Family Activities

Suggested Family Activities

Fun and Creative Ideas for Your Family to Do at Home.

New Suggested Family Activities are posted on most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

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 share 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 your pictures, ideas, and comments to photos@nereg.lib.ms.us

🏆 2021 Jane Smith Literacy Award Winner
🏆 2021 Library of Congress Award Winner

MAY 2022

Suggested Family Activity • Pool Noodles & Games!

Pool noodles can be found inexpensively in most dollar stores.  Did you know that you can do lots of other things with them besides playing in water?  You can bend colored noodles into tunnels for your kids to crawl through or shape them into hurdles for them to jump over.  And the best thing?  If they miss a hurdle, the noodles are made of foam, so no one gets hurt!  You can also turn them into a tightrope for kids to walk along or a limbo stick to see how low they can go.  Try creating a variety of obstacles outside this summer to turn your yard into an obstacle course.  Young children can work through the obstacles at their own pace or challenge older kids to tackle each section as quickly as they can.

If you don’t have any pool noodles on hand and want to get your kids outside quickly, you can set up obstacle course stations with ⭕ hula hoops, jump ropes, or Frisbees. If you have a driveway, sidewalk, patio, or porch, you can try tracing a tightrope onto them with colored chalk.  Or you can turn all your empty cardboard boxes 📦 into tunnels that children can climb through.  If you have any paper plates, you can turn them into a game of 🧲 horseshoes.  Just cut out the inside of each one, leaving just the outer ring, and you have an instant horseshoe.  Players can throw it at an empty paper towel roll or even a stick pushed into the ground.  If you have several family members wanting to play this game and each one wants to make their own set of horseshoes, grab the markers, crayons, or paint and let everyone decorate their own.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day

Today is National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day so take some time today to do something nice for those who live around you.  You could write them a quick note to compliment them on something about their yard or home, such as beautiful flower beds or a pretty door hanger.  Or if you have lots of flowers 🌷🌹🌺 blooming in your yard and your neighbor doesn’t, you could take them a small bouquet to share with them.  If you have an elderly neighbor or someone who has mobility issues, offer to help them out by moving their trash cans can after garbage day or assisting with light yard work, such as picking up limbs that have blown out of trees.  If you like to cook or bake, you could take a casserole dish 🍚 or cookies 🍪 over to your neighbors.  Or invite them over to your house to share a cup of tea or coffee ☕ and some 🍰 cake.

When you can think of neighbors, Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers from PBS’s long-running series, comes to mind.  To give you inspiration for today, read Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Wonderful Wisdom from Everyone’s Favorite Neighbor by Melissa Wagner or The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King.  Children’s books about Mister Rogers include Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell and Who Was Mister Rogers? by Diane Bailey. 

Your local libraries also have collections of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on DVD, as well as the major motion picture film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks.

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Suggested Family Activity • National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day

Kids, grab your parents and head outside this weekend for National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day 🎈 and International Family Day on Sunday.  Playing outdoors is not only fun, it is a great way to get exercise.  Playing on a playground can help you to improve your coordination and build strong bones and healthy muscles.  It is also a great way to reset your brain 🧠 after a busy week of work ⚒ and school 🎓.  For many kids (and parents too), the social skills developed while interacting with other people on the playground will stay with them throughout their life.  This includes things like sharing, being considerate of others, and taking turns.

This weekend, on Sunday May 15, we will also experience a total lunar eclipse 🌑.  This occurs when the full moon enters the shadow of Earth 🌎, cutting off the sunlight reflected off the moon.  This eclipse is not only considered a supermoon eclipse; it is also referred to as a “Blood Moon” event.  According to the National Geographic website, because the only sunlight the moon receives will be bent through the Earth’s atmosphere, the moon’s appearance will change from gray to pink and orange before appearing red.  The eclipse is supposed to begin around 9:30 p.m. and reach totality around 10:30 p.m.  It should remain visible until just before 1:00 a.m. on Monday as the moon is expected to take 3 hours, 27 minutes and 58 seconds to pass completely through the umbra.  Unlike a solar eclipse, it is perfectly safe to watch a lunar eclipse without protection for your eyes.  For more information, check out this article at National Geographic.

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Suggested Family Activity • Ed Emberley Drawing 🎨 Books

Children’s book artist Ed Emberley is best known for his instructional drawing books that follow the philosophy that anyone can learn how to draw.  His how-to books include diagrams and language that are easy for children and parents to understand.  Many of his books start with making a simple finger or thumb print on a piece of paper and then turning it into something.  In the latest post on his blog, available here:  http://edemberleydrawingpages.blogspot.com/ ✏ he walks you through drawing various animals such as dogs, cats, and an elephant, among others.  NERL branches have several of his books to give you and your kids some drawing inspiration:  Ed Edmberley’s Big Green Drawing Book, Ed Emberley’s Big Red Drawing Book, and Ed Emberley’s Fingerprint Drawing Book, to name a few.  You can also check out some of his award-winning picture books, such as Ed Emberley’s Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullybug and The Wing on a Flea: A Book About Shapes.

As you will see from Emberley’s books, you can make a variety of drawings using a minimum of lines 📏 and basic shapes 🟢.  Or you can follow his example and use your fingerprint or thumbprint 👍.  Kids will love making prints with various colors of paint.  Use acrylic, as it washes off hands (and out of clothes) very easily.  Or try animals or flowers – a single fingerprint can become a dandelion, or you can put several together in a circle to become flower petals.  

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Suggested Family Activity • Finger ☝ Puppets

If you have paper, crayons 🖍 or markers, and scissors ✂, you have everything you need to make some fun finger puppets for your kids.  To make a cute bee 🐝 to fly around, cut out a 2 ½ inch circle and a 3-inch circle from yellow 🟨 paper.  (If you do not have any colored paper, just use crayons or markers to color your circles.)  You will also need two 2-inch white ⚪ circles for the wings.  After your paper pieces are cut out, draw black 🦓 stripes across the largest yellow 🟡 circle with a black marker, Sharpie, or black crayon.

You’ll need to cut holes 🕳 for your fingers to go in next.  Use a craft punch or hole punch if you have one.  Or use a dime to trace two small circles and carefully cut them out. The other yellow 🟡 circle is the bee’s head so glue it to the body circle at the opposite end of the finger holes.  Then draw in eyes 👀 and a smile 😁.  If you have a craft supply that is stiff, like a pipe cleaner or even a twist tie from a plastic bag, poke pieces into the head to make your bee’s antenna.  Next attach your wings by trimming off just a little bit of one side to make one straight edge.  Glue this edge to each side of your body.

Kids can make as many bees 🐝 as they want, sticking with the traditional yellow and black or experimenting with all kinds of other color combinations.  They can also make ladybugs 🐞 by switching out the yellow body and heads pieces for red 🟥 paper and drawing black ⚫ polka dots all over the body.

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Suggested Family ActivityMay the Fourth Be With You 🚀

Today is National Star Wars Day, a.k.a. May the Fourth Be with You Day.  May 4 is a day to 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 or the upcoming Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi.  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 Angleberger, The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary by Pablo Hidalgo, or Star Wars Character Encyclopedia by Simon Beecroft.  Young adult readers might enjoy the Star Wars: High Republic series or the coffee table book The Art of Rogue One by Josh Kushins.  There are many other 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.

