffee filters and a set of color your own bookmarks. We are also giving away FREE books to everyone who picks up a packet, so stop in and get your book today!

We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • National 🐈 Kitten Day

Cole reads while his cat stretches out

Tomorrow, July 10th, is National Kitten Day, the perfect time to celebrate our cute and cuddly kitten friends.  Send us pictures of your best kitty friends at  If you do not have a kitty right now but would like one, call or visit your local animal shelter to find the perfect new member of your family.  Many shelters have rules for their adoption process, so check with the one in your town to see what they require.  Many ask that you fill out an application and pay a small fee to cover medical costs.  Don’t forget to make sure everyone in your family is on board with getting a new kitty and willing to take on the responsibilities of feeding and taking care of all your kitten’s needs.  Make sure you take the time to visit and play with all the kittens in the shelter to find one that fits in with your family’s personality.  Even if you do not end up adopting one, many shelters welcome volunteers who are willing to come in and socialize with the animals to keep them happy and healthy. If you have questions about how to take care of your kitten, check out some of these titles from our libraries’ collections: Cats Behaving Badly: Why Cats do the Naughty Things They do by Celia Haddon, Kitten by Mark Evans; in the ASPCA Pet Care Guides for Kids series, Kitten Kindergarten: Practical Help and Advice for Your Kitten’s First Year by Marie Toshack, and The Total Cat: Understanding Your Cat’s Physical and Emotional Behavior from Kitten to Old Age by Carole Wilbourn. We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • Games 🎳 Tic Tac Toe

Introduce young children to the fun of the classic Tic Tac Toe game this week. To put a fun spin on it, make your own game and let them help. For regular sized versions, simply use painter’s tape or another colored tape to create a tic tac toe board on a large sheet of paper (or on a blank stretch of your floor or outside on a sidewalk, porch or patio). Remember, you need 9 black spaces to play the game. You can then use anything to be each person’s place markers. Since we are learning all about jungle and zoo animals this week, why not have children draw lions, elephants, zebras, or whatever their favorite animal is onto a piece of paper (they will need several markers for each player) to cut out and use as place markers? For extra stability, glue the pieces onto thin cardboard or card stock weight paper. You could even use paper plates, one of our favorite craft supplies. If you have plain white paper plates, children could draw their animals directly on the paper plate and cut them out to use as markers.
For a life-size version of the game that is perfect for playing outside, use an old bed sheet or large tablecloth as your board. Mark off your lines with duct tape or painter’s tape. With such a large board, you can use larger objects for place markers. Have each player decorate white paper plates and use whole plates as their markers, use rocks or pinecones they have picked up outside, or anything else you can think of!

We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • Art 🎨 Collage

The world of children’s literature was saddened recently to lose two wonderful children’s book authors.  Eric Carle brought the natural world to life through such titles as The Very Hungry Caterpillar and A House for Hermit Crab.  His beautiful artwork was made by layering hand-painted and tinted tissue paper together to create colorful images.  Later in life, he created the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amhurst, Massachusetts.  The mission of this non-profit organization is “to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books”.  To find out more about the Museum, visit or for more about Carle’s life and works, visit his website at

Children’s book illustrator Lois Ehlert worked in a collage medium as well.  Her most famous title, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, featured text by Bill Martin (who also collaborated with Eric Carle) and depicted the letters of the alphabet climbing a tree.  President Obama honored this title in 2013 by reading it to children at the White House Easter Egg Roll. To view the video, click on this link To find more titles by both Carle and Ehlert, ask at your local library branch.

To celebrate the life of these two great artists, why not make your own collages today?  You can use tissue paper like Eric Carle or torn up pieces of any kind of scrap paper like Lois Ehlert – magazines, newspapers, flyers, etc.  Then use pencils, crayons, markers, or paint to enhance your artistic creations.  We would love to see what your creativity unleashes – send photos to

Suggested Family Activity • Elephant 🐘 Project

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program activity packet yet?  In this week’s packets, we are learning all about the variety of animals that live in the jungle or that you can see if you visit a zoo.  Packets are available for Families, ages 6 and under, ages 7-11 and ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft projects and more.  Some of the sheets include a fun fill in the blanks sheet that lets you put random words into a story to tell a crazy tale about “A Trip to the Zoo.”  There is also a cool informational sheet about elephants, and a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s “How Camel Got His Hump” story for you to read with your family.

Craft projects for this week are a cute Elephant Paper Plate project for ages 6 and under, a fun Spiral Snake for ages 7 – 11, and a finger knit Yarn Snake for ages 12 and up.  Our featured virtual programs for this week are more recorded performances by Music Play Patrol.  This time, Mr. Frank tells two beloved Eric Carle stories – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Did You See? And The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Additionally, the Booneville Junior Auxiliary is conducting a LIVE jungle themed story time today at 1:00 p.m.  To view their recording, check here.

Visit our summer reading page for more fun! Click Here!

Suggested Family Activity • Wild Kratts 🦇 Creaturepedia

Generations of children have learned about the amazing world of animals through the adventures of zoologists Chris and Martin Kratt, first through their PBS show “Zoboomafoo” and now with their current show “Wild Kratts.”  The PBS Kids website has a special Wild Kratts section with tons of amazing features – ideas for craft projects, games such as “Amazin’ Amazon Adventure” and “Baby Animal Rescue,” and of course, episodes of their show!  There is also a special Creaturepedia section with lots of information about all sorts of animals, searchable by type of animal, region of the world where it lives or its habitat.  Currently, they are also showcasing read along story times with both Chris and Martin, a question and answer segment with the brothers, links to You Tube videos from their current travels, as well as a thirty minute video with animal activist Jane Goodall called “A Creature Conversation with Dr. Jane Goodall and the Kratt Brothers.”  Check it akk out at

Parents, if you follow the link to the Parents section of PBS Kids, you will find even more great ideas for craft projects, recipes that mimic some of the animals featured in the Wild Kratts shows, book recommendations for kids who love animals, and articles such as “Simple Ways to Explore Animal Life with Your Child” and “What if We Let Kids Get Bored?

Suggested Family Activity • Painted 🎆🧨 Fireworks

With the 4th of July weekend upon us, try out this fun art project with your family to make some painted fireworks:  You’ll need scissors, paper, paint, a plate (a disposable paper plate works great!), and several inner carboard tubes from a roll of toilet paper.  You can also use the inner cardboard roll from paper towels or even wrapping paper, but you will probably want to cut it in half to make the size more manageable.  Use scissors to cut slits about a quarter inch apart along one end.  When you are finished, the long, skinny carboard pieces will be what you use to apply the paint to your paper.  You can have different sized fireworks if you make some tubes with short slits (about 2.5 inches long) and some with longer slits – as far up the tube as you can go while still having something to grip.

After your tubes are cut, pour out paint (acrylic works best because it washes off kids and clothing easily) onto the paper plates – one color per plate. Dab the splayed out ends of the rolls in the paint to load up the color, then press it onto the paper, using a slight twisting motion to spread the paint around.  If you want, you can layer different colors of firework ‘blasts’ on your paper to make an exciting and multi-colored fireworks display.

Suggested Family Activity • Animal 🏁 Racing


If you are looking for some fun outdoor activities to do this weekend, check out these instructions for Animal Racing, courtesy of the website

  1. Find a big open space, preferably outdoors, with nothing around that can be knocked over.
  2. Warm up and stretch! Have your child warm their joints up and get the blood flowing to their muscles with jumping jacks and arm circles.
  3. Set up a start and finish line. Make sure there’s enough space after the finish line for your child to slow down.
  4. Ask your child if they can think of ways for them to move like animals (galloping like a horse, hopping like a frog, crawling on all fours like a dog, crawling sideways like a crab, etc.)
  5. Race! If you use a stopwatch, your child can race against themselves and try to beat their time. Your child can also race against siblings or even you if you’re up to it!
  6. Have your child compare their speed between the different animals they act out and see if they think the differences are the same in nature. For example, does a galloping horse move faster than a crab?


Don’t forget to take pictures of your Animal Race and send them to us at

June 2021 Suggested Family Activities: Summer Reading Edition

Suggested Family Activity • 🦏 Zoo 🦍 Cams

If you can’t make it to a zoo this summer, check out some of the fun Zoo Cams located at many zoos around the U. S.  The nearby Memphis Zoo has live camera feeds on their pandas, hippos, elephants, and flamingos that you can watch any time of the day.  Check it out at  The large San Diego Zoo in California has cameras watching their hippos, pandas, and elephants as well, along with baboons, polar bears, giraffes, burrowing owls, penguins, koalas, apes, and tigers.  They even have a new cam on their platypuses.  Click here to view their live feeds here:

If you’re looking for something a little different, the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. has webcams watching their black-footed ferrets and naked mole-rats, in addition to some of the animals mentioned above.  Check them out here:

The Houston Zoo in Texas has webcams watching everything from their largest animals (rhinos and elephants) to their mid-size ones (giant river otters) and even their smallest leafcutter ants.  Watch these animals and more here:

Suggested Family Activity • National 📷 Camera Day

National Camera 📷 Day today gives us another opportunity to encourage everyone to take pictures of your Summer Reading Program activities during June and July.  You could take a photo of your child (or an adult) reading to their pet or their stuffed animals or your family completing any of the fun activities in the NERL activity packets, watching one of our recorded Story Times, or doing any of our Suggested Family Activities each day.  We would love to see them!  Just send them to

Another fun photo opportunity is our Story Walks, located at walking trails in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley, and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)  The Story Walk at the lovely walking trail located in C. C. Shook Park in Belmont features the story Just Like my Brother by Gianna Marino.  It is set on the African plains and follows Little Giraffe as she searches for her big brother during a game of hide-and-seek.  As you walk through the story, you’ll get to meet all the animals that help Little Giraffe on her search.

Photographs are a wonderful way to remember the special occasions in your life, as well as the everyday moments.  Many times, adults take photos of their children doing things.  Why not switch it up today and let your children take pictures of you?  They will also have a lot of fun taking random pictures of anything that inspires them.

Suggested Family Activities: National Paul Bunyan Day

Today is National Paul Bunyan Day, a day to remember the tall tale of Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox Babe.   The giant lumberjack with tremendous strength is one of the most famous figures in North American folklore.  To read up on Paul Bunyan and Babe, check out the children’s books Paul Bunyan, A tall Tale by Steven Kellogg (also available in Spanish) or The Bunyans by Audrey Wood.  The compilations American Tall Tales by “Magic Tree House” author Mary Pope Osborne and Classic American Folk Tales by Steve Zorn have stories about Paul Bunyan and other folk heroes such as John Henry, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, and Davey Crockett.  Since we are celebrating our animal friends this summer, why not draw a picture of Paul and Babe to send to us?  Photos can be sent to

One of the sheets in this week’s Summer Reading Program activity packet contains a creative writing prompt that asks you to dream up any kind of animal you want.  The sheet has space where you can name your animal, draw a picture of it, and make up a story about it.  Who knows?  Maybe your animal will become a tall tale too!

Visit our Summer Reading Page for Story Time, Story Walks and more

Suggested Family Activities: Duck Duck Goose

If you can find enough players this weekend, another classic game to try out is Duck, Duck, Goose.  All players start off sitting in a circle on the floor.  One person is picked to start off the game as the Tapper.  The Tapper walks around the outside of the circle and lightly taps each seated player on the head, saying “Duck” with each tap until he or she randomly decides to tap someone and say, “Goose!”  The Goose runs around the circle after the Tapper, who tries to get to the Goose’s vacated spot in the circle and sit down before the Goose tags him or her.  If the Goose does not catch the Tapper before he or she sits in the vacated spot, then the Goose becomes the Tapper and the game begins again.  If the Goose manages to catch and tag the Tapper before he or she sits down, then the Tapper is “it” again for the next round.  (Another variation is to always pick a new player to be the Tapper after every round.)

Our activity packets this week have a great handout that shows you what tracks different farm animals make when they walk on the ground.  Do you think you can tell the difference between a goose’s track and a chicken’s?  Get one of our packets today and test your knowledge!

Visit our Summer Reading Page for Story Time, Story Walks and more

Suggested Family Activities: Story Times

Join us here LIVE at 2PM today for Virtual Story Time!  Our Library Director, Dee Hare, will be reading Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon

Have you checked out any of our Summer Reading Program Story Times yet?  Various NERL staff are reading (either live or through recordings) lots of animals books this summer – one per day!  “Farm Tale” recordings already available include Leigh Hood reading Hensel & Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Swart, Cody Daniel reading Mo Willems’ I’m a Frog, Sandy Donahue reading No Sleep for the Sheep by Karen Beaumont, and Eric Melton reading Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo by Karen Rostocker-Gruber.

Due to publishers’ restrictions, some recorded titles will only be accessible through June 30, while others will remain on the website until the end of July.  Upcoming LIVE events include Dee Hare reading Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon at 2:00 p.m. today and Sandy Donahue reading Chick n Pug by Jennifer Gordon Sattler at 2:00 tomorrow, June 25.  Then on June 26, a recording of Gwen Spain’s rendition of Click, Clack, SURPRISE! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin will be posted to finish the week. To view the recordings and live events, check our website at

Your local library branches also have lots of fun picture books for you to read “Farm Tales” on your own.  Check out The Little Read Hen by Nora Sheehan, James Dean’s popular character Pete the Cat doing his version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Margaret Hillert’s version of The Three Little Pigs or The Cow that Got Her Wish.

More Story Time Videos are on our Summer Reading Page

Suggested Family Activities: Animal Crafts

If your kids love to use play dough or clay to make things, have them mold and create their own animals today.  They can stick to familiar ones from around your home, such as favorite pets or the animals you see in your yard.   In the spirit of our “Farm Tales” this week, they could also make a variety of farm animals, such as a chicken with a nest of eggs.  Or they could even make up their own animal varieties using their imaginations!  For additional fun, have them make up stories to go along with the animals they create.  We would love for you to share their creations with us – send your photos to

If you want to try making your own play clay, try out the following recipe, courtesy of Arm & Hammer.  (It will require adult supervision and help.)  After you make up a batch, unused clay can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 1 week.  If your children want to keep their creations permanently, just leave them out to dry overnight or dry it in your oven.  (Disclaimer:  The clay is not edible!)

Pour 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of corn starch into a saucepan.  Stir them until they are mixed.  Next, add 1 ¼ cups of cold water.  Then, add drops of food coloring until you get your desired color.  Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring it constantly until it looks like the consistency of mashed potatoes (about 10 to 15 minutes).  Pour the mixture out onto a plate or into a shallow bowl and cover it with a damp cloth.  When it cools to the touch, it’s time to see what you can create!

See more at

Suggested Family Activity: Pig Snorting Contest

Since we are learning about farm animals this week, have a Pig Snorting Contest today! Gather all your family and friends and have each person take a turn making their best pig snort. Then, decide who has the best snort! Different categories could be Silliest Snort, Loudest Snort, Funniest Snort, or even Least Like a Pig Snort. You could have the same contest with other animal sounds, such as neighing like a horse, mooing like a cow, baaing like sheep, and so on.

If you have little ones in your house who are just learning which animals make which sounds, you can also pull out a variety of plastic or stuffed farm animals to help them tell the difference. Ask them questions, such as “What is the animal doing?” or “What does it say?” Reinforce the animals and their noises by singing a round or two of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with them.

Visit our Summer Reading Program webpage for Story Walks, Book Lists, Virtual Story Times and more

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading

National Daylight Appreciation Day

Today is National Daylight Appreciation Day – a day that inspires people to take advantage of the positive benefits of sunshine.  It is always held on the Summer Solstice – the longest day of daylight we will see here in the northern hemisphere.  There are many ways you can enjoy the sun – from going outside for a short walk to finding ways to let sunlight into your home, such as by opening blinds or curtains on windows.  Who knows?  You might catch your cat sleeping in a ray of sun shining through a window – a perfect picture for our Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales” theme.

If you decide to go outside for a short walk in the sun today, check out one of our Story Walks located at walking trails in Belmont, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley, and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)  The Story Walk at the beautiful Mineral Springs Park in Iuka presents the story I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora.  As you walk around the trail, you will follow Lala as she gets ready for bed – but first she must say ‘Good Night’ to the cat, the goat, the chickens, etc.

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading

Scholastic Activities

Scholastic, one of the leading publishers of children’s books, is offering lots of FREE activities on their website this summer!  You will find reading challenges, free e-book access for titles to read and watch, author read-aloud programs, and other special virtual events starring your favorite Scholastic characters.  To check out this free resource this summer, visit

If you have always wanted to learn to draw, let the library help you get started on this fun hobby this summer.  Check out the following titles from our branches:  60 things I Can Draw: Animals by Kaye Quinn, The Artist’s Guide to Drawing Animals: How to Draw Cats, Dogs, and Other Favorite Pets by J. C Amberlyn, and Draw 50 Animals by Lee J. Ames.  Ames has a variety of titles available to help you learn how to draw everything from birds, cats, dogs, horses, sharks, whales and other sea creatures.

Visit our Summer Reading Page for StoryTimes and more here

Suggested Family Activity: Summer Reading Activity Packets!

