Family Activities

Suggested Family Activities

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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!

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


Suggested Family Activity 💧🎈 National Water Balloon Day

Today is National Water Balloon Day so take some time today to beat the heat with a little water balloon fun.  Water balloons can be found inexpensively at many dollar stores.  Or if you want to save time filling each one, you can try one of the products that fills a lot of balloons in seconds.  Regardless of which method you pick, make sure to have coolers or buckets to put them in.  Playing with water balloons is not only fun, but also a great way to get some exercise.  If you have your water balloon fun in the late afternoon or early evening, it also helps children burn off some of their excess energy before settling down for the evening.  And if you don’t have enough members of your own family interested in getting wet, invite some of your neighbors over for some water fun.

There are many ways you can play with water balloons.  You can have a classic family water balloon fight or look for inventive ways to incorporate water balloons into outdoor challenges, obstacle courses, and more. You could try a water balloon toss, where everyone pairs up and takes turns tossing water balloons to each other.  The team that has the most intact water balloons in their container at the end wins.  Or you can put on some music and play a version of Hot Potato, where everyone stands in the circle, passing the balloon around while music plays. When the music stops, whoever has the balloon must pop it over their head and is eliminated. You can also try relay races, either individually or in pairs.  One fun version to try with water balloons is Under the Chin.  Place a balloon under a racer’s chin and have them race to the goal line and back to the starting line.  If you have enough people to team up in pairs, they then can try to pass the balloon to the next racer using only their chins.

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Suggested Family Activity • Early Literacy + Magic Wand Pointer

To help young children learn how to follow along when they are reading a story, let them make magic wand reading pointers today.  To begin, you will need something to be the handle of the wand.  You can use a small dowel rod, a chopstick, a wooden skewer, or even a pencil or stick from outside.  For very young children, you can use a popsicle stick or craft stick to give them something wider to hold.  Next, get out your pom poms, stickers, feathers – anything they can glue to one end of their stick.  After it is completed, let them use it to follow along with the words while you are reading a story to them.  Or you can ask questions about the text while you are reading, such as “Can you find the red hat?” and let them point to the answer.

You could also give your child their own book as a Back-to-School treat.  Or check out these new Back to School picture book titles that have just arrived for our collection: A Letter to My Teacher by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter, Persuading Miss Doover by Robin Pulver and Stephanie Roth Sisson, Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale and Guy Francis, Click, Clack, Quack to School! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, and Ginny Louise and the School Field Day by Tammi Sauer and Lynn Muntinger.  

NERL branches are giving away wide ruled paper sheets this month (some with just lines and some with an empty space on top for children to draw a picture) to help children just learning how to hold a crayon or pencil.  As a first step, parents and caregivers can lightly draw straight and curving lines for children to trace over with their crayon or pencil.  As children master that skill, they can practice drawing shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles before starting numbers and the letters of the alphabet.  Stop by a NERL branch today to pick up your paper!

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Suggested Family Activity ✏ School Supplies

Picking out new school supplies is a fun perk this time of year.  As children begin to head back to school, don’t let those not old enough to attend miss all the fun.  Pull out all your home school and craft supplies, such as crayons, stickers, paper, pencils, etc. and let them go school supply shopping too by picking out supplies to be ‘theirs’.  If they already have a backpack that is their own, they can put their supplies inside.  Or you can give them a plain gift bag or recycled paper bag to decorate to hold their ‘school supplies.’  Dollar stores are heavily stocked with inexpensive school supplies as well.  Taking your toddler to one to let them pick out 2-3 things can be a fun, yet inexpensive, treat.

To help get your young ones ready for school when they are old enough, make sure to read to them every day.  Everyone in the family can participate.  Older siblings can practice their own reading skills by reading to their younger brothers and sisters.  Grandparents also LOVE to read stories to their grandchildren.  Family members who your child doesn’t see regularly (or parents who must work night shifts) can record themselves reading a story so they can participate too.  And don’t forget NERL’s recorded Story Times on our You Tube channel, click here.

Check back on Wednesday for more early literacy tips, a sneak peak at new Back to School picture books coming to NERL branches, and news about a special giveaway! 

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JULY 2022

Suggested Family Activity 

Tomorrow is International Friendship Day so spend some time today thinking of nice things you can do for your friends.  Maybe you will write them a nice note or send them a greeting card to tell them how much they mean to you.  You don’t have to buy something to send though, your friends will love to receive your handmade notes and cards.  Maybe you will take some time today to bake cookies, brownies, or some other kind of sweet treat for your bestie.  Don’t forget to give your friends a quick call this weekend or send them a text message to let them know you are thinking of them.  People of all ages, include young children, can also show their friends how much they appreciate them by drawing or painting them a picture.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐚 Seashell Craft

Do you know you can turn extra seashells from your last trip to the beach into cute hair accessories?  Just thoroughly wash and dry each shell and then glue them onto bobby pins, hair clips, or a headband with a hot glue gun or strong craft glue.  (Just make sure kids have adult supervision when you have a glue gun out!)  If you want to match your favorite outfit, you can paint the shells with inexpensive acrylic paint or use glitter to add some sparkle to them.  And here’s another hint: if you don’t have any seashells, you can find them very inexpensively at your local dollar stores.  For more ideas for fun summer kid’s craft projects, check out Crafts to Make in the Summer by Kathy Ross. 

If you need help identifying what kind of shells you have, the branches of the Northeast Regional Library have several books to help you, such as The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells by Harald Alfred Rehder or the coffee table book The World’s Most Beautiful Seashells.  Picture books for young readers about seashells include The Water Shell by Gretchen Schields, Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Collins  Berkes, Sherman Swaps Shells by Jane Clarke, and the classic A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.