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Suggested Family ActivityMother Goose 🦢 Day

    Yesterday was National Mother Goose Day, a day set aside each year to celebrate the fictional author of fairy tales and nursey rhymes that everyone knows and loves.  You may be wondering, “Was there ever a real Mother Goose?” 🦢 The answer is: not that we know.  According to the people at the National Calendar website, the earliest mention of Mother Goose occurs in a book by Charles Perrault in 1729.  Since then, many popular writers and illustrators have published their own illustrated versions of Mother Goose stories, including Kate Greenaway, Charles Adams, Mary Engelbreit, and Tomie dePaola.  Ask for one today at your local library branch – we even have a Spanish language version – La Madre Goose: Nursery Rhymes for Los Ninos by Susan Middleton Elya.

    One way to celebrate Mother Goose Day could be to look at different versions of the tales and decide which ones your family likes the best.  Some of our favorites include Janet Stevens’ rendition of And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, Daniel Kirk’s Humpty Dumpty, The Book that Jack Wrote by Jon Scieszka, Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitys Spider by James Dean, and Jerry Pinkney’s Three Little Kittens.

    What is your favorite Mother Goose

     tale? Humpty Dumpty? Hey Diddle Diddle? Hickory, Dickory, Dock?  Entertain your kids today by not only reading Mother Goose rhymes, but also acting them out.  Kids can pretend to climb a hill like Jack and Jill, pretend to be Miss Muffet when she sees a spider, or blow a horn like Little Boy Blue.  The National Calendar has a free coloring sheet in honor of today.  Print one out here: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Mother-Goose-Coloring-page.png or ask your local librarian for a copy.  As you color it, can you guess which classic stories each image is from?

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    APRIL 2022

    Suggested Family ActivityToday is Arbor Day 🌳

      Today is Arbor Day, a yearly celebration of trees that is always held on the last Friday in April.  On Arbor Day, we celebrate all the many ways trees improve our environment and make our world more beautiful.  And with our ongoing climate crisis, it is more important now, more than ever, for us to plant trees.  If your family would like to learn more about the importance of trees or about the many varieties of trees they are, your local library can help.  Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer takes children through all the layers of the ecosystem and shows how each one is connected to the next.  Older readers might enjoy The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter, Wohlleben.

      Other picture books that present the importance to trees in a child friendly way are The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, The Family Tree by David McPhail, If You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay, Meeting Trees by Scott R. Sanders, Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel, and Picture of a Tree by Barbara Reid.

      If you are interested in planting your own tree, check out The Easy Tree Guide: Common Native and Cultivated Trees of the United States and Canada by Keith Rushforth or The Eyewitness Handbook of Trees by Allen J. Coombes.

      The website for National Day Calendar has created a special coloring sheet for today.  It is available to print here or you can ask your local library branch to print one for you.

      Share your photos with us at photos@nereg.lib.ms.us

      Suggested Family ActivityNational Tell a Story Day

      Today 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.  To celebrate today, try 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.  Another special way to share a story 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

        Tell a Story Day display at Corinth Library

        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!

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        Suggested Family Activity • Earth 🌎 Day

        Celebrate Earth 🌎 Day today by exploring all the ways that you and your family can make small changes in your daily lives to save the Earth 🌎 and its valuable resources.  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.  Some of the subjects discussed during Earth 🌎 Day activities may sound scary or confusing, such as “climate change,” “renewable fuels,” and “carbon footprint.”  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.

        Some of the small things that you and your family can do every day to help the Earth 🌎 includes 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 items 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 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 and bushes that will attract bees 🐝 and butterflies 🦋, not letting the water run when you are brushing your teeth 🦷, and combining your errands into one trip so that you get several things done at one time instead of making individual trips, which uses more gas ⛽.

        Ripley Earth Day Display 2022

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        Suggested Family Activity • Caterpillar 🐛 Craft

        As the weather turns warmer ♨, the trees 🌲 and bushes 🌳 around us are beginning to wake up.  They are sending out green sprouts 🌱 and starting to form buds that herald the arrival of blooms 💮 in the coming weeks and months.  Flowers, such as irises 🌺 and tulips 🌷, are already beginning to wake up and put out a burst of color.  Bees 🐝 are beginning to buzz, and butterflies 🦋 are emerging.  Today, try out this craft project that celebrates caterpillars🐛, which you should be spotting soon:

        One way to make a creepy, crawly caterpillar🐛 is by using chenille stems or pipe cleaners.  To form the caterpillar’s body, just wrap one stem or pipe cleaner very tightly around a pencil ✏ and then gently slide it off.  (If you have two different colors of pipe cleaners, you can coil them together to make a multi-colored 🌈 caterpillar.)  To make their eyes 👁, glue two wiggle eyes on one end of your coil, dot eyes on with a marker pen, or cut them out of paper.  Your caterpillar🐛 can go back on a pencil or marker to entertain your kids during their drawing time.  Or you can attach a piece of fishing line or thin string to the coil just behind its eyes and the end coil to turn your caterpillar🐛 into a simple puppet that your children can make wiggle and move around.

        If you do not have any pipe cleaners, you can also make a fun caterpillar by cutting out circles 🔴🟢🟢🟢 and then gluing them together so that they change position slightly each time.  You can use regular paper or stiffer paper (like construction paper or even card stock).  Make your caterpillar all one color or alternate colors with each circle to make it even more bright and cheerful.  After your craft project is completed, relax by reading the children’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  Put this book on hold here https://bit.ly/3rBbZrC

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        Suggested Family Activity • Weather ⚡ Emergencies

        Our recent run of bad weather can serve as a good reminder 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, www.ready.gov 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: https://www.ready.gov/kit

        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.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Egg 🥚 Drop

        As part of your family activities this weekend, try having an egg drop contest.  For this contest, each family member designs and makes a protective casing for an egg using recycled materials they find around the house.  You can let everyone have several days to brainstorm and make their coverings or put a time limit on the activity, such as one hour, for everyone to get their entry put together.  After your eggs are all covered, perform an experiment on which types of coverings protected the eggs the best by dropping the eggs from somewhere high.  You can use a ladder, a step stool, or just roll them off a counter.  Encourage family members to decorate their coverings and give bonus points to those whose coverings are attractive as well as protective. For more fun, consider letting family members have a second try if their egg breaks – sometimes trial and error is the best teacher.

        This project is a good activity if you always have a lot of leftover dyed Easter eggs.  If you use eggs that have already been cooked, they will not make as big a mess when they are dropped.  But if your family likes yucky experiments, go ahead and use uncooked eggs.  You just might want to move your experiment outside.  Or if you want to escape the mess all together, you can use plastic eggs that will just split apart when they are dropped.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Easter 🐥 Chick Craft

        Paper Loop Chick 🐤

        Paper Loop Chick 🐥 Supplies: Yellow paper, Scissors, Glue, 3 yellow feathers, 1 orange pipe cleaner, Markers (black & orange)

        With Easter coming up this weekend, we have a cute Easter chick craft project that is made from a simple loop of paper that has been curled around and taped together.  You can make one – or a whole flock of cute chickees!

        You’ll need: 

        • Yellow paper
        • Scissors
        • Glue
        • 3 yellow feathers
        • 1 orange pipe cleaner
        • Markers or crayons (black & orange)

        To turn these supplies into your Easter chick, follow these simple instructions:

        1. Cut a 2” x 6” strip of yellow paper. Glue the short ends together to make a loop.
        2. Cut the pipe cleaner in half, then cut 2” off of both pieces. Twist one short piece around the end of one long piece. Repeat with the other pieces to make two feet. Glue to the bottom of the paper loop.
        3. Draw on the eyes and a beak.
        4. Glue a feather on the inside of each side of the loop. Glue the last one to the back as a tail feather.

