SUGGESTED FAMILY ACTIVITIES

We had such a great response to our Summer Reading Program

Suggested Family Activities that we have decided to continue offering them!

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!

Send pictures and comments to summerlibraryprogram@nereg.lib.ms.us

January 2021 Suggested Family Activities

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: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/?s=chocolate+playdough.

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 CraftIdeas.com have even turned one into a Santa.  Check out the link below to learn how they did it:

https://www.craftideas.info/html/paper_roll_santa_b.html

The people at ChristmasProjects.com have created this cute and easy foam Christmas tree ornament craft: http://www.christmas-projects.com/html/fun_foam_tree.html.  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 www.pearlharborevents.com.  To find out more about this day and the events at Pearl Harbor, visit https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/national-pearl-harbor-remembrance-day.htm.  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.