Crafts and Hobbies

Going to the Zoo!

May is the perfect time to visit a zoo. It's not too hot or crowded, and the animals are at their springtime best. If your kids are begging for pandas, then the National Zoo in Washington is the place to go, but there are some places about an hour's drive from our area where kids can get a different kind of beastly experience.

MonkeyShines

Whether leaping through the vines of a rainforest or the pages of a book at the library, monkeys have lots to teach us about the ways animals live, our responsibilities in caring for the last wild places, and just how to have fun.

I'll bet you know that monkeys are furry, cute, and swing in the trees, but there's so much more to learn about them:

A Monkey is NOT an Ape

Monkeys have tails, but apes do not. Chimpanzees, gibbons, orangutans, and gorillas are all apes. They use their powerful arms and legs to swing through the trees. Many New World monkeys from South America can use their tails like another hand to swing. Monkeys from Asia and India can't do that! Monkeys, apes, and humans are all part of a family group called primates.

A Room of Your Own

It's the first thing you see when you get up in the morning and the last thing you see when you go to bed at night. It should be a space that really expresses you, not just a collection of random backpack kibble.

With the right paint color, some interesting fabric, cool posters, and one or two fun yet functional light fixtures, you can create a room that's perfect for your daydreaming self and may even make homework time a little easier to take.

To get started, think about what you need to make your room work for you. You may think a calendar and a desk are pretty dorky, but you have to have some place to put your work stuff, yes? And your room is a MUCH better place to get down to school business than the dining room table or the den. So figure out where you're going to put the hafta's and then feel free to play with the rest. After all, Mom and Dad are going to be much sweeter about springing for a few decorating extras if the purpose is to improve your studies. ; )

Time to Get Popping

Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!

Stage a Puppet Show

There are all kinds of puppets: marionettes on strings, hand puppets that fit like a glove, and tiny finger puppets. They can be made with so many things: paper plates, index cards, straws and yarn, and even old socks! Puppets have been around for ages throughout the world. Read on to learn more about the world of puppets and how to make your own.

Stargazing

Great stars above!

From our place beneath the heavens, the stars seem to be tiny pinpoints of light. People have seen patterns in the stars for thousands of years. In the storytellers' imaginations, warriors and princesses, flying horses and laughing coyotes all found their way to the stars. Some soothsayers still tell fortunes based on the mysteries of astrology, or the alignment of the planets.

Astronomers know that the real mysteries of space are much greater than the accidental alignments of the stars. Stars, in all their blazing glory of red, blue, green, yellow, and more, are pulsing and moving, swirling around in their galaxies which, in turn, move around the Universe. The stars themselves may be ages old, but we continue to learn more about them all the time. Recently, scientists discovered ten new planets--one of which is orbiting a very young star.

Zoom! Make and Fly a Paper Airplane

There's your basic paper airplane, the one that's folded fast out of sheet of notebook paper cribbed from your buddy. It will go well enough to fly the few feet to the front of the class --not that we at the library are promoting any such thing, mind you! But the design of your basic paper airplane lacks features that could carry it higher and farther than you might imagine.

Ready, Set, Draw!

All it takes is a piece of paper and a pencil to make a great drawing. Even if you don't think you have any talent, step-by-step guides will have you sketching in no time.

Drawing Cartoons and Drawing Step-by-Step

Amaze your friends by drawing pictures of cartoon characters. Looney Tunes' web site has step-by-step instructions for Bugs, Daffy, and the rest of the gang. Step-by-step instruction books from the library can give you the confidence to create cars and kittens, dinosaurs and spaceships. The youngest artists may enjoy Ed Emberley's very simple books which turn basic shapes into cool cartoons.

Juggling Fun

Why not learn to juggle? It’s a fun way to impress your friends even if you are just a beginner. Like sports? Juggling is said to increase your hand-eye reflexes and your coordination. Like to be in the spotlight? It’s a great way to show off in a talent show and if you get really good at it, you can do it professionally at festivals or parties.

Snow Day Fun

What's the best thing about a snow day? Is it the thought of building the biggest, best snowman ever, taking a run down a sledding hill, or just spending a day away from school? Some people just enjoy how quiet nature seems to be under a blanket of winter white. Others can't wait to get out and get moving, even if it means shoveling the walk first!