Curbside, Show-Offs, and Resources for 5/14/2020

Hiya, everyone out there in library land!

Today, I bring you a grab bag of of fun Upper Valley and Vermont resources!  There’s also information about curbside service starting on Monday (yay!) and the Baxter Show-Off Show that rolls into town on Monday, as well! Let’s delve right in….

Montshire Live at Home – Creepy Crawly Cockroaches
Join Montshire Educators, Rebecca and Amy, Friday at 11:00 am for a live Zoom webinar featuring the museum’s hissing cockroaches and another surprise visitor! Ask your insect questions, play some bug pictionary and see the cockroaches super close-up! Upon registering you will be sent the Zoom Webinar link. The webinar is free, but space is limited so please register for this event in advance. Upon registering you will be sent the Zoom Webinar link. The webinar is free and will be recorded and available at the Montshire at Home resource page if you cannot attend the live broadcast.

Math Among Peers (MAP)
MAP is an entirely free, student-run source for virtual math help during this time of learning at home with offering peer support and preparation for fall classes!  Started by Miriam Viazmenski, a junior at Hanover High School.  Miriam says, “I love sharing my passion for math with others and have enjoyed tutoring peers for several years. My idea for this project grew out of the need for instructional support in the face of our new educational reality. I have organized a group of high school students enthusiastic about sharing their love of math with peers.”  You can check out the Facebook page at the link above or sign up here.

Green Mountain Chronicles
The Vermont Historical Society has re-released their vintage Green Mountain Chronicles radio program from the 1980s as a podcast series. The episodes tell the history of Vermont in the twentieth century using archival sound recordings and oral history interviews.  The latest episode is about the 1918 Flu epidemic. Other episodes focus on the introduction of the telephone in Vermont, the Long Trail, the popularity of the trolley, and more. 

HOP@Home
Each week, HOP@Home virtual stage brings adventurous artistry into your living room. The Hop offers a varied weekly line-up of online programming including live-streamed performances, film recommendations and live chat, digital dance parties for kids and grown-ups, and projects cooked up by Hop directors.  Tonight, don’t miss a free show with local fiddler Patrick Ross as he recreates from home the great music and joie de vivre of his band Atlas Key, and this weekend, he’s back with his daughter Ophelia performing shows for the younger crowd!  There’s lots more coming up, and quite a few recordings of past presentations.  You can find some of the recordings at their YouTube page.  (Kids might be particularly interested in Simon Brooks’ wonderful storytelling videos.)

Musicians as Mentors
Every Tuesday at 2pm through June 2, Musicians as Mentors will present a 30 minute ZOOMCAST with a guest recording artist!  This presentation is provided for free by the Upper Valley Music Center.  Parent permission for those under 18 is required.  If you have any questions, email emzanleoni@gmail.com


And now, for the moment we’ve all been waiting for…. (Drum roll, please!) Curbside pickup begins Monday, May 18th! How will it work, you ask?  Read on….

1. Choose the materials you’d like to request.  Feel free to place holds online if you’re comfortable doing so.  If not, just send your requests to me at sharonbaxterlibrary@gmail.com, and I’ll place the holds for you.  You can also call the library at 763-2875 and leave a message specifying which items you’d like.  Remember, some items (such as puzzles) may not be entered into the system, so if you know we have something but you can’t find it in the catalog, just let me know.

2. Using gloves, I’ll gather your requests, disinfect the covers, and place them inside a grocery bag.  Then, I’ll set the bag on the back porch.  It will have a tag with your name and instructions for disinfecting or quarantining items once you get them home.

3. I’ll contact you via email and/or phone when your items are ready.  (If you can only pick up items at certain times, email me to let me know, and we can make arrangements.)

How long is the lending period?
The lending period will be one month for all materials – old and new, books, DVDs, games, puzzles, you name it.  As usual, we’re not crazy-strict with return dates, but please consider that others might be wanting to read the material you’ve checked out (especially if it’s new).