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Suggested Family Activity 🧪 Sink or Float Experiment

A fun learning activity for toddlers that is perfect for hot weather is Sink or Float.  You can do this activity indoors using anything that holds water, such as a bucket, a large bowl, or a large pot.  You can also use your kitchen sink or even your bathtub.  If you want to do the activity outdoors, you can take your water vessel outside or use a small kid’s pool.  After your container is filled with water, grab a variety of waterproof objects, and have your kids guess (and then test) whether the object will sink or float.  For older, school age children, you can sneak in a little STEM learning by asking them plenty of questions about why they think an item will sink or float.  After they have tested their answer, you can ask more questions if the result was not what they expected.  Was the object heavier than it looked?  How did the material it was made from (paper, plastic, metal, etc.) influence the outcome?   How are the things that float and the things that sink similar or different?  (As with all activities involving water, adult supervision is required.)

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Suggested Family Activity • Pool Noodles

This summer, we’ve talked about lots of things you can make with an inexpensive pool noodle.  Here’s another idea: To turn one into a fun pom pom shooter, cut a pool noodle into three-inch sections so that you have sections that resemble a doughnut.  Next, grab a balloon and tie the open end of the balloon into a knot.  This end will be what you pull back to launch your pom poms.  From the round end of the balloon, cut off a quarter inch piece to make an opening big enough to be able to stretch the opened end over one end of a pool noodle circle.  For extra security, tape down the edges of the balloon with a strong tape, such as painter’s tape or duct tape.   Fill the empty hole on the other end of the pool noodle piece with pom poms and pull back on the balloon’s knot to launch your pom poms into the air.

If you don’t have any pom poms, you can substitute cotton balls or even small balls of scrap paper.  This technique will also work if you want to substitute a small paper cup (such as a leftover birthday party cup) for the pool noodle piece.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐬 National Geographic Kids

The National Geographic Kids website has lots of cool stuff to entertain your family.  In the Games section, you can play action games such as Dolphin Diving and Krill Smackdown or take a Personality Quiz to see which mythical creature you’re most like or which ocean animal matches your personality.  You can even see which shark species matches you the best.  If you like to put together virtual puzzles, check out their Ocean Maze puzzle or try to match various animal cards.  Or if you like to play around with words, check out their Funny Fill-Ins to find hilarious stories like Scuba Surprise or Postcard from Paradise. 

You can also watch videos on the website, such as Amazing Animals and Weird But True! – Fast Facts.  And of course, they have tons of information about all kinds of animals and things in nature.

If you like to do craft projects, the website has a Craft Corner filled with printable coloring pages and instructions to make your own lunch bag or make paper beads.  They have lots of stuff to do outside, such as making seed bombs and starting a compost area, as well as lots of other fun things to do, such as making a stop motion movie or your own guitar out of cardboard.  They even have child-friendly food recipes for young chefs.  To see what National Geographic Kids has to offer, check it out here:

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Suggested Family Activity 🐙 Octopus Craft

Colorful cupcake liners are an inexpensive craft material you can turn into several fun things.  To turn one into a cute octopus, flip it upside down so that the flat portion faces up.  Next, draw on eyes (or use googly eyes if you have any) and a smiling mouth on one side.  Cut strips of paper about an inch wide and eight inches long for tentacles.  Glue one end of each tentacle underneath the ruffled edge of the liner.  As a last step, use a pencil or marker to roll the end of the paper for several inches to make a fun curly effect.

10 year old Dani Marie Martin- she has read 11 chapter books this summer! 📚 💗

You can also flatten out cupcake liners, glue them to a piece of paper, and turn them into several kinds of sea creatures with just crayons and markers.  Cut small fins shapes to glue onto one to make a fish sailing through the water or make another kind of octopus by drawing on tenacles.  To turn your flattened circle into a jellyfish, fold it in half and glue curly ribbon hanging down for tentacles.  You can also draw turtle shell pieces (think octagon shapes), a head, a tail,  and four legs to turn your circle into a turtle.  With a little imagination, you can turn your circle into just about anything!

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Suggested Family Activity • Bubbles

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles!  To turn your home into an under the sea experience, all you need are bubbles!  They are inexpensive but oh so much fun for kids (and adults) of all ages.  Blow great big bubbles or little, small ones and let everyone jump, catch, and pop those bubbles just as fast as they can.  And they will never know it is also a sneaky way to work in some physical exercise while they are at it.  Have contests to see who can pop the most bubbles or let everyone take turns blowing bubbles to see who can make the most.  But whatever you do, just have fun!

After everyone has played with bubbles, have your family make Messages in a Bottle.  Grab an empty plastic water bottle and have each person write out a secret message to put inside.  They can write it in code, such as using a simple number substitution of 1=A, 2=B, and so on.  It is also very easy to make your own invisible ink.  You can find several simple recipes online that use baking soda mixtures and liquids such as milk, lemon juice, vinegar, and water.  Use a cotton swab to write out a message, roll it up, and send if off in your bottle.  When they are ready to reveal their messages, have an adult help hold the paper over a candle flame to cause the chemical reaction that makes the writing visible.

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Suggested Family Activity • JellyFish

Jellyfish are another type of fascinating creature found in oceans and seas.  To find out more about them, check out I See Sea Food: Sea Creatures That Look Like Food by Jenna Grodzicki or Faceless, Spineless, and Brainless Ocean Animals by Jody Sullivan Rake.  Picture books for young children about jellyfish include Peanut Butter and Jellyfish by Jarrett Krosoczka and Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers by Tony Johnston.

Have you ever wondered what would happen in a post-apocalyptic world where seas levels have risen so high that people become trapped on a giant killer jellyfish floating in the ocean?  If so, check out the Young Adult title Jelly by Clare Rees.

