The Ooey Gooey Lady

This past weekend, three of us from the Centre for Family Literacy made the long trek from Edmonton to Medicine Hat to go see the Lisa Murphy, also known as the Ooey Gooey Lady. The Medicine Hat and District Child Care Association invited Lisa to present to an enthusiastic audience in celebration of National Child Day.

It was a jam-packed, daylong session with lots of useful tips, funny anecdotes, encouragement and affirmation, all backed by sound research that supports the importance of a play-based, hands-on and child-centered learning environments.

Some of the points that really resonated with me were:

1. For young children the focus of play should be on the process, not on the product. We need to value and respect what children do, and resist turning it into a parent pleasing craft (such as turning coffee filter art into flowers!).

2. It is important to develop understanding versus rote learning (memorizing through repetition).

3. Every day children need to:

  • Create
  • Move
  • Sing
  • Discuss
  • Observe
  • Read
  • Play

Overall, a really great day!  I’m sure that every one of the participants walked away with several new ideas that they are excited to try, as well as a deeper understanding of the hows and whys of creating engaging play based, hands-on, child-centered experiences for the little people in their lives.

For more information on the Ooey Gooey Lady check it out here:

Halloween Stories and Science Fun!

I think I have one of the best hobbies in the world!  Every Halloween, I become a mad scientist, doing science demonstrations at Fort Edmonton Park’s Spooktacular event.

 One of the things I love about this is that I get to create a character and a story to act out around the science experiments I’m doing.  It changes a little with every show, but that’s part of the fun!

This Halloween, as you get to act out a character that’s different from your everyday life, why not add some cool science activities to the mix?  Here are a few easy ones you could try!

Bone Growing Formula (A.K.A. Goop)

You need:

  • Deep pan or bowl
  • Cornstarch
  • Water

What to do:

Mix the cornstarch and the water until everything is wet, but there is no water sitting on top.  To mix it, you have to move slowly and gently.  This neat goop gets hard when squeezed or hit, but oozes when let go (it’s called a non-newtonian fluid for anyone who wants to look that up).  It’s entertaining for all ages – trust me, I had more trouble getting the adults out of it then the kids!

Fake Blood

You need:

  • 1 cup Corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp Chocolate syrup
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp Red food colouring
  • 2 tbsp Water

What to do:

Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix it up.  Add more red or chocolate syrup to get the colour you want, but it works out pretty well.  Want to really gross people out?  Taste the fake blood in a way that makes them think it’s real – it actually doesn’t taste bad!

For more great science experiments to do as a family, my favourite site right now is  They have great videos and all the instructions you need to have a great time this Halloween!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s already Thanksgiving!

Enjoy a weekend of fun, food and lots of family time!

Here’s an easy and fun craft for the whole family:

Trace a hand then use crayons or markers to draw and colour a turkey.  Kids can make a turkey for each of your dinner guests!  Place them at the dinner table for conversation or make one for each guest to take home!  All that is required is paper and crayons.

Missed Opportunity

The past few months have been full of excitement and anticipation for me. I was due to meet the mayor of the City of Edmonton on September 7th, 2012. This was International Literacy Day.  In celebration of this big event, over 8 Literacy Organizations in the Edmonton area (under the umbrella of Literacy Works), and including the Center for Family Literacy, joined hands and organized a book give-away at the Clareview and Churchhill LRT stations, where hundreds of transit riders were to receive a free book. I was honored to represent the Centre for Family Literacy for this big event.

 Mr. Stephen Mandel, the mayor of the city of Edmonton was taking part in the book give-away. This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I was going to share the platform with the mayor. I woke up at 5:00 am and started preparing myself.  I put on my lucky colourful top and headed for the Churchhill station. This was one occasion, when I was determined not to be late.

The book give away was a success.  We gave away many books and bookmarks to the transit riders. While I was excited to connect with the people and share the books with them, I was still on the lookout for the mayor’s arrival. I was disappointed when by eight o’clock the mayor had presumably not turned up. “He must have forgotten all about us”, I confided in one of colleagues.

Unbeknownst to us, the mayor had come and all the time I was waiting for him he was standing right in front of me, handing out books to unsuspecting LRT riders. It was evident from their response to his attempts to give them a free book and a bookmark that they did not recognize him. Many of them ignored him or they just smiled politely and passed him without a hint of recognition. We missed the opportunity to formally introduce ourselves to the mayor because we did not recognize him.

This experience brings to mind the 40% of Albertans who struggle with reading and writing. I thought about the many opportunities they possibly miss because of their struggle with reading. The information may be available, yet it is inaccessible to them.   As a result, they end up with limited knowledge and awareness, thus missing out on opportunities right at their doorstep.

The Centre for Family Literacy and other Literacy organizations in Edmonton play an important role in helping learners with low literacy levels to improve their reading and writing by offering one-on-one and group tutoring. This tutoring equips the learners with the literacy skills and enables them to function effectively in society.

Would you like to make a difference in someone’s life? It is easier than you think. Call the Centre for Family Literacy at 780-421-7323 for more information.