For the next two weeks, our Summer Reading Program activity packets for ages 6 and under and ages 7 to 11 will have the supplies to make a farm animal out of a brown lunch bag.  You will be randomly given pieces to make either a pig, cow, bunny, or duck so pick one up today!  The content creators at DLTK Crafts for Kids have turned a paper bag into funny horse puppet.  Check out their instructions and templates here to see how they did it.  (If you do not have a printer at home, just ask your local librarian to print the template out for you.  Since it is for Summer Reading Program activities, we will not charge you for the copies!)  The website also has a very simple way to turn your child’s handprint into a fluffy sheep using construction paper and

cotton balls.  Check it out here  It can be fun to turn the outline of children’s hands into a variety of cute animals – you can either trace around them or cover their palms and fingers with paint to ‘stamp’ onto a piece of paper.  If you use that method and stamp their hand with brown paint, they can draw a head opposite their thumb to turn it into a cow or horse.  Or use another color to turn it into a pig or chicken!

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Suggested Family Activities

Summer Reading Game: Farmer May I

Play this variation of the classic game Mother, May I this week … but since we are celebrating all the animals found on farms, have the Farmer calling out the steps instead of ‘Mother’.  This game can be played with several players or with just two.   Before you begin, you will need to pick a starting point and a finish line for the players.  The person who is “Farmer” stands in front of the other player(s).  The Farmer calls on each player in turn and gives them instructions, such as “take two GIANT steps.”  The player who was called on must then say, “Farmer, may I?”  The Farmer then responds either, “Yes”, and the player can take the steps forward, or “No,” if the player did not ask correctly.  (Another variant is that the player must go back to the starting point.)

In the spirit of “Farm Tales”, Farmer can ask that players waddle like ducks, hop like a bunny, prance like a horse or perform other animal actions.  The Farmer could also have players make animal noises as they move towards the finish line.

Watch librarians StoryTimes!  Read stories and find

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Summer Reading Program

Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading & Nature Photography Day

Have you checked out one our Summer Reading Program Story Walks yet?  Story Walks are outdoor reading experiences where a children’s book is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  NERL is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails in Belmont, Blue Mountain, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley and Tishomingo.  (For a listing of all locations with addresses and other information, check out the Story Walk information on our Summer Reading Program main page.)

The Story Walk at the walking trail at the Fred and Elizabeth Smith Sportsplex in Ripley features the wildly funny Click Clack Moo by Dorren Cronin with illustrations by Betsy Lewin.  To discover what happens when Farmer Brown’s animals find an old typewriter and start making demands for better treatment, check out the Story Walk or watch NERL Director Dee Hare’s recording of this title on Friday.

Today is also Nature Photography Day so get outside today and take some pictures of the great things to be found in the natural world around us.  Maybe you’ll take pictures at one of our Story Walks, at a nearby national park, or in your yard, playing with your favorite pet.  Whatever pictures you take, don’t forget to share them with us at

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading Theme 2 Farm Tales

This week, NERL branches begin Theme 2 of our 2021 Summer Reading Program “Tales and Tails.”  For the next two weeks, we’ll be discovering all the variety of animals that live and work on farms as part of our “Farm Tales” activities, so pick up your new activity packet soon!  Packets are available for Families, Ages 6 and under, Ages 7-11 and Ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft projects and more.  Our featured virtual program this week is a recorded performance by Music Play PatrolIn this delightful presentation, Mr. Frank tells the story of “The Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” while demonstrating basic rhythm and rhyme.  Using the story of “The Three Little Pigs” as inspiration, have your kids build replicas of the pigs’ houses today.  Stick to the story as close as possible or get creative and use whatever you have on hand – cotton balls, Q-tips, paper, sticks from outside, stones, or anything else you can find … the sky’s the limit!  If you want to work in a little STEM activity to this craft project and the kids don’t mind their houses being blown apart, use a fan or hair dryer to stand in for the Big Bad Wolf’s breath and see if their creations will stand up.  Start on a low setting and let the kids predict what will happen.

🩸 Today is National Blood Donor Day!  Giving blood is a way to help save someone’s life.  You may see some mobile blood banks parked in high traffic areas throughout the day.  If you are able to give blood, stop in and do your part by donating.  You never know who you may be helping….it could be a neighbor, a family member, or a perfect stranger.  The person or persons that receive your blood donation will be very thankful.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading National Loving Day 

Tomorrow is National Loving Day.  This is the perfect day to extend loving kindness to others around you.  One way to show loving acts of kindness is by using your manners and being polite, such as saying “Please” and “Thank you” and holding open a door for someone and then stepping back to allow them to enter in front of you.  Another way to be loving to others is to go visit family and friends, if you can, and tell them how much they mean to you.  You could also visit an elderly person who lives alone or has recently lost their spouse.  More times than not, the best “thing” we can do for someone is to show our loving kindness by just taking out time to visit with them.  This lets them know that we are thinking of them and that they are special to us.

Don’t forget your pets today either.  Pets get lonely while adults are at work and children are at school.  Make a point to spend time with your pets to show them how much you love them.  We would love to see your pictures!  And remember, we are also posting pictures of children and adults reading to their animals (whether real or stuffed) as part of our Summer Reading Program activities.  Send your picture to us at

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: StoryTimes!

Have you checked out the Story Times on our website yet?  Many are being recorded so that you can watch them whenever (and as often) as you like!  If you like stories about cats, we have a lot for you!  Corinth Librarian Cody Daniel has recorded the original Splat the Cat book by Rob Scotton, Ripley Librarian Eric Melton has recorded Cat Parade by Bethany Roberts, NERL Director Dee Hare has recorded Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, and George E. Allen Librarian Sandy Donahue has recorded both  Julia Sarcone-Roach’s There are no Bears in This Bakery and Jill Esbaum’s Tom’s Tweet.

If dogs are more to your liking, Iuka Librarian Gwen Spain has recorded Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp and will do a LIVE reading of Pig the Stinker by Aaron Blabey today at 2:00 a.m.  For stories about critters we see around our yards and homes, listen to NERL Administrative Assistant Leigh Hood read Those Darn Squirrels! and Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door by Adam Rubin (the second book will be posted on Friday), while Dee will read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems.  And tomorrow, we’ll post Eric reading Rubin’s Those Darn Squirrels Fly South.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Cat and Mouse Game

Here’s a fun game that your family may not have tried before – Cat and Mouse.  For this game, you will need a large bed sheet or tablecloth and at least four players.  Here’s what you do:  One player is picked to be the cat and one player to be the mouse.  All the other players kneel on the ground holding onto the edge of the sheet.  The cat’s mission is to find and tag the mouse so as the mouse crawls around under the sheet, the cat crawls around on top of the sheet trying to do that.  While the cat is trying to catch the mouse, the rest of the players shake the sheet up and down or side-to-side, puffing up the sheet so that the cat has difficulty seeing and finding the mouse.  If the cat tags the mouse, that turn is over. Then, the mouse becomes the cat and a new player becomes the mouse.

Don’t forget to check out our Summer Reading Program virtual program by Deb Davis from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.  Deb is a yearly favorite at our NERL branches and has graciously recorded programs for us these last two years.  We hope to see her back in our branches soon for live programming!  Her virtual program is available on our website, at the bottom of the Summer Reading Program page.

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: National Best Friends Day!

Today is National Best Friends Day!  That means today is the day to show your bestie just how much they mean to you.  Here are just a few ideas to help get you motivated…draw a picture for them (make it special by drawing something that they are especially interested in, such as the beach and ocean or a particular animal surrounded by their natural habitat).  The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination and your bestie’s interests.  Another idea to help your best friend know that you appreciate them is by taking time out of your busy day to spend some time together.  You could go to a nearby walking trial and participate in one of our branches’ Story Walks, plus get in some fun exercise, fresh air and a little sun (don’t forget your water to stay hydrated and your sunscreen!).  If you go on one of our Story Walks, let us know by using the QR code (just center it in your camera’s picture app and it will bring up a link to let us know how many are in your party) or call or visit one of our library branches to tell us what you thought about it.  Everyone who comes by to tells us they did a Story Walk will receive a page of finger puppets for your efforts. A list of where our Story Walks are located and what stories are available at each can be found on our Summer Reading Program page of our website by clicking here

Many people say that their pet is their Best Friend.  Our SRP packets have a sheet included where you and your family can tell us why your pet is AWESOME!  There is even a space for you to draw a picture of you and your pet so don’t forget to pick up your FREE packet.

We would love to see pictures of you and your pets or your family participating in any of our Suggested Family Activities for inclusion on our website!  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Show Off Your Love of Your Pets

There are lots of great craft projects you can make to show off your love of your pets.  The website DLTK-Kids has several fun ideas that only use basic supplies such as paper and crayons.  To find out how to make a paper model of a Siberian Husky dog, check out their instructions here  Brown paper bags are very versatile (and cheap!) craft project supplies.  The website also has instructions to make a cute puppy dog out of one.  Directions can be found here

White paper plates are another inexpensive craft supply to have on hand.  DLTK-Kids has a funny hamster face that is made from one – check it out here  Or if kitty cats are your pet of choice, they have a super easy cat craft for young children that is made by gluing various sizes of circles together.  Find the instructions here

If you do not have a printer at home to print out any of these templates, ask your local library to print out the templates for you.  Since it is for our Summer Reading Program projects, we will not charge you!

We would love to see pictures and/or videos of this day.  Send them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading: Read to Your Pet

Laura Joffe Numeroff is a popular children’s book author and illustrator who brings a variety of cute animals to life in her titles.  Since we are celebrating all things animal related this summer, check out some of her funny titles from one of our local library branches.  Her first title, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, introduced the world to the highly imaginative exploits of Mouse, who is always wanting SOMETHING!  Mouse proved very popular and is also featured in If You Give a Mouse a Brownie, If You Take a Mouse to School, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies and The Best Mouse Cookie.  Her character Pig has also been a favorite, appearing in If You Give a Pig a Pancake and If You Give a Pig a Party.

Various NERL staff are reading (either live or through recordings) lots of animals books this summer – one per day!  George E. Allen Librarian Sandy Donahue will be reading Numeroff’s If You Give a Moose a Muffin, a recording of which will be available next week on June 15.  (Due to publishers’ restrictions, some recorded titles will only be accessible through June 30, while others will remain until the end of July.)  To view the recordings, check our website at

Since today is National Doughnut Day, how about reading Numeroff’s If You Give a Dog a Donut to celebrate?  Children might be tempted to see how many doughnuts you can eat without getting sick – after all, you can’t eat just one!  A better idea might be to buy a dozen donuts and see how many you can share with those around you.  You can also use Play-Doh or modeling clay to create your own “fake” doughnuts.  Decorate them any way you like and make them look delicious, just remember not to eat them!  We would love to see pictures and/or videos of this day.  Send them to

Suggested Family Activity • Story Walk

As part of our Summer Reading Program activities, NERL is presenting Story Walks in eight of our communities.  What is a Story Walk, you ask?  A Story Walk is an outdoor reading experience where a children’s book is presented via plastic signs at various points along a walking trail.  Participants walk the trial, stopping at each sign to read the pages of the story.  NERL is proud to partner with our local communities to present Story Walks at walking trails in Belmont, Blue Mountain, Booneville, Burnsville, Corinth, Iuka, Ripley and Tishomingo.  (Click here for a listing of all Story Walk locations with addresses and other information)

The Story Walk at the walking trail in Plumrose Park in Booneville features Ryan T. Higgin’s first book, Mother Bruce and will be up later this week.  (NERL Director Dee Hare will also perform a live reading of this title in early July.)  Since today is National Egg Day, this hysterical children’s book is a perfect one to read today.   Bruce the bear just loves to eat eggs, but he finds himself in real trouble when he gets ones that are about to hatch!  Do you love eggs like Bruce?  See how many ways there are to cook an egg today.  You are probably thinking…boiled, scrambled and fried, but there are other ways like egg salad that are a perfect summer food.  Please let us see what you come up with by sharing pictures and/or videos with us.  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • National Global Running Day

Today is National Global Running Day, so get those running shoes ready to run! It is a great way to get in some exercise. If you like to take daily walks with your family, you can change up your routine today and have a friendly competition to see who can run the fastest or the farthest distance in a certain amount of time. Encouraging children to run is a great way to get them out in the fresh air (and tire them out as well!), even if they just race against themselves.

Have you picked up your Summer Reading Program activity packet for Theme 1, “Local Tales” yet? Packets are available for Families, Ages 6 and under, Ages 7-11 and Ages 12 and up and include coloring sheets, activity sheets and craft projects. Our focus over the next two weeks are all the great animals we have as pets, as well as the animals that live in our surroundings. Some people like to take their pets out on their daily walks, so if you like to do that, we would love to see it! And you know that dogs can’t help but join in when children start running around them! Send your pictures or a video of your race and share it with us this summer by emailing it to

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We would love for you to share with us.  Just email them to

Suggested Family Activity • Summer Reading • National Say Something Nice Day

Today is National Say Something Nice Day, so let’s all participate in a competition to try to say more nice things than anyone else!  You should always be honest and sincere with your compliments, but it’s OK to make them humorous – nice things can still be funny at times.  Use this opportunity to teach your children how to take time to observe each person’s reactions when they say something nice – are they surprised?  Do they start crying?  Do they start smiling from ear to ear?  You can make videos of yourself and your family saying nice things about each other or other people you know.  Notes and letters are also great ways of “saying” something nice to others.  Children can even make hand-written notes with simple paper and crayons.  Whether you sign your name on your note or remain a secret admirer is up to you.  By participating in National Say Something Nice Day, you have helped make this day a nice day for yourself and possibly others as well.  If you happen to get a video (or picture of a note or letter) of yourself saying something nice, we would love for you to share with us.  Just email them to

NERL’s Summer Library Program starts today!  In celebration of this year’s theme of “Tails and Tales,” you can also send us a video or drawing of your family saying something nice about their pets.  After all, they are part of the family too, aren’t they?  If you pick up an activity packet from one of our local library branches, we even have a sheet included in the Family set that has space for children to draw a picture of their pets and tell us why their pets are the BEST!

May 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend usually kicks off the summer season for many families but let us not forget what the holiday is really about – honoring the men and women of the military who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Did you know that some people believe that the holiday originated in Columbus, Mississippi? To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, check out the history channel’s information here Each year for Memorial Day, PBS hosts a concert on the Sunday before Memorial Day that will feature live musical performances and heartwarming tributes. This year’s concernt features performances from various military groups such as The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, as well as musicians such as Gladys Knight, Alan Jackson, and Sara Bareiles. In addition to being broadcast on local PBS stations, it can also be viewed live on their website at

To celebrate the real meaning of Memorial Day, there are several things your family can do this weekend: You can learn and sing a patriotic song – traditional ones such as “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America, the Beautiful,” any of the five service songs from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps, or some of the many contemporary patriotic songs that have been released over the years. If you know a veteran, ask them to share their stories from their military experience this weekend. Red poppies are worn as a sign of remembrance on Memorial Day so craft your own with red tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. Your family can also visit local cemeteries to put out small flags or flowers on soldiers’ graves. Finally, you can get your children to help you write thank you cards and handwritten letters to soldiers and veterans. If you don’t know where to send a letter, the organization A Million Thanks collects letters and mails them out to active, reserve and retired military. Visit for more information.

Suggested Family Activity • Drawing Cartoons and Characters

Do you have a favorite cartoon character? What about a favorite comic book character? A favorite superhero? (Or villain?) Have you ever wanted to learn how to draw cartoons and comics yourself? Your local library branch can help you find books that will help everyone in your family learn drawing skills. Or if following along with a video is more your style, check out the various short art tutorials that can be found on YouTube. Whichever way you choose, draw us a picture of your favorite comic book character or superhero. We would love to see what you come up with!

Children can begin learning to draw cartoons and comics with Cartooning for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin, Comic Books: From Superheroes to Manga by Joshua Hatch or Manga Dragons in the “Learn to Draw Manga” series by Richard Jones. Cartoon Animator by Don Rauf will even give young people information about what it takes to make a career out of being an animator.

For teens and adults wanting to learn how to draw in the Japanese anime or manga style, we have Anime Art: Easel Does It by Keith Sparrow, The Complete Guide to: Create Mesmerizing Manga-Style Animation with Pencils, Paint, and Pixels by Chi Hang Li, and Anime Mania: How to Draw Characters for Japanese Animation by Christopher Hart. Other interesting titles include The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Drawing Superheroes & Villains by Matt Forbeck and The Art of Cartooning by Jack Markow, which focuses on tips for drawing and selling both cartoons and comic strips.

Suggested Family Activity • Scavenger Hunt Day!

Today is National Scavenger Hunt Day!  Scavenger hunts are fun for all ages and can be as simple or as complicated as you want.  Typically, scavenger hunts challenge participants (sometimes in teams) to search for a list of random or odd items.  They are popular activities for all types of occasions – or for no reason at all!  NERL branches have been providing monthly Scavenger Hunt sheets as part of their seasonal children’s activity packets this past year.  The next packet, for Summer Reading Program, can be picked up beginning June 1.  Until then, we offer this simple Outdoor Scavenger Hunt, courtesy of the website. Download a PDF copy here ScavengerHunt (For a paper copy, please ask your local library branch to print one out for you.)

Types of Scavenger Hunts are as varied as the people who make them.  Some, such as the one above, ask you to look for things in nature.  Simple ones for young children may focus on helping them identify colors by asking them to find things of various colors such as red, blue, and yellow.  Another idea for young children learning shapes is to ask them to find items that are round, square, a triangle, etc.  As children get older, you can introduce units of measurement to them by giving them a simple ruler and asking them to find something that is 1 inch, 2 inches, etc.