Can I request items through interlibrary loan?
The interlibrary loan service was put on hiatus for a spell, and libraries are just beginning to start it back up.  Once there’s a sufficient number of libraries using the system, we’ll start back up, too.  I’ll let you know when that happens.  

How will returns work?
Please return materials in the book slot in the front door and not the book drop in the back.  (The height of the book drop makes it difficult to retrieve items safely.)  If you have any items out currently, please return them using the book slot as soon as you are able.  

How will you handle returns?
Using gloves, I’ll retrieve items and then quarantine them for 10 days before handling them.

If you have any questions or concerns, send me an email or give me a call.  I’m happy to chat any time.  


And, in other news, the Baxter Show-Off Show will roll into town on Monday!! What’s the Baxter Show-Off Show, you ask?  Well….

Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages! Step right up and join Baxter’s Show-Off Show! Come one, come all to an unbelievable online event filled with daring crafts and awesome arts, marvelous stories and mind boggling poetry!

What have you created during the quarantine? SHOW IT OFF at Baxter’s Show-Off Show!

Painting, music, poems, science experiments, works of clay or wood or metal, videos, knitting and crocheting projects, art parodies, origami, photography, gardens, stories, Lego constructions, computer programs, comics – even face masks! Whatever it is, here’s your chance to SHOW IT OFF May 18-22!

Just send a photograph, document or file of your Show-Off to Shana any time or post it on Baxter Memorial Library’s Facebook page May 18-22!  We’ve already received some spectacular creations – you don’t want to miss out on the excitement!

Next week is BIG! I can hardly wait!

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,
Shana

Curbside Resumes and Literary & Science Resources for 5/12/2020

Extra, extra! Read all about it! Baxter Memorial Library will begin providing curbside pickup again on May 18th (coinciding with the upcoming, amazing Baxter Show-Off Show)! Get those requests ready, library friends, and I’ll provide more info in the coming days.

Today, though, I have some fun and intriguing resources for both word aficionados and science buffs.  The first resource is such a wonderful idea for lonely book lovers that it makes my heart sing just thinking about it.  For those of us who are natural introverts but who are still weary after being stuck at home for weeks on end without any meaningful social contact, this may be just the ticket.  Most Zoom meetings, for me at least, still require a hefty amount of emotional preparation, but a reading party hits the sweet spot – a feeling of being around others while still being able to relax.  Simply put, I don’t have to be on

WordGeek Series: Silent Reading Party
On Thursday, May 14th from 7-8pm, The Space On Main is hosting its first Silent Reading Party! Make yourself a snack, pour yourself a drink, and read whatever you feel like reading silently to yourself. Relax as musicians Don Sinclair and Jenn Grossi (D&J Music, Summer Street Music) delight your ears with acoustic music. It’s an excellent excuse for you to make time for you, take a break from your day-to-day, and feel a little less lonely while inside the comfort of your own home. This event is by donation. Proceeds will be split between The Space On Main and our guest musicians. Tips to the musicians are encouraged. If this is a hit, they’re thinking about making it a weekly event with a different musician each week!

Have you been taking time to write during the quarantine?  Check out this free interactive writing class sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council!

Writing Class with Melanie Finn
Join novelist Melanie Finn in three online sessions via Zoom starting on Wednesday, May 20 at 4pm. Participants will write a short story set in the Northeast Kingdom, based on a local newspaper story of their choice, and will evolve their work over the sessions. The workshop will include one-on-one feedback, group discussions, and required “homework.” The subsequent workshop sessions will meet on Saturday, May 23 and Saturday, May 30 at 4pm.  Register via the online form by Monday, May 18.

And now for some science-y resources:

VT Ecostudies – Loon Behavior and Rescues
Wednedsday, May 20 at 9am, Eric Hanson will present a webinar focused on the life and conservation of loons. Loons are unique in that we can watch these interactions during every daylight hour. He’ll go over results of 25 years of banding research in Wisconsin by Dr. Walter Piper detailing what is happening during loon territorial interactions, when and where chicks return to, and other stories. In addition, he’ll share some rescue stories, some successful, some not, but always interesting.

