Create a Cat Castle! | Library @ Home

If you’ve got a cat, small dog, hamster or other small pet, why not create a cardboard castle for them? Don’t they all love to be in a box, anyway?

Spokane Public Library has hosted several Cat Castle events, where families use cardboard, paper, and tape to create some wonderful spaces for their pets.

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If you’ve got a few supplies, your family can create a Cat Castle at home!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

  • Yardstick and/or measuring tape if you want to be precise. Metal yardsticks and rulers are best to cut along.
  • Utility knives and scissors. Parents, please consider safety! Always lock the utility knife blade closed when not in use.
  • Packing tape is best for this project, but you can use other tape or even white school glue – just allow time for the glue to dry (White school glue is nontoxic and will not harm your pet.).
  • Gather boxes, shoe boxes, tissue boxes, toilet paper tubes, wrapping paper, cat toys, rope or twine, if you have it.
  • Make a cutting station. Put a piece of cardboard on the surface you’ll cut on so it doesn’t get damaged.

Step 2: Learn a Few Techniques

  • Curving or rolling cardboard. Rolling cardboard around a rolling pin is the best way to get cardboard to curl.
  • Score and fold – score on the outside of the cardboard where you’d like the fold to be. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Score the outside, then fold the cardboard in the opposite direction.
  • Cutting curves – move the cardboard as you go.
  • When cutting, use gentle pressure and make several passes rather than using force. This is for safety and precision.

Step 3: Design

  • Consider the size of your cat for holes and castle sizes.
  • If you have a large cat, consider doubling up the cardboard for weight bearing components.
  • Don’t incorporate anything a cat could swallow such as glitter, sequins, and beads.
  • Color: cats don’t see colors the same way humans do, so reflect YOUR style.
  • Consider the inside of your cat castle – what would be fun to add for your pet? Consider wrapping a tube with twine or rope for a mini scratching post.
  • Add comfy touches such as pillows and blankets. Felt is another nice touch.

Step 4: Construction

  • Be safe! Parents should supervise this activity.
  • Let everyone in the family contribute! Younger kids can use markers or colored paper to decorate. There are some fine cat toys you can make at home out of toilet paper tubes or string.

We’d love to see some of your creations along with your pets! Share your cat castle on social media and tag Spokane Public Library.

This activity was inspired by the book, Cat Castles: 20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself by Carin Oliver.


Drop Everything and Read | Celebrate Beverly Cleary April 12

beverly_cleary_ca-_1955April 12 is celebrated every year in schools and libraries all over the world as D.E.A.R. Day – Drop Everything and Read! It’s an annual reminder to make reading for fun a priority in our lives!

Why April 12? It’s the birthday of beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary. You’ll recognize some of her book titles instantly.

Born in 1916, she struggled with reading and writing until she started spending more time at her local public library. When shew grew up, Cleary became a children’s librarian.

When a young boy asked Beverly, “Where are the books about kids like us?”, she was inspired to write funny stories based on her own childhood friends and neighborhood experiences. Her books have won awards such as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (formerly the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) for “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature” and the Newbery Medal. This April 12, 2020, she will be 104 years old!

So on April 12, make some time to read for at least 30 minutes.

You can find many of Beverly Cleary’s books via Spokane Public Library’s digital downloads. Check for eBooks in Overdrive/Libby, and Open Libraries. Streaming audiobooks for many of her books are available in Hoopla.

Ways to celebrate D.E.A.R. Day:

Read her books, such as:

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Make Beverly Cleary a birthday card! Mail it to:

Beverly Cleary, HarperCollins Publishers c/o Author mail, 195 Broadway Floor 22, New York, NY 10007

Watch a video about Beverly Cleary.

Learn fun facts about Beverly Cleary.

Design or color a bookmark! Here are some fun ones to try.

(Source for book images: SPL Catalog) (Source for Cleary images: Wikimedia commons)

Simplifying Your Life | Organizing Your Bedroom and Closet

If you want to simplify your life, where do you start? Follow Clara’s lead on how to clean and organize your home one room at a time!