NERL branches are now handing out Packet 4 of our Summer Reading Program grab and go activity packets, so stop by today if you haven’t picked one up yet.  Packets for those 6 -11 have a jellyfish experiment for your family to try.  We provide straws and paper clips, and you will provide an empty water bottle for a fun experiment.  Our Packet 2 from a few weeks ago had a cute jellyfish craft project for children 5 and under featuring colorful curling ribbon.  If you missed it, ask your local branch – many still have packets left!

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Suggested Family Activity • Mote Marine Laboratory

The Mote Marine Laboratory is a nonprofit marine research institution located in Sarasota, Florida.  They provide science education for people of all ages and provide lots of free information and resources on a wide variety of oceanic topics.  Each topic gives the suggested age range the activity is targeted to and gives links to related resources, questions to ask about the topic, and handouts.  For example, 🐢 Sea Turtle Science, which is aimed at teens from age 11-13, you will find a link to Mote’s Sea Turtle Hospital where you can view the Laboratory’s rehabilitation program.  There is information about sea turtles in general and research questions, such as, “What threats do sea turtles face?  How can we help them?”  There is also a worksheet and a link to a podcast that discusses tagging turtles to track their progress once they are released.

Other interesting topics include Shark Catch and Release, Changing Seas: Blue Hole Science, lots of art activities, and a Manatee Challenge, just to name a few.  To view all this fascinating information, check out their website.

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Suggested Family Activity 🥤 STEM Experiment

Today we have another fun STEM experiment for your family from our recent Grab and Go Activity Packets:

You will need five wooden toothpicks, a shallow dish or plate, and a small pipette or drinking straw.  If you don’t have a straw or pipette, though, don’t worry.  You can also drip water slowly from your fingertips.  Take your toothpicks and bend each one in the middle so that it cracks but doesn’t break apart.  You want them still barely connected so gently press the end together if necessary to widen the split without breaking them apart.  Place the bent toothpicks in the center of your plate or dish with the broken ends touching, forming a star shape.  Then, place drops of water in the open center of the star very carefully.  Your goal is to add enough water so that the exposed, broken ends of the toothpicks get soaked but don’t add so much that the toothpicks start to float away.  If you add the right amount of water, you will get a reaction!

This experiment gives you an understanding of wood fibers and their capillaries.  Capillaries are microscopic hollow tubes within the wood that draw water along the length of the toothpick.  When you break the toothpicks, you stretch and compress the wood fiber inside them.  Then when water is added, the dry wood fibers absorb it, making the capillaries swell and expand.  This is called capillary action.

Another thing you can test with this experiment is to see if hot or cold water makes a difference.  Is the reaction time faster or slower or does it not change at all?  You can also test what happens when you put the toothpicks on other surfaces, like a wooden picnic table or a concrete sidewalk.  And finally, you can test if other types of liquids (such as juice or a cola) cause the same reaction time.

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Suggested Family Activity 📖🚶‍♀️🚶‍♂️ Story Walks® 

Beginning this week, the funny children’s book Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever – or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer can be seen as a Story Walk® at the beautiful Mineral Springs Park walking trail located at 118 S. Pearl Street in Iuka.  If you go check it out, don’t forget to stop by the Iuka Library to pick up a Scavenger Hunt sheet that has things to look for while you are reading the book.  If you take it back to the library after you are finished, you will get a small prize!

Other area Story Walks® include Jennifer Satler’s hilarious Pig Kahuna Pirates! at the walking trail at the Booneville City Park, Hello, My Name is … How Adorabilis Got His Name by Marisa Polansky at the walking trail at the Farmington Park, Pretend by Jennifer Plecas at the William H. Sanders walking track located in Blue Mountain, The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy at the walking trail at Crossroads Regional Park in Corinth, and James Dean’s Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach, located at the walking trail at the J. C. Nance Park located on North Main Street in Ripley.

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Suggested Family Activity 📻 Podcasts for Kids

Does your family like listening to podcasts?  Then check out this playlist of kid’s podcasts curated by School Library Journal – all of them are centered on our Summer Reading Program theme “Oceans of Possibilities.”   You’ll find one by the Curious Kids group that answers questions about oceans, one by the Earth Rangers that talks about Deep Sea Adventures and the World’s Biggest Animals, as well as lots of podcasts with fun children’s stories being read out loud.  To listen to the podcasts, click here.

One of the podcasts talks about ways to keep plastic and other trash out of the oceans.  Listen to it and then challenge your family to find things to recycle and use again, instead of putting them in the garbage.  Maybe they will turn cardboard boxes and an empty juice bottle into a full set of body armor, like Cole did below.  Another great recycled crafts he made during a recent Recycled Art camp session at Corinth Elementary includes a wind spinner made out of a plastic water bottle.  What will your family make?

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Suggested Family Activity • S.T.E.M. Experiment

Today we have a fun STEM experiment for your family to try out:

Grab a shallow dish or plate and put water in it.  Sprinkle black pepper onto the water’s surface.  Does the pepper sink or does it float?  Next, dip your finger into the peppery water.  Does your finger stay clean or does the pepper stick to it?  Finally, dip your finger into dish washing soap and stick it into the water.  What happens to the pepper this time? You’ll be surprised!

This experiment teaches about the surface tension of water.  Water has a high surface tension, which means that light objects, such as the pepper, will float on the top of the water.  When the liquid soap is introduced though, it reduces the surface tension and causes the pepper to disperse.  Have fun trying out this experiment with other objects – a feather, a small scrap of paper, paper clips, or pennies.  You can also experiment and see if regular hand soap or body wash causes the same reaction as the dish washing liquid.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐚 Seashell Ornaments

Have you picked up seashells on the beach but don’t know what to do with them now that you are home?  You can turn them into ornaments to decorate your home or put on your Christmas tree by painting them and adding glitter and other sparkly bits like sequins.  Adults can drill a small hole in them to thread ribbon through to be a hanger.  Or you can wear your creations as a necklace by using a longer piece of ribbon or cord.  You can also turn a large seashell into a tropical fish by painting it a bright color and then gluing on tiny seashells to be the flippers.  Don’t forget to paint on an eye or use a googly eye if you have one.  You can also turn various sized seashells into collages by challenging your children to see how they can arrange shells to make pictures.  Maybe they will make a sea creature or a flower or a butterfly. You can also turn seashells into a cute summer wreath by gluing them onto a form you have cut out of cardboard.  Tie a pretty ribbon around the top and your house will look like the beach!  

