Resources for 4/8/2020

Welcome to another day of social distancing and (for most of us) staying at home!  I have several fun links for you this morning!  This year, Billings Farm has made their Baby Farm Animal Celebration virtual – and FREE!  What else? Well, you can learn at home with PBS, find your voice by reading Shakespeare, listen to radio stations from around the world, and learn how to knit your very own Weasley scarf!

Billings Farm and Museum
This weekend is the annual Baby Farm Animal Celebration – online!
Get up close with the farm’s baby animals through videos, photos and downloadable activities, including making natural egg dye for your Easter eggs! Virtually meet and learn about the farm’s calves, lambs, steers, goats, bunnies and chicks. You can already watch the eggs in their online stream, and you might get to see a chick hatch!  Today, though, Museum Educator Christine Scales will preview the Baby Farm Animal Celebration and answer your questions about the baby animals at 1:00 PM EST during their new Facebook Live series, “Ask Billings Farm Live.”  (A recording of the event will be available.) And don’t forget that Billings also provides daily “Bag of Fun” kits and videos featuring book readings, farmhouse tours and virtual visits with the farm animals. 

Harry Potter at Home
I think this might be the perfect time to reread the Harry Potter series.  Is anyone with me?  Harry Potter at Home is a free online collection of child-friendly activities, videos, puzzles, illustrations, quizzes, creative ideas, articles and much more, that will help you bring the magic of the wizarding world into your home. (Want to knit that Weasley scarf I mentioned earlier? Check out the video tutorial.)

Radio Garden
Do you enjoy flipping through radio stations?  How about spinning a globe with your eyes shut?  Well, then, this will be a treat!  Radio Garden is a non-profit Dutch radio and digital research project developed from 2013 to 2016 by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.  You can use it on your desktop, or download the Apple or Android app onto your phone or tablet.  Then, just spin the globe and see where you end up?  Norwegian pop?  Russian talk radio?  Up-tempo Tanzanian?  Cambodian punk?  Jamaican gospel?  There are more than 8000 stations registered all over the world.

Find Your Voice Through Shakespeare Workshop
Join Peter Gould, creator of the popular Get Thee to the Funnery Shakespeare Camp, and Find Your Voice Through Shakespeare in a free interactive workshop via Zoom on Friday, April 10 at 3:00 pm.  As a childhood stutterer, Peter Gould turned to Shakespeare to find his voice and build confidence; he now shares his methods through his popular Get Thee to the Funnery Camp. In this online interactive workshop, participants will learn how to look through words, add punctuation, leap over line endings, and use breath and focus to bring new life to immortal words. No previous theater training necessary. Sit and watch, or dive right in. Sign up here.

PBS At Home Learning
While school is out, PBS is showing educational programming with accompanying interactive lessons and suggested activities at their website.  Vermont PBS Main Channel will offer programming starting each weekday at 7:00 a.m. with programs for pre-K to 8th grade students.  Vermont PBS Plus Channel will offer science, history and English language arts programming for students in grades 6 through 12.  Both channels are broadly available on all cable systems, and available for free over the air through a digital antenna without the need for cable subscription or broadband internet access.

Stay well, everyone, and we’ll make it through this – together.


Jigsaw & Origami Resources for 4/4/2020

Looking for a calming activity to counteract the turbulence that so often feels inescapable?  Try putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  You can sit happily for hours scanning pieces for the perfect fit, the world beyond your kitchen table forgotten.  Doesn’t it sound blissful?  Of course, these days, when we’re stuck indoors, puzzles may not be easy to come by.  Enter the online jigsaw.  Though I’ve seen advertisements for them for years, I hadn’t tried one until yesterday, and I’ll admit, I didn’t have high hopes.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised. 

Norwich resident Cynthia Crawford has long taken beautiful photographs of local birds and made them into calendars, but now she’s offering several as free online puzzles.  I pieced together the red-winged blackbird and found that, while my brain was happily engaged in the search for the right piece, my stress just fell away.  By the time I was finished, it was gone. 

