Kids at Home with MPPL

Kids at Home with MPPL Blog

Animal Web Cams

Animals are amazing and you can learn so much by watching them at zoos, in their natural habitats, reading books, and looking up information about them with our web resources:

Live Web Cams and livestreams are a great way to see animals while staying home this winter. These cameras are mounted in animal enclosures and near animals’ habitats in the wild. By watching them you can get a glimpse of what these animals do daily. Here are some of our favorites: 

Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Cam 

Giant Panda Cam at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Sloth Cam at the Hattiesburg Zoo

Coral Reefs, Jellyfish, and More Web Cams at the National Aquarium 

Finally, if you are more a fan of dogs and cats, check out these web cams: 

Kitten Rescue Sanctuary 

Puppy Playroom at Warrior Canine Connection 

Maker Monday: Make Your Own Dreidel

Happy Hanukkah!

To learn more about this holiday, we went to PebbleGo, accessible through the library website here:

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday taking place for eight nights. This year, it started on Thursday, December 10 and ends Friday, December 18. It is also known as the Festival of Lights. Jewish people celebrate by lighting a candle on a menorah each night, eating special foods, and sometimes exchanging gifts. Many also like to play with a spinning top called a dreidel.

To celebrate, you can make your own dreidel and play a fun game to win treats of your choosing.

1. Draw equal triangles on your cardboard. You can do this by drawing two diagonal lines across the brown side of cardboard.

2. Draw the Hebrew letters below on each triangle.

3. Have a grownup poke a pencil in the middle of the cardboard square. Now you can spin it on the pencil tip!

Everyone gets the same amount of a small object- raisins, or stickers, or Hanukkah gelt (gold-foiled covered chocolate). You’ll be playing for these pieces.

examples of homemade paper dreidels

Image by Erica of What We Do All Day

This idea comes from  

Dreidel game: Before each turn everyone puts 1 piece into the pot. Spin the dreidel and if it lands on: Shin- put 1 piece into pot; hay- you win half of the pieces in the pot; nun- nothing happens, next player spins; gimmel- you win all the pieces in the pot.

Image by Simple Play Ideas

You might also want to check out this online coloring book from Google Arts and Culture to decorate your own Hanukkah art.  

Insects in Winter

How do insects survive the long, cold winter? In several different ways!

Some Overwinter as Eggs

Praying mantids spend the winter as eggs, waiting for the warmer spring temperatures to hatch. Both the native Carolina Praying Mantis and the Chinese Praying mantis are found in Illinois.

Carolina mantis egg case
Carolina Mantis egg case
Chinese Mantis egg case
Chinese Mantis egg case

Some Overwinter as Larvae

Woolly bear caterpillars, the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth, spend the winter curled up under leaves.

Woolly Bear Caterpillar, larvae of Isabella Tiger Moth
Woolly Bear Caterpillar, larvae of Isabella Tiger Moth

Some Overwinter as Nymphs

Insects that have an incomplete metamorphosis only have three stages of life: egg, nymph and adult. Dragonflies spend the winter as nymphs underwater will stay active under the ice. They emerge in spring as adults.

Dragonfly Nymph
Dragonfly Nymph

Some Overwinter as Pupae

Some moths and butterflies will stay in their pupal cases (chrysalides or cocoons) and come out in the spring as adults.

Cecropia Moth Cocoon
Cecropia Moth Cocoon

Some Overwinter as Adults

Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico in the fall and wait for the spring to arrive to begin their journey back home.

Monarch butterflies

To learn more, check out these books:

Maker Monday: Cinnamon Playdough

This easy recipe creates a wonderfully spicy smelling playdough that will last weeks if kept in a sealed container.   

Playing with playdough helps with fine motor skills, hand strength, and creativity.  You can also use it to make letters and build letter recognition. You can add toothpicks, beads, dried pasta, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and even feathers to allow for more creative play. 

Cinnamon Spice Edible Playdough recipe

Recipe from Not Just Cute with Amanda Morgan

Make a Holiday Card for Alden Gardens

crafting with colored paper, colored pencils, scissors and more

Help brighten the holidays for seniors by sending a handcrafted holiday card. The Mount Prospect Public Library has partnered with Alden Gardens in Des Plaines to send holiday cards to their residents. All you need to do is have your child create a card using any art supplies you have at home, making it as simple or as elaborate as they want. 

  • Then, send the cards to Alden Gardens: 
  • Alden Gardens 
  • Attn: Candice Mitchell, Activity Director 
  • 1221 E. Golf Road 
  • Des Plaines, IL 60016 
  • Write “MPPL Card Activity” on the front of the envelope. 
  • Cards will be held until safe to distribute. 

There are tons of ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere – here are some of our faves using supplies most of us already have!!! 

Simple Christmas Cards Kids Can Make

Tinkerlabs Cards for Kids to Make 

Good Housekeeping DIY cards 

If you would like service credit for this project, please contact the Volunteen Coordinators, Claire ( or Amy (