Don’t forget to remember your friends and neighbors while you are having fun with seashells.  Many people like to paint rocks and leave them for others to find.  You can do the same with seashells.  Paint a pretty design on them and then leave them in a place where someone will stumble across it and brighten their day.

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Suggested Family Activity Narwhals

Narwhals are one of the many fascinating creatures that make their homes in our oceans and seas.  To find out more about them, check out What if You Could Spy like a Narwhal!!?  Explore the Superpowers of Amazing Animals by Sandra Markle.  Another great information book is Narwhals and Other Wales by Mary Pope Osborne.  It is the companion non-fiction work that goes along with Narwhal on a Sunny Night in her “Magic Tree House” series for chapter book readers.  Another fun series for that age group includes the “Narwhal and Jelly” books by Ben Clanton.  With titles such as Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea and Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness, these graphic novels will have everyone giggling out loud.  Picture books in our libraries’ collections about narwhals include Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima and Someday, Narwhal by Lisa Mantchev.  Check one out today!

Have you picked up Packet 3 of our Summer Reading Program grab and go activity packets?  They are filled with fun things to do for everyone in your family.  This set includes coloring sheets and information about narwhals, a color your own placemat, and the steps for how to draw a jellyfish.  Craft projects include a Paper Plate Seahorse for those 5 and under, a Chomper Fish craft for those 6 -11, and Whale Origami and some yarn to practice tying nautical knots for those 12 and up. 

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Suggested Family Activity ⛹️‍♀️🏀 Make Your Own Bouncy Ball

Did you know you can make your own homemade bouncy balls using just a few simple things from the grocery store?  Just follow these steps:

Step One:  Grab two disposable plastic cups. Step Two: Pour 2 tablespoons warm water into one of the cups.  Add ½ teaspoon borax and stir using a disposable stirrer until the mixture is dissolved. Step Three:  Into the second cup, add 1 tablespoon white glue and 1 tablespoon corn starch.  If you would like to color your bouncing ball, add a few drops of food coloring to the mixture. Step Four:  Finally, add ½ teaspoon of the 1st cup containing borax and mix it into the second mixture. Step Five:  Allow the mixture to sit for 15 seconds, then stir it.  Once it become difficult to stir, pour it out of the cup and roll it into a ball with your hands. You can store any leftover mixture and your bouncy ball in an airtight container so that they do not dry out.

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Suggested Family Activity 🦈Shark Craft

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

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

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Suggested Family Activity 🌊 Ocean Animals

For a fun and interactive look at which ocean animals live at what depth in the water, check out the website  As you scroll down the page, you’ll see images of various animals.  At thirty meters deep, for example, you’ll see a manatee, a polar bear, and a clown fish, among many others.  As you keep scrolling and the depth meter gets deeper, you’ll see more creatures you’ve heard of, like the beluga whale, as well as several you might not know, such as the cockatoo squid.  Do you know about the Midnight Zone, the area in the ocean where sunlight cannot reach?  This website lists all the known animals in the Midnight Zone and even beyond.  Scattered throughout the website are also interesting sea facts, such as the deepest any human has ever successfully completed a scuba dive and where the deepest shipwreck has been documented. 

If you see any animals you would like to know more about, check outWhat’s Under the Sea?, a starting science book by Sophy Tahta, Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep by Derek Harvey, Secrets of the Sea by Kate Baker, or Creeps From the Deep: Life in the Deep Sea by L. R. Taylor.

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Suggested Family Activity ✏ Do You Like to Draw?

Do you like to draw?  Would you like to learn how to draw ocean and sea animals this summer?  Check out these titles from our library’s collection to help you:  Draw 50 Sharks, Whales, and Other Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames or Drawing Sharks, Whales, Dolphins, and Seals by Paul Frame.  Both titles are in the juvenile section but are appropriate for all ages.   If you need inspiration for ocean themed crafts in general, check out Read, Learn & Create: The Ocean Craft Book by Clare Beaton.  This title helps you transform cardboard and construction paper into a coral reef, as well as twelve other craft projects.

These books are available at the Tishomingo Library

If you are a budding artist and film maker, check out Underwater Claymation by Emily Reid, which includes step-by-step instructions for creating clay stop-motion animations, known as Claymation.  And the title fits into our Summer Reading Program theme – it walks you through making underwater creatures and ocean scenery.  Not sure what Claymation is?  Think of shows such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Wallace and Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep.   

Retired art teacher Karl Hudson filmed two recordings for us this summer demonstrating how to draw basic sea animals.  Check out his videos as he walks you through how to draw a fish and how to draw a crab.

More on our YouTube Channel

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Suggested Family Activity 🎆 A Capitol Fourth 🎇

Each year for the Fourth of July, PBS hosts “A Capitol Fourth”, a concert featuring live musical performances.  This year’s concert will be hosted by four-time Grammy-nominee Mickey Guyton and will contain a lineup of performers from pop, country, R&B, classical, and Broadway.  Expect to see Andy Grammar, Gloria Gaynor, Keb’ Mo’, Jack Owen, Vanessa Williams, Jimmy Buffett, Gladys Knight, Alan Jackson, Pentatonix, Train, Jimmie Allen … the list goes on and on!  The National Symphony Orchestra will accompany many of the artists.  The United States Army Band, the U. S. Army Herald Trumpets, and the Joint Armed Forces Chorus will also be performing.