FourScienceVT
VINS, ECHO, Fairbanks and Montshire museums have come together to offer science- and STEM-based resources to Vermont kids.  There’s a LOT to delve into.  Create giant bubbles or learn to sprout seeds with Montshire’s video tutorials, inflate a balloon with baking soda or try your hand at an engineering design challenge at ECHO, take a virtual visit to the Fairbanks planetarium, or learn about the descendants of dinosaurs at VINS – and much, MUCH more!

And remember to take photos of your experiments and send them to me so I can post them during Baxter’s Show-Off Show, May 18-22!

Stay well!
Shana

Show & Tell – for Everyone!


Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages!
Step right up and join Baxter’s Show-Off Show!
Come one, come all to an unbelievable online event filled with
daring crafts and awesome arts, marvelous stories and mind boggling poetry!

What have you created during the quarantine?
SHOW IT OFF at Baxter’s Show-Off Show!

Art pieces, music, poems, science experiments, works of clay or wood or metal, videos, knitting and crocheting projects, art parodies, origami, photography, gardens, stories, Lego constructions, computer programs, comics – even face masks! Whatever it is, here’s your chance to SHOW IT OFF May 18-22!

Just send a photograph, document or file to Shana any time
or post it on Baxter Memorial Library’s Facebook page May 18-22!

See you at the show!!

Springtime, Podcasts, and Nostalgia – Resources for 4/29/2020

I don’t know about you, but I’m going just a little stir crazy these days.  I’m lucky, though, to live close to the Ompompanoosuc River.  After just a short hike through the woods near my house, I’m there, and it’s glorious.  I can’t help but sit down on the rocks, close my eyes, and let the sounds take over.  Then, I open my eyes and write.  On the walk back, I’m calmer.  Happier.  And, I notice more – wild strawberry leaves, a pencil-tip tree stump sculpted long ago by an industrious beaver, a tiny fern tenderly unfurling.  By the time I arrive home, I always have a few stones in my pockets, maybe a feather or two, and a lot less weight on my shoulders. 

If you, too, feel a sense of ease when you leave the world of screens and enter the world of growing things, and if writing about or drawing the things around you sounds like it might be a bit of fun, then check out these resources.

Northern Woodlands Tic Tac Toe Treasure Hunt
Northern Woodlands Magazine (located in Lyme, NH) has been posting a new series called “This Week in the Woods” with spring sites you can find right here in the Upper Valley.  Take a look and see how many you can find!

Cedar Circle’s Nature Journal Club
Cedar Circle’s Nature Journal Club is a new program to encourage nature connection and social connection. Every Monday they share a prompt video, and during the week, kids do that prompt in their journal (along with anything else they’re inspired to do).  Join in live with fellow nature journalists every Friday at 10am, (email Meredith for the invitation link) or simply visit Cedar Circle’s Facebook page where you can send in pictures of your journal entries, ask questions and talk about the things you’ve noticed.

How to Keep a Nature Journal
A lovely, simple blog post at MMN (Mother Nature Network) on how to start your own nature journal.

The Nature Journal Club
The Nature Journal Club is a diverse community of artists and naturalists, of all levels, who meet together through Facebook to connect to nature through art. Though centered in the San Francisco Bay Area it is open to anyone with a passion for exploring nature with a journal.

How to Teach Nature Journaling
If you or your children thrive on structure, consider downloading a free pdf of John Muir Laws’ and Emilie Lygren’s book How to Teach Nature Journaling. It’s aimed at teaching children how to keep a nature journal (but in learning how to teach others, you, of course, learn yourself). It’s beautifully laid out and is bursting at the seams with great ideas. You’ll need to add the book (and, if you like, its free companion book Opening the World through Nature Journaling: Integrating Art, Science & Language Arts) to your cart and then input your name and address (even though it’s a digital download). No credit card is requested. This resource is highly recommended!

