One Final Transmission in 2014 about Our Last Two Workshops of the Year

There’s no Homework Club this week. Instead, we’re looking through kaleidoscopes for inspiration and building a storytelling app to help kids create and share stories!

Our last two workshops in 2014

Art at Story Planet

Thanks to your overwhelming interest in our events for young storytellers, registration for our final two workshops (Story-Making Through the Lens and Design a Story Making App) is now full!

Thank you to those who signed up their kids. If you missed this week’s workshops, check back soon. We’ll be announcing more fun workshops in 2015!

We hope you’re having a safe and story-filled holiday!

Two New Events in Late December, The Write Space with Brian Francis and Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

Our spaceship may have pulled over to refuel over the holidays, but we’ve got plenty of fun activities for young storytellers coming up next week (December 29 and 30)!

December 29th and 30th at Story Planet


We have two new events for young storytellers coming up on Monday and Tuesday of next week!

On Monday, during Story-Making Through a Lens, writers aged 7 and up will be creating a character, using funky kaleidoscopes to create a setting and working together to write a story.

On Tuesday, during Design a Story Making App, 8 to 11-year-old storytellers are invited to help us design an app that helps kids create and share their stories!

Both events are “pay what you can.”

Email Liz Haines at for more information.

Write Space Workshop with Brian Francis

Last Thursday, author Brian Francis came by Story Planet with lots of great tips for adult writers about creativity, social media and staying connected with readers.

Different writers like to reach out to their followers in different ways: some like to keep their fans updated on what’s going on with their daughters’ warts, but others, like Brian, prefer to blog about a subject they’re interested in that might appeal to their followers (check out his awesome Caker Cooking blog).

No matter what you blog about, if you put effort into your project and stick to a regular posting schedule, you’ll give yourself an excuse to write on a more regular basis, you’ll have easy access to an audience and your ability to focus will improve dramatically.

If you missed Brian’s workshop, be sure to check out his blog and his novels Natural Order and Fruit (a finalist in the 2009 CBC “Canada Reads” competition).

Last week’s class was our last in 2014, but we’ll be announcing another series of The Write Space workshops for adult writers in the new year.

Our holiday gifts are out of this world!

Still shopping for that aspiring writer/artist on your list? Come by the Intergalactic Travel Authority (the store and coffee shop attached to Story Planet) and check out our collection of books, gadgets and Earth souvenirs!

All of the proceeds from the Intergalactic Travel Authority go directly to Story Planet, which helps provide free programs to writers of all ages living in Toronto.

Our Rescheduled Write Space Workshop, a Special Assignment from Mars and Awesome Christmas Gift Ideas

We hit a bit of turbulence last week when our Thursday night Write Space workshop for adult writers was rescheduled (to this Thursday, December 18) due to interplanetary blizzards… but it wasn’t long before we were back on track! The very next day, we welcomed the grade 4 class from Thorncliffe Park Public School for their very own Alpha Workshop during which they got a very important assignment from Mars..!

Write Space Workshop with Brian Francis

ADULT WRITERS: If you thought you’d missed your chance to attend our Write Space workshop with author Brian Francis, you’re in luck! We had to cancel last week’s event because of the snowstorm, but we’re definitely back on for THIS THURSDAY at 6:30!

During his class, Brian will be discussing how to use technology and social media as well as self-publishing options to boost your creativity.

We’re sorry to those who might have been inconvenienced by the last minute rescheduling of last week’s event, but we’re looking forward to seeing you this Thursday!

Check out the event page for details and ticket prices.

Thorncliffe Park Public School’s Alpha Workshop

Thorncliffe Park Public School’s Alpha Workshop

Last Friday, the grade 4 class from Thorncliffe Park Public School came to Story Planet for an Alpha Workshop and received an unexpected phone call from the publishing office on Mars! The students were given a very important assignment: to write and publish 20 original stories by the end of the day. As a result of their hard work and collaboration, by the end of the workshop, our 20 students were successful in their mission and the Mars office was saved! Thanks again to the kids who helped out. We had so much fun!