In addition to being broadcast on local PBS stations, the concert can also be viewed live on their website at  The concert will be recorded and made available on their website for an additional two weeks after the performance.  If you want to host your own Watch Party, or just need ideas for how to celebrate the day, the PBS website has lots of patriotic recipe ideas, game and activity suggestions, DIY decoration tips, and a pre-show party playlist.

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Suggested Family Activity 🏴‍☠️ Talk Like a Pirate

This weekend will be a good time for your family to learn how to talk like a pirate.  According to the website Grammarly, some popular pirate words to use include “ahoy” when you want to greet someone or call their attention to something or “shiver me timbers” when something exciting happens.  If you want to talk about your friends, you call them “mateys” and you can use both “yarr” and “yo ho ho” just about any time.  In addition to trying to talk like a pirate as you go about your day today, try to turn your favorite songs into pirate versions by substituting pirate words.

A fun pirate activity for your whole family is Walk the Plank.  You can do this activity either indoors or outdoors by putting down a blue mat, blanket, sheet, or plastic tablecloth on the floor or ground.  Next, lay a piece of cardboard shaped like a wooden plank over the blue “water.”  The longer you make your plank, the more challenging the activity will be.  So if you have toddlers and very young children, make it about 4-6 feet long.  But for older children and adults to join the fun, a plank that is 10 feet longer or more would challenge their agility and balancing skills.  For more excitement, cut out “shark fins” from black, blue, or gray paper and position them as if the fins are sticking out of the water.  And for an added challenge for older participants, challenge them to walk the plank with their eyes closed.

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JUNE 2022

Suggested Family Activity 🌊 World Ocean Day

If you missed World Ocean Day earlier this month, don’t’ worry.  Their website still has lots of great information that you can view at any time.  They have coloring sheets, lesson plans, book recommendations, and activities for kids to do.  The World Ocean Day group partnered with several popular children’s shows to advertise the event, such as Fraggle Rock and Splash & Bubbles.  Do your kids love the Octonauts?  The website has collectable creature cards, coloring sheets, and posters for the popular show.  You can find materials here:

Your local libraries have DVDs of the “Octonauts”, a fun family show starring a courageous crew of ocean protectors who travel the oceans and seas looking for underwater animals in trouble.  Led by polar bear Captain Barnacles, other crew members include Tweak the bunny, Dashi the Dachshund, daring pirate cat Kwazii, octopus Professor Inkling, Peso the penguin, and Shellington the sea otter.

Do you remember the Jim Henson show “Fraggle Rock”?  The show was revamped in 2021, with new episodes available on Apple TV+.  To introduce your children to the original version, check out DVDs such as Down in Fraggle Rock or Wembley’s Egg Surprise.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐙Octopus Crafts

To turn your child’s hand into an octopus, grab some paint and make an imprint of their hand with the fingers facing down.  If you paint on a face in the palm area, their fingers become tentacles and you have a cute octopus.  Let them decorate an underwater scene around it – and don’t forget bubbles rising to the top!  You can also turn their hands into a crab scuttling along a sandy beach by making two imprints – one with the fingers pointing left and one with the fingers pointing right.  (The palm areas will overlap).  Arrange it so that the two thumb imprints form a “V” so that these will be the eye stems of your crab sticking up.  Then draw and decorate around the crab with seashells, starfish, and other sea creatures.

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

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Suggested Family Activity 🐙The Octopus

This week our featured animal is the octopus. To learn more about this fascinating creature, check out The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery or Smart and Spineless: Exploring Invertebrate Intelligence by Ann Downer.  Picture books for young children that star the tentacled octopus include Good Thing You’re Not an Octopus! by Julie Markes, Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan, or Oswald by Dan Yaccarino.  Check out our Story Time here to find NERL staff reading the picture books Inky the Octopus by Erin Guendelsberger and The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy.  NERL also has a Story Walk® for The Octopus Escapes that will be put up during the first week of July.  It will be located at the walking trail located in Crossroads Regional Park at 309 S. Parkway Street in Corinth.

Have you picked up Packet 2 of our Summer Reading Program activity packets?  You’ll find lots of fun things to do, including octopus themed handwriting practice sheets for children 5 and under, as well as lots of other fun activities for the whole family.  If your kids have already finished Packet 2, don’t worry!  Packet 3 will be coming next week.  To tide you over until then, check out our idea for an octopus craft tomorrow.

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Suggested Family Activity 🏞 State Parks

June has been National Great Outdoors Month.  In June, everyone is reminded how fun it is to explore our nation’s abundant wildlife refuges, parks, and all the beauty to be found in the natural world.  Whether you like to hike, or bike, or swim, or play an outdoor sport, there are lots of great places in our area to enjoy these activities.  You can visit a city park in your area – chances are, you might even find a NERL Story Walk® at a nearby walking trail.  There are several state parks in our area including the Natchez Trace Parkway, Tishomingo State Park and J. P. Coleman State Park.  In nearby Tennessee, Big Hill Pond State Park, Shiloh National Military Park, and Pickwick Landing State Park are all a short drive away.  In you live closer to the Tupelo area, you could try out the nearby Trace State Park, the Tupelo National Battlefield, Elvis Presley Lake, or Tombigbee State Park.

There are also several local beaches that offer free access to play water sports and swim.  Try out the Pickwick area in Tennessee, which has several locations available.  The Piney Grove Beach, located a quick drive from Booneville, is a small (but mighty) swimming spot that features a picnic area, campground, public restrooms, and both indoor and outdoor showers.  You can also find the Old Bridge Beach on Bay Springs Lake, which is also located in Prentiss County.