Looking for something to keep the kids entertained (dare I say enthralled)?  Perhaps a podcast is just the thing!  Podcasts for kids have come a long way.  Here are a handful that run the gamut – from science to mindfulness, old-timey radio to ethics, and even (since this is a library website, after all), a book club!

Book Club for Kids
A free, 20-minute podcast devoted to middle grade books and readers. Each show features a trio of students discussing a favorite book, an interview with the author, and a celebrity reading.  The Times of London named the program one of the “Top 10 Podcasts for Children” in the world.

Brains On
An award-winning science podcast for kids and curious adults from American Public Media, Brains On has already produced over 100 episodes.  Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world with topics like “Can you dig to the center of the earth?” “How scientists are working to stop the coronavirus” and “Mary Shelley and the science of Frankenstein.”

Eleanor Amplified
Eleanor Amplified is an adventure series for the whole family. Listen together as our hero, the world-famous radio reporter Eleanor Amplified, foils devious plots and outwits crafty villains, all in pursuit of the big story…  Eleanor will spark laughter and conversation the whole family will enjoy, while preparing kids to appreciate journalism and make smart media choices in the future.

Ear Snacks
Andrew & Polly and their friends consider music, science, art and culture in a fun-filled family-friendly podcast that parents enjoy and younger kids eat right up.

Peace Out
These short stories are meant to help children calm down and relax by guiding them through visualization and breathing exercises. Peace Out was created as an accessible resource to teach children about their emotions and social skills as well as finding calm and peace in their daily lives in a fun and relaxing way.

Short & Curly
SHORT & CURLY is a fast-paced fun-filled ethics podcast for kids and their parents, with questions and ideas to really get you thinking. It asks curly questions about animals, technology, school, pop culture and the future.

And finally, who couldn’t use a little nostalgia, these days?  If you’re somewhere around my age (forty-ahem), you probably remember ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock with fondness.  Well, you can watch every short episode (and share them with your kids) for free!  Check them out on ABC’s website

As always, stay safe and healthy, everyone,
Shana

Resources for 4/27/2020

Hi friends,

Today, I’m sharing a handful of truly wonderful resources. From free local therapy to free documentaries to rap versions of Dr. Seuss classics, there’s some good stuff here.

Upper Valley COVID Relief
Over 20 licensed Vermont and New Hampshire psychotherapists have volunteered to provide free support to workers impacted by the coronavirus in the Upper Valley with free, 30-minute telehealth support sessions.  Support is available to any worker impacted by the virus, including but not limited to retail and grocery workers, first responders, all hospital employees, nursing home/home health aides, correctional officers, and any worker furloughed or unemployed due to COVID.  Please contact Lisa Gardner with any questions.

Izoizolyacia
Art museums around the world are showcasing recreations of famous pieces done by those of us stuck at home with excess time and creativity on our hands, but the movement seems to have outgrown the museums.  In just over a month, a Russian Facebook group for art re-enactors has gained 540,000 followers around the world.  The group’s name, Izoizolyacia, combines the Russian words for “visual arts” and “isolation.”  Do yourself a favor and check out the site; the results are stunning. 

Dr. Seuss Raps over Dr. Dre Beats
Were Dr. Seuss classics written to be rapped? It seems so when you watch Wes Tank’s versions of Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, The Lorax and more. If you haven’t seen these yet, you’re in for a real treat!

NETFLIX – Free Documentaries
To help teachers and students learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix is making a handful of documentaries available for free on its YouTube channel. At the moment, there are 10 documentary films and series available. Each comes with educational resources, like discussion questions, ways to take action and more info. Netflix says it plans to add Q&As with some of the project creators soon.