Lesson 2 | The Bedroom and Closet

Start simplifying your life with the bathroom! Walk with Clara and learn her tips and tricks for cleaning and organizing your bathroom.

Access her tips here.

Use Spokane Public Library’s Overdrive or Libby app to download these books on organizing:

You will need your library card number and your 4-digit PIN number.

1.Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight by Peter Walsh

2.Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

3.The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4.The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

5.The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds

Free Online Books | Library @ Home

If you can’t find what you are looking for in the library’s selection of eBooks, or if you want to use some extra time to go back and read a classic, there are other online resources for free books. Try out the collection from Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg was the first platform for online books and they have a collection of books in the public domain. It’s far smaller than the Internet Archive but has over 60,000 books, so there’s something for everyone. Here’s your chance to go back and read some books you have always meant to read.


Resources for Job Loss

In these trying times, losing a job adds even more stress to your life. Here are some ways to get back on your feet:

While at home, you can use the library’s resources to improve your employment skills.

  • offers many professionally-produced video tutorials that can improve your computer and business skills. Look under Career Development to find interviewing and networking advice, along with Learning Paths such as Finding a Job During Challenging Economic Times.
  • LearningExpress Library has a Career Center with tutorials on Job Search and Workplace Skills, along with exam preparation for specific careers, such as Allied Health or Commercial Driver’s License.
  • If you have more time, sign up for a six-week, instructor-led Gale Courses online class to develop your computer and business skills or learn how to start your own online or work-from-home business.

Got Crayons? Celebrate National Crayon Day on March 31


I really hope you have a few crayons lying around because this Tuesday, March 31, is National Crayon Day! I’ll give a few resources that can make this day a learning time as well as an artsy time.

While this unofficial holiday is a perfect day for coloring, it can also be sort of a sad day for some people. That’s because Crayola often retires old crayon colors on this day. Where did crayons come from? 

Currently, no one really knows when crayons were invented. Early crayons were used by adults – artists. They weren’t very strong, so kids would have broken them all the time! By the beginning of the 20th century, several companies were making wax crayons. The most famous company, Crayola, was started in 1902 – almost 110 years ago! These two guys with great mustaches, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith founded the company. Mr Binney’s wife, Alice, came up with the name Crayola by combining the French word for Chalk (craie) with the “ole” from oleaginous (the paraffin wax used to make the crayons). They started out with 30 different colors. Learn about Crayola’s history here.

Here are a few crayon facts. Crayola makes 13 million crayons a day and blue is the most popular color. The most popular episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was when he visited a crayon factory! You might also want to watch the episode of the TV show, Daniel Tiger, which has the same theme! How are crayons made? Watch this video!

Now, what should we do on National Crayon Day? Color, of course! Why not color on unusual things like the inside of a paper bag, sandpaper, or warm hard boiled eggs. You can also tape several crayons into a bundle to see what kinds of effects you get! Tape whatever size paper you have on the wall and create a family mural. Older kids might want to get a bit more crafty. For example, you could challenge them to create wearable art using crayons, paper, tape and yarn or string! How about making a paper toy and coloring it? Or, build a fabulous crayon storage system out of what you have around the house!

You can melt broken-up crayons by putting them in silicon shaped mats, then putting them in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to put the silicon tray on a baking sheet. Let the melted crayons cool completely before popping them out of the molds. If you need other ideas, check out the Crayola YouTube channel – scroll past the ads to their DIY sections. If you just need coloring pages, go to Pinterest and consider searching for Dover Publications – they have quite a selection!

Read a book that has crayons in it. You can find some of these books on YouTube, ready by the author! 

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • The  Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt
  • The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Dewalt
  • How is a Crayon Made? by Oz Charles
  • The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane DeRolf
  • My Crayons Talk by Bill Martin

Here are some things you can do with crayons that are more action oriented. Take your crayons and paper to the park and draw what you see. Collect some leaves and do leaf rubbings. What else can you do rubbings of at the park?

Have a crayon scavenger hunt – hide crayons around the park or your home! See who can make a paper airplanes that can carry a small piece of crayon the farthest? How high can you stack crayons like building blocks? These are just a few ideas to make your National Crayon Day amazing!

