They are making learning fun, one story at a time.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Lillis Lawrence, a Family Literacy support worker, shows off one of the 60 storysacks the Prince Albert Literacy Network has in stock.
The Prince Albert Literacy Network started lending out its storystacks this fall for children and their parents.
“We were looking at a creative way to do family literacy,” Family Literacy support worker Lillis Lawrence said. “Family Literacy encourages the learning of both the adult and the child.”
The storysacks program started about 15 years ago. When the Prince Albert Literacy Network learned about it, they decided to try their hand at the unique program.
“We have sessions where a lot of people who were interested in creating story sacks came together and we had a work bee at Vincent Massey School,” Lawrence said. “We had a very supportive teacher at the time who said let’s set up some tables. Since then we have had more people make them.”
They now have about 60 storysacks and some volunteers are working on making more.
Although they are a great way for kids to learn, Lawrence said most of the response is through daycares and schools.
“We had changed the exchange time to Friday afternoons because the pre-Kindergarten facilitators, their assistants and teachers, have used the lending library a fair bit,” Lawrence said. “On Fridays they don’t have children at school, so they have more flexibility in their time to pick (a storysack) and go.”
Although they generally just provide storysacks during the school year -- they stop lending them out in May each year so the sacks can be sanitized -- she said some summer camp groups and leaders have asked to use them.
“We have had some use of them by play leaders in the summertime and things like that,” Lawrence said. “People an make special arrangement if the one week lending doesn’t work for them but basically we like them to come and go on an ongoing basis rather than keep them and lose parts from it sitting around too long.”
She would like to see more of the public use the storysacks.
“We encourage individual parents to come and borrow them for a week,” Lawrence said. “We do note that it is a adult and child. It doesn’t have to be a parent. It can be a big sister or someone like that who wants to borrow the story sack. It is not a toy, so the adult needed to go through the story with the child. The idea is that they acquire just a stretch of the story and more learning by acting out the story or doing creative things with the story.”
The storysacks are a unique way of making reading fun, Lawrence said.
“We’ve had people who have developmentally delayed children that have specifically tried stretching stories with their kids and connecting in a different way than just the written book,” Lawrence said. “And of course we know that many children learn in different ways so this is a more active and physical way to learn literacy.”
The most popular storysack is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Lawrence said. It is so popular they have two storysacks.
“It is a nice story about a caterpillar eating through all sorts of things,” Lawrence said. “It is a jump off on good nutrition too. It is easy to act out and children seem to really enjoy the very hungry caterpillar.”
So far this fall the response has been quiet, Lawrence said.
“We haven’t had many people coming and going,” Lawrence said.
She hopes more people will start using the storysacks instead of turning to electronic devices.
“The main feature is that it is a good interactive tool and we are encouraging parents to spend some of that quality time with their kids,” Lawrence said. “Turn off the television and do a little bit of story time with their kids -- do a story time in a different way rather than just having a screen and thinking that is good enough for learning.”