        If you do not have any feathers or a pipe cleaner, you can draw those pieces on paper and cut them out to use.  Or look around your house (and even outside) to see what kind of things you can substitute.  A drinking straw or a small stick could make your chick’s feet, while you can make feathers out of paper, cloth, or even thin pieces of recycled plastic.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Library of Things

        Did you know the Iuka Public Library has cake and baking pans for you to check out and use?  Spring and Easter themed pans include a sheet with 6 mini lambs, several different pans of Easter bunnies, an Easter egg sheet that makes 8 mini eggs, and a large oval Easter egg to make one big egg-sized cake.  If you don’t live in Iuka, don’t worry!  Your local library can request a pan for you.

        Check out cookie pans and make your own! These baking pans (and many more) live at the Iuka branch, but you can reserve them for checking out at any branch. Munch on, cookie lovers!

        In the library word, having other kinds of unique things to borrow (items other than books and media such as DVDS) is called “A Library of Things.”  NERL’s newest edition to our Library of Things is coming this summer – crafting supplies such as crochet hooks, knitting needles, and knitting looms.  Have you ever wanted to try out one of these hobbies but wanted to test it out first to make sure you were going to like it?  Well, this will be your chance!  Some kits will even come with yarn and instructions to make a simple item.  And of course, you will have access to NERL’s extensive collection of crafting books for instructions and inspiration.  This service will be coming to our branches beginning in May.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Library Collection Displays

        Many of our local libraries have interesting collections on display for you to enjoy.  At the George E. Allen Library in Booneville, you will find a collection of hand painted miniature figurines by Nathan Horn.  The figurines are from various miniature games, including Battletech, Dungeons and Dragons, and the A Song of Ice and Fire Miniature War Game.  They were painted by hand using acrylic paint.  The tents and taverns arranged in the display were constructed by hand using recycled household materials.

        At the Corinth Library, you can view a collection of Micro-Machines and Transformers from the 1980’s belonging to Wayne Johnson and a collection of autographed children’s books where the author or illustrator has drawn a picture to go along with their signature.  This collection belongs to NERL Director Dee Hare and her family.

        Many branches have semi-permanent displays that you might not have seen.  At the Ripley Library, they have displays of items related to the Faulkner family, as well as historical items relating to local resident Paul Rayney.  At the Burnsville library, four antique replica fire engines belonging to Ricky Joe Johnson are on display, while at the Iuka Library you will find a lovely holiday themed display of decoupaged Easter eggs by Rosemary Cross.  Several of our branches also have spotlighted spring and Easter children’s picture books or titles related to National Library Week for you to browse, so stop by one today!

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        Suggested Family Activity • Feel-Good Inspiration

        Do you need some feel-good inspiration today?  Then watch this eight-minute clip from Newbery Medal winner and children’s book author Erin Entrada Kelly.  Kelly delivers a short but powerful message about the importance of liking yourself and being happy with who you are.  In “The Power of Curiosity,” she also talks about what happens when you ask, “Why?” and how important using your imagination is.  

        The characters in Kelly’s books are often tasked with finding ways to overcome the challenges of bullying.  In Blackbird Fly, eighth-grader Apple decides to be true to her love of music by learning how to play the guitar and in Hello Universe, four misfits are unexpectedly brought together by a common purpose when a bully’s prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and the others try to rescue him.  Many of Kelly’s book are set in her home state of Louisiana, such as The Land of Forgotten Girls.  In addition to the themes of bullying, feeling like an outsider, and being shy, Entrada’s characters often have to overcome family difficulties, such as the Thomas siblings in We Dream of Space and the main characters in You Go First, who use their word skills to play highly skilled competitive online Scrabble and who bond over the hardships of both family issues and the chaos of middle school.

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        Suggested Family Activity • National Library Workers Day

        Today is National Library Workers Day!  Sponsored by 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.  ALA invites you to show your support and share stories of how librarians have helped you by posting messages to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SubmitAStarforNLWD.

        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 us know how your favorite librarian has impacted your life today.

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        Suggested Family Activity National Library Week

        NERL staff Dee Hare, Leigh Hood, and Iuka Librarian Teresa Templeton with Kwame Alexander at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival 2017

        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.  The theme for this year’s National Library Week is “Connect with Your Library,” which promotes the idea that libraries are places to get connected to technology by using broadband, computers, and other resources. Libraries also offer opportunities to connect with media, programs, and ideas, in addition to books.  Most importantly, libraries also connect communities to each other.

        Special NLW events this year include lots of free library and book related coloring sheets (in addition to our Spring activity packets); daily Suggested Family Activities about libraries, books, and the joy of reading; and new recorded Story Times each day.  Today beginning at 10:00 a.m, you will be able to hear Corinth Librarian Cody Daniel read How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet.  Tomorrow, you will get to see two new recordings: at 12:00 noon, NERL Director Dee Hare will read Elise Parsley’s hilarious If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, DON’T! and at 6:30 p.m., NERL Administrative Assistant and Branch Services Coordinator Leigh Hood will read the equally funny Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer, with illustrations by Dave Mottram.

        On Wednesday, April 6 at 1:00 p.m., you will find a recording by Ripley Librarian Eric Melton reading the classic Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London.  On Thursday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m., Iuka Librarian Teresa Templeton will read Building Books by Megan Wagner Lloyd, with illustrations by Brianne Farley.  Finally, on Friday, April 8 at 11:00 a.m., NERL Collection Development Librarian Erica Will will read Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney.  The recordings will stay on our website for at least 30 days.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🥜 Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!

        Tomorrow is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!  How will you celebrate it?  Will you make the 🥪 classic treat that combines equal parts peanut butter (creamy, crunchy, or a crazy flavor) and your favorite kind of jelly?  The two sweet and salty flavors are even sometimes combined in other types of delicacies, such as cookies, cupcakes, fudge, pie, and even French toast and pancakes.  If you are looking for fun recipes to try, check out Peanut Butter Comfort: Recipes for Breakfasts, Brownies, Cakes, Cookies, Candies and Frozen Treats Featuring American’s Favorite Sandwich Spread by Averie Sunshine or Peanut Butter Party: Including the History, Uses, and Future of Peanut Butter by Remy Charlip.  This later title is in the junior section, so it’s the perfect book not only to educate young people about how peanut butter is made, but also to try out some of its tasty recipes.

        Other junior level books that might be of interest to beginning readers are Peanut Butter and Jelly in the popular “Narwhal and Jelly” series by Ben Clanton (junior) and A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff.  Picture books to enjoy about peanut butter and jelly include Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett Krosoczka, King and Kayla and the Missing Dog Treats by Dori Hillestad Butler, Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban, The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, and Mystery at the Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman.

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        MARCH 2022

        Suggested Family Activity ✏ National Pencil Day

        Need an excuse to buy a brand-new pack of ✏ pencils or 🖍 crayons?  Well, here’s your chance!  Celebrate National Pencil Day today and National Crayon Day tomorrow with us – two great opportunities to celebrate these humble, but oh so fun, writing and drawing tools.  Opening a new pack of pencils is a great way to get your brain to start thinking of all the interesting things you could put down on 📄 paper.  Maybe you will use them in a 📓 journal to record what your day was like, use them to 🧠 brainstorm ideas for a short story, or even use them to sketch a drawing.  And everyone knows crayons are a fun way to jumpstart your creativity, no matter what your age is.

