Homemade Fun!

On one of our recent rainy days, a couple of the staff at CFL decided to try our hand at making homemade chalk, bubbles, paint, and gak. What initially began as two staff members quickly became three, then four, and finally five. It was hard to resist joining in! We were laughing, talking, mixing, and measuring in the kitchen, hard at work testing recipes, when our new Operations Director walked by. After watching us for a bit he asked, “So, what does this have to do with literacy?”


Research recognizes that the home environment and parent-child interactions are an important influence on a child’s literacy development.

Positive and meaningful parent and child interactions can lead to enhanced language, literacy, and emotional and cognitive development. (Jacobs p. 193)

So, when you and your child…

  • talk together and make plans for the day
  • read through a recipe book together and decide which recipe to make
  • talk about the ingredients and what they are
  • write a grocery list together and talk about the words you are writing down
  • go to the grocery store and notice the different road signs or count the red cars along the way
  • read your grocery list together to make sure you have everything you need
  • read the recipe together and measure out ingredients and talk about the fun things you will do with your chalk, bubbles, paint, or gak…

…you are providing your child with rich literacy experiences and positive interactions that strengthen family bonds and promote literacy development.

Here is the recipe for homemade watercolour paints we made.  Enjoy!


Homemade Watercolour Paints

  • 4 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • Food colouring (liquid or gels)
  • Container to keep your paints in – you could use an ice-cube tray, mini muffin tin, small plastic cups, plastic egg carton, etc.


1.  Mix your baking soda and vinegar together and wait for the fizzing to stop. It’s handy if you mix in a container that has a spout.

2.  Add your corn syrup and cornstarch, and mix well until the cornstarch has dissolved.

3.  Pour into your containers.

4.  Add the colours using toothpicks and popsicle sticks, and stir for about a minute to make sure the colour is mixed in.

5.  Let your paints “set up” and dry, which could take up to two days, before using.


Some Ideas:

Use your paints to make cards for the people you love!

Make family portraits, then host an art show.

Decorate large sheets of paper for colourful placemats.


What kinds of things do you plan on making this summer?


Recipe adapted from the following site:




Handbook of Family Literacy ( 2nd ed.)  Edited by Barbara Hanna Wasik

Routledge, New York, 2012.

Rain Rain Go Away!

Rain rain go away, come again another day

If you don’t, that’s OK, I built a blanket fort today!


Need something to do with the kids when it rains for days and days on end? Turn your cabin fever into a fun activity!

Supplies needed:

1. Imagination

2. Blankets (the more the better)

3. Furniture (coffee tables, couches, chairs, etc)

4. Rubbermaid totes, cardboard boxes, or recycled materials

5. People of all ages

6. (OPTIONAL) Flashlights, books, and teddy bears!

When I was a kid, we built many, many blanket forts. We learned so much from this activity: how to share, be creative, cooperate, compromise ideas with others, and many other skills. Some of my fondest memories are building forts or tents in the house. We had a large family so we often had boys only and girls only forts and created territories and borders. Our small stuffed animals became soldiers and sentry guards. We even learned how to booby-trap entries when the boys would invade our castle!

As much as I love to help and “take over” when my kids want to build forts, I really enjoy watching them problem solve and create their own masterpieces. It’s a great way to have fun, create memories, and bond with your kids.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?

National Aboriginal Day

This Friday, June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. There will be celebrations across the country during the week, as well as on Friday. It is an opportunity for us to enjoy the summer solstice (at last!) and celebrate Aboriginal peoples and their cultures at the same time.

The Manito Ahbee (a festival organization) in Winnipeg is partnering with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) to host a National Aboriginal Day Competition Pow Wow at the Forks on June 22. You can follow the action live online, courtesy of the APTN, at http://www.aboriginaldaylive.com/. Click on the link to read all about it.

Among the entertainers at the Pow Wow will be A Tribe Called Red. I love this song of theirs, called Look At This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBCoDAbh3yM. The song made for a great hip hop/pow wow performance during last year’s celebrations in Toronto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEpD3yQ3p_4

Edmonton Celebrations

The City of Edmonton has provided a poster for some of the National Aboriginal Day local events.  Click here: http://www.edmonton.ca/attractions_recreation/documents/NAD2013EventsPoster.pdf

The event on Saturday at the Legislature Grounds is the one of the nicest to attend. The grounds are beautiful to walk and the Artisan Fair and the Community Cultural Exhibits Display, set up by 2 p.m., guarantee there is lots to see. The Grand Entry and Ceremonial Honouring starts at 5 p.m. and a there is a concert at 6 p.m. If you haven’t been before, I really encourage you to go.

Bent Arrow will be serving a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. on June 21 and following that up with face painting, traditional games, dancers and drummers and something that sounds untraditional but interesting: a “bouncy castle”! Details here: http://bentarrow.ca/?s=june+21+pancake+brea

Finally, St. Albert is hosting an Aboriginal Day Festival on June 23. The Opening Ceremony will begin at 12 noon. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/AboriginalDay.StAlbert

Come and join the fun!