Christmas gifts available at the Intergalactic Travel Authority

Still looking for something to get your aspiring writer/artist for Christmas? Come by the Intergalactic Travel Authority (the store and coffee shop attached to Story Planet) and check out our collection of books, gadgets and Earth souvenirs!

All of the proceeds from the Intergalactic Travel Authority go directly to Story Planet, which helps provide free programs to writers of all ages living in Toronto.

Fundraising Success, Pippy Darrel the Talking Book and the Next Write Space Workshop

We’re still buzzing from all of the excitement last week at Story Planet! Thanks again to all of you who sent in your #StorySelfie and donated to our literacy programs for Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday
Last Tuesday, we asked you to send us a #StorySelfie (a picture of yourself reading in an unusual spot), and you delivered! We received photos of you reading in boxes, in closets, by windows, and even Black Friday shopping! While we didn’t quite reach our fundraising goal this time around, we’re extremely grateful to everyone who donated to our literacy programs for Giving Tuesday. Every penny counts when we’re organizing awesome events. In fact, thanks to your generosity, we can now run two more free Alpha workshops, serving an additional 50 kids! If you didn’t get a chance to contribute on Giving Tuesday, it’s not too late! Follow this link to donate to Story Planet now!

PD Day Alpha Workshop

During our free PD day Alpha Workshop last Friday, our students brainstormed ideas, wrote a story as a group about Pippy Darrell, a talking book shaped like a banana, and worked with a professional artist to bring their story to life. Once they were finished writing their own ending to the story, each student was given a copy of the book they’d worked on to bring home with them. Thanks to everyone who participated. We had the best time! Stay tuned to find out when we’ll be hosting another Alpha Workshop!

The Write Space: Using Social Media to Boost Your Creativity
Adult writers: Are you taking full advantage of your social media? This Thursday during The Write Space workshop at Story Planet, author Brian Francis will be discussing how to use technology and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Instagram, as well as self-publishing options to boost your creativity. Check out the event page for details and ticket prices.

#GivingTuesday, PD Day Fun and Learning How to Make Your Senses Work with Author Anthony De Sa

We’ve got a big week ahead! Thank you to those who have already donated to Story Planet for Giving Tuesday. Your contribution goes a long way in supporting our literacy programs. We couldn’t do it without you!



This Giving Tuesday, take a picture of yourself reading in an unusual spot and tweet it @StoryPlanetITA or email us at for a chance to have it featured in a photo gallery on our website!

Giving Tuesday is an international day where we’re all encouraged to celebrate and contribute to the activities that support charities and non-profit organizations around the world. Check out what Giving Tuesday is all about and, while you’re online, go to to donate to our organization. With support from people like you, Story Planet inspires people young and old to be creative and effective communicators. We encourage them to develop their own unique voice and help them launch their stories through writing, visual arts and digital media.  

PD Day Alpha Workshop
This Friday, we’re hosting a visual storytelling workshop for students in grades 2‑8. They’ll get to brainstorm ideas for a story, see it come to life with the help of a profession artist and write their own individual ending — all in one two-hour workshop!

Because of overwhelming interest in this free event, registration is already filled up. If you missed this one, be sure to check back regularly to hear about other events we have coming up for young writers.

Thanks to those who signed up their kids. We’re really looking forward to it!

The Write Space: An Adult Workshop Series for Aspiring Writers
Observation is one of the most valuable tools in storytelling. But, when starting out, many writers forget about their other senses and stick to describing what everything in a scene looks like. Imagine you were reading a story about a pie that’s about to fall on the floor. Wouldn’t you be that much more invested in the fate of the dessert if you knew it smelled like sweet, warm apples and cinnamon just like the way grandma used to make it?

For his instalment of the Write Space workshop this past Thursday night, author
Anthony  e Sa had the class bring in an object that held special meaning. Then, with those objects in hand, he had them write down and discuss the observations they’d made using all five of their senses.