        If you need some help trying to decide what to write or color, pick up a 🐸Spring activity packet from one of the branches of the Northeast Regional Library.  Our packets are filled with craft projects, activity sheets, and coloring sheets for your entire family, including a Spring Banner to color, ✂ cut out, and use to decorate your house; 🐰 an Easter bunny and large Easter egg 🐣 to decorate; and a 🦋 butterfly template to embellish however you wish to make your very own butterfly design.

        Art activities include learning how to draw a 🦋 butterfly, drawing your favorite thing about Spring, and an Outdoor Scavenger 🔍 Hunt that has a fun twist – you draw small pictures of the things you find, such as something 💧 wet or something that’s fallen from a 🌳 tree.  Packets for children up to age 11 will include craft supplies and instructions to make a 🐑 Curly Paper Sheep and Spring 🐸 Frog Paper Plate, while those 12 and up will enjoy a 🦋 Butterfly Coffee Filter craft and 🌷 Tulip Origami.  We even have a new spring themed set of adult 🖍 coloring sheets for teens and adults who enjoy this relaxing pastime.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🪁 Fly a Kite

        The windy days of spring are a great time to fly a kite!  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 https://www.pbs.org/parents/crafts-and-experiments/take-flight-with-a-diy-kite 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🧙‍♂️ Tolkien Reading Day

        –  Do you like “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy”?  What about The Hobbit?  Then celebrate Tolkien Reading Day today!  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 even 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 aspic 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.

        The Tolkien Estate recently published a trove of rare, unpublished art by the famed fantasy author on its website. Read more at the Smithsonian.

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        Suggested Family Activity ⏲ Daylight Savings Time

        ⏲ Daylight savings time has started, which means that we are getting to enjoy more 🌅 daylight in the afternoon and early evening.  If you need some 💡 ideas to help keep your 🚸 children busy outside, check out these activities:

        Have them play a game of 🐲 dinosaur tag.  Whoever is ‘it’ has to scrunch up their arms insides their 🙋‍♀️ shirt to make their arms short like a T-rex and try to tag the others.  And bonus points for making T-rex noises as they run around!  The variations on this game are endless.  Whoever is ‘it’ could pretend to be an 🐘 elephant and try to catch others with one arm swinging like an elephant’s trunk or ‘it’ could act like a 🐊 crocodile or an alligator and use their arms to make chopping motions to catch the others.  Just make sure that the children are taking 🔁 turns being ‘it’, as no one likes to be the one who always has to do the 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♀️ chasing.

        Another fun outdoor activity is to take a 👟 walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park and have an 🔠 Alphabet Treasure Hunt.  The first person starts with ‘A’ and looks around in nature (or any of your surroundings really) for something that starts with the letter, such as an 🐜 ant.  Then the next person tries to spy something that starts with ‘B,’ such as a 🏀 ball, and so on.  See if you can go all the way to 🦓 ‘Z’!

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        Suggested Family Activity

        ✂🖌 National Craft Month 🖍🎨

        March is National Craft Month so celebrate by picking up a 🌷 Spring Activity Packet this week at any NERL branch.  Each packet is filled with fun crafts ✂ and art activities to use this month.  We have something for everyone in your family to enjoy, including a 🌸 Spring Banner to color, cut out, and use to decorate your house; an Easter bunny 🐰 and large Easter egg 🥚 to decorate; and a 🦋 butterfly template to embellish however you wish to make your very own 🦋 butterfly design.

        Art activities include learning how to ✏ draw a 🦋 butterfly, drawing your favorite thing about Spring, and an 🔎 Outdoor Scavenger Hunt that has a fun twist – you draw small pictures of the things you find, such as something wet or something that’s fallen from a 🌳 tree.  Packets for children up to age 11 will include craft supplies and instructions to make a Curly Paper 🐑 Sheep and Spring 🐸 Frog Paper Plate, while those 12 and up will enjoy a 🦋 Butterfly Coffee Filter craft and 🌷 Tulip Origami.   And as always, we have a new set of coloring sheets for teens and adults to enjoy as well.  Spring Break is ending soon so come by today to get your packet of goodies, especially if you still need something to entertain your kids!

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        Suggested Family Activity 🌧 Playing in the Rain

        Spring 🌷 is heading towards us – and with it, more and more rainy weather.  But the temperatures are going up as well, which means that kids (and adults too) might enjoy playing outside in the rain.  There is something special about getting to jump, dance, and hop around when it is raining outside.  And do you know another perk of having a lot of 🌧 rain?  Mud!  Muddy puddles are meant for splashing and playing in too.  Just remember – never play outside in the rain if it is lightning ⚡, as the electrical charge in lightning can travel through objects and onto you.  The best precaution while it is lightning is to stay away from windows, tubs, showers, sinks, toilets, and electrical outlets, even while inside.

        Muddy places are also a great place to check to see what kind of animals live in and around your home or neighborhood.  A day or two after a rain, go outside and look around the ground and see if you can find the prints that they leave behind.  Maybe you will see the marks of a 🦌 deer or a 🦝 raccoon or the small prints of a 🐦 bird.  If there is a place where water flows around your home, like a stream 🌊 or a ditch, the sides of these places also make a great place to spot animal tracks.  If there are any wooded areas or fields around your home, you can also keep an eye out for the small paths (or trails) animals use to move from one place to another.  These are called game trails and they can usually be spotted by looking for places where grass and weeds have been mashed down, or by looking for a cleared space through the woods.  If you hang out near one and stay very quiet, maybe you will even spot a 🦨 skunk, armadillo, or a 🦌 deer.

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        Suggested Family Activity 👨‍🍳🍳 Julia Child

        Julia Child 👨‍🍳 is everywhere these days, thanks to a recent 🎞 documentary about her life, an upcoming HBO Max 🎥 movie, and the Food Network’s new “The Julia Child Challenge” 🍴 competition.  Many remember Child’s distinctive voice and the fact that she brought French cooking to everyone’s attention, but did you know that she was a ⚠ spy during World War II?  Or that she is considered the first educational TV star and the success of her show “The French Chef” was the beginning of PBS as a TV phenomenon?

        To learn more about Julia’s life, check out Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz, My Life in France by Julia Child, or A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennet Conant, a look at Child’s early career as an OSS agent in the Far East.  NERL branches also have several of Child’s cookbooks, including Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes From a Lifetime of Cooking, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs, just to name a few.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Childrens Craft Day

        Today is National Children’s Craft Day, a day set aside each year to encourage crafting with children.  Crafting as an activity is a great way for children to explore their creativity and imagination.  It also encourages them to learn something new and to explore what inspires them.  But crafting doesn’t have to cost a lot.  You can challenge your children to take everyday household items to use for their crafting projects.  Popular items include toilet paper and paper towel rolls, cardboard recycled from packing boxes, dried beans and pasta, empty water bottles … the list goes on and on! 

        Today is also National Learn About Butterflies Day, which encourages us to start watching for butterflies as they begin to appear outside.   Like other pollinators such as bees, butterflies help spread pollen from place to place, which allows plants to grow.  Butterfly populations are declining, which is also a predicament bees are facing, so you can help them out by planting more flowers for them to use for fuel.  To learn more about butterflies, ask your local library branch for books on the subject.  NERL’s Spring Packets also have several informational sheets about butterflies, as well as butterfly coloring sheets. 