Older children might have fun doing a Preposition Scavenger Hunt to strengthen their English language skills.  Since many prepositions have a visual action association with them (think ‘between,’ ‘over,’ and ‘under’), you could have children write down objects they find ‘with’ another object or ‘under’ an object.  Another fun English language Scavenger Hunt could be to concentrate on nouns, things that you can do actions with (verbs), or adjectives, such as something pretty or something small or something cold.  Rules for scavenger hunts can vary as well.  Sometimes there is a time limit or a certain area to be used.  Some scavenger hunts are even made with riddles or clues that you must figure out first to learn what to collect.

Suggested Family Activity • Crafts & Hobbies

Summer holidays are fast approaching, so now is a good time to plan out activities for your family to do together.  One fun idea is to learn a new craft or hobby together.  Your local library branch can help you with materials to get you started:

If you would like to learn how to bake your own bread this summer, check out The Art of Baking Bread: What You Really Need to Know to Make Great Bread by Matt Pellegrini, Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Bread Recipes or More of America’s Best Bread Machine Baking Recipes by Donna Washburn.  For beginning bakers, check out Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls or Breads and Biscuits in the First Cookbook Library series by Stoffelina De Villiers and Johanna Adriana.  If your little ones are too young to help with baking, look to Baker’s Clay: Cutouts, Sculptures, and Projects with Flour, Salt, and Water by Ethie Williamson for ideas on how to keep them entertained in the kitchen.

If your family would like to learn how to draw or paint this summer, check out Art Class: A Beginner’s Complete Guide to Painting and Drawing, Drawing Course 101 by Rober Capitolo, or The Complete Colored Pencil Book by Bernard Poulin.  To give your children some ideas for expressing their inner artist, check out 500 Kids Art Ideas: Inspiring Projects for Fostering Creativity and Self-Expression or The Berenstain Bears Draw-It by Stan Berenstain.  Lee J. Ames has a terrific series of books for young artists that include such titles as Draw 50 Aliens, UFO’s Galaxy Ghouls, Milky Way Marauders, and other Extraterrestrial Creatures, Draw 50 Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals and Draw 50 Princesses: The Step-by-Step Way to Draw Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Many More.

Suggested Family Activity • Playing with Boxes

Do you have lots and lots of carboard boxes hanging around your house and are not sure what to do with them?  Has your family ever explored the endless possibilities that are found with an empty cardboard box?  For young children, empty boxes can be turned into a treehouse perched high in the sky, a pirate ship sailing on the sea or a secret palace hidden away from the rest of the world.  All they need is the power of their imagination!  And if you want to let them get really creative, they can also use crayons, markers, stickers or even paint to turn their cardboard box into their ship, palace or fort.  You can also make an awesome maze for them to travel through with large cardboard boxes taped together with duct tape.  Cut a few windows and doors in between various ones and you might keep your children entertained for hours.

Smaller cardboard boxes can be covered with pretty paper, such as leftover wallpaper or wrapping paper, to make decorative storage containers.  Or you can cover them with a solid colored piece of paper and let your children decorate the box with crayons, markers, or stickers to make storage containers for their rooms.  With gardening season upon us, you can also use small cardboard boxes lined with plastic bags to start plant seeds or even to make low-cost planters for inside your home.  Flattened cardboard boxes are also great to use outside to put over areas where you are trying to prevent weeds from growing.  A handy trick is to water the cardboard, so it stays where you put it, then cover it with a layer of dirt of mulch.

Suggested Family Activity • Get Caught Reading Month

Dee and Cole got caught reading!

May is Get Caught Reading Month so we challenge people of all ages to get caught reading whenever they can!  And if you send us the photographic evidence, we would love to share your reading moments on our website.  (To submit photos, send them to the email below.)  As part of NERL’s upcoming Summer Reading Program during the months of June and July, everyone is especially encouraged to get caught reading to your favorite pet to celebrate the theme of “Tails and Tales”.  NERL invites you to submit pictures of your children (and adults too!) reading to their pets.  And if you don’t have a pet right now, or if your pet is a little camera shy, don’t worry!  Photos of your child reading to their favorite stuffed animal is a great idea as well.  (Studies have shown that young children just learning to read often become nervous when reading for an adult.  But if they read to their pets, or even their stuffed animals, their confidence improves tremendously.)  Pictures may be sent to NERL at, where they will be put into a slideshow on the NERL website.  

It’s easy to get caught reading at any time.  One way is to keep books and magazines scattered in all the areas of your home, as well as in your vehicle.  That way, no matter where you are, you will have something to read.  You can also visit your local library branch to pick up free reading materials or view NERL’s website at to borrow free e-books (and e-audios) for your digital device through the Hoopla and Libby platforms.  You can make a point to read to young children (older brothers and sisters can help read to them too) to show them how fun it is.  Making story time a regular routine, at the same place and time every day, is great fun for all involved.  Many children love for this to happen at bedtime, of course.  It can also be fun to take a book with you when you go outside to enjoy the fresh air, such as in outdoor spaces at your home or even taking a book with you to a local park.   

Suggested Family Activity • Frog Craft

There are lots of different ways you and your family can make froggies as a craft project. One way is to take an empty toilet paper roll and paint or color it green. You could also cover it with green paper if you have any. Then cut out legs for your froggy out of paper (use white and color it green or use green paper) and glue or tape them to each side of the roll. Finish your froggy by drawing on eyes, a mouth and maybe even a long tongue getting ready to snatch a fly out of the air! Another fun frog craft if you have any plastic green Easter eggs left over is to turn one into the body of a frog. Start by drawing nostril holes and a wide smile with a marker and add paper legs on each side. If you have any, glue pom poms topped with googly eyes on the top of the eye for his eyes or you can get the same look with paper circles. As a finishing touch, don’t forget a small red tongue sticking out.

If you have any plain, white paper plates at home, you can turn them into frogs in a variety of ways. Children can color one side of the plate red to be the froggy mouth and one side green to be its head. (You could also use paint or even glue on different pieces of green scrapbook paper or tissue paper.) After it is dry, fold the plate over and add big frog eyes by cutting circles out of a white and black paper and gluing them to the top of the green side. By inserting your hand into the fold, you have an instant puppet! You can also use a full-sized paper plate colored green as a froggy body and then trace your child’s hand twice on paper to be the legs. As with the other crafts mentioned, you can use white paper and the kids can color it or use green paper if you have any. Glue one hand on each side of the plate to hang off for the legs. Next, make a face for your froggy by cutting out white and black circles to mimic the look of giant googly eyes and glue them towards the top of the plate, sticking out the top just a bit. Then dot on two small black dots underneath the eyes for nostrils and draw a black mouth underneath the nostrils. For extra fun, you can make a long red tongue to stick out of the mouth!

Suggested Family Activity • National Frog Jumping Day

Tomorrow, May 13th, is National Frog Jumping Day – a day set aside to celebrate the fun of frog jumping competitions.  The most famous event of this type may be the one held at the Calaveras County, California County Fair, which has been held annually since 1849.  It served as inspiration for Mark Twain’s famous short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”   First published in 1865, the funny tale of a pet frog named Dan’l Webster jumpstarted Twain’s literary career.

To get into the spirit of National Frog Jumping Day, have you children (and maybe the adults too!) have a jumping contest of their own.  Who in your family can jump the highest?  You can also show your kids how to play leapfrog.  Once they have mastered the technique, you can also see who the best at that classic outdoor game is.  And don’t forget to let out a few “Ribbets!” as you have fun!

Copies of Twain’s short story can be found in the collections of many of our local library branches.  Funny children’s picture books starring frogs include the hilarious “Froggy” titles by Jonathan London, the classic Adventures of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, I Took my Frog to the Library by Eric A. Kimmel,and Frog Went a-Courtin’ by John M.Langstaff, which  brings the well-known American folk song to life.  The story of The Frog Prince is available in several different versions, including a board book edition by Jerry Smath and a beautifully illustrated version by Kathy-Jo Wargin.  Author Jon Scieszka has even put his signature flair to the story with The Frog Prince, Continued and author Nancy Loewen offers a version told from the other side of the lily pad with her Frankly, I Never Wanted to Kiss Anybody!: The Story of the Frog Prince, as Told by the Frog.

Check out our post on Friday for some froggy themed craft ideas.

Suggested Family Activity • Gardening

Have you thought about starting a fruit and vegetable garden for this year yet? Working on a garden space together, no matter the size, is a great family activity that allows for fun and bonding time while also introducing children to the concept of where food comes from and how satisfying it is to “make” your own. Eating home grown food is also a healthy alternative to other food choices. Having a garden does take work though and can be time-consuming so make sure everyone in your family understands the commitment they are making to the family project. If you are not already a summer garden pro, you could start out small with just a few plants to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables. The Mississippi State Extension Service says that May is the perfect time to plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, peas, beans, eggplant, corn, okra, parsley, watermelons, and cantaloupes. For more information on tasks to do this month to beautify your outdoor space, check out their link HERE

You can also find lots of great books to help you begin a food garden at one of the NERL libraries!  Search our online card catalog.

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Suggested Family Activity • Videography

Not too long ago, people recorded their favorite family events on camcorders or movie cameras.  Now, everyone carries around the same recording power on their cell phones.  You may have several short videos saved on your phone of cute things your family does or special moments during the holidays.  Have you ever thought about encouraging your children to take short recordings to make videos?  If you do, you might uncover a hidden source of creativity in your child.  Maybe they will follow the family pet around to see how it views the world or maybe they will show you a side of themselves (or their brother or sister) that you have never seen before.

Just like home videos, people used to keep their family photographs printed out and placed in albums.  Now, many people save them on their phone or computer.  To put a different spin on taking pictures, why not turn your children loose with your camera or phone and let them take pictures of whatever catches their eye.  You might be surprised at where their imagination and creativity take them!

To add another level of interest to your videos or pictures, head outside and find some interesting natural backdrops.  The grass and trees around us are becoming fuller and greener, day by day, and will make beautiful pictures.  Maybe you even have flowers or bushes in your area that are blooming that would make a great backdrop.  Little children could even bring their toys, such as dinosaurs and animal figures or superhero action figures and dolls, outside to photograph or act out a movie.  And if you have older children or teens, challenge them to make a short movie or film montage about their favorite subject that you may not know much about.

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Suggested Family Activity • Postcard Week

My friend Bob has been on a mission for years to keep the post card industry alive! Every time he travels he writes postcards to everyone—so of course we have to do the same for him! That’s an actual post card for him. Since his birthday is May 7, I’m convinced they established Post Card Week just because of his efforts!

The first week of May is Postcard Week so send a postcard that is pretty, funny or filled with beautiful scenery to someone you have not seen in a while.  Children love sending and receiving mail so let yours send one to a distant grandparent, cousin or friend.  They can even make their own postcards with their artwork and drawings.  All you need is cardstock weight paper and some markers or crayons.  Cut the paper (poster board works well too) into rectangles measuring anywhere from 3.5 inches x 5 inches and 4.25 inches x 6 inches if you will be mailing them through the U.S. postal system.  If you decide to hand deliver your postcards, you can make them bigger to fit in more space for decorating and writing.  This is especially helpful for little ones, who tend to write BIG!  On one side of your postcard, draw a line down the middle to section off a space to write in the address to whom it is going and to put the stamp.  On the same side of the paper but on the other side of the line you have drawn down the middle is the space to write the message.  To decorate their postcard, children (and adults) can use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to draw their own artwork.  They can even use stickers to dress up their designs.

Once they get started making postcards, your family may end up making a lot of them!  If so, they can give them out by hand to family members, teachers, and other friends as a surprise and unexpected treat.  You could also leave them stuck in the door for people to find when they get home for the day.  Or surprise your neighbors by leaving a postcard on their door just to say “Hi!”.

Suggested Family Activity • May the Fourth Be With You!

StormTrooper Josh

Tomorrow is National Star Wars Day so join us as we celebrate all things from the Star Wars universe.  According to the National Day Calendar website, May 4 became known as Star Wars day after Star Wars creator George Lucas said the famous phrase, “May the Force Be with You,” during an interview on German national television.  The line was misinterpreted to be “On May 4, we are with you”. Star Wars fans eventually latched onto this funny misunderstanding and have created a whole day full of activities.

What can you do to join into the fun?  Maybe you will wear your favorite Stormtrooper, Darth Vader or Princess Leia costume or just your favorite Star Wars shirt.  Maybe you will have a lightsaber battle or play with your R2D2 or Chewbacca.  Maybe you will watch some of the many Star Wars films or television series, such as The Mandalorian.  Maybe you will fix some of the Star Wars themed goodies in The Star Wars Cookbook: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr or maybe you will try out some of the crafts in The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton.  Whichever way you decide to show your love of Star Wars, don’t forget to send us a picture to show us what you’re up to!

Your local library branches have lots of Star Wars materials to keep you entertained today.  If you are interested in introducing the youngest members of your family to Star Wars, check out the picture books Star Wars ABC-3PO by Calliope Glass, 5- Minute Star Wars Stories or the humorous books by Jeffrey Brown: Goodnight Darth Vader and Vader’s Little Princess.  Children just venturing into reading on their own might enjoy Are Ewoks scared of Stormtroopers?, a Dorling Kindersley Readers Level 1 title or The Adventures of Han Solo by Lindsay Kent, a DK Readers, Level 2 book.

Chapter book readers will love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Anglebergers, The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo, or Star Wars Character Encyclopedia by Simon Beecroft.  Adult readers might like to check out the coffee table book The Art of Rogue One by Josh Kushins or one of the many novels that are set in the Star Wars world by such outstanding writers such as Timothy Zahn, Troy Denning, Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole, Claudia Gray, and others.  Author Ian Doescher has even brought together the worlds of William Shakespeare and Star Wars in his novels that present the Star Wars stories in Shakespearean sonnet style.  If this combination intrigues you, check out William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope or The Empire Striketh Back.

Disney reveals its ‘real’ lightsaber, and it looks extremely cool

April 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Enjoy Spring!

If the weather is nice this weekend, celebrate the spring temperatures by spending some time outside.  If you can find a patch of clover, try to find a four-leaf clover for good luck.  Blowing bubbles is another fun outdoor activity.  Blowing them for young children to catch and pop is a great way to sneak in some extra exercise.  To make your own bubble solution, combine 1 cup water with 2 tablespoons glycerin or a corn syrup, such as Karo syrup and 4 tablespoons dishwashing liquid.  Stir it together very slowly (so that the bubbles do not form yet).  For best results, let it sit for several hours or overnight to ‘gel’ together before using it.

You can also celebrate the nice weather by taking a drive to look at all the leaves turning green, the red clover blooming along roadways, and the dogwood trees blooming in forested areas.  Drive slowly through areas where you live with the windows rolled down to feel (and smell) the nice spring air.  If you do it slowly enough, children may be able to blow bubbles out of their car windows!

If you cannot get outside this weekend, the next best thing is to open the windows in your house to catch the spring breezes.  Doing so will help the air quality inside your home, as the breezes will help circulate all the cooped-up air from this winter and move it out and replace it with clean, fresh air.

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Suggested Family Activity • Wind Chimes

April weather can be windy.  For a fun craft project that will help you and your family see and hear all the spring breezes passing by, why not make a wind chime from things you have lying around the house?  Young children can string plastic beads, baubles, buttons, or even old keys (left plain or painted bright colors) onto yarn or string for their chimes.  Another fun thing for young children to string is uncooked pasta such as macaroni, penne, or rigatoni noodles.  Just like the keys, they can leave them plain or paint them fun colors.  Doing such activities helps children develop their fine motor skills and learn how to use their fingers and hands.  Another fun idea is to look outside for sturdy sticks measuring various lengths from 1 foot to 2.5 feet (depending on how large you want your wind chime to be) to use as chimes.  Again, you can leave them their natural color or let your kids paint brightly colored stripes on them with acrylic paint.  Some people even like to make wind chimes using seashells that they pick up while on vacation.

Teens and adults who have access to tools might want to get creative and make windchimes using things such as old spoons, forks and butter knives or metal discs, such as the liners from Mason jars.  Recycled plastic bottle caps are another thing you can use if you punch a hole in the center of each so that you can thread them together.    It is also fun to make a wind chime using old compact player discs because they catch and reflect the light very well.

You will need something to act as the base to which you will anchor your chimes.  You can use a long stick and tie your chimes to it with string or yarn and then make a hangar at the top to hang it up.  You could also use recycled cans and glue or duct tape your chimes to the inside if you do not have tools to punch a hole in the can to thread them through.  Another idea is to use a coat hanger as a base, either as it is or taking it apart to bend it into a wire circle.  Then, you could tie your chimes onto it.  You can also keep it simple and use a plastic or paper cup.  Both of these are thin enough that you can poke holes around the rim with a small knife or awl to thread your chimes.  Or if you have a small plant pot, such as a terra cotta one, lying around, you can thread your chimes through the hole in the bottom.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Tell a Story Day

Tomorrow is National Tell a Story Day. Stories can be found all around us -in books, in the lyrics of our favorite songs, or even in story lines of popular movies and television shows. Stories that are told from person to person have long been used to pass on information in an entertaining way.

