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Artists Join Forces for Literacy

Danny Michel (left) and Mark Scholz
The annual Richardson GMP Evening of Wine & Words, in support of the Centre’s Books for Babies and Edmonton Classroom on Wheels (C.O.W.) bus, was sold out again.

The evening began with cocktails in the foyer adjacent to the Empire Ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. The silent auction had something for everyone, from gift baskets of wine and scotch to an eleven- foot paddle board and a wine excursion to San Francisco.
Mary Pinkoski
A private concert with Corb Lund, a BBQ for 50 at the Rossdale Brewery, dinner at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, and a Super Bowl package that included private jet service were some of the unique live auction items that the 250 guests bid on.

For the seventh year in a row Mark Scholz entertained the audience with his banter and wit as the Master of Ceremonies and auctioneer. Mary Pinkoski, Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, performed “Grow Something Golden,” a poem she created especially for the evening. This is the third year Mary has participated in the event and again she had the audience on their feet.

The main event of the night was the performance by Jim Cuddy and Danny Michel.
Jim Cuddy
“This is my first time at Wine & Words and I am very impressed,” said one patron. “I am glad we postponed our trip and I plan to make sure I am not out of town so I can come again.”

A special thank you to the volunteer committee who put endless hours into making the evening a success. Thank you to our sponsors, donors and attendees for their continued support of our work.

Sponsor Listing
  • Richardson GMP
  • Beaverbrook
  • Dolce Vita Homes
  • Noralta Lodges
  • Sobeys Spirits, Wine and Cold Beer Stores

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Keep Kids Brains Active All Summer

As the school year comes to a close, children adjust their inner clocks to the unstructured hours of summer. Many professionals are now warning parents that along with those wonderful days of summer comes the potential for a reversal in the learning their children have achieved during the school year. Studies show that the loss of learning over the summer is one of the largest challenges teachers face when children return to school in the fall.

There are many things parents can do to make sure children enjoy their summer while keeping their brains active. A lot of it is just hiding the learning in fun and engaging activities.

It is important to encourage reading throughout the summer. Have lots of books around, make frequent visits to the local library, and encourage your children to pick their own books. Libraries have a number of age appropriate programs that will keep them engaged. Make reading a family activity by designating a reading time where you can share books together.
Remember to keep math in mind, as the decline in math skills over the summer is more significant than the decline in reading skills. A fun way to encourage math is through family game nights – board and card games keeps up their skills. Have children play restaurant using take out menus and play money. They can take turns placing the order and tallying up the bill. Going to the grocery store presents many opportunities to encourage children to practice math from counting the apples as you place them in the bag to comparing shapes and sizes.

Be a tourist in your own community by going on mini field trips. Check out the local museum, art gallery, zoo, or summer festival. After their visit, have them write a story about their adventure. Go hiking in your local park. This is an excellent way to teach children about different plants and animals.

Doing arts and crafts is a great way to keep the brain working. Painting, colouring, making jewelry, building models, and working with play-dough are all great ways to keep their creative juices flowing. All those items they collected on their field trips can be used to make their own unique works of art. Check out the Centre’s blog at www.famlit.ca/blog for more ideas.

Remember, when left to their own devices, children are the most creative and imaginative people around us. So be sure not to schedule all their time this summer and give them a chance to play together and just be kids.

Whatever you decide to do with your children this summer, make sure to relax and enjoy your time with them.

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Rhymes, Songs and Storytelling a Key to Success

Who would have thought that the nursery rhymes we learned as children or the songs and stories that our parents shared were preparing us for school and all future learning. As children, we just thought it was fun – a time to play!

In fact in order for children to learn to read and write, they must first have a solid foundation in oral language. Speaking and listening skills acquired in the early years are crucial to developing reading and writing skills and a precursor to success in school. Children who do not develop strong oral language skills during their early years start to fall behind even before they start school (Biemiller, 2006; Hart & Risley, 2003; Scarborough, 2001).

Development of these skills begins with the spoken word and the oral traditions of storytelling, singing, reciting rhymes and verses. The words have to be spoken by a live person for children to hear the cadence, tone and musicality of language. It is important for parents and other adults in children’s lives to engage in these types of activities on a daily basis.

The Centre’s Rhymes that Bind program has been providing parents with the opportunity to share oral language traditions with their children since 2008. The ten-week program focuses on providing parents with a selection of rhymes, songs and stories they can share with their babies and toddlers. The parent-child interaction that evolves from the rhyming, singing and accompanying actions fosters greater bonding between parents and children.

One program facilitator commented, “It is wonderful to see that after a session or two the kids and the parents do the songs and rhymes together. There is so much joy and laughter in the room.”

Children seem born to speak. Those simple “oohs” and “aaahs” are their first attempt at using language. As with learning to walk, learning language requires time for development and practice in everyday situations. The Rhymes that Bind program provides parents with the tools to help them incorporate oral language activities into their every day lives. Check the Centre’s website in September for program locations.

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Practical PIACC*: What Alberta practitioners need to know

* Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies Survery (PIAAC) released in October 2013 provided the results of an assessment of comprehension and skills of adult Canadians across the categories of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in a technological society.

This September the Centre for Family Literacy, Community Learning Network, and Literacy Alberta will be hosting Practical PIAAC – What Alberta Practitioners Need to Know. This is a two-day event that will give those working in the field a clearer understanding of the information contained in the survey and how to use it in their communities.

There are four sessions on day one of Practical PIAAC. Brigid Hayes who has been working in the literacy field on a national basis for many years will provide participants with an overview of the survey from a laypersons’ perspective. Hayes will also discuss policy and practice implications, and the limitations of the survey.

Audrey Gardner, Coordinator of the Adult Literacy Research Institute at Bow Valley College, will talk about the language used in PIAAC and other surveys from an adult learner perspective.

Dr. Phyllis Steeves, Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, will focus on literacy from an Indigenous perspective. The last presenter of the day, Tracy Defoe, a workplace learning specialist, will share her own practical perspective. What effects do PIAAC results have in the workplace? What are employers and workers saying about PIAAC? These questions and more will be answered.

Day two includes two sessions focused on practical ways to share this information with staff, boards, volunteers and the community. Those interested in attending can read more on our website at www.famlit.ca


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2013 Annual Report

Look for our 2013 Annual Report "Explore our Story" on our website: www.famlit.ca/about/ annual.shtml


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