        NERL’s Spring Packets are a great way to combine National Children’s Craft Day and National Learn About Butterflies Day, as each one contains several craft projects for you to do.  One great craft idea is to use the butterfly template in the packets (or draw a black outline of one yourself) and fill the inside with squares of colored tissue paper or crepe paper to make a stained-glass butterfly.  Use several different shades of one color or mix the colors up for a kaleidoscope effect.  You can leave the wings smooth or cut them into different patterns, such as points, curves, or even fringe.  After you have finished with your design, use a pipe cleaner or chenille steam to scrunch the wings together.  Once your kids have finished crafting today, read a fun butterfly book such as My, Oh My – a Butterfly by Dr. Seuss or Butterfly House by Eve Bunting.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🌷 Spring Activity Packets

        Corinth librarian, Cody Daniel and Assistant Librarian, Amy Alvis showing off our new Spring Activity Packets!

        NERL branches began handing out new Spring activity packets this week, each one filled with fun crafts and activities.  We have something for everyone in your family to enjoy, including information about the life cycles of butterflies 🦋 and where they live; a Spring Banner to 🖍 color, cut out, and decorate your house with; a Mindful Breathing 😤 exercise that leads you towards taking Butterfly Breaths; and an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt 🔍 that has a fun twist – you draw small pictures of the things you find, such as something wet or something that’s fallen from a tree.  Each packet also contains a Spring Bucket List with fun activities such as flying a 🪁 kite, cloud gazing ☁, and making a 🐦 bird feeder; book lists from NERL’s collection of materials; writing prompts; and drawing activities.

        Holidays covered in this month’s packets include 🍀 St. Patrick’s Day, spring (of course!), Easter, and Earth Day.  Packets for children up to age 11 will include craft supplies and instructions to make a Curly Paper Sheep 🐑 and Spring Frog 🐸 Paper Plate, while those 12 and up will enjoy a Butterfly 🦋 Coffee Filter craft and Tulip Origami 🌷.   And as always, we have a new set of coloring sheets for teens and adults to enjoy as well.  Spring Break is coming soon so come by today to get your packet of goodies to entertain your kids!

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        Suggested Family Activity 👩👱‍♀️👵 International Women’s Day 

        March is Women’s History Month and tomorrow is International Women’s Day so it’s a great time to learn about the social, economic, and political achievements of women around the world.  Originally started in the early 1900s as women started becoming more politically active, this day also serves as a day to think about continuing issues such as gender parity, voting rights, fair pay, improved working conditions, and representation under the law.

        The Northeast Regional Library has several new books on these subjects for you to discover this month.  Jennifer Chiaverini has written a fictionalized account of an early occurrence in the fight for women’s right to vote with The Women’s March: A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession.  A great new non-fiction that shows us the world of early female adventure seekers is Jayne Zanglein’s The Girl Explorers: The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women Who Trekked, Flew, and Fought Their Way Around the World.

        Ursula Burns, who became the first African American women to head a Fortune 500 company when she was named CEO of Xerox in 2010, has written a memoir titled Where You Are is Not Who You Are.  Burns writes about her early childhood in New York City, where she and her siblings were raised by a single mother who championed the importance of education, as well as her experiences trying to fight the stereotypical corporate image of big businesses interested only in the bottom line.  Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words is a new DVD that traces the story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who couldn’t get a job after graduating first in her law class because she was female, went on to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and an iconic figure for gender equality and women’s rights.

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        Suggested Family Activity • Pool Noodles

        Do you have any old pool noodles left over from the summer?  Cut them in half and they will make great racetracks for marbles, small bouncy balls, or small vehicles (think Matchbox car size).  One pool noodle will make two tracks of equal length for races.  Have your kids experiment with different placements to see what works best – and is the fastest!  Does putting one end up too high make it too steep?  Does it make it faster?  What happens to the other end of your noodle if you prop the other up very high?  If you have more than one pool noodle to cut up, you can also combine multiple pieces with duct tape to make an even longer track.  Or you can experiment with making your own loop-the-loops, twists, and turns, just like a roller coaster. 

        As the weather begins to turn warmer, pool noodles are already showing up at some dollar stores.  Other fun things to do with them include cutting them into 3 inch circles to make blocks for young builders.  They will be easy to pick up – and won’t make a lot of noise when they crash down!  Pieces this size will also make a fun indoor soccer activity that is quiet and will not hurt your furniture if a piece goes haywire.  Just have your kids kick them into an empty cardboard box to get in some exercise.  You can also use duct tape to tape them into a circle to make a large basketball style hoop.  Duct tape the hoop to a door and let kids throw beach balls into them.

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        Suggested Family Activity 📖 Read Across America

        Today 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 (or even week!).  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.

        National Read Across America/Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2nd, 2022

        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 The Lorax, but what other Dr. Seuss books are your favorites?  Horton Hears a Who!Fox in SocksOh, the Thinks You Can Think?  The list goes on and on …  Let us know what your favorite Dr. Seuss book is by sending us a photo of you with your favorite title.

        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 2022

        Suggested Family Activity • Rhyming Word Fun

        If you have a young child who is learning about rhyming words, try this fun activity:  Grab a shoebox or a small box and place inside it sets of small items that rhyme.  Think ‘shell’ and ‘bell’, ‘pen’ and ‘hen’, and so on.  Aim for about eight to ten sets of items.  Shake up the box and then ask your child to pick out each set of rhyming words.  For added difficulty, you can throw in some items that do not rhyme with anything else.

         

        A similar activity using the same box is a great way to work on memory skills.  Put random items in a small box.  Open the box for 60 seconds before closing it again.  While the box is open, the other person should be looking at all the items and trying to memorize them.  When the time is up, see how many items they can name.  There are lots of variations to this activity: you can put the items on a tray or even a table or clear area of your floor would also work.  Just cover the items with a blanket or sheet and reveal them when you are ready for them to be looked at.  If 60 seconds is not long enough for small children, add more time.  This activity is fun for children of all ages, as well as adults.  If older children and adults can name all the items in their time limit, try asking for more details such as color or other unique characteristics.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🧚‍♀️ National Tell A Fairy Tale Day

        Tomorrow is National Tell a Fairy Tale day so celebrate with us 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

        Corinth Library celebrates National Tell a Fairytale Day

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        Suggested Family Activity 🟥 Pillow and Blanket Fort

        Have some fun today by setting up the winter version of a pillow and blanket fort – an indoor igloo camp! Use a variety of blankets stretched over tables, chairs, and other furniture and plenty of pillows to make a cozy play area and reading nook. The addition of sleeping bags if you have any turns your camp into a fun napping space or a sleeping area for a full-blown family slumber party. Some of your children’s favorite You-Tubers have probably already given them ideas about how to tape empty cardboard boxes together to turn into tunnels, play areas, and other structures. Let them use their imagination (and a little duct tape) to see what kind of fantastic things they can create. Another fun idea is to play The Floor is Lava. In this popular game, everyone walks around until someone shouts, “The floor is lava!”, at which point everyone must jump on something to get their feet out of the way. (If you don’t like the idea of everyone jumping on your furniture, make sure they have their shoes off and scatter pillows and small blankets to represent ‘safe zones’).

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        Suggested Family Activity 🔠 ABC Games

        If you have little ones just learning the letters of the alphabet, try out some of these fun ideas: Write out the letters on paper and then tape it to a wall or door in your home.  If you have enough space, you can write the letters really big, with two on each sheet.  But if you are short on space, you can write 5-6 letters on each piece of paper.  Give your children crumpled up pieces of scrap paper to be ‘snowballs’ that they throw at the letter when you call it out.  For an additional twist on this game, tape pictures you have torn out of old magazines of items and have your children throw their ‘snowball’ at the picture that starts with the first letter of the image.  This is a fun learning activity that also helps work on their coordination and gets them up and moving around.  (Oh, and don’t forget to get their help picking up all the ‘snowballs’ to throw away afterwards!)