While they may not make a habit of licking sentimental objects any time soon, those who attended Anthony’s workshop left feeling inspired by his talk and excited to get writing. It was a real treat having Anthony — sweetened even more by the Portuguese custard tarts and copies of his new book, Kicking the Sky that he’d brought for everyone who attended.

If you missed last Thursday’s workshop, the next one will be with Canada Reads finalist Brian Francis, on December 11. Check our website for details and ticket prices.

Drawing with Music, Writing with Mementos and announcing new Hashtags

It was a busy week for us here at Story Planet. We listened to classical music during Homework Club, got the world out about our Alpha Workshop, prepared for the next instalment of our Write Space adult writing workshop and stepped up our hashtag game..!

Expressive Drawing to Classical Music During Homework Club
Have you heard of the Mozart Effect? It’s the theory that listening to classical music boosts brainpower and early development in children. Intrigued by this idea, we decided to try it out for ourselves during our weekly Homework Club and found the kids were really receptive!

After homework help on Tuesday, we put on some classical music and encouraged the kids to draw whatever the music made them feel. From straight lines to squiggles, still mountains to fast moving butterflies, the kids picked up on the concept right away and created some great art. Overall, we had a lot of fun this week. Whether or not it was a direct result of the beautiful music, the energy in the room certainly helped to counteract the cold and windy weather outside.

The Write Space: An Adult Workshop Series for Aspiring Writers
Speaking of enriching the mind, this Thursday, we’ll be hosting another session of The Write Space: An Adult Workshop Series for Aspiring Writers. This time, author Anthony De Sa will be discussing how to enrich your writing by tapping into your sensory experiences. To help with your creative process, please bring a small object with you to the workshop that holds sentimental value.

PD Day Alpha Workshop
As you may have heard, we’re hosting another instalment of our popular Alpha Workshop on the December 5 PD day and, thanks to overwhelming interest in this free event, it’s already filled up! Thanks to those who signed up their kids. If you missed this one, be sure to check back regularly to hear about other events we have coming up for young writers.

#StoryPlanetOverheard is a new weekly post we’re launching where we feature an entertaining quote from one of the program participants. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what we’re doing!

Word on the Street

Fantastic Volunteers!
Fantastic Volunteers!

We had a fabulous day at WOTS this past Sunday! Despite the weather reports (there have to some meterologists who are just shaking their heads!) the day turned out to be beautiful and so were the crowds! Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth. And a HUGE thanks to our volunteers, Zalina, Ken, Katharine and Maisa! You’re smiles, great humour and passion for Story Planet kept the sun shining!

A Look Back: Educational Initiatives

Learning is fun, we’ve all known that for a long time, haven’t we? But learning can also be a challenge and Story Planet likes to be there to help out and show students fun, effective approaches to classroom learning outside the classroom.

Homework Club

Each Tuesday, students from elementary schools in the neighbourhood would bring their homework to Story Planet where volunteers would guide them through anything from reading homework to math worksheets. Naturally, we incorporated some creative elements into the workshops so students had a chance to take a break and write a postcard to their future self, read a book from our library, or write their own story! Some of our volunteers are ESL-certified and worked with students who needed additional language help, which can be high priority in some parts of Toronto. The funding generously provided by CIBC’s Children’s Foundation created a space for students to see a fun side of learning!

“Homework Club is a good place to do your homework!” — Navina, Homework Club student

Essay Bootcamp

This year marked the 2nd Annual Essay Bootcamp, in collaboration with Innis College at the University of Toronto. Students were paired one-on-one with volunteers who guide them through the structure and technique of writing an effective end-of-term paper. The day ended with a tour of the University of Toronto, introducing students to academic and campus life and answering those early questions about what life after high school is all about. A huge thanks to No Frills, Fiesta Farms, and Loblaws for donating supplies for our afternoon BBQ.