Celebrate National Tell a Story day tomorrow by sharing a story with someone else. One simple way to share a story is by reading a children’s book story out loud to a child. Another great idea for all ages is to make up your own stories from your imagination and share it with friends and family. If you are having trouble coming up with a story to tell, try describing a favorite childhood memory or telling a funny story about something that happened to you. Telling each other stories is a wonderful way for families to pass down their histories, knowledge, and traditions, so the activity can turn out to be as educational as it is entertaining. One special way to do this today could be to have a child ask a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle or any elder member of your family to tell a story about how they grew up or things they remember fondly from the past.

• If you are new to the art of storytelling, try these tips as you tell a story today:
• Form a connection with your audience by making eye contact with each one throughout the story.
• Invite your audience to participate by asking questions, even if it is as simple as, “Can you guess what happened next?” during your story.
• Change voices for each of the characters in your story.
• Make movements whenever possible. For instance, you could act out what is happening in the story whenever appropriate.
• Don’t forget to make your face assume different expressions as it fits the story.
• Most importantly, have fun!

Suggested Family Activities • Earth Day Pledge Card

Don’t forget to go by your local NERL library branch to pick up your Earth Day pledge card!  The cards will be displayed in library windows for everyone to see.  It is also not too late to pick up a Spring activity packet or the National Library Week packet for fun coloring sheets, activity sheets and craft projects.

Spring weather can jump from wet and gloomy to bright and sunny from day to day.  If it is rainy this weekend, plan a “do nothing” day with your family.  Maybe you will watch fun family movies together, play lots of board or card games, put together puzzles, or work on craft or art projects together – whatever relaxes you!  You could make quick and easy snacks (don’t forget the popcorn if you watch movies!) and just spend the day together having fun.

Don’t forget to work in time for a marathon story time.   Get everyone to pile up together on the couch, on your bed or in a fun pillow and blanket fort and read the afternoon away in snuggly comfort.   Families with young children can read lots of picture books out loud or maybe begin a chapter book adventure.  Families with older children, teenagers or even those with just adults only can still have a great time together, reading their own books while relaxing in the same room or even cuddled together.

Suggested Family Activity • Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day tomorrow with the branches of NERL as we explore ways that everyone can make small changes in their daily lives to save the Earth and its valuable resources.  Some of the subjects discussed during Earth Day activities may sound scary or confusing, such as “climate change,” “renewable fuels,” and “carbon footprint.”  You may wonder what one person, or one family, can do to help the Earth, but all it takes are small actions to make a big difference.   To help introduce the subject to young children, check out some of these titles from your local library branch:

Hey Little Ant by Philip M. Hoose tells the story of a little boy who wonders if it really makes a difference if he squishes an ant or not.  The Great Kapok tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry explores the plant and animal life destroyed when tropical rain forests are cut down.  Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by   Amy Ehrlich tells the story of one of the first persons to call attention to the damage being done to the environment. 

The George E Allen Library at Booneville decorated for Earth Day

Some of the small things that you and your family can do every day to help the Earth include things such as recycling everything you can, either by turning recyclable trash into a recycling center, repurposing an item into something else to continue using it or passing it along to someone else if you do not need it anymore.  Your family can also   shop at secondhand stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and similar places instead of buying new items whenever possible.  When you do need new items, you can also look for things that have very little packaging that needs to be thrown away.  Other small actions include turning lights off when you leave a room, planting trees to produce more oxygen or plants that will attract bees and butterflies, not letting water run when you are brushing your teeth or combining your errands into one trip so that you get several things done at one time instead of making individual trips out daily, which uses more gas. 

This week, NERL branches will be handing out Earth Day pledge cards (pictured below) for you to write down one thing you are willing to do to help the environment.  The cards will be displayed on branch windows and doors for several weeks after Earth Day. 

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Suggested Family Activity • Gnome Craft

A fun craft project for people of all ages is making gnomes to sit around your house or front porch.  It does not take many supplies at all to make cute versions to fit all seasons and personal tastes.  The examples pictured below include a Snow Gnome from this

past winter, a Minecraft Gnome, a Spring Gnome, and a hard-working traditional gnome ready to face a dragon!  To begin this project, decide on what you can use to form the body.  For our versions, we used recycled pickle jars and Mason jars.  (If you are worried about them being knocked over, you can fill

the jars with rocks to weigh them down.)  Another option is to fill an old sock with rice or beans to make the body.

Next, decide what to use for the gnome’s beard.  The ones for the Snow Gnome and Minecraft Gnome below are each made from a car polishing mitt found at local dollar stores.  If you use one of those, it is super easy to just slide it over your jar or container.  To make beards like the other two gnomes pictured below, a light-colored piece of felt was glued to the jar before gluing on beard strands made by cutting apart floor mops from the dollar store.  After your beard is in place, next comes the gnome’s hat.  The Snow and Minecraft gnomes’ hats are made from old socks, while the other two gnomes have hats made from more felt.  To give the hats shape, stuff them with crumpled newspaper and tie them closed with string, yarn, or ribbon.

Our gnomes’ noses are made by gluing on a single pom pom but another option is to  use a wooden bead or other round objects to make a nose.  The last step is to establish your gnome however you want.  For our Snow Gnome above, we added foam snowflakes, while our Spring Gnome received bright spring flowers and a cute butterfly.  For our Dragon Gnome, we added dragon embellishments found in the sticker section of a dollar store.

We hope you let your creativity loose and have fun trying out your own gnome!  For more gnome inspiration, check out other people’s versions on Google or Pinterest.  And don’t forget to send us a picture of your gnomes at

Suggested Family Activity • Spring Activity Packets

Have you picked up your spring children’s activity packet from one of the branches of the Northeast Regional Library yet? It is not too late! The packets are filled with craft projects, activity sheets and coloring sheets for children to have fun doing. We even have a new spring themed set of adult coloring sheets for teens and adults who enjoy this relaxing pastime.

Malia is working on her spring packet.

We love coloring at our libraries! It is fun for people of all ages and is a great way to sneak in some learning time. Coloring helps children develop the fine motor skills needed to pinch and grasp things with their fingers – a skill that is setting them up to learn how to write. Coloring helps children learn how to recognize colors and is an exercise that builds their concentration, attention span and ability to focus on a task. It is also one of the first activities that they are exposed to that lets them explore their creativity and self-expression. Coloring is beneficial to adults too – coloring helps to reduce stress and is a form of relaxation for many. It is also used in assisted living facilities to help senior adults regain the fine motor skills that are sometimes lost due to age or a medical condition such as stroke.

A fun coloring activity for this weekend is to get a roll of paper and put it on your table or on the floor. Let your kids draw a long network of roads for their cars, trucks, and other small toys. They can make a whole city scene, complete with buildings, trees, water features, and roadways. If cars and trucks are not their ‘thing’, they can draw a jungle landscape for their animal or dinosaur figures to romp in, an ocean scene for underwear creatures, the levels of a doll house for their dolls to play in or a superhero hideout for their action figures.

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Suggested Family Activities • Celebrate Look Up at The Sky Day

Celebrate Look Up at The Sky Day today and explore the splendor that rests just over our heads. Start out by checking out the sky during the day. If you have young children, ask them questions about what they can observe. What colors do they see up there? Blue and white? If it is overcast or even stormy today, you might see a lot of shades of gray or even black, green or orange colors. If you can catch a sunrise or sunset, you might even see pinks and purples. Can they see anything moving across the sky, such as a plane, a bird or maybe a kite? If they see a plane, you can talk about the white vapor trial that is sometimes visible, even when the plane is too small to see. If you see a bird flying by, can you tell what kind it is?

If the weather is nice, take a blanket outside and lie back and watch the clouds. It is always fun to see what kind of shapes clouds can make. This is a great activity for young children to express their creativity and use their imagination. You can also ask them if the clouds are staying still or are they moving? If they are moving, is it very fast or a slow, drifting sensation? If you have older children, and need help explaining the different types of clouds, check out a book from your local library branch such as The Cloud Book: How to Understand the Skies by Richard Hamblyn.

Go back outside and look at the sky again tonight. How is it different than during the day? What colors do you see now? Can you still see the clouds? Hopefully, you will be able to see stars and even the moon. If you want help identifying what patterns the stars make, check out a book about constellations from your local library.

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Suggested Family Activities • Tornado Season

April is tornado season in the South so now is a good time to go over with your family what to do in case of a weather emergency.  Does your family know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?  Does everyone know where the safest place to be during a tornado?  Do you have flashlights, candles and battery-operated lanterns ready in case the power goes out or a radio to take with you to listen to weather reports?  Do you have a plan for where to meet outside your home should a tornado or other emergency force you to leave it unexpectedly?

The federal website,, contains a wealth of information on how to prepare for disasters of all kinds, including tornados.  This website includes information for not only securing your home but also your vehicles and your pets.  For a full listing of everything they suggest you include in a tornado emergency preparedness kit, check out the following link:

Since it is tornado season, talk to your children about the different types of storms they might experience.  Your local library branch has titles to help you – the DK Eyewitness series title Hurricane & Tornado by Jack Challoner contains a lot of basic information, along with full color illustrations and graphics.  Picture books to introduce the concept of tornados to young children include The Bravest of Us All by Marsha Diane Arnold, One Lucky Girl by George Ella Lyon, and The Storm by March Harshaman.  Chapter book readers might want to check out Twister on Tuesday in the “Magic Tree House” series by Mary Pope Osborne, I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis, or Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Swirling Killer Tornado by John R. Erickson.

Cole in his tornado safe place with an electric lantern.

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Suggested Family Activities • Encourage a Young Writer

Tomorrow, April 10, is Encourage a Young Writer Day so encourage your child’s creativity and imagination today by having them write a book or story of their own. Maybe we’ll see their names in our library’s collection one day! All you need is paper and a pencil to get them started. Young children can even use crayons or markers to draw their story if they cannot write yet. If they want to make it several pages long, an adult can write down what is happening in the story, either on the back of the piece of paper or on a separate piece of paper. (It will probably help to number the pages, so they do not get out of order.)

Try some of our writing prompts to get their creative juices flowing: Have them write the silliest version they can come up about “Why My Library Book is Overdue”. Other ideas for children include writing a story about someone (animal or human) who has slept through the winter but is waking up in time for spring, writing a fairy tale about a person who can talk to animals in a forest, imagining what it would be like to live somewhere totally opposite of where you do such as a tropical island, a high mountain peak or a snowy winter wonderland or writing about what it would be like to spend the night locked in a library.

Another great writing idea is to start or work on a journal. Children can use their journals as a place to write down their ideas for poems or stories, record what happens to them as a daily diary or to write down things they just want to remember, such as their favorite story their grandfather tells. The wonderful thing about journaling is that it is great for all ages.

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Suggested Family Activities • Book Spine Poetry

Have fun today with a little Book Spine Poetry!  How do you play, you ask?  Just gather up book titles that, when put together, form a funny sentence or story.  For example, stack up the books Basketball, Wizards of the Game, Game Plan, Athletic Shorts, The Moves Make the Man for a sports themed poem.  Or use the books Aargh, It’s an Alien, Abracadabra, Yikes, It’s a Yeti, Hit It for a funny creature themed poem.

A fun book themed idea today is to pick out your favorite book and find something to make that is based on that story.  Kids are great at coming up with things to make for this activity!  Maybe you will make your own representations of a dinosaur habitat for a dinosaur book or maybe you will create a paper hat to go along with a pirate, princess, or firefighter book.  The sky’s the limit!  Another fun idea is to throw on some costumes and act out your favorite book.

The fun can even be extended into the kitchen if you make a dish that reminds you of your favorite book.  You could make Green Eggs & Ham or apple pie from The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  If you like sweet things to eat (and who doesn’t?), use Laura Joffe Numeroff’s books If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Dog a Donut or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for inspiration for what to bake.

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Suggested Family Activity • Reading to Children

One of the main goals of your public library is to help you instill in your children a love of books and reading.  As librarians, we feel that starts with adults reading out loud to children, even from a very young age.  Reading to a child brings with it a long list of positive benefits.  Not only is it essential for their continuing brain development because it stimulates their brain to grow, it is also crucial to children’s language development.  Hearing stories supports their growing language skills as they hear new vocabulary words that will build and shape the language that they will use to communicate for themselves as they mature from year to year.  Reading out loud to a child also increases their comprehension skills and helps to improve their mental, social, and emotional skills.  It also encourages children’s creativity and introduces them to the power of their own imagination.

Studies have shown that reading aloud to infants and toddlers can help prevent behavior problems such as aggression, hyperactivity, and difficulty with attention spans.  As children get older, an array of long-term consequences including obesity, academic failure and juvenile delinquency have been linked to a deficient literacy level, which can then be directly linked back to inadequate exposure to books as a child.

The two most important things that you can do for your child is to talk to them and to read to them.  And the best thing about this is – those are two of the easiest things to do!  If you are still unsure how to get started reading to your child, we have collected some tips to help you:  Ask your local librarian for help finding books.  That’s what we are here to do!  Keep books scattered everywhere you and your family spend time. Put them in your car, have some in every room of the house and carry some in your bags and purses.  Children imitate the adults in their life so let them see you reading for pleasure.  NERL Director Dee Hare has compiled her Top 10 Tips for Reading to a Child; a copy is included in the NLW packets being handed out at NERL branches.  You can also download a copy here.

Some great picture book titles to read out loud to your family include the Mother Bruce series by Ryan T. Higgins, I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, the Llama Llama series by Anna Dewdney, If I Had a Triceratops by George O’Connor, the LaRue books by Mark Teague, Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, Children Make Terrible Pets and You WILL be My Friend by Peter Brown, the Skippyjon Jones books by Judy Schacher, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel,  Click, Clack Moo and others by Doreen Cronin, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, and the Pigeon books by Mo Willems.

Top 10 Tips for Reading to a Child

  1. Get everyone in your family involved – parents, baby-sitters, grand-parents, aunts & uncles, brothers & sisters – anybody!
  2. Don’t be self-conscious and worry about how you sound. Each person has a different reading style so read however you feel most comfortable. All your child cares about is that YOU are reading to THEM.
  3. Feel free to change the text by adding words or phrases to make it more relevant to your child. Make them the main character, add their pet’s name, etc.
  4. Pause for dramatic effect while reading, make funny voices for the characters and make sure to emphasize all the “CRASH” and “BOOM” sound effects from the text. Your child will LOVE it!
  5. Be enthusiastic about reading together – if you act like you’re having fun, your child will too.
  6. Pick out books that relate to your child’s interests – animals, pirates, firetrucks, ballerinas, construction equipment, dogs and cats, etc. Children will listen better if the story is about things that already interest them.  Don’t be afraid to read books about their favorite TV characters.  Many TV shows are based on well-loved books to begin with – think Curious George, Max and Ruby, the Cat in the Hat, etc.
  7. Don’t worry about reading the same story over and over. Hearing the same words and phrases reinforces the flow of language and helps them stick in your child’s brain. This repetition also helps children to memorize the text so that they can “read” it back to you eventually, which is all part of their learning process.
  8. Let your child interact with you and the story. Have them make animal sounds or repeat their favorite lines. Look for opportunities in stories to physically engage them in the stories by acting out parts.  And always let them help turn the pages.
  9. Try not to rush through the book. Let your child look at the illustrations as long as they want and ask you questions if they have any. And make sure to ask them questions such as – what color is that?  What kind of animal is that?
  10. Read books to your child whenever they want. Bedtime stories are a wonderful way to end the day but that doesn’t have to be the only time.  Have plenty of books scattered throughout your house so your child can stumble across one and think, “Hey! I want somebody to read this to me!”

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Suggested Family Activity • National Library Workers Day

Gifts the Iuka librarians have received, today and throughout the year! Library Appreciation Day!

Today is National Library Workers Day!  According to the American Library Association (ALA), this day recognizes “library staff members for their public service contributions in transforming lives and communities through education and lifelong learning.  Library staff play an invaluable role in supporting their communities both in person and virtually as the world continues to fight COVID-19. In times of crisis, libraries of all types and their workers serve millions of library users in need of free access to WiFi, eBooks, accurate information, and digital social services.” ALA invites you to show your support and share stories of how librarians have helped you by posting messages to Messages can also be sent to #NLWD21 or through the National Library Workers Day Facebook page.

Did you know the branches of the Northeast Regional Library were recently recognized with a trio of awards for their services to the public?  The Suggested Family Activities that you are reading right now were awarded both the 2021 Jane Smith Literacy Award by the Mississippi Library Commission and the Mississippi Center for the Book, as well as a 2021 State Literacy Award by the Library of Congress (one of only six awarded this year).  NERL was also named a Mississippi Library Star for their work during the 2019 fiscal year.  For more information about these prestigious awards, check out the official press releases here.

Get your children involved in showing their love for libraries and library staff today by getting out paper, pencils, crayons and markers and having them make their favorite library worker a ‘Thank You’ card.  Or maybe they would like to draw a picture of what the library means to them to bring by the library.  Library workers LOVE to hear how they have helped people of all ages, but especially their communities’ youngest members so let your favorite librarian know how they have impacted your life today.

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Suggested Family Activities • Beverly Cleary and National Library Week

This week is National Library Week, a time set aside each year to celebrate our libraries and the many contributions that library workers make to their communities each day. NLW is also a great time to promote the use of your local libraries and to show your support for what they do. Special NLW events this year include a special NLW children’s activity packet filled with library and book related coloring sheets, word searches, a cut and paste “What Belongs in the Library” sheet, a Find the Differences sheet, drawing activities and other activity sheets. Also included in the NLW packets is a list of popular beginning to read titles for children just venturing into books on their own, as well as titles for beginning chapter book readers.