        Another fun letter activity is similar to connect the dots.  Fill a piece of paper with an assortment of letters spaced apart in a random pattern and have your child connect all the As, Bs, etc.  They can draw a straight line or make it twist, turn, and loop around to express a little creativity.  For an additional twist, use a variety of upper- and lower-case letters to really test how well they know what each version looks like.

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        Suggested Family Activity 📖 Book Series Websites

        Did you know that many of your children’s favorite book series have interactive websites they can visit?  Fans of Elisabetta Dami’s “Geronimo Stilton” and “Thea Stilton” characters will want to check out the series’ website here: https://geronimostilton.com/US-en/home/.  In addition to a full listing of all the books in each series, there are games, comics, a place where you can make your own comics using their options for backgrounds and characters, and another section where you can write your own newsworthy stories.  You even get to pick your own mouse avatar if you register with the site.

        Have you seen the new animated movie of Jeff Kinney’s wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid?  Kinney’s website at https://wimpykid.com/ tells you all about the new release, as well as all the books in the series.  There is also information about Kinney and how he became a writer and illustrator and even a classroom kit for teachers.  And there are a lot of great animations that pop up all over the website, so check it out.

        If Ron Roy’s “A-Z Mysteries” are at the top of your child’s reading list, his website at https://www.ronroy.com/books_atoz.html has free printable coloring pages, as well as more information about each of the main characters in the series.  You’ll also find Roy’s answers to the questions he is asked most frequently, as well as a section of information for parents and teachers.  Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Tree House” series has also been a staple for many years.  The website https://www.ronroy.com/books_atoz.html has everything you need to know about the series and its spin-off “The Merlin Missions”.  In the “Home Adventures” section, you’ll find craft project ideas, suggested activities, and other fun things to do each with the titles in the series.  There are also great resources available for parents and educators.

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        Suggested Family Activity 📚💗 National Library Lover’s Month

        💗 Love is in the air for the whole month of February!  Help us celebration National Library Lover’s Month by telling us why you LOVE your local library.  Libraries have traditionally been the best place you can find free books to read for pleasure or for learning.  Now libraries carry not only physical books 📚, but audio books and digital books as well.  And they even carry your favorite movies 📀!  For some people, the library is the best place to send a fax 📠, make a photocopy 🖨, or print something out of their email 📧.  Others use our free public access computers 🖥 to apply for jobs ⚒🏢 and create their resumes.  Or maybe you like to use the library’s resources to research your family history 🧬.

        If you or someone in your family does not have a library card, make today the day to get one!  NERL library cards are free to anyone living in Alcorn, Lee, Prentiss, Tippah, and Tishomingo counties.  (Children must be at least 6 years old to receive a card in their own name.)  If you already have a card, make a list today of books you’ve been wanting to read 📚 and call your local branch to have them saved for you.  Children can draw ✏ us a picture about the library or write a 😆 funny story about what they would do if they were trapped in the library overnight.

        Whether you visit us exclusively for the books or to take advantage of any of the other services your local library offers (like activity packets!), let us know by posting on our social media or sending us an email at photos@nereg.lib.ms.us.  We would also love to see pictures of you enjoying the library this week.

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        Suggested Family Activity 💘 Fluffy Valentine’s Day Slime

        If you are looking for a fun sensory activity that children (and adults) will love, try making your own Fluffy Valentine’s Day slime.  The mom behind the Natural Beach Living blog has a fun recipe using a few simple ingredients: white glue, pink or red food coloring, shaving cream, and cornstarch.  For step-by-step instructions, check out her website here: https://www.naturalbeachliving.com/fluffy-slime/.

        If you just have some shaving cream at home (the plain white kind works best), kids will go crazy for playing in it – and the activity can be educational.  One way to use it is to just squirt some out on a table and spread it out so that they have a thick patch of it to practice writing their name, letters of the alphabet, or to draw pictures.  Shaving cream is great because it washes off hands, and out of clothes and off your table, very easily.  Another fun way to use it would be to put some in a bowl and color it with a little food coloring.  You can use pink or red for 💘 Valentine’s Day or maybe blue or green to make it look like water.  Children can then use it like paint 🎨.  Check out our photos to see it in action.

        Share your photos with us at photos@nereg.lib.ms.us


        💘 Fluffy Valentine’s Day Slime Recipe

        Ingredients:

        1/2 cup Elmer’s White Glue

        2 cups Shaving Cream

        2 Tbsp. Cornstarch

        1/2 tsp. Saline Solution/Contact Solution (with boric acid)

        a couple drops of pink or red food color

        Directions:

        1. Pour your Elmer’s glue into a large mixing bowl.
        2. Add in a couple drops of food color and mix
        3. Add your shaving cream to the glue.
        4. Fold in Cornstarch gently.
        5. Then add in your contact solution (the more you add, the less sticky it will become).
        6. Knead the fluffy slime in your hands for a few minutes.

        Suggested Family Activity 🥇 📚 Books About The Olympics

        If your family would like to learn more about the Olympics, your local libraries have lots of materials you can borrow.  Young readers will learn about the history behind the Olympics with The Ancient Greeks by Charles Freeman or Olympics by Chris Oxlade in the popular “Eyewitness” series.  One of Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Tree House” series is about the Olympics – Hour of the Olympics.  There is also a research guide to go along with it called Ancient Greece and the Olympics: A Nonfiction Companion to Hour of the Olympics.  Chris Grabenstein also has a title in his popular junior series called Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.

        Adult readers who want to learn about how politics and scandals over the years have shaped the Olympics can check out Inside the Olympics: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Politics, the Scandals, and the Glory of the Games by Richard W. Pound or The Games: A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt.  And if you like to read biographies, check out skating star Scott Hamilton’s Finish First: Winning Changes Everything, Dorthy Hamill’s A Skating Life or Zero Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday by speed skating superstar Apolo Anton Ohno.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🥇 Winter Olympics

        If watching the Olympics has your little ones wanting to imitate their favorite Olympic athletes, let them practice ⛸ ice skating or ice dancing by sliding around on linoleum or hardwood floors in their 🧦 socks.  They can twist and twirl and pretend like they are on 🧊 ice.  But be careful!  This activity could get very slippery if they get brave enough to try the jumps.  If your family is fascinated by the sport of curling (and who isn’t?), do the next best thing and 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 they love watching ⛷ skiing, 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 cannot read) of movements such as 🦘 hopping on one foot, walking like an 🐘 elephant, or doing a mummy walk.  Or take your cues from the Olympics and write down ideas such as “pose like a 🎿 speed skater at the starting line” or “pretend you are skiing.”  Children can take turns picking a slip for the whole family to do.

        Share your photos with us at photos@nereg.lib.ms.us

        Suggested Family Activity 💌 National Send a Card to a Friend Day

        Today is National Send a Card to a Friend Day so take some time today to pick out a card and send some good cheer through the mail.  Your message can be long and detailed or short and sweet but either way, the recipient will love getting a surprise in the mail.  You can send one to family members as well as friends you haven’t seen lately.  Grandparents will especially love getting a nice card from distant relatives.  You can use cards you purchase from a store, or make your own with paper, crayons, markers, or stickers.

        With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not make a Valentine themed card?  You can use white, pink, or red paper and decorate it with hearts, sweet messages such as “Thinking of You,” and anything else that speaks to your heart.  A cute way for children to make a Valentine’s card is to fold a piece of paper, such as construction paper, in half.  Place your child’s hand on the folded edge so that the edge of their palm nearest their pinky finger lines up with the fold.  Then trace around their hand, except for the paper on the fold, and cut out around their fingers.  Decorate it with hearts cut out from various colors of construction paper and write a message such as “A handful of love.”