I’ve always thought that online jigsaws must be buggy and frustrating, but that wasn’t the case, at all.  The puzzles were made with an application called Jigsaw Explorer, a site filled with thousands of beautiful puzzles, all available for free.  You can even create your own!  You decide how difficult each puzzle will be by choosing the number of pieces and whether the pieces have the ability to rotate. 

This was my first foray into the world of online jigsaw puzzles, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Another great stress reliever?  Paper folding.  Sure, you can fold a dollar bill into a heart or create a cootie catcher, but what if you’re ready for more?  Well, the Origami Resource Center has you covered.  This site aggregates tutorials from all over the web to show you how to fold baskets, animals, stars – you name it.  You can even fold precious toilet paper into beautiful works of art – without ever taking it off the roll!  Looking for kid-friendly tutorials?  Why not try watching some of the Easy Origami for Kids videos?  Or, visit (I like their addition of dotted lines to show where to fold.)

I’ll add these links to the Resource Center.  Hopefully, with all this folding and piecing, we’ll all feel a bit more relaxed this weekend.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,

The Haudenosaunee & Resources for 4/2/2020

I spent some time today searching out resources for a boy who wants to learn about Native Americans – particularly the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy.  I had such fun finding links, and though I’m not finished by any stretch, I thought, why not share what I’ve found with everyone? 

Extra History has a two-part video (Part One, Part Two) on Hiawatha and the formation of the Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy that’s actually pretty good.  The videos are sponsored by a game called Dominations, but the plug for them only lasts for a few seconds toward the beginning of the first video.    

PBS produced a video that covers some of the same information but comes at it from a more story-like, almost mythical, perspective.  The imagery is a bit darker than in the Extra History videos and might be worth a parental-preview to see if it’s suitable before showing it to children.

Here’s a great video of a dynamic presenter at a middle school talking about whether to use the term Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. 

Here’s one on the Haudenosaunee creation myth.  Every video I looked at told of a different reason for Sky Woman’s fall, but I thought this one was extremely well produced.  

And now, it’s time for today’s resources!  These have been added into the slowly-evolving Resource Center.  Yes, it’s changed again.  I finally discovered how to create separate pages for the four different types of resources and gather them under the same umbrella.  (In case you haven’t yet guessed, I tend to bumble my way around WordPress until things look, well, sorta okay.  It takes a while, but it’s probably somewhat entertaining for anyone watching.) I also added icons to show off local resources (there’s one below).

The first resource is great fun, and I probably spent a little too much time scrolling and laughing.  The Getty Museum has challenged those of us at home to recreate great works of art, and their Twitter feed is filled with both silly and surprisingly spot-on examples.  What work of art can you recreate?

And now for the kids:

ArtisTree Community Arts Center – ArtisTree in Woodstock, VT has created a YouTube Channel with art projects, including a reading of Frederick by Leo Lionni followed by collage creation inspired by the illustrations!

Fingerprint Alphabet Art – What a cute art project!  Use your fingerprint to create a picture for every letter of the alphabet: dogs and jellyfish and unicorns – oh, my!

Stay well, everyone!

National Poetry Month & Resources for 4/1/2020

Happy National Poetry Month, everyone!  Did you know that in one of my previous lives, I wrote poetry – lots of poetry?  I even spent a few years in a creative writing graduate program!  And though I usually find myself writing other things these days, poetry will always be my first true love.   What is there to love about poetry?  For me, there’s almost nothing more satisfying than playing with words, with the sounds they make and the images and feelings they elicit.  Getting them into just the right order, taking away the ones that aren’t necessary, finding the perfect words to recreate what I’m feeling or seeing or thinking – for me, poetry is like a puzzle.

The Academy of American Poets has created a page detailing 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month at Home or Online (updated for today’s virtual world).  When you get to number three, watch this video, instead.  Naomi Shihab Nye has always been one of my favorite poets, and this is one of her most beautiful poems.  Her work is simple and heartfelt.  I’ve met her twice, and each time, I felt as if I were a teenager meeting a rock star.