We will also be posting daily Suggested Family Activities about books and reading on our website each day this week and having Facebook Live Story Times every day.

As we begin National Library Week, we mourn the loss of possibly the greatest librarian turned writer – Beverly Cleary. Cleary died on March 26 at the age of 104, leaving behind a legacy of children’s books that remain classics today. First published in the 1950s and 60s, Cleary’s books provided children with stories about everyday people and the funny, unexpected daily events of their lives. Her first books featured Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy and their friends. After the success of several books featuring

Henry, his friend Beezus’s little sister Ramona broke out in a series of her own that was an instant hit with children everywhere. Other popular Beverly Cleary books include Ellen Tebbits, Emily’s Runaway Imagination, Otis Spofford, The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Dear Mr. Henshaw, which won a Newbery award.

Cleary’s books are still as funny today as when they were first published. NERL Director Dee Hare’s husband Mike has been reading a chapter each night of the Henry Huggins books to their son Cole. They have just started the fourth title in that series; Cole loves laughing at all the things Henry and Ribsy get up to! Cleary’s books are a great choice for reading out loud to children of all ages, as well as for older readers to read on their own, so check out a copy at your local library branch today.

To learn more about the life and works of Beverly Cleary, check out this article from The New York Times: You can also visit her website here for fun activities and information about all her famous characters, games, a teacher’s guide to her books and more.

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Suggested Family Activity • Spring Activity Packets!

Have you picked up your spring themed children’s activity packets from one of the branches of the Northeast Regional Library? The packets are filled with new seasonal coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft and game ideas, a suggested reading list and supplies to make several craft projects. The craft project supplies will make three craft projects: a Signature Art project (that is also a fun way to practice writing in cursive), a Paper Bunny craft, and your choice between a Spring Plate Chick and Birds in a Nest. Full written instructions, templates and a photo of the completed project are included for each project.

If you have already picked up a packet and liked the bunny craft included this month, try this other fun art activity using your child’s handprint: To turn your child’s hand into a spring lily, trace their hand on white paper and cut it out. Next, cut a stamen shape out of yellow paper. Make a slit in the palm part of the hand to stick the stamen through. Then, curl each finger around a pencil or marker to give it a little definition and shape. Next, cut out a stem and leaves out of green paper. Finally, glue everything together onto another piece of paper. (Your hand might look better as a flower if you trim the palm part into a V shape.)

If you have some cheap, white paper plates, your kids can turn them into a carrot patch in time for spring! Cut one plate in half and tape or glue it to another plate so that it forms a pocket. Kids can color the half portion plate either green or brown. Next, cut out carrot shapes from orange paper (or use white paper and children can color the carrots themselves). Cut out the carrots and add tiny green strips of paper to the top of each one to represent the green tops. Kids can ‘plant’ their carrots by sticking them into the pocket.

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March 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • National Crayon Day!

Today is National Crayon Day, so celebrate by opening up a box of crayons and getting ready to have hours of fun! Coloring together is a great family activity for all ages. Coloring lets you express your creativity and explore the worlds in your imagination. It is a very relaxing pastime – some people find it so relaxing that they say it is like meditating. You and your family can color on pre-printed coloring pages or just grab a blank piece of paper and let your imagination run wild.

If you are looking for fun pages to color that are free, do not forget the branches of Northeast Regional Library are handing out coloring sheets each month. In addition to standard children’s themed coloring sheets, branches have a selection of sheets with more intricate and detailed designs for teens and adults who enjoy the new adult coloring craze. Send us a photo of your crayon creations today – we would love to see them!

To get your children inspired to use their crayons, check out Drew Daywalt’s hilarious picture book titles The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home. Do you have a favorite crayon color? Let us know your favorite color today on social media or share your own special crayon memory. We would love to hear from you!

We have a laminated book bag from children’s book company Bound to Stay Bound that we are giving away to the first family who sends us a photo of their crayon creations to  The book bag has illustrations from Daywalt’s crayon books and is the perfect size to hold all your library books!

Suggested Family Activity • Brave Women

Even though March is drawing to a close, there is still time to celebrate, honor and learn more about the brave women from our past as part of National Women’s History month.  Northeast Regional Library system branch libraries have recently received several new additions to their collection that highlight women’s contributions to World War II.  A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell is a look into the life of Virginia Hall, a young American woman who became the first woman to deploy to occupied France.  There, she helped gather a network of spies to blow up bridges, report on German troop movements, arrange supply drops for other Resistance agents, and recruit and train guerilla fighters.  999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam tells the almost forgotten story of a thousand young, unmarried Jewish women who left their homes thinking they were being sent to work in a factory for the war effort but were sent to Auschwitz instead.

A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II by Simon Parkin examines the true story of a group of young British women who helped come up with a strategy to outmaneuver Nazi U-boats. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy is written for a young adult audience.  It describes a group of 10,000 American women who moved to Washington to learn the tedious job of breaking enemy military codes.  Because they were ordered never to reveal the details of their work, these women had almost been forgotten until now.

Fans of the book and movie Hidden Figures will want to check out Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker.  Written for a juvenile audience, this biography tells the life story of Katherine Johnson, a mathematical genius who worked for NASA and was entrusted with making sure the Apollo 13 mission returned safely.

Suggested Family Activity • Egg and Spoon Race

Have you ever competed in an Egg and Spoon race?  This classic outdoors game dates back to the late 1800s.  To introduce this fun activity to your family, all you need are eggs and wooden or metal spoons.  The traditional game used raw eggs but for less mess when they fall (and they will fall!), you can substitute hard-boiled eggs instead or even plastic eggs.  Kids can do this activity by themselves to see how fast they can go without dropping the egg or you can have a family race to see who wins.  If you have enough participants, you can even increase the difficulty by having the race relay-style, where you team up with a partner and try to hand off the egg to the other person part-way through the race.

With Easter just around the corner, plastic Easter eggs are everywhere.  You may have plenty left over from year to year or they can be purchased very cheaply at dollar stores.  In addition to hiding them, there are lots more you can do with them:  You can fill them with jellybeans or other small candies and have an Easter Egg Toss.  Kids can toss them back and forth, trying not to break them open until it is time to enjoy the treats inside.  For young children learning the letters of the alphabet, you can print an upper-case letter on one piece of an egg and a lower-case on the other piece.  Mix all the pieces up and then help children find the matching letters.  Another fun idea is to put a letter on one piece of an egg and a sticker with a picture of something that starts with that letter on the other piece, such as “B” for bunny.  Yet another fun learning idea is to write several letters on one piece of an egg, such as “b”, “c” and “m”.  On the other piece of the egg, write other letter sound combinations such as “at”, “an”, etc.  Then rotate the pieces of the egg to show children how to make words, such as “bat”, “cat”, “man”, etc., using the letter and sound combinations.

Suggested Family Activity • Tolkien Reading Day

Do you like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy”?  What about The Hobbit?  Then celebrate Tolkien Reading Day tomorrow!  This day was created in 2003 by the Tolkien Society to encourage people to explore the many writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, who was not only a writer but a poet and a university professor.  March 25 was chosen because it is the day Frodo destroyed the Ring and began the fall of Sauron.  Although Tolkien is best known for the titles above, along with The Silmarrillion, he published more than 30 books in all.  Several of them were not published until after his death.   After the success of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy from 2001-2003, sales of those titles continue to grow from year to year.  If you loved the movies but have not read the books yet, start one today in honor of Tolkien Reading Day.  Your local library branch can let you borrow a copy!  Or if you would like to learn more about Tolkien’s most famous creations, check out The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster, The Complete Tolkien Companion by J. E. A. Tyler, or The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien: The Places That Inspired Middle-Earth by John Garth.

Tolkien liked to doodle and draw while he was thinking so you can also celebrate today by getting out your pencils and creating a drawing of your own magical story.  Or maybe you will create a map of Middle Earth. Tolkien also had a great love for languages and created his own versions for his tales.  Junior readers can learn more about this aspect of his life in the book J.R.R. Tolkien: Creator of Languages and Legends by Doris Lynch.  He enjoyed doing crossword and other types of word puzzles so you could also try your hand at one today in his honor.  Tolkien’s friendship with other great minds of his era has been the topic of many books such as The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski.

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Suggested Family Activity • Peep Houses

Do you and your family like to make gingerbread houses during the Christmas holidays? You can make a spring version by using the same type of icing and graham crackers for the gingerbread. You can build a house for marshmallow Peeps or let your favorite small chocolate bunny candies move inside. Decorate it with other chocolate bunnies and even make a nest for jellybeans or candy eggs. To make your creation completely edible, you can find edible grass in many craft stores. Tishomingo librarian Beverly Parker made a beautiful spring display to show off this fun activity so check out her pictures below.

Another fun family activity is to have a contest to see who can guess how many jellybeans are in a container. Fill a large plastic bowl or container with jellybeans and have everyone take turns guessing how many are in it. The person who guesses closest to the actual number gets to keep all the jellybeans. But they get bonus points if they share with everyone else!

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Suggested Family Activity • National Quilting Day

Tomorrow is National Quilting Day.  Quilting is type of sewing where a layer of batting or stuffing is sewn in between pieces of fabric.  Traditionally, women have saved scraps of fabric left over from where they made their family’s clothes or recycled worn-out garments by cutting them up to sew into quilts to help keep their families warm at night.  As people began to have more money to spend, women began to buy special fabric just to make beautiful quilts, often for special occasions such as the birth of a child or a marriage. Family quilts are often treasured pieces of a family’s history and passed down from generation to generation because of the skill involved in making a completed piece.   If you would like to learn how to quilt, check out these titles from our libraries’ collection: Any Body Can Learn to Quilt by Bonnie K. Browning, The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave, or Quilting Step by Step by Maggi McCormick Gordon. 

Did you know that quilts were used as part of the Underground Railroad to show the path to take as well as to indicate which houses would offer food and shelter to those seeking freedom?  To learn more, check out Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline Tobin.  Titles in our collection that show the history of quilts in our state include Martha Skelton: Master Quilter of Mississippi and Mississippi Quilts, both by Mary Elizabeth Johnson.

Picture book titles to read to young children include The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson, Papa and the Pioneer Quilt by Jean Van Leeuwen, The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy, and The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau.

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Suggested Family Activity • Puppets

Vincent made an awesome Bunny Puppet!

Encourage your children’s creativity today by making puppets out of mis-matched socks or those with holes in them.  Children can add interesting features such as hair, eyes, a mouth, etc. using things you have around the house – yarn, string, pipe cleaners, pom poms, etc.  Or they can draw on features with markers or a Sharpie.  Another way to make puppets is to use brown or white paper lunch bags as the body of the puppet.  If you use a paper bag, the flap that unfolds to be the bottom is where your hand goes to become the mouth of your puppet. Yet another method is to make stick puppets.  Children draw animals, people or whatever they want to be a puppet onto a piece of paper and cut it out.  Then, they tape or glue it to a stick.  One tried and true librarian and teacher trick to make a puppet is to take stuffed animals and cut a hole in the bottom.  Remove some of the stuffing to make room for your hand and you have a quick and easy puppet! 

After your children have made their puppets, let them put on a puppet show for the members of the family.  You can even record it to send to grandparents or family members who live far away! Drape a curtain between two chairs to make a puppet stage or children can just get behind a piece of furniture like the couch.  They can act out a story they already know, such as “The Thee Little Pigs”, act out a scene from their favorite movie, such as Frozen or make up their own story.  

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Suggested Family Activity • Spring Activity Packets & Spring Cleaning

The branches of the Northeast Regional Library will begin handing out spring themed children’s activity packets starting today so do not forget to stop by! The packets are filled with new seasonal coloring sheets, activity sheets, craft and game ideas, a suggested reading list and supplies to make several craft projects. The craft project supplies will make three craft projects: a Signature Art project (that is also a fun way to practice writing in cursive), a Paper Bunny craft, and your choice between a Spring Plate Chick and Birds in a Nest. Full written instructions, templates and a photo of the completed project are included for each project. A new set of spring coloring sheets with more intricate designs and details that are great for teens and adults who like to color are also available.

The approaching arrival of spring also means it is time for Spring Cleaning! Did you know it can be fun? Get the whole family involved by turning it into a game. Set timers to see who can clean an area the fastest or create a chart that lists all the areas in your house that need cleaning. Create a prize or family activity that will reward everyone when all the cleaning is finished, such as a Pizza Night, a special dessert or Family Movie Night. Children often respond well to positive reinforcement so give them a special reward for helping clean the house, such as more screen time, a special purchase or a day they can do whatever they want. You can also sit down with children ahead of time and discuss with them something that they have been wanting to do to determine what their reward might be. It might be a few days of sleeping in on the weekend, having a friend over for a sleep over or a slightly later bedtime on the weekend. You can decide ahead of time how many spring-cleaning chores they must do to get their reward. This is a great idea for older children who have been putting off cleaning their room or emptying their closets and drawers of outgrown clothing.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Plant a Flower Day

Spring is just around the corner! If you have been enjoying the beautiful sunshine and warmer temperatures outside recently, celebrate National Plant a Flower Day today. Planting flowers together is a great activity for all ages, even small children. They will love helping to dig in the ground to prepare the soil. You can even get their help to decide what flowers you want to plant. Some flowers like to soak in the bright sun, while others like to keep it cool in the shade (and some like a combination), so keep that in mind when you are picking out flowers. If you need help deciding which flowers will do well in the space you have, the Mississippi State Extension office can give you all the help you need. Visit their website here for a description of flowers that grow well in our state: As your flowers start growing, children can also be great helpers by helping keep them watered.

To turn this family activity into a fun STEM project for older children, plant flowers from seeds and have them track the number of days of sunlight, rainfall and water amounts the seeds receive in a notebook. As the flowers emerge, they can also begin taking measurements each day of how much they grow. It will be a long-term project but may prove to be so much fun that they will be running outside each day to check the flower’s progress.

If you do not have space in your yard to plant flowers, you can also plant them in pots on your porch, driveway, front steps or other outdoor area. People in apartments can even grow things inside on their windowsills.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History month, a time to celebrate, honor and learn more about the brave women from our past who fought for gender and racial equality, as well as those who have excelled in their chosen fields despite the limitations historically imposed on women. Recent additions to the library’s collection on the subject include The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote by Elaine F.Weiss. This title tells the story of women’s suffrage and early voting rights activists in a format adapted for junior readers. Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins is another junior level book that introduces readers to women scientists and mathematicians who made exciting discoveries, such as Caroline Herschel. She was the first woman to discover a comet and to earn a salary for scientific research. The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman tells the story of the woman who discovered how butterflies go through metamorphosis in a visual biography format that features many original paintings by Maria herself. Titles in the popular “Who Was?” series for young readers includes ones about autism advocate Temple Grandin, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Ida B. Wells and Mother Teresa.

For adult readers, new titles include The American Women’s Almanac: 500 Years of Making History by Deborah G. Felder. Described as “the most complete and affordable single-volume reference on women’s history available today”, this title contains almost 600 pages of biographical information, as well as little-known or often misrepresented facts about women’s history. Other new titles for adults include She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, The Genius of Women: From Overlooked to Changing the World by Janice Kaplan, A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot & Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women who Desegregated America’s Schools by Rachel Devlin, which discusses how girls and women led the fight for interracial education.

National Women’s History month, Patron Virginia Breon enjoys a nice, sunny, spring day with a good book.

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Suggested Family Activity • More Spying

If your kids enjoyed becoming a spy last week, try these activities to continue the fun:

To improve their observation and memory skills, put several small objects in a box or tray. For preschoolers, you can start out with just 4 or 5 objects, while older children can view 8-10 at once. Give them a certain amount of time to look at the box, then cover it and have them see how many objects they can name from memory. If they can name all the objects the first time, keep adding more objects or reducing the amount of time they have available to look at the objects so that they can really test their brain powers. For a slightly different twist, you can also question them about the colors of the objects. For preschoolers, you can make sure to include objects of basic shapes such as circles, triangles and squares and question them about the numbers of items in each shape. And for another version, remove just one object from the box after they have had time to look at it and see if they can name the missing item.

You can also set up a cool obstacle course for kids that mimics scenes in movies where the person must cross a space without hitting a laser beam or a trip wire. Use string, yarn or tape in a room or hallway and make crisscrossing patterns across walls and furniture that children must step over, slide under or otherwise maneuver around. You can also set up fake pressure points that they have to avoid in order to increase the difficulty of the course. Another fun obstacle course idea is to tape balloons or hang streamers at various lengths under a table and have children crawl under it from one end to the other without touching any of the balloons or streamers with their heads.

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Suggested Family Activity • Spies & Detectives

Let your kids have fun this weekend pretending to be super-secret spies or private detectives! One fun spy activity is to send secret codes. Simple codes spell out messages by substituting a symbol for each letter of the alphabet. Children can make their own code by writing out a master list that contains a symbol and its corresponding letter. For example, A could be a circle, B a square and so on. After they have their master list, they can have fun spelling out words with their code and leaving secret messages to their friends and family. Another way to make a code is to have each word of the message correspond to words in a printed book. Here how it works: Have children pick one of their favorite books that contains a decent number of words, such as one of the Harry Potter titles. They then write out their message and look through the book to find those words in the book. When they do, the code will be the page number and word number. So, 3-24 would mean the 3rd page and the 24th word on that page.