Noggin – 60-Day Free Trial
Over 1,000 ad-free episodes of children’s shows like Dora the Explorer, Peppa Pig, Blues Clues and Paw Patrol, as well as games and educational videos, the younger crowd will find a lot here to get excited about. (A credit card is required.)

Musicians Uncovered
Musicians as Mentors presents Musicians Uncovered, a 30-minute Zoom-cast (think podcast but on Zoom) taking place over six weeks (April 28 – June 2) on Tuesdays at 2pm for a half hour.  You’ll hear from real DJ’s; Hip-Hop, Folk, RAP, and Country recording artists; vocalists and poets; singer-songwriters; as well as sound and light and music producers.  Free and open to all Upper Valley high school youth ages 14-19.  Hosted by Em Zanleoni, Upper Valley musician & youth advocate and sponsored by Upper Valley Music Center.

Wide Open School
Wide Open School is a free collection of the best online learning experiences for kids curated by the editors at Common Sense. There is so much good happening, and we are here to gather great stuff and organize it so teachers and families can easily find it and plan each day.  With categories like Live Events, Emotional Well-Being, Special Needs, Life Skills, and Field Trips, as well as Reading & Writing, Math, Science, History and the like, Wide Open School is, perhaps, the most helpful resource for “Crisis Schooling” I’ve come across.  Highly recommended!

EPIC!
A huge digital library for kids 12 and under, EPIC! offers 40,000 ebooks and audiobooks, learning videos, quizzes and more, and they’re offering 30 days for free (they do require a credit card).

Here’s to a wonder-filled week,
Shana

Resources for 4/24/2020

Happy Friday, everyone!

Today’s resources are mostly literary, and I thought I’d start with a poetry open mic, seeing that it’s still National Poetry Month!  (Oh, I’m so glad poetry gets its own month, rather than just a week!)  Poetry open mics are very close to my heart.  I spent years running a few, and they changed my life.  Literally.  I met my son’s father at an open mic when I was 19 years old.  Granted, there’s probably not much chance you’ll fall in love at a Zoom meeting, but you never know! 

Literary North and Still North Books & Bar Poetry Open Mic invites you to celebrate National Poetry Month on Sunday, April 26 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.  The open mic will take place on Zoom and features readings by Laura Jean Binkley, Vievee Francis, Kristin Maffei, Rena J. Mosteirin, April Ossmann, and YOU! 

Looking for some writing inspiration?  River Valley Community College’s WriterSpace is now meeting online Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm and Fridays at 9am.  For the weekly link, more questions, and to learn about WriterSpace Kids, send an email to RVCCWriterSpace@ccsnh.edu

To acknowledge the heroism and sacrifice of Vermont’s medical and service personnel in the fight against COVID-19, the Vermont Holocaust Memorial (VTHM) has launched an essay competition that will challenge Vermont students (grades 4-12) to reflect on those neighbors and relatives on the front lines against this historic threat and how their values echo those rescuers of the World War II Holocaust.  Cash prizes for the top three entries in each grade category will be awarded. The entry deadline is September 30, 2020.

Have you and your children been reading up a storm during the quarantine?  Log your reading minutes, and Save the Children’s 100 Days of Reading will provide books and educational resources to children in need.

And finally, in celebration of Earth Day, White River Indie Films is offering a free screening of EARTH, a documentary film by Nikolaus Geyhalter. After watching, you can join a live-stream discussion of the film, EARTH & the De-Materialization of Our Economy, with the Sierra Club Upper Valley Group on April 25 from 7:30-8:30 PM.  The film will be available until Sunday, April 26.

As always, stay well friends,
Shana

50 Years of Earth Day

The first Earth Day in 1970 mobilized millions of Americans for the protection of the planet. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets, college campuses and hundreds of cities to protest environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward for our planet. The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event.

Earth Day led to passage of landmark environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Many countries soon adopted similar laws, and in 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement into force.