In other news, Green Up Day has been postponed until May 30. Can you believe Green Up Day has been going strong for 50 years?  To celebrate the occasion, they’ll be providing a “birthday box” to each town.  The box will include a maple tree sapling and a granite plaque to plant in a community location, a free birthday cake coupon from Shaw’s, wildflower seeds, and a few other goodies for the town to share!

Now on to today’s resources – all for kids (and the young at heart, of course)!

BookFlix from Scholastic – What a fun site!  BookFlix pairs picture book videos with related nonfiction ebooks (that you can either read, or follow along with as they’re read to you), then adds puzzles and games.  Highly recommended for those learning to read!

Tate Kids – The Tate Museum in London has created an incredibly cool art website for kids filled with games, videos, activities, silly quizzes, and much more!  THIS is an awesome resource.

Stimola Live is a website of live stream events (storytimes, art starters, craft and illustration tutorials, writing workshops, etc.) for kids, tweens, and teens by professional authors and illustrators who are represented by Stimola Literary Studio agency.  Events are streamed live from a variety of platforms and archived on the site, as well as on the Stimola Live YouTube Channel.


Remember, you can email me with any questions you have about anything I post – or about anything at all, really!  My job is to help you figure stuff out.  If there is something you’re trying to figure out, let me know, and I’ll see if I can be of any help. Or, if there’s something your kiddo wants to learn but you have no idea where to begin, send me an email! Just think of me as your friendly reference librarian.  As always, stay safe, stay well, and stay kind, and hopefully, we can see each other again very soon!


Tomie dePaola & Resources for 3/31/2020

It’s a sad day in library land.  Tomie dePaola has died.  I remember reading The Knight and the Dragon with my son over and over (and over) when he was young.   We never owned any of the Strega Nona books, but we checked them out from the library often enough.  Tomie lived just down the road in New London, NH, but his books spread joy across the world.  In a Tomie dePaola mood?  Watch this incredible storytime with Mary Steenburgen reading Strega Nona (and playing her accordion)!

Looking for more storytimes? 

Maple Sugaring Storytime – Yes, it’s that time of year!  Check out this incredibly sweet storytime from the Joslin Memorial Library in Waitsfield. Oliver Jeffers’ Stuck and maple sugaring – lots of fun on a rainy day!

Save with Stories is a collection of celebrities reading children’s stories on Instagram. These are filmed, often with cell phones, in celebrities’ homes during the pandemic. There’s a lot here, but why not start with Jeff Goldblum reading Horton Hears a Who?

How about The Big List of Children’s Authors Doing Online Read-Alouds & Activities from We Are Teachers?  Oliver Jeffers, Kate Messner, Grace Lin – and many more!

And a storytime for the older crowd?  Patrick Stewart Reads a Daily Shakespearean Sonnet.  A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away. That’s the phrase, right?

Other Resources

There’s also another repository of children’s ebooks that has been made free: ABDO Books – ABDO has three different online digital accounts: one each for PreK–6 readers and 5–12 grade readers, and a third account for their four Abdo Zoom online databases that include Biographies, STEAM, Animals, and Animales (Animals in Spanish).

Here’s a fun one for older kids: The Learning Network by The New York Times publishes about 1,000 teaching resources each school year, all based on Times content — articles, essays, images, videos, graphics and podcasts. Most of the resources are free (only the lesson plans are limited to five per month for nonsubscribers).

And finally, Amazon has unlocked dozens of shows and movies for kids, including all their PBS Kids shows (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, anyone?).

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,

Stress/Anxiety & Resources for 3/30/2020

Hello library friends,

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling an uptick in stress and anxiety about the virus. Maybe you have, too. For me, two things seem to help more than any others: Mindfulness and… (you guessed it) reading. Focusing on the salad in front of me or the song spilling out of my stereo or the cat purring in my lap allows me to, not only forget about everything else, but to remember that what’s truly important is what’s happening right here, right now. That’s where my life is: Right here, right now. This moment is all that there is, and I’d better not miss it. For me, Thich Nhat Hanh’s guidance has been invaluable. If you’re looking for something a little less Zenny, though, you might check out the website of the magazine Mindful. It’s a beautifully organized site, and it even has a page dedicated to COVID resources.