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Suggested Family Activity 👁👃👂 Sensory Box

Have fun today by making a sensory bin, box, or bottle for your family.  Sensory items can take two forms.  The first option is a container that you leave open so you can run your fingers and hands through and the second option is a sealed container that you just watch move around while they are inside.  To go along with our “Oceans of Possibilities” theme this summer, you can make a sensory bin by taking a small box or plastic container and filling it about ¾ full of sand.  You could also use rice, dried beans, or a mixture.  Next, bury “treasures” in your bin (things like small plastic toys or seashells) that young children can dig to reveal using a cup, spoon, or small plastic shovel.  If you have any kinetic sand, it will work well for this activity.  Whatever you use, don’t forget to put something under you bin for easy clean-up, such as an old bath towel, sheet, or plastic tablecloth.  And make sure to always have adult supervision to keep small children from putting things in their mouth!

If you prefer your sensory experiences more contained, that’s easy too!  Just grab an empty water bottle or plastic sandwich bag, make sure it is well sealed, and fill it with a mixture of sand, rice, and small items such as beads, seashells, or plastic coins.  Children (and adults) will be mesmerized for hours as they turn the bottle to see what is revealed along the sides.  Another alternative is to use water to fill your bottle.  You can tint it with a little blue food coloring to look more like the ocean.  And for extra security, put a piece of tape over the top to keep it from spilling.

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Suggested Family Activity 🎲🃏 Boredom Smashing Games

In honor of our “Oceans of Possibilities” Summer Reading Program theme, here are a few miscellaneous things your family can do today:

  • Teach young children the card game Go Fish 🐟 and play it as many times as they want. 
  • Older children can play the classic ocean battle game 🚢 Battleship.
  • Teens and adults can try out Catan where they must work to trade, build, and settle their section of Catan Island.
  • Does your family know the song “Down by Bay?”  It is a classic children’s song that is full of repetitive verses that are easy for everyone to learn 🎶. 

The variations in the song occur with repetitions of the line

“Did you ever see a _____ _____ing in a _____?” 

Children’s recording star Raffi performs perhaps the most famous version of this song.  Some of his rhyming lines include seeing a whale 🐳 with a polka dot tail and seeing a llama 🦙 in pajamas.  Sing this song with your family and see how many rounds you can make with new rhyming lines.

  • Another song to sing is “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” 🚣‍♀️ Have each family member start singing the song staggered a minute or two apart.   Eventually, everyone will end up singing it together!

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Suggested Family Activity 🌊 Water Safety

The scorching weather the last few weeks makes everyone want to play in water to beat the heat.  Before you do, make sure you know everything you can about water safety.  The Red Cross website offers lots of information, such as the skills of water competency, what to do in a water emergency, and general water safety tips.  The information is presented in a variety of formats, such as videos and handouts.  They also offer a free online course (available in both English and Spanish) for parents and caregivers to learn the basics of water safety.  Check out the Red Cross Website here.

For just a little taste of water fun, try this fun activity that can be adapted for children of all ages.  For toddlers and young children, grab some small plastic toys (sea animals like whales, sharks, and fish would be great) and put one in each compartment of an ice tray.  Put the tray in the freezer until it is solid and then let kids figure out ways to release the items.  Maybe they will put it in a patch of sun to use the sun’s heat to free their animal.  Little ones may even try to gnaw the item loose so this activity should always have adult supervision!  To make the activity more challenging for older kids, freeze items (plastic toys or maybe even coins) in a larger plastic container so that the items take longer to get out.  If you have several kids gathered, they can even have a race with hairdryers or other methods to see who can melt the ice the fastest.

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Suggested Family Activity 🦈Sharks

Are you and your family fascinated by sharks?  We are too!  In our activity packets this week, we have a moving shark craft project for ages 6 and up, as well as a floating shark experiment for ages 6-11 that helps them understand why sharks are able to move through the ocean.  Packets for all ages also include shark coloring sheets and our youngest participants (those 5 and under) have a fun activity that lets them measure the length of sharks.  At our Corinth branch, we have a great photo opportunity for you – Sharla the Shark is patiently waiting in our children’s area for you to take a picture with her.  You can see Mr. Cody and Sharla’s picture below! Today is also National Selfie Day, so visit our branches and take your selfie with some of our great ocean themed decorations.

In addition to many non-fiction books about sharks, your local libraries have lots of fun pictures  books about them:  Don’t Eat the Babysitter! by Nick Ward, Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, Never Take a Shark to the Dentist (And Other Things Not to Do) by Judi Barrett, and Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley, just to name a few.  You can also find NERL Director Dee Hare reading Shawn Loves Sharks on our Story Time Page

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Suggested Family Activity 🐟🐠 School of Fish Activity

If your kids like to finger paint, you can have them use their fingerprints to make a school of brightly colored fish.  Check out this set of instructions below from  A few tips: You can substitute acrylic paint, which can be found very inexpensively at most dollar stores, for the tempera paint.  And you can substitute white paper for black paper.

Fingerprint Fish

What lives in the darkest, deepest waters of the ocean? Let your child’s imagination go vividly wild while creating brilliant fish using her fingerprints! They will start with a black sheet of paper and paint vibrant colors of tempera paint to create a glowing view of sea creatures.

What You Need:

Black drawing paper, 8.5” x 11”

Brightly colored tempera paint

Paint dishes, or a paper plate




What You Do:

  1. Ask your child what type of fish live in the ocean and what they look like.
  2. Set out some paint in dishes and have your child practice dipping different parts of their fingertips, entire fingers, thumbprints and the sides of their hands into the paint and then pressing a print onto the newspaper. This will help guide them as to what shapes different parts of their hands can create.
  3. Let them make as many prints of fish as they like using all different colors directly onto the black paper. They can test print shapes on newspaper to make sure the consistency of the paint is correct for the outcome they want.
  4. Use the length of fingers to create jellyfish. Or use multiple pinkie fingertip prints to create a school of fish.
  5. Allow the paint to completely dry.
  6. Go back in with wax crayons to add in fins, eyes, gills and any other information that creates a beautiful, brilliant habitat for deep sea fish.