~From the Earth Day website: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/


Relating deeply to nature is a profound and crucial human desire, one that modern living had all but forgotten – until the world turned upside down. Now, many of us are taking daily walks.  We’re tucking seeds into the tender earth and watching for returning songbirds.  We’re enjoying the glorious sun, the pinhole stars, and even the occasional snowflake.  Try to spend some time each day sitting in the grass, walking beside a brook, searching out the perfect stone for your pocket, cloud watching, looking at the sky through the spring leaves of a tree, or contemplating the moss growing beneath your feet.

This year, while we can’t gather together to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, we can make our voices heard in other ways.  Today is a wonderful day to set our intentions for the year.  We make New Year’s resolutions – to lose weight, to eat better, to be more productive.  Why not use Earth Day as a day to make eco-resolutions?  Do you resolve to buy less plastic?  To compost?  To plant ten trees?  To eat less meat?  Maybe this is the year you finally trade in the gas guzzler for an electric car.  Or put solar panels on the roof.  Or start taking your children on weekly hikes. 

What else can we do?  We can sign petitions.  We can call our legislators.  We can write letters to the editor.  We can get involved with the town’s Energy Commission. 

We can donate our money or our time to causes that matter to us.  We can grow a row for Willing Hands so that more people will have access to the earth’s bounty.  We can give to conservation causes.  We can join a climate strike. 

We can participate in Green Up Day activities – not just on May 30, but every day.  We can help keep the earth around us beautiful and thriving.  We can take the Earth Day Challenge, 22 days of activities that encourage us to see how we can make a difference in the world.

And we can join with others – online.  Today (and the rest of this week) is the perfect time.  There are so many Earth Day celebrations and calls to action.  You can start with Earth Day’s own website.  Then, check out Earth Day Live for a three-day live stream of events starting today.  

Feeling the Earth Day spirit?  Looking for more activities?  Here’s a grab bag full.

Learn Something New

Celebrate Earth Day by joining Billings Farm’s educators on the next Ask Billings Farm Live on Facebook, April 22 at 1PM EDT. Learn how land use ideas changed and how Billings Farm’s founder continues to inspire sustainable practices today. Send your questions about Earth Day to askus@billingsfarm.org.  The celebration will continue at Billings Farm at Home – an online resource and education tool for families – with an array of information, videos, downloadable craft activities, and fun! Visit us at www.billingsfarm.org/billings-farm-at-home/.

Use the NASA Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit  NASA is providing a wealth of science resources from across the agency for outreach to young people. The programs, games, videos, books, images and posters are free for teachers, students, parents and anyone.

Gather Scientific Data

Participate in Earth Challenge 2020the world’s largest citizen science initiative. Get the app for Android and iOS devices that enables you to gather scientific information on air quality and plastic pollution near you. Earth Challenge is a joint initiative by the Earth Day Network, the Wilson Center and the U.S. Department of State.

Attend a Virtual Conference

Earth Optimism Digital Summit hosted by the Smithsonian Conservation Commons. April 22-26. It is open to all and free. The program includes a film night; virtual workshops; virtual social networking; video competitions; and panels on envisioning the future, global health, sustainable food, climate change, protecting biodiversity, environmental justice, international perspectives, climate communication, and resilience. Speakers include Jose Andres, chef and humanitarian; Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Convention; Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University; Bob Inglis, executive director of republicEN.org; Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund; Bill McKibben, environmentalist and activist; and many more. The event also includes an opportunity to share your nature-themed artwork.

Earthx Conferences, in partnership with National Geographic, will be held April 22-27. They are open to all and free. The series of conferences will focus on energy, law, cities, technology, capital, women in the environment, the future and more. The 50th Earth Day Celebration will be livestreamed April 22, 12-7:30pm CST. It will include EarthxFilm from 1:30-2:30pm CST, speakers including Tia Nelson, daughter of Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson; National Geographic explorer Enric Sala; chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Neil Chatterjee, and more.