Of course, the idea of a stressed-out librarian reading to calm herself down probably comes as no surprise. Right now, I’m in the middle of several books, different ones for different times of the day and different reading nooks. What am I gravitating to during this stressful time? At the moment:

Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry (I don’t know that a character has ever been created that outshines Aurora Greenway.)
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (I’m only a fourth of the way through, but I can already recommend it VERY highly.)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Who doesn’t love revisiting a childhood favorite during times of stress?)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (My all-time favorite book. I’ve instructed my loved ones that, when I die, I want to be buried with a copy. I’m always reading it. It lives in my purse.)

Reading does so much for calming the mind. There’s a wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times by Margaret Renkl that celebrates reading during the coronavirus (and implores people to continue to patronize independent booksellers), Here are my favorite bits:

What a book offers that I most need myself is a way to slow down. A book doesn’t drag me along at the speed of life — or the speed of breaking news — the way television shows and movies do. A book lets me linger, slowing down or speeding up as I wish, backtracking with the turn of a page. When I pause to ponder the words I’ve just read, my hands and eyes fall still, and the story stops, too.

In talking about books, we habitually use the present tense to describe the story’s action. The novel’s protagonist is happy or afraid. The memoir’s antagonist is furious or deranged. The poem’s speaker is alight with love. Isisis, as though the act of reading itself suspends us in an endless present, removed from the consequences of time. As though we ourselves are timeless creatures: young or old or in-between, as the tale requires, no matter how many actual years we carry in our cells.

I think that says it all.

I have only one other resource for you today, but it’s an important one:

Legal and Benefits Updates for Vermonters – The outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has created many changes in the way Vermont courts are operating, changes to public benefits, and more. This page is filled with fantastic information from evictions and foreclosures to federal student loans to child custody arrangements during the pandemic.

Be well, friends.

Resources for 3/28/2020

Happy Saturday, everyone! Here are today’s resources – and three of them are local! You can find all the resources I post at the Resource Center.

Ancestry K12 – With school closures in effect across the U.S., Ancestry has made its AncestryK12 lesson plans available for free for anyone to download while they are educating children at home. The lesson plans target a number of core subjects, with educational topics ranging from the American Revolutionary War to the suffrage movement to haunted houses! They have been written by teachers according to the History Standards administered by the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles under the guidance of the National Council for History Standards. – The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has teamed up with its long-term digitization partner Ancestry to provide FREE access to search nearly 500 million records and images on Ancestry. Exploring the records is completely free – just create an account by entering your email to start your search.  The almost half a billion digitized and searchable records being made available are comprised of nearly 300 different collections, including ship passenger and crew lists, naturalization and citizenship records, immigration records, and key military collections such as WWI and WWII draft cards. 

Cornell Lab’s All About Birds Live WebCams – Want to bird watch without ever leaving your home? You’re in luck! Cornell Lab offers live footage of owls, hawks, songbirds and more – 15 in all!

LOCAL Offerings

Shaker Bridge Theatre 10-Minute Play Contest – All plays should be received by May 15. When plays are received, they will be placed on the theatre’s web site so they will all be available for reading by everyone, but the playwright will remain anonymous. SBT will pick the best plays to be presented in public staged readings at the theatre over one weekend next fall. You’ll get to see your play performed in front of an audience by professional actors!

Shakespeare Reading Group – Organized by Strafford resident and former Sharon Library Director Jared Jenisch, the Shakespeare Reading Group meets weekly, and all are welcome to join in!  No prior experience or attendance is required. The next meeting will be this coming Thursday evening, April 2, at 6:30 pm.  If interested, email Jared, and he’ll send you an invitation to join by Zoom.  