Attention, Spokane Business Community!

Hello, Spokane business community. I need your help.

The economic impact of our current health crisis has yet to be determined, but by all accounts, it’s going to be rough. That leads me to a question: what are the tools/resources that were valuable to your business a month ago that don’t necessarily pencil going into the future? A subscription to a particular platform? Paid access to a specific block of data? Resources that were great to have in good times but not essential?

Here’s why I ask: The Spokane Public Library has gotten good at crowd sourcing funds to make top-shelf resources available to our entire community. Take PitchBook as an example. Thanks to Greater Spokane Incorporated, Health Sciences & Services Authority (HSSA), Ignite, SPOKANE ANGEL ALLIANCE, CoMotion at University of Washington (and more to come), the library is able to get access to a tool that would likely fall beyond the reach of any one local entity. As it stands right now, we are the only public library in the nation that has access to PitchBook’s data.

So… shout out the resources you’d like to have going forward. It’s my job to try to go out and round them up for you. The more we can pool and share our resources, the stronger Spokane will be coming out of this. Please share widely.


How to Make Marble Paper

Try some new crafts to spruce up your windows while we spend extended time inside!













Step 1: Assemble supplies such as a flat pan, food coloring, shaving cream, paper, a stirring tool, and a ruler.

Step 2: Fill the pan with shaving cream and smooth it out.

Step 3: Add drops of food coloring on top of the shaving cream.

Step 4: Gently stir the shaving cream.













Step 5: Rest a piece of paper on top and press gently.

Step 6: Pull the paper of the shaving cream and let sit for 2 minutes.

Step 7: Use your ruler to scrape the shaving cream off the paper.

Step 8: Let the paper dry and cut into different patterns.




Chai Tea and Poetry


My favorite drink is chai tea – whether a simple tea bag with a dash of milk or the sweet dessert called a chai tea latte. I’m drinking at least one delicious cup a day while cooped up at home. I’m about to run out of my favorite liquid concentrate but I am eyeing the chai tea bags in my cabinet and telling them their day to shine is near.

Today I took that delicious mug of chai tea, smelling like heaven, lit a candle, and grabbed a book to read. I have a huge pile of books waiting patiently for the day I will pay attention to them. A book of poetry grabbed my attention and I briefly hesitated before opening it. I may have an English literature degree, and dissected plenty of poems during those studies, but I don’t often find myself drawn to poetry. It’s a rare occasion when I stumble across a poem and get caught up in the beauty of it.

This book of poetry was given to me by a local poet, Stephen Pitters, who frequents my library branch. He coordinates bi-monthly poetry programs at either the Shadle or South Hill branches and always amazes me with his ability to weave poetry, prose, music, sculptures, and other forms of art together to create a multi-faceted artistic experience.

So, I open his book Poems Contesting, sip my tea, and find myself caught up in the beauty of the poetry. The prologue is a poem called “The Light That Shone Brightly”, a tribute to Myrtle Woldson:


She was a quiet sophisticate,

a combination of worldliness

and sound community concern,

a rare jewel, a true treasure who built

social awareness.


I admittedly do not know much about Myrtle Woldson, so I went online and was impressed by her dedication to the Spokane community. I can see why Stephen Pitters says:


My wish was to have met her,

An impossible quest at best,

A meaningful dream, nevertheless.


Stephen Pitters is dedicated to drawing our community together around different expressions of art, so it makes sense he would admire another pillar of our community. And what an excellent poem to lead us through this book that delves into how humanity has so much in common.

This initially unwelcome extended time at home has presented me with new opportunities to learn and grow, to slow down and take the time to enjoy new things. I encourage everyone who normally doesn’t seek out poetry to give a poem a try, especially a local poet who writes about the community and the people that we may also know. To see the world around us in a new way.

Learn more about Myrtle Woldson here.

Learn more about Stephen Pitters here and see what books he has available for check out at the library here.

