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Crafting with Kids: Letter Hockey

Crafting with Kids: Letter Hockey

The ice on the pond has melted, but you can play hockey year-round with this fun homemade learning activity using recycled materials!  This can easily be used to “work on” so many different matching skills – words to pictures, upper case to lower case letters (like in the video), numerals to amounts, a dot of color to the corresponding word, etc…. You can even build up to make the activity more challenging depending on their skill level. You are only limited by how many paper towel or toilet paper tubes and bottle caps you have in your home at any one time.

Children’s teacher, Nicole and her son, Connor make learning FUN using items that you are sure to have in your home. As our community is starting to open up a little more, you probably have a lot of each of those waiting to be recyled, right? Dig them out of the recycling bins and get shooting and scoring!



  • Toilet Paper Tubes or Paper Towel Tubes
  • Any Bottle Cap (larger caps like milk containers are better for smaller children)
  • Empty Squirt Bottle (dish soap bottles work great!)
  • Permanent Marker
  • (Additional materials you may need are paper, scissors, tape)

If you do this activity, feel free to let us know what you come up with by tagging us on Instagram using #TheRiverCenterCraftingWithKids!

Thoughts on Sadie May

Thoughts on Sadie May

Old photo of woman ironing

As I write I am sitting at a desk that is over one hundred years old. It belonged to my grandmother, the newspaper reporter. Perhaps she too sat at this desk during the flu pandemic of 1918 and wrote a column. What would she have said to her readers?

She, like me, had never experienced anything like this. By the time 1918 rolled around, she had been married to a small town doctor for 4 years. She was 40 years old with a 2 year old son. Another son would join the family when she was 42 years old. In all probability she was on a hiatus from her reporting days.

Old photo of couple standing together

I never knew her as she died when I was six months old. I have heard stories though. Sadie May was the daughter of a sea captain, raised in Wells, Maine and graduated from Berwick Academy. She tried teaching for a while, but determined that was not the career for her. She traveled extensively in Europe with a girlfriend (a rather shocking and forward thing to do at the time). She took the train cross country to California, seeing Hollywood when it was a field. She visited Yellowstone National Park and stayed at the Old Faithful Lodge. And then in her mid-thirties, she married a friend of her brother’s and settled down to raise a family in rural Maine.

From the stories I have been told about her, I know she was a lifelong learner, avid reader, an inquisitive soul, and a woman of strong opinions. I think of her as a mature adult, newly married, with a toddler. What if the flu epidemic reached their corner of the world? How would she protect her family, particularly with her husband being the only doctor?

Old photo of family in a garden

I think she would do the things she knew best to do. She would take care of her toddler, enjoying the smiles, cleaning up the messes, taking opportunity to laugh whenever she could. She would make the overnight oatmeal of family legend. She would iron those shirts, mend those socks, and feed those chickens. She would read her many books. She would make sure The Doctor, as she called my grandfather, had whatever he needed to keep going. She would encourage her neighbors in any way she could. She would write regularly to her family and friends far away. Her garden would be well tended.

I think Sadie May would encourage us to treasure our loved ones, to stay connected with those far from us, to be brave, and to do the next thing that has to be done. I think she would remind us to live as people of hope and not despair.

I sit at her desk in the corner of my bedroom. Why? Because like so many, we are working remotely. I am in my bedroom because literally every corner of my home is occupied with little people. My oldest daughter and her family came home from Rwanda in March and are living with us. We went from a calm quiet home for the two of us to a very lively household of seven. The two year old knows I am behind this closed door. She will lay on the floor and shout for me through the crack at the bottom of the door. I think it best not to respond for now.

I am treasuring my loved ones who are near and those who are far. I stay in touch with my friends. I try not to overwhelm myself with distressing news. I take the recommended precautions for social distancing and face masks when I really need to be out and about.

Old photo of couple sitting on bed

I focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do. I can take a walk in the middle of the day. I can stop and watch the Great Blue Heron. I notice my blooming daffodils and enjoy the blooming star magnolia. I can play games with the six year old and read bedtime stories. I can continue to direct The River Center from the corner of my bedroom.

I am so thankful for the work of The River Center staff and volunteers as they support our community. I am thankful for the parenting groups, the individual parenting support, the referrals to needed resources, and the tax returns that are being completed. If you, your family or your neighbors need support, contact The River Center at 924-6800, , or

Margaret Nelson, Executive Director

Crafting with Kids: SLIME!

Crafting with Kids: SLIME!

When you are under stay-at-home orders like most everyone else around, you have to make do with what you have on hand and this is exactly what our family program coordinator, Kristen and her son, Isaac have done as they set out to make SLIME! Have you ever made slime at home? It had a huge moment just a little while ago, but it is such a classic activity that ticks off all the play, learning, STEM boxes and it uses common household items. You just can’t go wrong with it!