Instructions copyright © 2021 LLC All Rights Reserved.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐳 Learn About Whales

Did you know that whales breathe air, even though they live in the water?  And that they are the largest animals on Earth?  According to the World Wildlife Federation, the Antarctic blue whale weighs approximately the same as 33 elephants and reaches up to 98 feet in length.  There are several different types of whales, including belugas, baleen whales, orcas, and bowhead whales.  Unfortunately, whales are on the endangered animals list, which means that they are at a very high risk of being extinct.

If you would like to learn more about these fascinating creatures, check out these titles from your local library: Blue Whales by Grace Hansen, Humpback Whales by Victor Gentle, or Do Whales Have Belly Buttons? by Melvin Berger.  Junior readers might like Mo Willems’ A Big Guy Took My Ball! to read what happens when Elephant & Piggie come across a new friend or Operation Orca in the A-Z Mystery series by Ron Roy.

Titles for our youngest readers include Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett, If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, and Wiggle and the Whale by Roger Priddy.  And don’t forget to check out our recorded stories to listen to Iuka Librarian Teresa Templeton read A Whale in the Bathtub by Kylie Westaway.

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Suggested Family Activity 🌳 Nature Photography Day 📸

Nature Photography Day is today so head outside with your family and take some photos of the great things to be found in the natural world around us.  Maybe you’ll take pictures at a nearby national park, in your community’s city park, or even in your own backyard.  Whatever pictures you take today, don’t forget to share them with us at

If you head over to a walking trail in your community’s park, look out for a

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

Story Walks® this month celebrate our Summer Reading Program 2022 theme, “Oceans of Possibility.”  Our featured Story Walk® this week can be found at the lovely walking trail at the C. C. Shook Park in Belmont.  It features the story Pretend by Jennifer Plecas.  To discover what happens when Jimmy convinces his dad to pretend their couch is a boat in the ocean, visit this Story Walk®.  And don’t forget to stop by the Belmont Library to pick up a Scavenger Hunt sheet before you go.  If you can’t get to Belmont, don’t worry.  NERL Director Dee Hare’s family has recorded this story for your listening pleasure.  Find it and many more on our Story Time page.

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Suggested Family Activity

Generations of children have learned about the amazing world of animals through the adventures of zoologists Chris and Martin Kratt, first through their PBS show “Zoboomafoo” and now with their current show “Wild Kratts.”

On their website and on their page through the PBS website, they have lots of fun activities for kids, including some perfect ones to celebrate our “Oceans of Possibilities” theme.  Kids can investigate “How Objects Sink or Float in Different Types of Water” or see instructions for making paper plate snakes, egg carton turtles, and many other activities.  They can also watch a short video of the Kratt brothers “Speaking Dolphinese” as they swim with dolphins.

The PBS Kids website has a special Wild Kratts section with tons of amazing features – ideas for craft projects, games such as “Archerfish Bug Rush,” “Aviva’s Eel-Ectric Challenge,” and “Capture the Fishmobiles” and of course, episodes of their show!  There is also a special Creaturepedia section with lots of information about all sorts of animals, searchable by type of animal, region of the world where it lives or its habitat.

Parents, if you follow the link to the Parents section of PBS Kids, you will find even more great ideas for craft projects, book recommendations for kids who love animals, and articles such as “Discover Animals and Their Habitats Through Books” and “What if We Let Kids Get Bored?”  They also have a question-and-answer segment with the brothers so check it all out at

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Suggested Family Activity

🦈 Shark Craft Project 🧠 Learning Activity

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

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

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Suggested Family Activity

📽 National Movie Night 🎞

The second Friday in June is always National Movie Night.  To celebrate it in combination with our Summer Reading Program theme of “Oceans of Possibilities,” why not watch a fun family movie that features lots of water and adventure?  Hotel Transylvania 3 finds everyone’s favorite monster family going on a luxury cruise ship, while Moana is a fun mythic adventure set in a series of South Pacific islands.  And who could forget the classics The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory?  Or more contemporary titles such as Luca, about a young mer-boy who yearns for life on land.  Older children and teens might enjoy the Disney classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

If documentaries are more your family’s style, check out Blue Earth by National Geographic.  This DVD takes you all around the world to view the beautiful coral reefs of the Caribbean, the Hawaiian monk seals, and the Great Whales, one of the world’s most ancient creatures.  Or check out Coral Reef Adventure, filmed by ocean explorers working with Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famed Jacques Cousteau.

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Suggested Family Activity 🏴‍☠️ Treasure Hunt

Arggh!!  There could be treasure buried in your backyard!  It is super easy to make a Pirate Treasure Hunt for your kids today.  Just hide a few small prizes in your backyard or outdoor area for them to find.  Or hide things they already have – the main fun in this activity is in the searching, after all, not just getting a reward.  Draw a map (as simple or as complicated as you like) for the kids to follow to find the objects.  You can make it more of a challenge by giving them clues to figure out along the way.  Put in things that are unique to your family, such as “the place where we like to sit outside” or “where the azaleas bloom.”  To make your treasure map look authentic, you can pick from several different things to make your map – a brown grocery bag cut apart, thin cardboard from a cereal box, kraft paper, brown paper packing material, or plain white copy paper dyed with tea.  Make sure that a big X marks all the spots and stand back to see how fast your children can read your map.

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Suggested Family Activity 🐟 National Zoo and Aquarium Month

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

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Suggested Family Activity 🖐 Hand Crafts

Skylar Ewing, 5yrs
Belmont, MS

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

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

Our Summer Reading Program is happening now!  Click to se more!