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        Suggested Family Activity ⛷ Olympic Winter Games

        The Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China is tonight!  Olympic events will last through February 20.  Athletes from all over the world will be competing in skiing, bobsledding, curling, ice hockey, speed skating, snowboarding, and figure skating events, among many others.  Check out the official website of the 2022 Winter Olympics at  https://olympics.com/en/beijing-2022/ ⛷ Here you will find schedules for all your favorite events, as well as information about individual athletes, and current Olympic news.  There is also Olympic trivia, a chance to create your own Olympic Fantasy team, and a place to vote for your favorite Olympic moments.

        In celebration of the Winter Olympics, NERL’s winter activity packets have lots of Olympics related materials, including a timeline of the Olympics.  Activity sheets about snowboarding 🏂 encourage you to jump up and down several times in a row before adding in twisting your chest and shoulders to get a feel for the momentum and torque needed for the sport.  In another sheet, you will fold a paper airplane 🛩 to learn about the aerodynamics of bobsledding 🛷.  And in a sheet about ice hockey 🏒, you can launch wads of paper with a plastic spoon to learn why hockey sticks are flexible enough to bend against the ice 🧊.  We even have sheets so that you can color your own gold medals 🥇 and Olympic torch, so stop by a branch of NERL to pick up your winter ❄ activity packet today!

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        Suggested Family Activity 🎇 Chinese New Year

        Yesterday began the Chinese New Year (sometimes called the Lunar New Year) a holiday from the traditional Chinese calendar that celebrates the importance of family and society.  Chinese New Year activities will continue until February 15, when they will culminate with the Lantern Festival.  During the Lantern Festival, participants will look at the moon, light lanterns, answer riddles, watch traditional dances, and eat rice balls, among other things. 

        For more information about the Chinese New Year, including traditional food and drinks, clothing, and decorations, check out https://chinesenewyear.net/.  The website also goes over etiquette rules for the holiday (especially what NOT to do), myths about the festivities, and ideas for gift giving.  In the Chinese zodiac, 2022 is the year of the Tiger.  There is even a place on the website where you can put in your birthdate and it will tell you under which sign of the Chinese Zodiac it falls. 

        Your local libraries have several children’s books that can introduce the Chinese New Year to young readers including How to Catch a Dragon by Adam Wallace, Dragon Parade: A Chinese New Year Story by Steven A. Chin, and Sam and the Lucky Money by Karen Chinn

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        JANUARY 2022

        Suggested Family Activity

        🎨 National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

        Today is National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day, a day set aside each year that encourages everyone to think about how much better the world is with art in it.  Art is a broad term that not only includes pieces of art or sculpture, but also encompasses music, theatre and film, and books – our favorite subject!  Art makes us laugh, smile, cry, or feel any of the wide range of human emotions. 

        So how should you celebrate National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day?  You could look at a piece of art, like a painting 🖼, and study how it makes you feel.  You can also look at pieces of art online or in a book 📖 and let it inspire you to try to paint 🖌 or draw ✏ something yourself.  You could watch a play 🎭, a ballet 🩰, or your favorite movie 🎥.  You could watch a concert 🎸 or listen to your favorite music 🎵.  Or maybe today will be the day that you decide to learn a musical instrument 🎷 yourself.  If you already know how to play one, why not teach the skill to someone else?  And of course, you could always read a book by your favorite author or in your favorite genre today.

        Everyone in your family can get involved with celebrating art.  Children and teens have their own favorite art format, musical style, and movies that they can appreciate today.  Whatever way you decide to celebrate art, we would love to hear about it!  

        Send your thoughts, photos, and pictures of any art you create to photos@nereg.lib.ms.us

        Suggested Family Activity 🐦 Pinecone Bird House

        Winter weather is tough on area wildlife, particularly birds.  To give them a nice treat during this dreary weather, why not make them a Pinecone Bird Feeder?  It is fun and easy to do.  All you need is a pinecone, peanut butter, and twine, yarn, or string.  To begin, tie your string around the top of the pinecone.  Next, pour out birdseed in a bowl that is deep enough for the pinecone.  Spread peanut butter all over the pinecone and roll it in the birdseed.  It’s a little messy but totally worth it!  All you have left to do now is to decide where you want to tie it outside for the birds to find.  Hopefully you will have a tree near a window of your house so that you can watch them enjoy their treat! 

        Another simple way to make a bird feeder is with suet (a hard fatty substance found in most grocery stores).  Form the suet into a ball and then tie it up in a mesh bag that has holes large enough for birds to get at.  As an extra treat, you can even roll your suet ball in birdseed before putting it in the bag.  Another simple bird feeder can be made from a recycled milk or water jug.  Just fill the bottom with birdseed and cut out holes on each side to give the birds access.  If you have a small wooden skewer, chopstick, or dowel rod, you can cut holes through two sides of the jug and insert the wooden piece so that it sticks out both sides for an instant bird perch.  Another fun perch idea would be to use a wooden spoon 🥄

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        Suggested Family Activity 🖼 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 photos@nereg.lib.ms.us.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🍲 National Slow Cooking Month

        January is National Slow Cooking Month.  If you like the speed and convenience of this method of food preparation, celebrate today by making a delicious meal.  Did you know that the most common brand of slow cookers is the Crock Pot?  The brand is so popular that it even has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary.  Some of your local library branches have the company’s recipe book: Crock-Pot, The Original Slow Cooker: Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes.

        Other titles available to help you find the perfect thing to cook today include 5 Ingredients or Less Slow Cooker Cookbook by Stephanie O’Dea, Betty Crocker Cookbook: 1500 Recipes for the Way You Cook Today, The Classic Slow Cooker: Best-Loved Family recipes to Make Fast and Cook Slow by Judy Hannemann, and The Everything Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook by Rachel Rappaport.

        Did you know your slow cooker can make breakfast meals and even desserts?  Check out I Didn’t Know my Slow Cooker Could do That: 150 Delicious, Surprising Recipes by the editors of Better Homes and Gardens magazine to learn how.

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        Suggested Family Activity ❄ Snowflake Craft

        Snowflakes have been popping up recently, even here in Northeast Mississippi!  If the amount that has been falling is not enough for your tastes, it is easy to make your own.  One way to make them is with white coffee filters – just fold the filter in half a total of four times. Then cut a design on each side of the filter, using either regular or craft scissors.  When you unfold it, your snowflake will be revealed.

        You can also cut snowflakes out of plain white copy paper.  A sheet of paper and instructions for folding it can be found in the winter themed activities packets being handed out this month and next by NERL branches.  And for a different spin on making your own snowflake, the packet for ages 12 and up includes instructions and examples for quilling a snowflake out of white paper using the quilling techniques from NERL’s holiday packet.

        Other fun snow related items in each packet includes a writing prompt to talk about what all you will want to have with you if you get snowed in, a Temperature Tracker that prompts you to record the temperature to see how it goes up and down during the day, and a Color Your Own Snowman bookmark.  Snow related sheets in the packets for children 5 and under include a sheet to decorate their own snowman, while children ages 6 – 11 have a special writing prompt about The Evil Snowman.  Just imagine … You are being followed down the street by a snowman that came to life!  But of course, no one believes you!  What would happen next?  We can’t wait to hear!  This age group’s packet also includes supplies for a Snowman Lobber craft project that can also be used as a fun STEM activity.

