I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. Henry David Thoreau
When we think about literacy and learning, we tend to think about a structured classroom in a school with students sitting at desks. But on the Sunshine Coast, we are fortunate to live in the midst of another type of classroom – a gorgeous and wild outdoor classroom that offers endless opportunities for our children’s learning and development.
During the last week of September, the Sunshine Coast Literacy Coalition, in partnership with School District No. 46, is celebrating Literacy Month with Word in the Woods. Word in the Woods combines reading with nature in a unique way. The Secret Life of Squirrels is a sweet and funny book about an unusual squirrel. From September 25 to 30, pages from the book will be posted in the woods at all the elementary schools, and at the Sechelt Early Years Centre. Families are invited to take a walk in the woods and read the book together during their walk.
Research shows that North American children have been spending less time exploring and playing in nature and that this “nature deficit” may have negative effects on children’s emotional, intellectual, and physical development. Time in the woods gives children the opportunity to develop new knowledge and confidence, to exercise their imagination and creativity, and to experience the wonder and beauty of the forest. Time in the woods instills in children an understanding of and love for nature that will help them to become good stewards of the earth in years to come.
Word in the Woods also gives children something else they love – a great story! Word in the Woods makes reading fun and an adventure as children can discover the story page by page as they explore different paths in the woods. When reading is fun, and when the family reads together, children’s reading skills are strengthened and a lifelong love of reading is nurtured.
Celebrate Literacy Month next week with Word in the Woods!
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We finished Family Literacy Week with a second successful event that focussed on the ways families can find balance around screen time in the digital age. Screenagers is a documentary film that offers solutions about how to empower kids to navigate the digital world. The Literacy Coalition screened the film for an audience of 84 people at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. The film was also shown at Gibsons Elementary School the next evening. Screenagers is a thoughtful - and entertaining - look at the pull of electronic devices and their impact on teenagers and family life. For more information, check out the website screenagersmovie.com which offers many useful ideas and resources for helping you to find the balance you may be looking for around screen time in your family.
Roberts Creek Hall was filled to capacity on January 20, 2017 when we launched this year's Family Literacy Week with The Whale's Back, an endearing tale about the journey of a mother gray whale and her calf. This sweet story was told by the Mind of a Snail shadow puppet company. Children and adults were mesmerized by the beauty and sweetness of the story and the simple and powerful way it was told. This family literacy event reminds us that storytelling - an ancient form of literacy - has a timeless power to touch our hearts and minds.