Portage Lake District Library hosts ‘School’s Out’ activity week

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Yvonne Li, 6, of Houghton, sticks colored gems onto a sheet to spell her name in Braille as part of the Portage Lake District Library’s spring break events for children.

HOUGHTON — Local students and their families cracked the code to relieving spring break boredom at the Portage Lake District Library Tuesday as part of a week of activities.

For the past two years, the library has done daytime programs during spring break.

“We got feedback that they wanted something to get out of the house and kind of break up the day,” said Library Director Katrina Linde-Moriarty.

In laying out the week, library staff tried to pay attention to what kids have been checking out and craft fun activities around their interests.

“We also tried this week to look at things that were kind of unplugged that didn’t use as much technology,” Linde-Moriarty said. “We’re seeing this more traditional-style gaming, just to kind of take a break from that and get some energy out, use their brains in different ways.”

Events happen every day this week, starting at 2 p.m. The week got underway with friendship bracelets on Monday. About 20 kids attended, Linde-Moriarty said.

On Tuesday, kids learned how to code, in an analog sense. Stations in the community room taught children how to communicate in Morse code, Braille and the Caesar shift cipher, in which letters are replaced by others a fixed number away in the alphabet. For that, kids made decoder wheels to help them translate messages.

“It’s good to understand the history of codes, because it goes directly into coding languages,” Linde-Moriarty said.

David Johnson, 5, of Houghton was learning to write his name in Braille with his grandfather, John Christianson, who is up this week from Green Bay.

They came Tuesday because of Johnson’s interest in coding.

“We have our own coding robot,” he said. “You just have to press in a code and you hit transmit and it tells the robot what to do.”

His favorite station had been the one on Morse code, owing to its place in history.

“It’s like when the Titanic sunk,” he said. “I like learning about the Titanic. I like learning about SOS.”

Wednesday will have indoor recess relay games, followed by cat’s cradle and rubber band games Thursday. The program wraps up Friday with a story time featuring children’s author Vivian Mattila Walikainen.

Also Thursday, the Japanese Club will hold a movie night for teens starting at 5 p.m. The library is showing “Suzume,” a PG-rated anime film by Makato Shinkai.

In addition to the weekly events, students can also participate in a scavenger hunt for the chance to win prizes. To capitalize on April Fool’s Day, there’s also a joke-writing contest for kids.


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