Kids can also have fun learning about fingerprints: Give them 3-inch x 6-inch pieces of paper and let them take their own fingerprints. Using an ink pad can be super messy so try this trick instead – have them scribble a large, very dark patch of pencil (the lead is made of graphite) on a separate piece of scratch aper. Then they rub their fingers, one at a time, in the graphite until it is coated. Have them mimic actors on TV crime shows and roll their fingertips around to make sure they get the sides of their fingers too! Next, they will stick a piece of tape to their finger, press on it hard, and put the tape down on the 3×6 pieces of paper. Do not forget to label each print so they know which finger it came from. The tape will pick up the print and transfer it to the paper. Then, have fun looking at all the swirls, whorls, and patterns on their fingerprints. They might have so much fun that they start finger-printing the whole family!

Check back next week for more fun spy activities to chase away the winter blues!

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Suggested Family Activity • Fly a Kite

March is often prime kite flying weather. Go outside this month and let your children decide if it is windy enough to fly a kite. Have them tell you why they think it is or is not a good day to fly a kite. Some questions to help move the conversation along for little ones include: Do they feel anything on their face? Are their clothes moving around? What about any tress or bushes they can see – what are they doing? Are they still or are they moving around? In movies, people lick one of their fingers and stick it up in the air to see if it feels colder, which is an indication the wind is blowing.

If you do not have a kite at home, no need to worry! It is a fun idea to make your own. The PBS website at has simple directions for how to make a kite using just string, sticks and paper. You can go on a walk today and look for sticks that would fit together to make the cross-shaped body and let go back home to make your kit. The PBS contributor used newspaper for their kite, but you could use other large pieces of paper instead such as tissue paper, drawing paper or brown packing paper . You could also experiment with making different sized kites, depending on what size of paper you have on hand. Whichever way you choose, let the kids have fun decorating their kite by coloring designs on the paper, painting on the newsprint and tying ribbons or streamers on the ends.

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Suggested Family Activity

Tomorrow is National Read Across America Day aka Dr. Seuss Day

Suggested Family Activity • Dr. Seuss Day

Tomorrow, March 2nd, is National Read Across America Day, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss Day. Read Across America, a project created by the National Education Association, is celebrated each year on March 2nd, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. This project hopes to inspire a love of reading in children by celebrating all things Dr. Seuss. In school systems nationwide, teachers and students often dress up like Dr. Seuss characters and read Dr. Seuss books all throughout the day. Often, special visitors such as community leaders, essential workers and local celebrities stop by to read a Dr. Seuss book to children in their classrooms.

Because of the current pandemic, here are some ways you can celebrate this day at home: Pick up some Dr. Seuss books at your local NERL library branch. Everyone knows The Cat and the Hat and even The Lorax, but what other Dr. Seuss books are your favorites? And to Think That They Saw it on Mulberry Street? Fox in Socks? Oh, the Thinks You Can Think? The list goes on and on … Let us know what your favorite Dr. Seuss book is on our Facebook page!

For some fun at supper tonight, try out some of the recipes in The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan. It includes simple things to make in the kitchen such as Cat in the Hat Pudding, Moose Juice and of course, Green Eggs and Ham! To learn more about the life of Dr. Seuss, children can check out several biographies, including Who Was Dr. Seuss? by Janet B. Pascal, part of the popular “Who Was” series. Adults interested in knowing more about this creative genius might enjoy The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Charles D. Cohen or Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear.

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February 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • It’s National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Today is National Tell a Fairy Tale day so celebrate by telling someone a fairy tale.  People of all ages love to hear classic fairy tales, whether it is the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Rumpelstiltskin or The Princess and the Pea.  You can tell a story from memory, after all, that is how fairy tales have been passed down through the ages.  Or you can read one of the many versions written up in a printed version.  It is entirely up to you!   Whichever way you choose, get your audience involved – have them make the animal noises every time one is mentioned, such as “baaing” like the Billy Goats Gruff or quacking every time the Ugly Duckling is mentioned.  Or have them make the motions talked about in the story, such as climbing Jack’s beanstalk or swimming like the Little Mermaid.  Little children will especially love this extra part of the story!

Another idea is to pick your favorite fairy tale today and rewrite it as if you were the main character (little ones can tell their stories to an adult to be written down). What would you do differently if you were in the story? Would it still take place in the same setting such as a castle or would you move your story to your own house or apartment? Would you make up an entirely new setting? Will you keep your ending the same or can you think of ways to make it better?  Children can also draw pictures to illustrate their story. 

You could also read several different versions of the same fairy tale and talk with your child about how each version is the same and how it is different.  Did the individual author keep the story traditional or did they change the story line to make it end a different way than you were expecting?  Fairy tales were often told to have a moral that can be learned from them.  Talk to your children about the moral of the stories you read, whether it is the benefit of hard work, being kind to all, having good manners, being well behaved, not being vain or not being a bully.

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Suggested Family Activity • Ball Games

Today, we have a fun game for all ages and all you need is a ball. You play it by grabbing a large (but lightweight) ball and tossing it in the air. Before you catch it on its way down, clap your hands one time. Then the next time you throw it up in the air, clap your hands two times. Keep playing, adding one clap each time you toss the ball in the air. How many claps can you get in before dropping the ball? This game is great because it can be played by one person or with several people by taking turns. It can be modified for very young children by having someone throw the ball to them instead of them having to throw it up into the air themselves. You can even have a family competition to see who can get to the highest number without dropping the ball. After they have mastered the large, lightweight ball, try doing the game with smaller sized balls. Is it easier? Harder? What about a heavier ball such as a soccer ball, football or basketball? Having children guess what they think will happen and then testing whether they are right or wrong is a great way to turn this game into a STEM activity.

Very young children will benefit in several ways from this simple game. Doing a clapping motion with their hands improves the flexibility in their hands and wrists, which helps get them ready for the manual dexterity needed to hold a pencil or crayon to learn to write. Catching the ball will also help develop their hand-eye coordination, another very important life skill.

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Suggested Family Activity • Stickers

Stickers are a great, inexpensive craft supply to keep on hand to help unleash a child’s creativity, as well as something that will keep them occupied quietly for a little while!  They can be picked up for around a dollar at many dollar stores.  Just pair a variety of stickers with plain sheets of paper and crayons or markers.  Children can make their own versions of scenes from their favorite story or create their very own imaginary tale by using a combination of the stickers and drawing other things to go with them.  Another idea is to challenge your children to create a specific story to go along with a set of stickers, for example a set that shows things found on a farm or in barnyard.  Or you can challenge them further by giving them a bunch of random stickers that do not seem to be related and seeing what kind of story they can make from them.

Another useful craft supply to keep on hand is old magazines.  Children can use images cut out of these to make up their own stories and collages as well.  If you do not have any old magazines at home, many of your local library branches have ones that have been donated to the library that they can give you at no cost.  A funny picture book in the library’s collection about the benefits of children cutting apart magazines and newspapers is Max’s Words by Kate Banks.  It shows how children’s vocabulary, sentence making ability and storytelling skills can be improved with these basic supplies.

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Suggested Family Activity • Indoor Bowling & More

If you need more ideas to get your family up and moving while they are stuck inside during this cold, yucky weather, try some of these ideas: 

Play a little indoor bowling.  Challenge your children to help you come up with creative things around the house to use for the bowling pins and balls. If they need help thinking of things, lightweight blocks, plastic cups or plastic bowls are easy things to use.  If you have enough space inside, you could set up a small hopscotch pattern on hard flooring using masking tape or painter’s tape.  This fun activity will get everyone up and moving around while also reinforcing number sequences to little ones.  You can also set up obstacle courses in your home with cushions, pillows or empty cardboard boxes.  Children can race to see how fast they can complete the course or race each other to see who is the fastest.  Another fun idea is to create a “move jar”.  Fill it with slips of paper that you have written phrases (or drawings for little ones who can not read) of movements such as hopping on one foot, walking like an elephant or doing a mummy walk.  Children can take turns picking a slip for the whole family to do.

After everyone gets worn out from all this activity, why not reward the family with a Pajama Day this weekend?  With the cold weather outside, it is the perfect time to take a day to stay snuggled up in your pajamas all day.  You could have breakfast in bed as a treat.  Or breakfast for supper is always a fun change of pace.   Watch family movies together, read your favorite books (either together, individually or both), put puzzles together, play board or card games – all great activities to do while wearing your pajamas.  And don’t forget to take time today to have some yummy hot chocolate and marshmallows!

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Suggested Family Activity • Random Acts of Kindness

Today is National Random Acts of Kindness Day so celebrate by doing something totally unexpected to be nice to someone today.  Maybe you can make a special care package for someone who needs cheering up.  The current pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of people of all ages.  Do you know a senior citizen or someone else who has had to be separated from their friends and family?  Even just a simple card or small bouquet of flowers could cheer them up.  Another idea is if you pick up fast food today, maybe you could offer to pay for the order for the people behind you.  Or you could mail a “Thinking of You” card to someone you have not seen in a while.  Another idea is to drop off donations of food and other items to local food banks, homeless shelters or animal shelters.

Random acts of kindness do not require money though.  Just saying “Hello” to someone you do not normally take the time to speak to could brighten their day.  Smiling is also a fun and easy way to spread kindness but that is difficult when everyone is currently wearing masks.  Another simple, free way to show kindness is to leave a kind note to someone, maybe with a compliment or just a few positive words to help them through the winter blues. 

You could also give someone the benefit of your time today.  Maybe you could help someone work on their resume or job application, offer to babysit for someone who needs to run errands without dragging their children in and out of stores or even offer to do some minor housekeeping for someone who is not able to do it for themselves. 

This day is sponsored by the Random Acts of Kinds Foundation, a non-profit organization.  Visit their website at more great ideas for how to celebrate this day.  They also have lots of free pintables, including free coloring sheets for kids.  If you do not have a printer at home, ask your local librarian to print you out one of the coloring sheets.  They also have printable calendars full of daily suggestions for adults for how to incorporate acts of kindness into both their home and work lives all throughout the year.

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Suggested Family Activity

The branches of the Northeast Regional Library are closed today for President’s Day but they will be open again starting tomorrow.  Have you picked up your children’s winter activity packet yet?  They are filled with lots of fun stuff for little ones to do, especially if they are stuck inside during this cold weather!  In addition to coloring sheets and activity sheets, supplies are included for children to make a fluffy penguin out of cotton balls and to cut out a snowflake.  Another activity sheet has the outline of a snow globe that they can draw their own scene inside using crayons, markers or even stickers.

Use the wintry weather outside as inspiration and make your own snow globes today.  Grab an empty jar, such as a baby food jar, a mason jar or even an empty peanut butter jar, and have children fill it with anything sparkly they can find around the house.  Tiny beads, small plastic spangles or glitter are all great ideas to use.  Add water to the jar, tighten the lid securely and let them have fun shaking the jar to watch all the glitzy stuff swirl around.  To add something extra to your snow globe, glue small toys to the underside of the lid to make a creative scene.  If you have some glycerin or clear liquid glue at home, you can add a small bit to the water to slow the movement of the glittery things through the water, but kids will have fun with this either way!

If you want to make a snow globe but worry about the mess if the kids accidentally open the top, another version can be made with clear plastic glasses.  Cut a circle out of cardboard (such as an empty cracker or cereal box) and cover the circle with paper.  Skip the water and just let the kids decorate the paper bottom by gluing on bits and baubles you have around the house to make a fun scene.  These versions are also often light weight enough that you can glue a hanger to the top to hang them from a window. 

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#SuggestedFamilyActivity • Competition

When it is cold outside, it is sometimes hard to get everyone up and moving around! Some ideas to get your family up and moving this weekend include:
Have stacking contests – see who can stack the most blocks, plastic cups or other non-breakable items. To turn it into a competition, set a timer to see who can build the biggest tower the fastest. (And to turn it into a teaching opportunity, talk about what makes one person’s stack more stable than another’s.) You can also hold a Guinness Book of World Records style competition by seeing who in your family can balance a book on their head the longest. Who can do the most jumping jacks? Who can touch their toes the most times? You can even get your kids to help you come up with some fun records to set!

You can also get younger kids who have been cooped up inside moving by giving them things to find and bring back to you, such as something in a particular color (“Bring me something red”) or a particular shape (“Bring me something that is round”). For children just learning their alphabet, you can have them bring you something that starts with certain letters of the alphabet. And if they are learning how to count, you could ask them to bring you 1 of something, then 2 and so on. Don’t forget when you’re finished, though, to get them to return the items where they belong!

If your family likes to dance, put on some music and have an indoor dance party to burn off some energy in fun way. You can also play a fun game of outdoor bowling by filling water balloons with water (make it fancy by tinting it with a little food coloring or leave it plain) and letting the balloons freeze overnight. The next day, break the balloons off and use the frozen water balloons outside for a fun sidewalk or driveway bowling game.

See previous #FamilyActivities on our website at

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Suggested Family Activity • African-American History

February is African-American history month, a time to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans. Mississippi has been the home of many great African-Americans throughout time – from civil rights activists such as James Meredith, Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hammer, television stars such as James Earl Jones, Oprah Winfrey and Robin Roberts, sports stars such as Jerry Rice and Walter Payton to writers such as Margaret Walker and Richard Wright, just to name a few. Most recently, Miss Mississippi Asa Branch from Booneville made history when she became the first African-American (and the first Miss Mississippi) to win the title of Miss USA 2020!

Recently, the branches of the Northeast Regional Library System were awarded an Anti-Racism Reading Shelf Grant to purchase books about diversity and by diverse populations. This program is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council. Some of the great new titles purchased with this grant about African-American historical figures include the junior biography Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? by Sherri L. Smith and Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey from Gulf Port, a two-time United States Poet Laureate and a former Poet Laureate of Mississippi.

Ida B. Wells from Holly Springs, MS was a prominent activist who fought both for the rights of African-Americans and for the rights of women. She was an influential writer and journalist who published books, co-owned a newspaper and helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). New books about her life and contributions include Who Was Ida B. Wells? by Sarah Fabiny for young children and Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paul Giddings, for adult readers.

Explore more books about today’s racial landscape on our card catalog at this link.

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Suggested Family Activity • Winter Activity Packet

It’s not too late to pick up your free children’s activity packet from your local library branch.  This Winter packet will be available all month and includes a lot of fun things to do, including a Winter Scavenger Hunt, coloring and activity sheets and everything you need to make a Cotton Ball Penguin, a Snowman Name Craft, a Heart Valentine card, paper Snowflakes and color your own snow globe.  We also have a new set of winter adult coloring sheets for teens and adults who enjoy this creative and relaxing pastime. 

The website Housing A Forest has come up with ways to make lots of different animals out of heart shapes.  Visit their website here to see how they do it for a cute Valentine’s Day craft:  Visit

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Suggested Family Activity • Birdfeeder

During the winter months, our feathered friends sometimes have to search for a long time to find food. Help them out by making simple bird feeders to hang outside. The bonus part is that, if you put the birdfeeder where you can see it through a window, you can watch the birds enjoying the tasty treats you have left for them. One simple way to make a birdfeeder is to take a pinecone (or even an empty cardboard roll from toilet paper or paper towels) and tie a yarn or string hanger to the top. Next, cover it with peanut butter and roll it in a pan or bowl of birdseed. You can pick up a bag of birdseed for just a few dollars at grocery stores and stores that sell home improvement items.
If you want to get more fancy with your birdfeeders, you can make hanging bird feeders using a gelatin and bird seed mixture pressed into cookie cutter shapes. There are lots of simple recipes for this on the internet. The project is easy enough that even toddlers can help prepare it and the really cute shapes are fun to hang from the trees and bushes in your yard.
Kelly Leigh Creates has come up with a great idea to make a simple birdfeeder out of Cheerios and pipe cleaners. To learn how to make this craft, check out

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Suggested Family Activity • Organization!

February is here!  Are you still working on your new year’s goals?  Your public libraries have lots of materials to help you.  Dads who are looking for ideas for fun things to make for their family to enjoy outdoors can check out Handy Dad: 25 Awesome Projects for Dads and Kids.  It contains 25 awesome projects to make for your backyard enjoyment, such as skate ramps, zip lines, go-carts, and more!  If you need to brush up on your woodworking skills, check out American Woodworker’s Hand Tool Fundamentals: Advice, Techniques & Projects to Build Your Skills.

If one of your family goals was to organize your home in a way that works better for everyone, check out Organizing Magic: 40 Days to a Well-Ordered Home and Life by Sandra Felton or 500 Terrific Ideas for Organizing Everything by Sheree Bykofsky.

One great idea to get the whole family involved in organizing is to hold one-hour long organizing sessions (or a whole day if you really want to get everyone working!).  You can pick a room to work on, such as the kitchen, and have all your family members work on ways to get it organized within the hour.  Even little ones can get involved by being in charge of throwing things away (they love dumping items in the trash can!).  Or if you are worried about everyone getting in each other’s way, you can all pick a separate room to work on.  Kids can look for better ways to store their things in their rooms, clean out their closets and drawers of clothes they cannot wear anymore and look for unused toys and games to give away.  An extra bonus is that any items still in good shape can be donated to someone in need.  Having one-hour sessions keeps everyone from getting overwhelmed but you may find that your family is getting so much done that they want to continue to work on organizing for even longer!