Crafting the Planet is a virtual Earth Day conference organized by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The conference will explore the convergence of traditional conservation and restoration of the planet, and ecological innovations taking place in areas such as genetics and engineering. The program includes pre-recorded and live sessions. April 20, 8:30am-8:30pm CST. Registration is free.


Here’s a poem that was sent to me by Sharonite and former library trustee Paula Duprat. Today seems the perfect day to post it.

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Don’t forget, you are a part of the earth, too. Taking care of the earth is taking care of yourself. Happy Earth Day, everyone.

Stay well,
Shana

Free Books & Math Resources for 4/20/2020

Happy National Library Week!  Since the physical library is closed during National Library Week, I’ve put out a new batch of freebie books on the back porch. If you’ve been itching for some new reading material, go take a look! It’s a beautiful day for a walk.

Also today, I’m bringing you a bagful of fun math games.  A patron wanted some help looking for resources on fractions and decimals, so I did a little web searching and came up with some fun math links for every age. (Remember, you can always contact me with any topics you’d like help researching.)

PBSKids
For the younger crowd, PBSKids has a great math games website.  The games are cute and engaging, and for those who know the characters, there’s an extra incentive.  (You don’t need to know the characters to enjoy these, however.) Highly recommended!

Education.com
This site has games for grades preK through 5 in multiple subjects, as well as worksheets, activities, songs and more.  Right now, it’s free to join, and you’ll get access to some stellar content. 

MathGames
This site has just over a dozen free games, but each lets you choose the grade level and math skill.   

Funbrain
Created for kids in grades Pre-K through 8, Funbrain offers hundreds of games, books, comics, and videos that develop skills in math, reading, problem-solving and literacy.

Coolmath Games
Like the name implies, this site is filled with free math games – everything from addition to spatial relations to calculus. 

HoodaMath
A free online math games site. Founded by a middle school math teacher, Hooda Math offers over 350 Math Games.

Math Game Time
Designed for students from pre-K through 7th grade, Math Game Time offers fun, educational games focused on critical math concepts.

Math Playground
Games to play related to logic, number skills practice, geometry, algebra, probability, fractions and more. There are also math word problems and video instructions to help students remember how to solve them.  You can find games by grade or math skill.

Have fun and stay well,
Shana

Diaries and Postcards

I have a terrible secret.  I have, under my bed, a stash of abandoned journals.  They always start out so strong and hopeful, six pages filled with dreams and ideas, of fears and questions, of tiny epiphanies and huge sighs.  And then, nothing.  Blank pages.  Silence.

The idea of writing for my self has never taken me very far.  Something deep in me wants an audience.  When I send off poetry or essays to literary journals, when I write in my private blog, when I labor on the novel I keep returning to – there’s the possibility of a reader (or maybe even a few).  Is that egotistical?  Maybe.  It’s certainly fueled by ego. But it’s what gets my pencil moving (or fingers typing). 

Maybe it’s the same for you?

Imagine a young woman, your descendant, 100 years from now, stumbling upon a dusty crate in the attic.  The lock has broken over the years, and she lifts the creaking lid to discover… a diary a diary you wrote during the outbreak of 2020. 

What will she learn about you?  About the way life was before the virus?  About the changes that are taking place? 

If, like me, journaling for your self has never been enough to motivate a daily commitment, maybe the thought of your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, historians or anthropologists eventually reading your words is just the kick you need.  And, writing for others forces you to clarify things you might not feel the need to explain when you’re writing for your eyes only.  Who is Uncle Andy?  Should you describe the empty playground? Why are you happy you won’t see Janice at work for the next few weeks?

Some of you may take this idea and fly with it, but others might prefer to have someone reading their thoughts, not 100 years from now, but next week.  For you, writing postcards may be just the thing.  Postcrossing is a service that allows you to “send postcards and receive postcards back from random people around the world.”  The service is safe and free (well, except for buying the cards and stamps, a wonderful way to help our struggling postal system).

