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Creative Thursdays at the Library

Back to school. Sigh. Wait — take control! Make it fun!

If you get textbooks you can take home, cover them! It keeps them clean, and, if you can customize the covers it will make your books easier to identify and find. Book covers can be purchased, but you can make your own using brown paper, wrapping paper, or fabric. If you can find brown paper grocery bags, that’s even better because not only is the paper nice and sturdy, they are usually free [or pretty cheap]!

You can find directions for covering books online with a simple search – this one for instance – and I think avoiding taping the books is a VERY GOOD IDEA!!

 Blank paper makes a great canvas for artistic types, or choose your favorite colors and patterns of paper or fabric.

Don’t stop at covering books! You can make all kinds of personal and fun accessories. Check these out:

The Back-To-School Book by Sue Locke

“Fun and simple projects to fill the last few days of school vacation like a school days chart, pencil toppers, and book snakes.”                [J745.5 LOCKE]

Cool Stuff For School by Carol Scheunemann


“Presents step-by-step instructions for simple homemade projects that kids can make, featuring school-related items such as locker accessories, lunch bags, book covers, photo albums, and pencil boxes.”                  [J372.5 SCHEUNEMANN]

Dazzling Duct Tape Designs: Fashionable Accessories, Adorable Décor, and Many More Creative Crafts You Make at Home by Tamara Boykins

“Duct tape is no longer just for gaffing down cords, holding together pieces of pipe, and fixing everything that’s broken. Now available in vibrant colors and exciting patterns in craft stores nationwide, it’s at the center of a wildly popular crafting craze. Teaching readers to take this roll-of-fun phenomenon to the next level, Dazzling Duct Tape Designs shows how to turn duct tape into fashion accessories, home decor, and even entire outfits.” Projects for both girls and boys.                   [745.59 BOYKINS]

Make Your Own Hairwear: Beaded Barrettes, Clips, Dangles and Headbands by Diane Baker

” Whether it is something to wear with your ‘most favourite’ pair of jeans or with your dress for the school party, you will never have a ‘bad hair day’ again! Learn all the beading techniques, from making simple strands for ‘fringed’ bobby pins and tiebacks to fashioning intricate-looking ‘beady’ creatures and charms to attach to hair combs and scrunchies. Suitable for children of ages 9 to 12 years.”                              [J745.582 BAKER]

Accessories: Style Secrets for Girls by Stephanie Turnbull

“Provides step-by-step instructions for making necklaces, earrings, bracelets, bows, and scarves; looks at fashions from the past and trends for the future; and offers tips on organizing and storing accessories.”                     [J646.3 TURNBULL]

And don’t forget: accessorize your BRAIN, not just your outfit:

“Half-Face” Sketching

Print a photograph of someone’s face (your own, a friend’s, a family member’s or famous person’s). Cut the photo in half and tape this part to a large piece of drawing paper. Look at the unused half until it sinks into your imagination. Turn the unused half over and save it for Part 2.

We’re going to see how people complete this “Drawing Puzzle” in different ways. The important thing is to learn how faces are shaped, whether your drawing looks like a photo or like a cartoon.


Use a black pencil with soft graphite that can make thick dark lines and also soft gray shading when it is pressed lightly on the paper. You can also use soft colored pencils. See some of these pencil types below:

pencilset kneeded-eraser1

Have an eraser nearby, one that won’t smudge. Kneaded erasers from an art store are useful and fun. You can get a clean surface for erasing, just by twisting and kneading the eraser till it’s clean enough to use.

Symmetry of Faces

Everyone knows one half of a face is different than its other side. But pretend that they are the same, just to practice drawing the physical parts of the face: hair, brow, eyebrows, eyelids, eyelashes, eyes, iris, pupils, nose bridge, nostrils, ears, mouth, smile lines, dimples, cheeks, chin and neck. Start with the outlines shown below, except your project will be half photo and half oval with lines.

4 copy draw-face-1  face_3

Draw some basic lines or scaffolding out of the photo onto the white page. You can hang parts of the face on these lines. Pay attention to the rule of thirds–a grid that make the face have nice proportions. (To make exaggerated faces or comic characters, you can S.T.R.E.T.C.H. those proportions!)

4-proportions-of-head      kiddo4

Once the “parts” of the face are sketched (or put in place) on the lightly-drawn straight lines, press the pencil firmly to give the face a strong outline. Use the same pressure on your pencil to give the eyes, nose, eyebrows and other features clarity*. (This kind of “clarity” isn’t right for all drawings, but will help you learn to draw and shade the parts of the face–making your drawing look like the half-photo.)

1266072_orig masks and pots 007 masks and pots 006

Finally, you want to add depth and shading. To shade your drawing, tilt your pencil to side and make lighter strokes. (It’s important to put shadows on the side of the nose, under the lips, beneath the chin, and above and beneath the eyes.) This rounds out the face.