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Suggested Family Activity • ACTIVITY PACKETS

Don’t forget to pick up your free children’s activity packet from your local library branch.  This Winter packet will be available all month and includes a lot of fun things to do, including a Winter Scavenger Hunt, coloring and activity sheets and everything you need to make a Cotton Ball Penguin, a Snowman Name Craft, a Heart Valentine card, paper Snowflakes and color your own snow globe.  We also have a new set of winter adult coloring sheets for teens and adults who enjoy this creative and relaxing pastime. 

Valentine’s Day is this month!  Our packets have instructions and paper to help your child fold a piece of paper and draw a perfect heart to make their own Valentine card.  Or you can turn your child’s handprint into a Valentine card by folding a piece of paper in half and tracing the child’s hand along the fold.  Next, cut it out, except for the part that is on the fold line.  When you open the hand up, it becomes a heart made of two hands!  They can practice their best handwriting by writing a personalized message on their palms or you can glue the hand to a larger piece of paper to give them more room for extra decorations and Valentine’s wishes.

You can also turn your child’s hand into a flowering Valentine tree by tracing their hand and wrist onto brown construction paper (or use white paper and let your child color it brown).  Help them cut out simple heart and leaf shapes in a variety of colors to glue onto their fingers (the branches of the tree) for a cute Valentine picture or card for someone special.

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January 2021 Suggested Family Activities

Suggested Family Activity • Puzzles

If one of your new year’s goals is to pick up a new hobby, try out the world of puzzles today on National Puzzle Day.  Working on a jigsaw puzzle together as a family is a fun and relaxing experience that everyone will love.  Plus, it has health benefits too!  Did you know working on puzzles exercises your brain power and helps you to improve not only your memory skills but also your ability to recognize shapes and how they fit together (called visual and spatial reasoning).  It can also lower your stress level as it can be a very meditative process.  

Family members of all ages can get involved with puzzles as there are a wide variety of puzzles for all mental stages.  Sometimes adults think of working on a puzzle as a solo activity only, but children learn to work on puzzles with help from adults.  Because of this experience when they are young, they often view it as a shared, social experience.  So have some fun social time with your family and work on a puzzle today! 

It’s not all about jigsaw puzzles either, don’t forget brain teasers and other word puzzles such as crossword puzzles, word searches (there’s some great seasonal ones in our library’s children’s packets each month!), Sudoku and more.  These types of puzzles improve your brain power by helping with your ability to recognize letters of the alphabet and numbers, they help you increase your vocabulary as they often introduce new words to you and they help you with problem solving skills.  Great skills to work on for all ages!

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Suggested Family Activity • Today is  Library Shelfie Day

Today is Library Shelfie Day!  What is Library Shelfie Day, you ask?  It is a day set aside in January each year to give book lovers and book collectors a chance to share their personal libraries at home.

Do you throw your books in a bookcase or shelf willy nilly?  Or do you organize them alphabetically?  By subject or genre?  Are they arranged by size?  By their cover art?  Do you keep paperbacks and hardbacks separate or mix them all together?  Do you have cute bookends to keep your titles in a line?  Some people even like to arrange their bookshelves by color.  Whether you collect first editions or equally love and treasure every dog-eared book you have ever owned, we would love to see pictures of your libraries at home!  You can order certain books to spell out a message or just show off your favorites.  Arrange them artistically or jumble them up any old way.  We don’t care – we just love books!

Do your children have bookshelves filled with just books for them?  Make sure to take a picture of them with their books and share it with us!  It does not matter if you have two books or two hundred, we would love to see your Library Shelfies today! Share them to our Facebook page or email them to  You can also share your photos with the event’s national organizers at #LibraryShelfieDay on social media.

To get children interested in collecting books, read the fun picture book Alfred Zector, Book Collector by Kelly S. DiPucchio.  If you like to see how others decorate and live with books, check out Novel Living: Collecting, Decorating, and Crafting with Books by Lisa Occhipinti.  Or to read about books that have inspired others, check out The Books That Changed my Life: Reflections by 100 Authors, Actors, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People by Jacques Bonnet.

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Suggested Family Activity • Free Children’s Activity Packets
Have you picked up your free children’s activity packet from your local library branch yet?  It includes a lot of fun things to do, including a Winter Scavenger Hunt, coloring and activity sheets and everything you need to make a Cotton Ball Penguin, a Snowman Name Craft, a Heart Valentine card, paper Snowflakes and color your own snow globe. 

There are lots of ways to make your own snowflakes if we are not getting any of the real ones!  Our packets have instructions and a piece of paper to cut one out using just a white piece of paper and scissors.  The website Crafts On Sea also has free ideas for making snowflake mosaics, using either small pieces of white and blue colored paper or blue tissue paper torn into small pieces.  To see their versions, check out the following link:, which also includes a free snowflake template.  There is also a snowflake coloring sheet in our packets that you could use as a template to decorate your own snowflake.

If you find a pinecone outside, you can turn it into a beautiful snowy owl by packing all the nooks and crevices of the pinecone with cotton you get by pulling apart a few cotton balls.  After you have made your owl as plump as you wish, simply glue on wings, eyes and a beak cut out from paper.

Tomorrow is National Handwriting Day.  One way to celebrate this day is to get out any blank paper you have and write down your thoughts today.  It doesn’t matter if all you have is plain copy paper or notebook paper, get out your pencils, pens or even colored markers and practice the dying art of writing things by hand.  If you have ever wanted to start keeping a journal, today would be a great day to get that going, especially if it fits into one of your new year’s goals for 2021.  Writing in a journal is great for all ages.  Pre-school aged children can use their journals to practice writing out the letters of the alphabet and even their names before working up to writing out short words like ‘cat’ and ‘dog’.  If you give them their own journal book or notebook (lined pages will work best for those getting ready to start school so that they get used to writing on the line), they will have something to flip through to see how much they have progressed over time.  Older children can use their journals for practicing the writing skills they are learning in school.  Blank journals can be picked up very inexpensively at stores such as Dollar Tree.  You can even catch them for pennies at local Dirt Cheap stores if you shop there often. 

Another great way to work on your handwriting is to write a letter or note to someone special in your life.  If you do not have any stationary or notecards at home, don’t worry!  You can make your own by decorating blank paper with stickers or hand-drawn designs.  This would be another fun activity for kids as they can first make their own stationary (or card by folding a piece of paper in half) and then write someone a letter. 

All of the technology that is available for people to type on today has meant that handwriting is starting to suffer.  While you can write out things faster on a computer, writing some things out by hand gives your mind (and body) a chance to slow down. Writing things out by hand also requires patience, which everyone could benefit from sometimes, whether you are young or old. 

If one of your new year’s goals was to learn a new hobby, you could try out the decorative handwriting style of calligraphy.  Your library can help you get started with titles such as Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design by Margaret Shepherd or Calligraphy for Kids by Eleanor Winters.

Sunday is National Compliment Day so why not pair the two days together to write someone a note that contains a nice compliment?  Maybe you want to praise one of your children for how hard they work at their schoolwork or for doing something unselfish.  Or maybe you have someone who lives near you who always has great seasonal decorations to look at in their yard or pretty flowers planted.  Your family could write them a short note to let them know how much their neighbors enjoy the hard work they put into such things.  Take the time to talk with children about how to best give a compliment.  Encourage them to look for things to compliment about other people that are not necessarily based on their appearance or things they own but instead speak to parts of their character (like kindness or generosity) or something that illustrates their work ethic. 

Branches of the Northeast Regional Library will begin handing out Winter themed children’s activity packets this week so stop by and get yours soon! These packets will be handed out through February and include suggested reading lists of Winter and Valentine’s Day themed books from NERL’s card catalog, a variety of coloring and activity sheets, as well as everything you need to make a Cotton Ball Penguin, a Snowman Name Craft, a Heart Valentine card, paper Snowflakes and color your own snow globe.

If you have marshmallows in your kitchen, you have the makings of a snowman! The website Projects for Preschoolers offers this fun way for kids to make a snowman using large marshmallows. The materials needed: large marshmallows, toothpicks or pretzel sticks, cupcake sprinkles, a paintbrush, and a cup of water.

1. Carefully push a toothpick or pretzel stick into one marshmallow not pushing through the bottom of the marshmallow. This is the bottom piece of the snowman.
2. Stack your additional marshmallows on top the toothpick.
3. Using the paintbrush, apply a small amount of water to the marshmallows to add eyes, mouth, and other accents.
4. Add the arms by breaking a toothpick or pretzel sticks and push through the marshmallows.
5. Leave the snowman overnight to harden. You can add more color with color markers or glue on additional accents.

For additional pictures of this project, visit their website at

Today is Martin Luther King Jr Day, a day we honor and celebrate the American clergyman, activist and Civil Rights Movement leader best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience.  Dr. King is also well known for his passionate public speeches – his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, given at a pivotal Civil Rights march in Washington, D.C., has served as inspiration for generations.  To find out more about this particular speech, check out The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Drew W Hansen.  To listen to the speech, visit the NPR site here.  In addition to the recording, this site also features a transcript of the speech.  If you are interested in reading more of Dr. King’s writing, check out A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know Dr. King was the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35?  He then donated the over $54,000 worth of prize money to further the work of the civil rights movement.  For a short biography of his life, visit the Nobel Prize site at here.  Your public libraries also have many more books on the life and work of Dr. King, including several for children, such as Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo and Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport.  Titles for adult readers include Going Down Jericho Road: the Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign by Michael K. Honey and A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is National Hat Day so celebrate by wearing your favorite baseball cap, winter hat, fedora, or any other style of hat all day today!

Hats during the winter months keep your head warm so why not go out on a winter walk today or even a long hike this weekend at a nearby park such as Tishomingo State Park.  If you walk in an area, like your own neighborhood, where it is OK to do so, children can pick up nuts, pinecones, leaves, bark and other interesting bits of nature to take home to make a beautiful winter nature collage.  But remember, it is illegal to remove any part (including pieces of nature) of National Park service sites and some other public parks so make sure you know the rules before you do so!  While you are walking, take pictures of how your surroundings look (or better yet, let your children take pictures of things that interest them) to compare against pictures from other seasons.  Children can also have a lot of fun keeping an eye out for any animal tracks they can spot.  The recent round of wet weather means that prints may be easy to see in dirt or muddy spots on the ground.  They might be able to spot tracks from deer, raccoon, rabbits or other animals.  Let us know what you find!  

If you need a book to help you figure out which animals tracks belong to which animal, check out titles such as Animal Tracks & Signs by Jinny Johnson.

If one of your new year’s goals was to find a new crafting hobby, let your local library branch find titles to help you get started.  If you are not sure what you want to do yet, check out The Michaels Book of Arts & Crafts to browse hundreds of different projects to try.  Those who have an Instant Pot might want to check out DIY Crafts & Projects for Your Instant Pot: Lip Balm, Tie-Dye, Candles, and Dozens of other Amazing Ideas.

Many people enjoy hobbies that help them save money.  If you would like to try out making your own candles, check out Candle Making Made Easy or The Candlemaker’s Companion: A Complete Guide to Rolling, Pouring, Dipping, and Decorating Your Own Candles by Betty Oppenheimer.  Or if you are interested in learning how to make your own soap, try Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin-Care Soaps by Anne-Marie Faiola or The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso.

If you have always wanted to learn how to sew, let this year be the year to do it!  Your libraries can get you started with titles such as 101 Ways to Use Your First Sewing Machine by Elizabeth Dubicki.  They also have lots of fun titles, including Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The Essential Guide to a Whole New Way to Sew by Amy Karol and Sew Retro: 25 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution by Judi Ketteler.  Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts has a little bit of everything in it, including basic techniques for sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting, dyeing, and printing on fabric.

Don’t forget about the kiddos!  Your branch libraries also have crafting books for them, including The Big Book of Kids’ Crafts: 301 Projects for Kids 4 to 12, Fun Family Crafts by Kelly Doust, Low-Mess Crafts for Kids: 72 Projects to Create Your Own Magical Worlds by Debbie Chapman, Make Stuff Together: 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family by Bernadette Noll and See and Sew: An Introduction to Sewing for Children by Tina Davis.

The cold days of January are perfect weather for hot chocolate! Warm up today by enjoying a big cup of the cold weather treat. Drink it plain or add fun extras like marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkles. Leftover peppermint sticks from the holidays can also be a yummy addition to your drink. Some people even like to add fun syrups typically used in coffee drinks, such as caramel, hazelnut or vanilla flavorings. For a cute snack for the kids to go along with your hot chocolate, try powdered donuts (the mini version) and turn them into snowman faces with mini chocolate chips for the eyes, nose and mouth.
If you have some popsicle sticks on hand, you can turn them into a crafty cup of hot chocolate. First, glue about eight craft sticks together into a square shape. You can use the colored variety or the kids can color plain popsicle sticks any color they like. Next, cut an oval out of brown construction paper (your children can also use plain white paper and color it brown) and glue the oval to the top of the square to represent the hot chocolate. You can even decorate the brown oval if you wish with small white circles to mimic marshmallows. Next, cut out a fat ‘C’ shape out of any color paper you have and glue it to the side of the square to be the cup’s handle. Let your kids finish off their craft by decorating the front of the cup with stickers or they can draw on their own creative designs with crayons or markers.
Have you ever tried to make your own modeling clay or dough? The family behind the website 123Homeschool4Me have come up with two different fun chocolate scented modeling dough recipes (one even uses hot chocolate mix) that will be fun for the whole family to make and play with. Both recipes require only a few simple ingredients. Check out their link here for the directions:

If one of your new year’s goal is to spend more time relaxing, celebrate National Bubble Bath Day and take a nice relaxing bath today.  Bubble bath has long been used with young children to make them associate bath time as being fun.  In addition to playing in bubbles, today’s children can also enjoy washable bath crayons, bath toys and other play time accessories that help make bath time so entertaining, it is hard to get them out sometimes!  Even letting children play with simple plastic cups and bowls will give them a fun bath experience without buying anything extra.  Playing in the bath can be educational for children as well.  Moving water between different sized cups helps them to begin to understand how careful they need to be when it is time to learn to pour their own drinks.  Having small plastic toys available for bath time, when used together with a cup or bowl, also introduces the concept that liquids are displaced when another object is placed in the container.  And finally, letting them draw and write on the tub with washable paint or crayons lets them explore their creativity and help fuel their imagination.  You can even sneak in a little learning time too by asking children to draw letters of the alphabet or numbers.  Bubble bath is fun for all ages – you can never be too old to enjoy taking a bath! 

Bubble baths can offer health benefits too, for both children and adults.  Parents have used the relaxing benefits of bath time to wind down for bedtime for centuries.   Soaking in a bath can ease the ache of sore muscles and relax muscles that have been made tight by stress for everyone.  The steam from a warm bath can help sooth a cough or loosen congestion, which is always helpful during the winter months when illnesses linger.  All these things combined should even ultimately lead to a better night’s sleep for everyone!

Some fun children’s book titles available at your local libraries about bath time include Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett Krosoczka, Max’s Bath by Rosemary Wells, The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems, Pirates Don’t Take Baths by John Segal and Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel.  Older children who are always asking “How” or “Why” might be interested in I Wonder Why Soap Makes Bubbles and Other Questions about Science by Barbara Taylor.

Check back Sunday for tips on saving money around your house!

If one of your goals for this new year is for your family to spend more quality time together, celebrate National Cuddle Up Day today by snuggling up on your couch or bed.  Young children would also enjoy making a pillow fort to snuggle up in.  Or for more cuddly fun, camp out on your living room floor on a bed of blankets, pillows and maybe even a camping mattress brought in for a special indoor treat!  January is the perfect month to cuddle as it is usually very cold outside.  As you cuddle, you can make up stories and tall tales to tell each other, talk about your favorite family memories, read books together or even watch a family friendly movie. And while you’re cuddling, don’t forget your pets!  Let your cats and dogs, or your rabbits or hamsters or other family pet, enjoy some cuddle time today too.

In addition to being fun, there are lots of health benefits to families cuddling together.  A physical touch, where it’s your family’s arms around you or your pet curled up in your lap, makes you feel happy and loved, which in turn can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  Physical touch can also let others know, particularly children, that they are safe and in a trusted environment and helps to reassure them that they will be protected and taken care of.  Just think – you can express all that with just a simple hug!

For people of all ages, cuddling with their pets can also do the same things.  It has even been medically proven that petting a cat or dog reduces blood pressure and regulates your breathing, resulting in a much calmer feeling.

If a New Year’s goal for your family is to spend time outside to get more exercise, an easy way to do this is by taking short daily walks around your neighborhood or streets.  Many people do not think of walking outside when the weather is colder but if you bundle up, it can be a refreshing experience.  Younger children can benefit from seeing how differently the world around them looks when it is a different season.  Ask them questions such as, “What looks differently now than in the summer?” or “How does the air feel on your face?”  You can also ask them to describe to you how the trees look now and have them think back to how trees look in the summer to compare the two versions.      

Another family goal this year might be to become more organized.  You might want to work on certain areas of your home, such as organizing your pantry or kitchen shelves to make mealtime preparation go faster.  Or each family member might work on organizing their closets or places where they store their clothes so that getting dressed in the morning and getting ready for bed at night go more smoothly.  As this new year starts, sit down with your family to brainstorm ideas for things each person can do to get your family better organized in 2021.