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        Suggested Family Activity ⭐ Stargazing

        Stargazing, or looking up at the stars and constellations, is a fun family activity at any time.  Many people like to stay out late during the summer to look at the stars, but stargazing is a completely different experience during the winter.  It is worth the trouble of bundling up in coats, hats, scarves, and mittens to experience the crisp and clear view of the night sky while it is not obstructed by the haziness caused by summer humidity.  Plus, because the Earth has rotated, different planets are visible now than during the summer.  NASA’s Night Sky Network offers plenty of tips for winter stargazing, including dressing in layers, wearing waterproof boots, and bringing along a hot drink.  To view more of their tips, visit https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/news-display.cfm?News_ID=671.

        Did you know there are free apps you can put on your phone that will tell you what stars, planets, or constellations you are viewing, just by pointing your phone at the sky?  Check out the app store on your phone for one!  Your local libraries also have lots of books that will help you, such as The Backyard Astronomer: A Guide to Stargazing by Dennis Mammana, Astronomy: A Self-Teaching Guide by Dinah L. Moche, and Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson.

        The Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sky Book by Clint Hatchett is perfect for young readers who want to match what they are seeing above with what is in the book.  Star maps in the title include markings that glow in the dark for constellations!

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        Suggested Family Activity • Martin Luther King Jr. Day

        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 https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety.  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 https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical/.  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.  For even more titles, ask for our special Martin Luther King, Jr. booklist.  (A copy is also included in our activity packets this month.)

        The Tishomingo Library has a Martin Luther King, Jr Display

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        Suggested Family Activity ❄ Winter Activity Packets

        This week, NERL branches began handing out a NEW set of activity packets filled with fun winter themed crafts and activities.  Each set has lots of fun things for everyone in your family to enjoy, including a new Winter Activities To-Do list that includes activities such as going on a winter nature walk, winter stargazing, and building an indoor igloo camp for cozy fun.  Each packet also contains a sheet for you to draw and describe how to make the perfect cup of hot chocolate, a writing prompt to talk about what all you will want to have with you if you get snowed in, and many more fun sheets.  There is even a Temperature Tracker that prompts you to record the temperature to see how it goes up and down during the day.  This sheet will be especially fun to do on the days we have had recently where the temperature goes up and down by 30 degrees or more!  Snow and snowmen are also well represented in our packets, with a Color Your Own Snowman bookmark, a sheet to decorate your own snowman, and instructions for folding paper snowflakes.

        Packets for children 5 and under will have instructions to draw a penguin, a winter write & draw sheet that asks them to think about what they like best about winter, color your own Valentine’s cards, and supplies for a Polar Bear Handprint craft, as well as the usual coloring sheets and other specialty sheets.  Children ages 6 – 11 also have lots of fun activity sheets, such as a writing prompt to write about The Evil Snowman.  Just imagine … You are being followed down the street by a snowman that came to life!  But of course, no one believes you!  What would happen next?   This age group’s packet also includes supplies for a Snowman Lobber craft project that can also be used as a fun STEM activity. 

        Those ages 12 and up will enjoy several winter themed writing prompts, a Snowflake Quilling craft project, and other fun activity sheets, such as a DIY Masquerade Mask to decorate. The winter packets will be available through mid-late February, so come get yours today!

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        Suggested Family Activity 💫 National Sticker Day

        Tomorrow is National Sticker Day so celebrate by getting creative with stickers.  They are a great, inexpensive craft supply to keep on hand to help unleash a child’s imagination and creativity, as well as something that will keep them occupied quietly for a little while!  Packs of stickers can be picked up very inexpensively (starting at 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 stories 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 under the ocean.  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.  Doing craft projects with stickers and old magazines is not only fun but educational too.  The activity can increase your children’s vocabulary, sentence making ability, and storytelling skills as well as help them to get in touch with their creativity and imagination.

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        Suggested Family Activity  ⚡ Cut Your Energy Cost Day

        If one of your new year’s goal is to save money, celebrate National Cut Your Energy 🔌 Costs Day today by doing a few simple things around your house to help lower your energy bills.  Even just a few changes can add up to money savings throughout the year.  You can get the whole family involved – young children can be taught to do simple things like turning off lights 💡 when they leave a room.  If they cannot reach the light switch, no problem!  They can give older family members gentle reminders to turn off the lights. 

         Other simple things that you can do to save money on your utility bills are to turn your thermostat 🌡 down (or up, depending on the season) a few degrees, run appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full, unplug 🔌 appliances that are only used occasionally, take shorter showers 🚿 , and use old towels or fabric scraps to block drafts around doors and windows.  Making out a list of all the things that can be done to save money 💵 would make a great family activity that everyone can participate in.  Little ones will have a lot of fun if you let them be the designated person to make a big check mark next to each one as you complete it.

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        Suggested Family Activity  🧠 Imagination Play

        When it is too cold to go outside, it can be hard to get much-needed physical activity with your child.  If you have a toddler, you can let them sit on a towel or blanket and then gently pull them around the room or even your entire house.  (And as a bonus, it helps you get in some exercise too!)  It may not seem like much but learning to balance on the blanket while moving helps children improve their coordination.  You can also engage their imagination 🧠 and creativity 🎨 by pretending the towel or blanket is a 🚂 🚙 or 🚢.  You can both make noises, such as whistling like a train or honking a car’s horn.  Teach your young one to call out, “All Aboard” and describe different sceneries like being in the Arctic ❄ or in the jungle.  You can even prompt them to imagine stopping at different places, like a zoo, a grocery store, or a theme park.  What would they see?  What could they get out and do?  This simple activity teaches that with only a simple blanket and the power of your imagination, you can go anywhere!


        If you have a new baby, it is also important to let them have time on the floor (known as “tummy time”) to lie on their stomach.  All you have to do is put down a comfy blanket and let your baby lie on their stomach for ten to fifteen minutes ⏱.  Get down on their level and talk to them to encourage them to look up at you.  According to the BabyPalooza website, tummy time helps your little one to develop the muscles in their head and neck as they learn to raise themselves up to look around.  This sets the stage for them to master rolling over, sitting up, and crawling.  It might also help them get rid of irritating stomach gas.

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        Suggested Family Activity 🐦 National Bird Day

        Today is National Bird Day, a day for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts to celebrate our feathered friends.  Bird watching is a favorite pastime of people of all ages.  Those who like to look for different bird species often travel around and visit outdoor spaces to try to catch a glimpse of birds in the wild.  Some even keep a bird journal to list the places they see certain types.  Other types of bird enthusiasts might not travel, but that does not mean they don’t love birds!  They just simply get pleasure from watching birds feed at birdfeeders near their home.  They might even keep certain kinds of birds, such as parakeets, as pets.  One way to celebrate today could be to put up a bird feeder and winter shelter for your neighborhood birds.

        If you are new to the world of birds, your local libraries have several titles that will help you get started bird watching.  Titles about birds you might find near your home include All About Mississippi Birds by Fred Alsop, Birds of Mississippi by W. H. Turcotte, and Mississippi Bird Watching: A Year-Round Guide by Bill Thompson.  If you are looking for tips for how to bring more birds to your outdoor space, check out Attracting Birds to Your Backyard: 536 Ways to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Haven for Your Favorite Birds by Sally Roth, The Bird Feeder Book: An Easy Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Understanding Your Feeder birds by Donald W. Stokes, and The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region by John L. Bull.  Books that might spark an interest in young readers include Backyard Birds of Winter by Carol Lerner and The Boy who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies.

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        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 https://www.ezra-jack-keats.org/the-snowy-day-forever-stamp/.

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