8664250067_2efe6a9f5e_m 7160893179_0e5de78eec kiseop_half_face_portrait_by_nathaliafl123-d6vd9l5

You’ll be surprised to see the whole face start to look life-like! Let’s look at the half-photo/half-drawings from the top of the page to see how kids see their faces and put the “parts” in the right place! The one on the right looks more like a photo and the two on the left are bright masks.

8 half-self-portrait-2 kiddo5

Now turn over the hidden half of the photograph and  place it above your drawing. What did you get “right?” What looks a little off?

Part 2. Take the other half of the cut photo and repeat the process you did in Part 1.

OR try Part 3! Just for fun, make a mythical creature or cartoon mask on the white space joining the second half of the photograph.

loki_half_face_portrait_by_avengerx24-d4bjuyj   9818282_orig    some_half_face_girl_by_limitless290-d4fb8rg


kiddo7   1452

Keep Drawing for a week or month. Use this exercise and start to make the drawings “Asymmetrical.” This will make your faces or portraits look more like real people. When manga or cartoon characters have emotions like anger, sadness or laughter, you can see that both halves of their faces are not exactly alike.  The two halves of the face will not look the same, even though the physical parts may have similar shapes.

When the school year starts, Be Creative! Not just on Thursdays!!

Creative Thursdays at the Library

Summer is almost over, and soon school will begin again. Hopefully you’ve done some fun things, and you might have some souvenirs and pictures. What to do with them? How about putting them in a scrapbook? 

What’s great about a scrapbook is everybody’s is different! You can make your own out of heavy paper stapled together, in a 3-ring binder, a blank book – or a recycled, ‘repurposed’ old book, or you can go to a craft store and put together something very complicated.

What can you put in a scrapbook? Just about anything that is mostly flat — pictures, postcards, leaves, tickets, place cards, invitations, ribbons, awards — how about that Summer Reading Game game board? Don’t forget to write names and dates on pictures – you’ll want to remember the name of that fun family you met at the lake!

Scrapbooking Just For You! How to Make Fun, Personal, Save-Them-Forever Keepsakes by Candace Ransom

“Presents a guide to creating scrapbooks, discussing supplies, tools required to design samples, writing tips, layouts, projects, and ideas for throwing a scrapbooking party.”     [J745.593 RANSOM]

The Kids’ Guide to Making Scrapbooks & Photo Albums: How to Collect, Design, Assemble, Decorate by Laura Check

“Gives ideas for creating and decorating scrapbooks and photo albums, makes suggestions for cropping photos and proper paper usage, and provides assorted templates to help kids get started.”     [J745.593 CHECK]
 Scrapbook Starters by Tracy Nelson Maurer

“Kids safely learn scrapbooking techniques through illustrated step-by-step instructions that require little or no assistance and use easy to find materials.”

The Book Book: A Journey Into Bookmaking by Sophie Benini Pietromarchi

“A guide to making a book from scratch covers the different ways to make illustrations, what to write about, and how to assemble it in various formats.”               [J686 BENINI PIETROMARCHI]

Totally Cool Journals, Notebooks and Diaries by Janet Pensiero

“Collect your memories and mementos in journals that you can make as special as the words and treasures stored inside. Packed with fantastic full-color photos, this guide features more than 30 creative projects and all the “how-tos” you need. Start from scratch or decorate a store-bought book. Have fun shopping for supplies and searching for “recyclable” items to use at home, and then start crafting.”              [J686 PENSIERO]

Water Fun In A Droughty 2014!!


Boy, what a year of drought 2014 is!  We heard so much about how to conserve water, and we all did a great job for the past several months.  Do you miss to play in/with the water?

Fremont’s Aqua Adventure WaterPark by the Lake Elizabeth is still open for another 2 weeks; then they are going to open down to the weekends only until Sunday, 9/28,  when they close for the 2014 season.

If you really miss playing in the water, yes, a lot of water; don’t forget you still have the chance to do so.  For more information to the park, click here.

Riddles All Over the United States!

Silly State Riddles


In what state do you often hear a quack?

South Duck-ota (South Dakota)


What state sneezes a lot?



What state doesn’t use bottles?



Which state can stay warm in winter?

North Da-coat-a (North Dakota)


Which state has the most happy people?

Merry-land (Maryland)


Which state has lots of smart people?

Wise-consin (Wisconsin)


Which states wear glasses with three lenses?

Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia (because each has three eyes)


Which state has the most acorns?

Oak-lahoma (Oklahoma)


Which state has lots of gum?

Massa-chew-setts (Massachusetts)


In which state do people do a ton of laundry?

In Washing-ton


Find these and more in our many joke and riddle books at your local library.  These are from:

J398.6 Holub: GEOGRA-FLEAS!  Riddles All Over the Map by Holub and Dunnick


Antsy Post


 What summer would be complete without some ants.  If you like ants, or just like to eat…read on!