Second Wind Recovery Meetings and Coaching Although The Upper Valley Turning Point peer recovery center is closed and all onsite activities temporarily suspended, we are here for you! The isolation created by OVID-19 is difficult for many people. Those in recovery from substance use disorder and their families rely on a close knit and accessible community for support.  During this time the Turning Point is providing online alternatives. Please, consider the following:  

All Recovery Group: These facilitated groups are open to people in recovery from any addiction, and are supportive of all paths to recovery. Come find common ground with peers and discuss the challenges and joys of a life in recovery. We usually meet Wednesdays at 5:30pm. Due to COVID-19 we have created an online alternative and meet Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 5:30.  The meeting can be easily accessed through our website

Wit’s End is a support group for parents of adolescent or adult children who are having problems related to alcohol or other drug use.  Join others who can identify with your situation in this open, candid and confidential support group. The group meets every Monday from 6-7:30 pm.  Due to COVID-19 we are using an alternative online format and for extra support we have added a second meeting Thursday from  6-7:30.  You may easily access these meetings by visiting

Many other meetings have been made available online, as well. Just check the weekly calendar.

REGARDING ZOOM ONLINE MEETINGS:  Please “arrive” a few minutes early to become familiar with the ZOOM format.  Meetings will be open 15 minutes prior to start.

All of our services are FREE and there is NO need to register for groups.

Recovery Coaches are also available to assist people in creating a plan for recovery,  identifying and removing barriers, accessing community resources and connecting with recovery services. Learn more by calling (802) 295-5206 (leave a clear message which will be returned) or by emailing

In addition, our website provides information about other recovery groups and resources that are available in the Upper Valley and beyond.  

About us:  The Upper Valley Turning Point located in White River Junction, VT  is a program of the Second Wind Foundation whose mission is to advance recovery from addiction and addictive behavior. We offer recovery support services, education and advocacy for social, cultural and health care parity with other illnesses.

Our focus is on peer support, because of its effectiveness, affordability and sustainability. Our efforts are inclusive. We support a variety of recovery services by filling the gaps among existing programs as well as providing our own.

We seek to foster an environment in which people with addictive illness are accepted, treated and supported as any other patient, whether in a hospital, workplace, neighborhood or home. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization and are supported by the State of VT, Granite United Way, The Byrne Foundation, The Hope Foundation and other generous supporters. Contributions to support our work are greatly appreciated.

A Letter from West Fairlee

Dearest library friends,

I am sitting at my home in West Fairlee, VT, a sweet aging cat on my lap, far away from all of you.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to see you again, but I’m so grateful for the ability to stay in touch, to read your notes, and to talk virtually.  

I’ve been searching the Internet for things that can enrich our lives while so many of us are staying close to home, and I’ve found some lovely resources.  In addition to things like free online recovery meetings and information on low-cost Internet and cell service, I’ve collected piles of links to activities and digital books and a hundred other things to surprise, delight, entertain and inform you.  For example, did you know, in addition to the books available through ListenUpVermont (which you can access any time with your library card number – email if you don’t know yours) that children get free access to much of Audible’s collection of children’s books?  Or that TumbleBooks’ ebooks and audiobooks are also now free?  Did you know that you can watch James Earl Jones and Betty White read children’s stories on StoryLine Online?  Or maybe peeking in on adorable puppies chewing squeaky toys is just what you need for stress relief.  Want to join a virtual book club – for adults?  Or make giant puppets?  Or identify insect species in your backyard?  Or participate in a virtual poetry reading?  Or create your own mandala?  Or, or, or…?  There’s so much to explore – virtually!  Just check out the library’s Resource Center at

I’ll update this blog with new resources I stumble upon.  What else am I doing while I’m tucked away in West Fairlee?  Well, I’m watching webinars to learn more about some of my patrons’ favorite literary genres, like historical fiction and thrillers.  I’m talking with other Vermont librarians about how they’re continuing their missions despite the pandemic, and gleaning ideas for virtual programming. I’m also working on a redesign of the library’s website.  It’s been a little while since I’ve had my design hat on, and it feels good!  If there’s anything at all I can do for you or help you with, please let me know.  Helping each other is what it’s all about right now.

Stay safe, stay well, and stay kind,