Simplifying Your Life | Organizing Your Bathroom

If you want to simplify your life, where do you start? Follow Clara’s lead on how to clean and organize your home one room at a time!

Lesson 1 | The Bathroom

Start simplifying your life with the bathroom! Walk with Clara and learn her tips and tricks for cleaning and organizing your bathroom.

Access her tips here.


Use Spokane Public Library’s Overdrive or Libby app to download these books on organizing:

You will need your library card number and your 4-digit PIN number.

1.Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight by Peter Walsh

2.Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver

3.The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

4.The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark

5.The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds

Learning Opportunities During a Pandemic | Parent Perspective

I have a four-year-old who normally goes to daycare while my husband and I work full-time. We are now in social isolation together learning a new rhythm to life. This presents us with the privilege and responsibility of facilitating more of her preschool learning. We already had a subscription to ABCMouse that we did not use often since we try to limit her screen time at home. Now we are adjusting that set time to accommodate for more learning online. I quickly discovered that the learning level for ABCMouse was too young for her. She was thrilled to move up to the pre-K level. This program has a fantastic combination of learning experiences through different games, puzzles, books, and more. Kids can earn tickets through every activity and then go “shopping” to buy fun things for their avatar. It is a lot of fun but does come with a cost depending on how long you are buying a subscription for. I bought a year subscription to knock down the price each month. The library does not offer this service remotely but, when we open our doors again, feel free to try it out for free in the library on one of our computers!

In addition to this, my husband checked out a resource that is currently free during the pandemic…Scholastic’s Learn at Home. This has been a fantastic learning opportunity for my daughter. She enjoys picking a subject and watching a video, listening to a book being read to her, matching words to their meanings, and answering questions about the lesson. There are a variety of subjects and she is learning at a level I was not aware she is ready for! This lack of awareness on my part may sound strange since my husband is a teacher and I am a librarian, but a great deal of her learning takes place at her daycare with amazing teachers. We take time at home to teach too but this is the first time we have both been with her 24/7 since she was an infant. We are amazed at how much she knows and how eager she is to learn more!

Another great resource we are starting to explore together is Tumblebooks, a free digital resource through the library. It has a large collection of story books, read alongs, language learning, puzzles, games, and more. Additionally, through the end of August, Tumblebooks is offering free access to TumbleMath. Both of these digital resources allow us to engage with our children and provide the tools we need to teach our children when we are used to them being in a classroom environment.

Please check out all the free resources available currently – whether that’s through the library or through another free or inexpensive platform. This is a challenging time for sure but it presents us with the amazing opportunity to spend more quality time with our children.

Becky | Librarian

Other resources you can access from home

In times like these, it is encouraging to see organizations coming together to support their communities! While the library offers a ton of awesome resources for free, check out these free resources from organizations all over the world.

Reading and Writing Resources

Storyline OnlineListen to some of your favorite celebrities read a wide variety of children’s books.

Drawing Lessons Online | Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka is live streaming drawing lessons from YouTube every day.

Just for Kids: A Cosmic Exploring of the New Coronavirus | This kids comic is based on NPR interviews with healthcare professionals.

Author Read-Alouds and Drawing Lessons | Author Kate Messner and friends are sharing videos where they read their books aloud.

Authors Everywhere | Authors are sharing anything from read-alouds to writing workshops on this YouTube channel.

Dav Pilkey Drawing Lessons | The brain power behind Captain Underpants brings drawing lessons to you in partnership with the Library of Congress.


Museum Experiences

Seattle Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium | Take a trip to the aquarium to look at otters and other animals without getting wet!

National Women’s History Museum | Women’s History Month doesn’t have to end when March does. Learn about women’s history all year long.

Smithsonian Learning LabFind learning modules from the Smithsonian.

NASA STEM Learning | Seek great STEM resources straight from NASA.

Museum of Modern Art | Take a virtual tour of the MoMA’s most popular pieces.

San Diego Zoo | Tigers, giraffes, elephants, and more are available to watch at your leisure.

The Louvre | Take a trip to one of France’s world-renowned museums from your couch. You will need Adobe Flash Player to take a virtual tour.