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Suggested Family Activity 📚 Summer Reading

NERL’s Summer Library Program starts today!  In celebration of this year’s theme, “Oceans of Possibilities,” we will be exploring all the interesting creatures and activities that happen in, on, and around our oceans and seas.  Summer Reading activities will run from June 6 through July 29 and will include activity packets and craft projects (a different one every two weeks), virtual craft project demonstrations, Story Walks®, and several types of Scavenger Hunts.  You can also find daily Story Times on our website, which have been recorded so that the stories can be watched at your convenience.  Reading incentives are also making a return this year so ask your local branch for a reading log to record your books.  Prizes will be available each week for those who have read.

Virtual programming kicks off today with a presentation by local favorite Deb Davis, an Outreach Educator from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.  Deb will be sharing lots of information about the various animals that live in bodies of water in our state.


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Suggested Family Activity 🔴 Disc Golf

If you are looking for a fun activity to do outside, disc golf is gaining in popularity everywhere.  And one of the best things about it is all you need to start the fun is a disc (a special disc golf one or just a frisbee) and a course to play on.  Some city parks departments have started incorporating disc golf courses within their parks and along walking trails.  City parks in our area that have courses include ones in Corinth, Booneville, New Albany, and Tupelo.  Nearby courses in Tennessee include ones in Crump, Savannah, Bolivar, and Henderson, as well as one in Red Bay, Alabama.  National parks have also had disc golf courses for several years, so check out the ones at nearby Pickwick Landing State Park, Tishomingo State Park, or Tombigbee State Park in Tupelo.

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

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Suggested Family Activity 🧺 Family Picnic

Summer is here – the perfect time of year to go on a picnic 🧺 with your friends and family.  You can pack a traditional picnic in a wicker basket or just grab some snacks 🍉 and sandwiches 🥪 and head outside with a blanket to enjoy your food.  Take time to sit and really enjoy nature 🌳, whether you stay at home in your backyard or go to a nearby park.  Make sure to spend at least part of the day barefoot 👣 to enjoy the tickly sensation of walking on the grass.  You can even plan to make a whole day of it and take pillows for relaxing while you read 📖 a book.  You could also grab some coloring books and crayons 🖍 or other art supplies, such as pencils, paper, and paints 🎨 to try your hand at drawing and painting the natural world around you.  When your kids need to run off some energy 😜🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️, get the whole family together to have a water balloon 🎈 fight.  Try to stay out all day so you can catch the sunset🌆 and have fun watching (and catching) fireflies.  Or you can wait to start your picnic time outdoors after adults are home from work.  Picnicking later in the evening by taking your supper outside to enjoy is a fun activity to try out anytime with your family. 

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MAY 2022

Suggested Family Activity • Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend usually kicks off the summer season for many families but let us not forget what the holiday is really about – honoring the men and women of the military who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  Did you know that some people believe that the holiday originated in Columbus, Mississippi?  To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, check out the history channel’s information here  Each year for Memorial Day, PBS hosts a concert on the Sunday before Memorial Day that will feature live musical performances and heartwarming tributes.  (The concert is recorded and will be available on their website for two weeks.)  This year’s concert lineup has not been announced yet but usually features performances from various military groups, as well as well-known musicians.  In addition to being broadcast on local PBS stations, it can also be viewed live on their website at

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

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Suggested Family Activity •Drawing Cartoons and Characters

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

Cole working on his comic book.

Children can begin learning to draw cartoons and comics with Cartooning for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin, How to Draw Batman and His Friends and Foes by Aaron Sautter, or Manga Dragons in the “Learn to Draw Manga” series by Richard Jones.  Careers for People who Love Comics, Animation, and Manga by Siyavush Saidian will even give young people information about what it takes to make a career from their hobby.

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

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Suggested Family Activity • National Grape Popsicle Day

Today is National Grape Popsicle Day so take some time today to try this basic recipe to make your own popsicles:  Pour some grape juice into a popsicle mold or plastic or paper cup. Add a wooden stick or skewer and put it in a freezer for at least two hours.  Once they are frozen, pop them out and your kids will be ready to enjoy this tasty treat.

Eating a popsicle while reading a story at your local walking trail sounds like a fun activity.  NERL Story Walks® have recently returned just in time for summer.  The Story Walk® at the walking trail in Plumrose Park in Booneville features Gianna Marino’s sweet tale Just Like My Brother.  At the lovely Iuka Mineral Springs Park Walking Trail located at 118 S. Pearl Street in Iuka, you will find Ryan T. Higgin’s first book starring everyone’s favorite reluctant parent, Mother Bruce.  The walking trail located in C.C. Shook Park at 383 2nd St. in Belmont features Julia Donaldson’s classic The Gruffalo, while at the William H. Sanders walking track located at 110 W. Mill St. in Blue Mountain, visitors can read Isadora Duncan’s I Just Want to Say Goodnight.  The new J. C. Nance Park located at 702 North Main Street in Ripley has Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer.  If you are in the Corinth area, the walking trail located in Crossroads Regional Park at 309 S Parkway St. has Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, while the walking trail in the Farmington City Park has Chimpanzees for Tea by Joe Empson.  New Story Walks® will be coming in the first few days of June so catch these while you can!

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Suggested Family Activity • Fun 📦 with Boxes

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

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

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Suggested Family Activity • Get Caught Reading Month

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

If you are not following us on Facebook, you should be!  You’ll stay up to date on all our latest news from the Northeast Regional Library and our branches in Alcorn, Prentiss, Tippah, and Tishomingo counties.  Over the last two months, we have been having weekly giveaways of Advanced Reader’s Copies (ARCs) of recently published titles.  They happen randomly throughout the week, so check our Facebook accounts often for your chance to win.  Next week’s giveaway will be Girl in Ice, a thriller by Erica Ferencik.  It is the perfect summer read for fans of writers such as Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins.

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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: ✏ 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: 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.

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      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

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

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

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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

        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 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:  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 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 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 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  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:

        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.

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        💘 Fluffy Valentine’s Day Slime Recipe


        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


        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.

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        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 ⛷ 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  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

        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

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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

        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  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  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