IMG_9358-375x500  EAT

 Chocolate Almond Butter

 If you love Nutella, this is the recipe for you.


  •  2 cups (12 ounces) dry toasted, unsalted almonds
  •  1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  •  1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
  •  1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Directions:  Wash your hands

 Start with the almonds and process in your food processor on high speed, scraping the sides/bottom as needed, for 5 to 15 minutes or until mixture is smooth to your liking. Melt chocolate chips separately and then mix in along with sugar and sea salt.

For this and other great nut and legume butter recipes:  http://wallstcheatsheet.com/life/sorry-skippy-7-homemade-nut-butter-recipes-ready-in-a-jiff.html/?a=viewall


 Ants on a Log

  This is a really fun recipe you can use with any kind of nut or legume butter.
You can also try it  with cream cheese and dried cranberries.

Directions:  Wash your hands

Wash the celery

Open the butter

Open the raisins

Put some raisins in a small bowl

Put your ants on the log

Use a spoon to get a little butter

Spread the peanut butter into the celery, ask an adult for help if necessary

Push raisins into the butter



Did you know you can make an ant farm out of old CD cases?  You probably have a lot of the materials already.  The link below has the instructions starting on page 9 and much more.







 One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

A rhyming text describes the progress of one hundred ants marching toward a picnic. To travel  faster, one ant suggests dividing into two lines of fifty, then four lines of twenty-five, and finally ten lines of ten. Their frantic reorganization takes so long that the picnic is gone by the time they arrive. The illustrations, which look like linoleum cuts, use a pleasing palette and energetic lines to depict ants with highly individual characters.  Preschool to 3rd, from the Horn Book      


Jacket (1)The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca and Ed Emberley

The story of the industrious ant takes on a new twist when she stumbles upon “a grasshopper and his buggy band making music with complete abandon.” The book is chock-full of visual interest and superb vocabulary words (“persevered,” “blistering,” “hoisting,” and more), and the ant discovers that music can make any burden lighter.  Preschool to 3rd, from School Library Journal


Jacket (2)Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg

When a troop of ants are sent to retrieve sugar crystals from a kitchen, two ants stay behind to feast and go to sleep in the sugar bowl. When morning comes they are successively stirred into a cup of coffee, almost swallowed, toasted with an english muffin, whirled through a garbage disposal, and stunned senseless in an electrical outlet. The truants return home in one piece, and the last few lines supply a pallid and oddly moralistic conclusion to the story. 1-5th  Grade, from School Library Journal

Rent a Pet at Sulphur Creek’s Animal Lending Library

Paws to Read, our Summer Reading Program ends on August 9th! But that doesn’t mean the animal fun has to stop. 

Many of you may already be big fans of Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.

Their mission is beautiful: 

The mission of the Sulphur Creek Nature Center is to instill a sense of responsibility for the welfare of our world by bringing people and animals closer together through wildlife rehabilitation and education.

They are well known for their programs for schools and kids of all ages. Growing up we would pack a lunch and visit the coyotes, and now as a parent I get to take my child there. It’s been a blast.  


Earlier this year, I discovered their Animal Lending Library. Click here for more info.

For $20 dollars, you can borrow a guinea pig, rat, hamster, or mouse, with a cage, food, bowl, water bottle, and care sheet. You can borrow the animal for one week. 

If your school age kids have been begging for a furry friend, they can experience first hand the responsibility of caring and feeding for an animal, before committing to owning a pet. 

Toddlers don’t have to miss out either! I did this in January, after my child had just turned 2 years old.  



My daughter Gail. “Rory is sleeping!” Rodents are apparently nocturnal, so she mostly saw him right before bed, or when she first woke up in the morning. We, however woke up on two separate nights to the sound of his 3am workouts on his spinning wheel. Keep this in mind when you decide where to place the animal’s cage.

Gail was a little scared of holding him, so I didn’t have to be as cautious as some parents have to be. Sulphur Creek staff will give you sage advice on how to facilitate animal interactions with your toddler or preschooler. Despite the fact that he is nocturnal, Rory provided endless entertainment that week. Everyday we cleaned his cage, filled his food bowl, and changed his water. These are things a two year old loves to “help” with. If you give yourself plenty of time and do not rush, these simple tasks can be wonderful learning opportunities. 


More sleeping!

We talked a lot about what Rory eats, “He eats apple . . . I like apple too!” We used various adjectives to describe our furry friend, “Rory is soft, but his nails are kind of scratchy.” When Rory cleaned his fur after being handled, not only was that cute as heck, but it was an easy transition into bath time: “Rory’s giving himself a bath. Do you take baths too?” 

The experience was further enhanced by hamster themed library books I brought home from work. 

Even months later, we still talk about our old friend, Rory the Roman Hamster. 



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