Check back Wednesday for another new idea!

Happy New Year’s Day!  Welcome to 2021!  The act of making resolutions for a new year, once a popular pastime, has started to fall out of favor as people have the tendency to set unrealistic expectations. Instead of making resolutions this year, why not set goals for 2021?  Each person in your family can set individual (and realistic) goals and you can even set goals together as a family. 

Maybe one of your goals will be to have less screen time and read more books.  If so, take time today to pick out and start a great new book.  Seeing the adults in their life read for pleasure shows children how much you value the activity and sets a great example for them.  You could also set a family goal of reading together for at least twenty to thirty minutes each day.  Everyone can read their own books or you can take turns reading a book out loud.  Reading out loud to younger children is essential to their development.  It has a wide range of benefits, including improving their attention span and increasing their vocabularies, just to name two.  As children grow out of hearing picture books, you can continue reading together books as a family by moving to chapter books.  Some families even continue reading out loud to each other until their children are grown!  Mississippi author Ellen Gilchrist has related in the past that at Sunday dinner parties at her house, dinner guests read out loud portions of Shakespeare plays to end the evening.

Check back next week for more ideas on goals for the new year! 

December 2020 Suggested Family Activities

If your children want to celebrate the arrival of the new year tomorrow but midnight is too late for them to stay up, why not stage it earlier in the night before they go to bed?  You can find videos of the ball drop in New York City from previous years online so watch one of these old videos and have the whole family count down the minutes.  You can just pick a random time (for example, 8:00 p.m.) to count down towards.  Everyone can scream “Happy New Year” and make noise, regardless of what time you celebrate the new year’s arrival.  You can even let your little ones dress up in fancy clothes from their dress-up box and pile on fun, glittery accessories like tiaras, crowns, necklaces and funny hats. 

If you want to make your own New Year’s ball to drop in your home, you can make a paper mâché one using a balloon, glue and newspaper strips.  Or just use a regular balloon and let it fall to the floor.  If you do not have any noisemakers at home, you can let your children bang on pots and pans to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

Older children can celebrate the night by having a pajama party in the living room.  They can pile lots of pillows, sleeping bags and blankets on the floor to make it comfy, put on their pjs and have a ball!  You might even want to help them build a pillow fort for even more fun. 

Today is National Card Playing Day so celebrate by playing some fun family card games.  Families with very young children can play one of the many matching games that help children learn colors, numbers and the alphabet.  Older children will enjoy a great beginning game such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, War, Concentration or Uno.  Children can even be taught to play Solitaire on their own!  Playing card games is a great way for children to learn social skills such as taking turns, being fair to others and being patient while waiting for everyone else to have a turn.  It also helps children practice other necessary skills such as adding and subtracting and matching numbers, colors and shapes – but all while having fun!  

Today is also National Chocolate Candy Day so take time throughout today to snack on your favorite chocolate candy treat.  Do you like having a little bit of chocolate at a time such as M&Ms or do you prefer to take big bites of a Hershey’s bar?  You may have even gotten some special chocolate candy treats during the holidays that you can eat today.  Many people like to eat chocolates slowly to make them last longer so why not try that technique?  For a funny picture book about chocolate candies, check out Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory.  Or if you would like to learn how chocolate is made, check out Beans to Chocolate by Inez Snyder for young readers or Chocolate: Sweet Science and Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat by Kay Frydenborg for older readers.  Adult readers might also enjoy the novel Chocolat by Joanne Harris or the chocolate shop mysteries by JoAnna Carl. 

Today starts Kwanzaa.  To learn more about this holiday, check out The Complete Kwanzaa: Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest by D. Winbush Riley.  Children’s titles include Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis, Kwanzaa by A. P. Porter and Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

One of the bases of Kwanzaa is the celebration of the harvest.  The cold winter months are a great time to plan out your own garden for this spring, whether you use seed catalogs, gardening magazines, the internet, or your own past gardening experience for inspiration.  Get the whole family involved in picking out what things to plant.  Having children involved in the process of picking out which vegetables to plant, preparing the soil, planting the seeds and tending the plants as they grow will make them more interested in eating the produce when it is ready to pick.  (Having them help with the food preparation when the things from your garden are ready to cook is also another way to get them interested in vegetables!)

Today’s the last day this week to pick up a children’s activity and craft packet and FREE book at your local library branch before they close for the holidays!  In the packets, you will find lots of fun things to keep children entertained this week, including coloring sheets featuring Santa, snowmen, reindeer and more!  There are also supplies to make five craft projects, including a Rocking Santa, a Candy Cane, a Reindeer, a Circle Ornament and a Hot Coca mug craft.  We have provided white squares of heavy paper to make the Circle Ornament in the packet but you can continue to use the template for years to come.  This project is a great way to recycle your Christmas cards – just cut circles out of the cards and glue them together using our instructions.  Ornaments made from your old Christmas cards will be a lasting reminder of the beautiful cards you receive from year to year.

Paper plates (the cheapest you can find!) make great craft supplies.  In addition to the Rocking Snowman found in this month’s free December packet at your library, children can also turn a paper plate into:

  • A holiday wreath by cutting out the middle of the plate in a circle so that the plate becomes a wreath. If you are not comfortable free hand drawing a circle, you can use a smaller plate to draw around to create the opening. Kids can color the wreath a solid color and then decorate on top of that with small artificial flowers (easily found at places like the Dollar Tree), stickers, designs they have drawn on paper and cut out or any other craft supplies. 
  • You can also turn a paper plate into a Christmas tree by cutting it apart into 3 wedges (imagine a watermelon slice). Glue the wedge pieces on top of each other with the fluted part of the plate pointing down and the pointy piece on the top. Then color the tree green and decorate it with stickers, sequins, beads or any other craft supplies.   Children could also draw ornaments on a piece of paper and cut them out to glue on their tree.

Today is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere– the longest night of the year. It’s the day when the Earth’s Northern pole has tilted as far as possible from the sun, which means that the day light hours are the shortest and the nighttime hours are the longest. Celebrate this longest night by having a fire outside and roasting hot dogs and toasting marshmallows. Having a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate will also be a great treat tonight!

Your local NERL branches will only be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week so hurry by to check out last minute books before the holidays.

Selections vary by branch so call your local library today to see what they have available.

Some great picture book titles by your favorite children’s book authors include A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel, Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson, Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin, How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen and Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney. Chapter book readers might enjoy Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story by R.L. Stine, Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat or Judy Moody & Stink: The Jolly Joliday by Megan McDonald.

Adult readers might enjoy some of the many holiday titles by fiction writers such as Debbie Macomber, Robin Carr, and Wanda Brunstetter. Western author William W. Johnstone even has several holiday titles.

Mystery writers love to set their titles during this time of year too! Some titles in our libraries’ collection include A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron, Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke and Here Comes Santa Paws by Laurien Berenson. 

Reading Clement Clarke Moore’s holiday classic The Night Before Christmas (sometimes listed as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas) is a great family tradition in many families.  Your local libraries have lots of versions available to be checked out so make sure to pick up a copy before the big day!  Illustrators over the years, such as Hilary Knight, Arthur Rackham, Jan Brett and Richard Scarry, just to name a few, have put their own spin on the story.  There are even specialized versions such as A Cat’s Night Before Christmas and A Dog’s Night Before Christmas by Henry Beard and The Night Before Christmas, Deep Under the Sea by Kathie Kelleher.  If you prefer an e-book, don’t forget your library card gives you access to e-books through Hoopla and the Libby app through OverDrive.  Accessing these titles is quick and easy.  For more information, check the Digital Resources page on the NERL website or call your local library branch.

Cardboard paper rolls from paper towels or toilet paper make a great craft supply after they have been sanitized.  This month, you can cover one with white paper to become a snowman and then draw on buttons, a scarf, a carrot nose and eyes.  Or you could turn one into a reindeer with brown paper and some pipe cleaner antlers sticking out each side.  The people behind the website have even turned one into a Santa.  Check out the link below to learn how they did it:

The people at have created this cute and easy foam Christmas tree ornament craft:  You can visit their website for a template to print out or draw your own tree shape.  If you do not have any craft foam, green paper is a quick and easy substitute.  They decorated their tree with glitter glue but you can decorate yours with markers, crayons, beads, buttons, pom poms or any other craft supplies you have on hand.

A wonderful nighttime family activity, that is also perfect for keeping your social distance this year, is to ride around with your family and look at lights and decorations on everyone’s houses.  Sometimes homeowners even have their lights programmed to radio stations playing festive music.  (Singing holiday songs as you drive from one location to another is also a great way to pass the time!)  Another fun idea is to take along hot chocolate and holiday cookies to snack on as you drive around.  Families of young children might even want to let their children get into their pajamas before taking their ride around town, so that the children are ready to go to bed as soon as they get back home.

Check back tomorrow for more fun holiday ideas!

In our library’s craft and activity packets this month is a cute candy cane to make using white and red circles.  All supplies needed for the craft are in the packet, including a yarn hanger so that it can hang on your tree or in your house as a decoration.  There is also an activity sheet for children to find the quickest way through a candy cane maze.

Beaded candy canes are fun and easy to make, even for the smallest fingers.  All you need are white and red pony beads and a pipe cleaner, both of which can be purchased inexpensively at stores such as the Dollar Tree and Dollar World if you do not have the supplies at home.  All children must do to make this quick project is to slide each bead onto the pipe cleaner, alternating each color as they go.  When they have reached the top of the pipe cleaner, the top is bent over into the familiar hook shape.  This craft would make a great decoration in your home, on your tree or to give out as presents to friends and loved ones.  Did you know learning how to pick and grasp small objects, such as beads, is an important step in children learning how to write?  This is a great activity for little fingers to do because it sets them up for success in knowing how to hold and grasp a pencil when they enter pre-school or kindergarten. 

Another great way to make a candy cane ornament is to use a skein each of red and white embroidery floss and a pipe cleaner.  (You could also use yarn or cord in those colors – the thicker materials would also be easier for little fingers to grasp.)  Take the paper wrapping off the skeins of floss and snip each looped end to make two bunches (but you’ll only be using one of each color).  Tie one bunch of red and one bunch of white in a single knot at the top of the pipe cleaner.  Twist the top colors around the pipe cleaner to make the stripes.  When you get to the end, make another knot and trim either the floss or the pipe cleaner as necessary.  Now all that is left is to bend the top into a hook shape and add a ribbon or yarn hanger.

Family Activitiy: Don’t forget to pick up your FREE children’s craft packets and FREE book at your local library!  One of the activity sheets in this month’s packet is a fun Candy Cane Experiment.  It is a great way to sneak in a little STEM activity into your holiday celebrations!  Small, thin candy canes will work best for quick results but to turn it into a longer activity, children can experiment with different sizes and flavors.  The sheets have space for children to write their predictions for what will happen when a candy cane is placed in cool water, warm water and vinegar.  There is also space on the sheet for children to write in their observations and the results of their experiments. 

If your family loves to watch holiday moves this time of year, you can put a little extra excitement into the activity by wrapping up your holiday DVDs in gift wrapping paper and putting them in a box or basket.  Each night that you want to watch a movie, family members can take turns randomly picking a movie to watch together.  You can also use this same technique with your children’s holiday picture books for a fun surprise each night before bed.

Check back tomorrow for some candy cane craft ideas!

Have you picked up a children’s craft packet and free book at your local library yet? They have lots of good things to keep little ones (and not so little ones) occupied this month – holiday themed coloring sheets, activity sheets, suggested reading lists and supplies to make FIVE different arts and crafts projects. In addition to a crossword puzzle for older kids, there are several sheets of themed word searches. Children can work on them alone – it is a great way for school-age children to learn how words are spelled and become more familiar with the alphabet. Or to turn it into a fun family activity, you can do this variation: Give the same word search (your local library can provide you with extra copies) to everyone in your family. Place them face down on the table. Then set a timer, say GO and have everyone try and find all the words as fast as possible in a set amount of time. Whoever finds the most wins! Another variation is to have everyone in your family work on the word searches over several days. This way would be especially great in families with young children as it will give them more time to complete the sheet. When they have finished, you could even give them a small treat such as a piece of candy or extra screen time.

Another fun family game is to pick a word (such as December) or a phrase (such as Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings) and have everyone see how many words they can make out of the letters in the word or phrase.

Tomorrow is the first day of Hanukkah.  To learn more about the holiday, check out the following books from your library: Beautiful Yetta’s Hanukkah Kitten by Daniel Manus Pinkwater, The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn and Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel.

Decorating a gingerbread house is a fun family activity.  To make it faster and easier, you can purchase pre-made kits with pieces cut to size, pre-mixed cake icing and decorations.  If you don’t want to go to the expense, though, or put up with the mess, children can decorate paper gingerbread people and a paper gingerbread house found on activity sheets in our December children’s packets.  Children can use crayons and markers or other types of craft supplies, such as buttons, sequins and beads, if you have them available. 

To make a beautiful natural ornament for your tree, just pick up a pinecone on your next walk!  To begin, tie a piece of string or yarn to the top to be the hanger.  Next, paint the tips of the pinecone with craft glue and sprinkle glitter on the glue while it is wet.  After the glue is dried, the ornament is ready to hang!  For a more colorful ornament, you could substitute acrylic paint (thinned out with a little water) for the glue before you add the glitter.  You could also add other small decorations that might fit into the crevices of the pinecones such as silver balls (like the ones used for cake decorating), sequins or small beads.

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

On this day, we honor the survivors and veterans of the December 7, 1941 surprise arial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island in Hawaii.  This attack led to the U.S.’s entry into World War II.  The site of the attack is now a National Park Service site and serves as the host for a yearly commemorative event.  In order to protect the World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors attending this year’s event, the event will be held privately.  However, you can watch it from home through their Facebook page or at  To find out more about this day and the events at Pearl Harbor, visit  This website contains links to other information about Pearl Harbor, including videos of previous year’s events. 

Your public libraries also have materials about Pearl Harbor, including the DVD The Attack on Pearl Harbor: A Day of Infamy and the book Long Day’s Journey into War: December 7, 1941 by Stanley Weintraub.  To help children understand the events, check out Attack on Pearl Harbor: The True Story of the Day America Entered World War II by Shelley Tanaka, Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood and I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis.

Our librarian at the Tishomingo Public Library, Beverly Parker, has created a Snowman Greeting Card for children to use.  There is a color copy available in the children’s packets being handed out at NERL branches or you can print out your own here (insert link).  For snowman related holiday stories to enjoy after you’ve written a letter to a special person in your life, check out some of these titles from our branches: Christmas Magic by Michael Garland, Elfis: A Christmas Tale by Alan Katz and Frosty’s New Friends.

Snowman card template

Family Activity: Countdown Calendar

Paper chains are a great craft project for all ages!  You can make one to be a countdown calendar to your favorite winter holiday and pull off a loop for each day until it arrives.  Or you can make one to use as a decoration in your home or on a tree.  All you need is different scraps of paper cut to the same size (about 1-inch x 5 inches is a good size) and some glue.  Before the time of mass-produced ornaments, people decorated their homes with paper chains, strings of dried fruit such as cranberries and orange slices and strings of popcorn.  For children old enough to hold a large, blunt needle themselves, stringing popcorn would also make a great decoration for trees and shrubs outside – plus a great holiday treat for visiting birds and squirrels!

In our libraries’ children’s packets this month is another cute countdown calendar made up of star shapes.  Children can color in a star on each day until they get to December 25!

To find out more about how the holidays were celebrated in the past, check out the holiday titles in the American Girl series, including Addy’s Surprise: A Christmas Story by Connie Rose Porter.  Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol and A Charles Dickens Christmas are also available at several branches, as is Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book.  Other holiday titles featuring classic characters include Christmas with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder.   An Old-Fashioned Country Christmas: A Celebration of the Holiday Season gives tips on how to make the tree decorations mentioned above while The Old-Fashioned Santa Claus Picture Book gives a look at images of Santa throughout time, as well as children’s poems about Santa Claus.

Family Activity: December Packets!

December packets are being given out now through the end of the month at your local library branches!  This month’s packets have wonderful holiday themed coloring sheets, activity sheets, suggested reading lists and supplies to make FIVE different arts and crafts projects.  The craft projects include a Rocking Snowman, a Candy Cane, a Reindeer, a Circle Ornament and a Hot Coca mug craft.  Also included in each packet is a wonderful holiday gift – a free book!  So stop by one of the branches of NERL TODAY to get your free packet!  Our branches also have book selections for Teen and Young Adult readers and a new set of more detailed coloring sheets for teens and adults who enjoy the relaxing pastime.

One of the more popular activities in our packets have been the monthly Scavenger Hunt sheets.  The December Scavenger Hunt includes things to look out for as you spend time outside or drive around town – poinsettias, strings of lights and silver bells, just to name a few.  You can view and print a copy of our Scavenger Hunt here: ScavengerHunt or pick up a copy from your local NERL public library branch.

Another sheet in our packets this month is a Reindeer Race that involves rolling a die to move up a number line.  You can even make reindeer markers out of clothes pins to use in the race.  All you need are clothes pins, googly eyes (or draw on eyes with a marker), a pom pom nose (or draw your own), and pipe cleaners to make the antlers.