Perfect for children, postcards aren’t so demanding.  They have limited space, and once you finish writing one, you get to mail it off and imagine the recipient reading your words.  How cool is that? 

And, as luck would have it, it’s National Card and Letter Writing Month!

What do you write on a postcard to a stranger?  Anything you want!  You can keep with the diary/journal theme and tell them a little about what’s going on in your life right now, or you can send them a bit of kindness, a drawing of the flowers in your front garden or a promise that we’ll all get through this bleak time and emerge into something better.  You can describe the town of Sharon or send your favorite recipe for zucchini bread.  You can write a poem, or list your top five bands from 1973, or transcribe your favorite movie quote.  Anything at all. 

How far will your words travel?  And whose words will come back to you?

Stay safe,
Shana

Poetry and Journaling Resources for 4/13/2020

We’re nearly halfway through National Poetry Month, and it seems like a good time to offer some poetry resources. 

Favorite Poem Project
This is, perhaps, my favorite poetry resource of all time, and I’ve sifted through many, many, many.  Boston University’s Favorite Poem Project is a collection of well-produced videos showcasing everyday people reading their favorite poems and talking about why those poems are so meaningful to them.  A construction worker relates how he found encouragement in Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” a student from South Boston discusses how the teens of Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool” mirror today’s young people who find themselves victims of the opioid crisis, a computer science professor shows us how he uses Robert Frost’s poem “For Once, Then, Something” as inspiration when he feels stuck….  Why does poetry matter?  These videos answer that question in so many ways.

The Social Distancing Reading Series
The Green Mountains Review presents a new reading each Wednesday and Sunday.

NaPoWriMo
You’ve heard of NaNoWriMo?  National Novel Writing Month (November) has gotten a lot of press over the years.  But poets have their own month, too, and we’re smack dab in the middle  it!  A poem a day for 30 days.  Today is day 13, but, you can start your own NaPoWriMo any time (and doesn’t the current stay-at-home order seem tailor-made for budding writers?).  Just commit to a poem each day for 30 days.  You can use the NaPoWriMo site for daily prompts (just start on day 1 of any year and work your way to day 30).

Perhaps, one of your NaPoWriMo poems would be a perfect fit for The Academy of American Poets. They’re using the hashtag #ShelterInPoems to invite readers to share poems that help them find courage, solace or energy — and a few words about why.

And, speaking of writing during the stay-at-home order….

Telling Our Stories in the Age of COVID-19
We’re living in a unique and disquieting time.  There’s a lot of fear, a lot of questions, and, for many of us, a lot of reflection.   Journaling can help us put it all into perspective.  Keeping a daily journal can bring our focus back to what truly matters.  It can offer insight and clarity, reduce stress, and bring us back to the moment.  If you’d like to share your journal entries with others, check out Telling Our Stories.  Here’s their website description: “To join our storytelling community, simply sign up and look for daily journal links in your e-mail. Add journal entries daily or simply as often as you can. Use the journal to share what you are noticing, witnessing, feeling, longing for, and experiencing. The project will continue until it is clear that we are on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. When we are all done, we will put together a snapshot of stories from everyone who visited that will go to everyone who participated. No participant names or other identifying information will be included in any publications from this project.  Write daily or a few times a week, post pictures or stick with text, share anything you are noticing – there are no rules. Just come share your story and know that we are in this together.” 

Also, if you’re able to read stories at The New York Times, The Quarantine Diaries is a wonderful article about journaling during the pandemic.

And, before I go, I want to remind you about ArtisTree’s weekly Exploring Self through Expressive Arts for teens.  This is a peer-led Zoom group that meets for 90-minutes Mondays at 5:00 and allows high school students to discover creativity in a variety of art modalities found at home. No experience necessary, just openness to finding creative things to connect with while in quarantine.  Anyone interested can email Ben Fox to be sent the Zoom meeting link.

Here’s to a wonderful, wonder-filled week. 

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,
Shana