Using just 3 key ingredients they found at home, they worked together to create a big ball of slime and it is pretty slimy, but not quite what they had in mind. Here they find out that if you do something and it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped, it’s ok because it’s all about experimenting and having fun!

Watch their video to see what they come up with.


Crafting With Kids: Pinecone Birdfeeders

Crafting With Kids: Pinecone Birdfeeders

Every Friday, we are doing a Crafting With Kids activity and today we are making pinecone birdfeeders with our friend, Emily! Spring is here and that means all of little critters that were hibernating over the winter are now making themselves seen in our backyards and fields and they are hungry! This is such an easy craft to keep the kids busy and to give those critters something good to eat. Go round up some pinecones that you may have stashed away and let’s get rolling!


    • pinecones
    • peanut butter
    • bird seed (can also add in dried fruit/cereal)
    • yarn/string


1. Spread peanut butter onto the pinecone using a spreader, spoon, butter knife – whatever you’ve got! Get that peanut butter into as much of the little nooks and crannies as you can to give the seeds something to stick on to.
2. Once you’ve covered enough of the pinecone with the peanut butter, put a layer of bird seed/cereal/dried fruit pieces onto a paper plate and roll the pinecone around until it is covered.
3. Tie a piece of yarn or string around one end of the pinecone, making sure you catch the loop under some of the scales to give the string something to hold onto.
4. Hang in a tree for the birds to enjoy and watch your pinecones bring all the birds to your yard!

The River Center: Our COVID Response

The River Center: Our COVID Response

Grouping looking at laptop screen together

This is going to be an update about what The River Center Family and Community Resource Center is doing right now. I will be quite honest, I don’t have it in me to give you a perky, fun, observation on living in this new normal. I just need to tell you what my incredibly hard working staff are doing from their kitchen tables, the corner of their bedrooms, from their car in the driveway of someone with decent internet.

They are connecting with individuals and families who need support, answers, and diapers. In the last week we have had an increase of 44 % in the number of families to whom we are providing intensive family support. That support used to involve weekly or bi-weekly visits with the family in their homes. It now involves Facetime chats, phone calls, texting. Sometimes several phone chats a day, many times over an hour each call. We are checking on their needs, their well-being, and their children. We are making sure they have what they need, finding sources for groceries, formula, diapers.

Our parent educators have learned how to continue all our parenting groups using the Zoom platform. How to set up a meeting, how to invite participants, how to share the screen. How to help participants figure out the technology. Have I ever explained to you that none of our staff are IT experts? Some are better than others and we are grateful. As with everyone working or learning from home right now, we are all learning the limitations of the worldwide web we call our internet connection. I tried five times to rejoin a meeting of statewide participants and I finally gave up close to tears. I will never complain again about driving to Concord for a meeting.

The staff and I have met numerous times to brainstorm creative ways we can support individuals and families. Staff are videoing their children doing crafts that we are sharing on our FaceBook page. We have started two new parenting groups, Coffee and Kindness, for parents of preschoolers needing some adult input. The other is for parents of 10-14 year olds to address their unique needs with middle school students at this time.

Nisa, the free tax program coordinator, has been exploring ways to continue to offer tax preparation remotely. We have finally received word from the IRS of an approved plan which she is rolling out. Please see our website for details.

I asked Ed Walker, Laura Gingras and Corinne Chronopoulus to join our March Eastern Monadnock Provider Network meeting on Zoom with over 35 participants. Getting current, local, correct information on COVID-19 is so important as well as understanding where the gaps in services to our community may exist and how to fill them.

We continue to check and respond to the voicemails from our 924-6800 line and all emails. We have updated our website with current information and resources relevant during COVID-19.

The Board is meeting more often during this time to stay informed and ensure that the organization’s finances and programs are on mission. Our volunteers continue to support the work of the staff, particularly our tax and wood bank volunteers. Thank you all!

We are still here for you. If you, or someone you know, needs support or resources, please give us a call at 924-6800 or contact us at Check out for a listing of local community resources. And remember that you can call 211, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for connection with help and resources statewide.

Speaking of all the wonderful staff, volunteers and board of The River Center, I thank them for organizing a surprise drive-by parade on March 29 to celebrate my 10th anniversary as Executive Director of The River Center. I am so grateful to work with them all. They really care about this community. They really care about you and your family.

Stay well.

Margaret Nelson

Executive Director

CRAFT TIME: Dyed Paper Easter Eggs

It’s Easter time and you want a quick dyed Easter egg activity that you can do with your kids. Maybe you didn’t buy enough eggs during your last visit to the grocery store. Maybe you want to decorate your home! Well, Mackenzie, our home visitor and moms’ group facilitator, shows you a fun craft you can do with your kids at home with items you probably already have in your home and a little help.  For this craft you will need:

  • Cardstock
  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • Painter’s tape
  • Scissors
  • Scraper
  • Skewers
  • Cookie sheet

Got your supplies together? Watch and craft alongside Mackenzie and her helper!


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