A Look Back: Youth Creators

There are so many ways to make a story! Read on to learn about how Story Planet’s youth creators told their stories through film and stop-motion animation this year. We can’t wait to screen the finished products this fall and continue introducing youth to new models of storytelling with the help of our expert volunteers and amazing sponsors.

Digi Storymaking Project

For 12 weeks starting back in September 2013, Toronto youth aged 13-18 took part in a digital story-making project at Story Planet. Thanks to HIVE, Story Planet was able to provide this after school program with many tools to help bring the bright imaginations of digi story-makers alive.

Click on the photo below to check out the finished products!

Digi Story-Makers
Click on the photo above to check out the finished products!

Digi Story-MakersDigi Story-MakersDigi Story-Makers

Our stop-motion animators and their volunteer project coordinator, Joanna Lam.

Youth Filmmakers Project

The Young Filmmaker’s Project invited 20 at-risk youth residing in Toronto’s high priority neighborhoods to take part in an 8-month film mentorship program, held after school, once a week at Story Planet and once a week at The Pelham Park Community Hub.

Starting in October, participants learned from industry professionals about all aspects of filmmaking, including writing, directing, filming, editing, sound engineering, lighting, acting, producing, and publicizing. The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Safer and Vital Communities’ grant program was crucial in the development and success of this project. Eight amazing short-films were the result of this project, which will be screened this fall.

Our young filmmakers also starred in each other’s films! Stay tuned for news on a screening at Story Planet this fall.

Youth Film Nights

From February to May 2014, Story Planet held a monthly Youth Film Night on site, which included a full film screening followed by a discussion/Q&A with a guest speaker who was either affiliated with or an expert of that particular film.  This project was in conjunction with the Youth Filmmaker’s Project and graciously supported by Safer and Vital Communities.  Our young filmmakers were able to voice their opinions about the techniques and overall impact of each film and had the unique opportunity of gaining real insight from each guest speaker.

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A Look Back: Young Story Writers

Here at Story Planet, we have one very favourite thing. Here’s a hint: it’s right in our name! You guessed it – stories! All of our workshops incorporate an element of story creation, from writing to illustration, and from the very first thought to the binding on the book. We absolutely love watching these stories come to life and reading or watching the finished product never fails to wow us!

This year, we ran a number of workshops at Story Planet and hosted others at schools across Toronto. Here’s a recap!

Story Club

This year we launched Story Club, a story building afterschool program for children in grades 3-5. Over the span of ten weeks in the fall and winter, each Story Club member wrote, revised, and bound their very own wholly unique book. This latest Story Club also saw the birth of a “How To” story guide modelled off a cookbook and fuelled by advice from the students. The guide will be available for budding authors at the ITA this fall! Our friends at CIBC Children’s Foundation offered their generous support to make this workshop a fun and inspiring success!

“Just write every day of your life.” — Ray Bradbury

Alpha Workshop 

Our ongoing Alpha workshops transform students into authors in 2 hours! Taking place at the Story Planet headquarters, and with the help of a facilitator, a typist, and a professional artist, the workshop encourages students to collectively create a story. When the story reaches a point of crisis, the students split up individually to each write their own ending. At that point, all endings are collected and each student leaves with a book of their work to take home.

The CIBC Children’s Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council are the reasons we are able to provide weekly Alpha’s to 15 schools across Toronto!

We had so many amazing volunteers contribute to the success of these workshops!

” I think the learning and creativity that happened in the Story Workshop at Story Planet will stay with the students throughout their school life.”

Mark Bell, Vice Principal, Ryerson Community School & the Downtown Vocal Music Academy

Young Storybook Authors

Story Planet travelled to several schools in our galaxy this year to facilitate tailored, in-class programming known as Beta Workshops. Over the span of three days and 7.5 hours, a class would undergo an extended version of an Alpha Workshop where they develop a story collectively as a class and individually. At the end of the 3 days, each student would take home their own copy of the story they all had a hand in creating.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council, whose continuous support is the facilitates this amazing program.

Our Beta facilitator, author and illustrator Hilary Leung. Check out his book, Ninja Cowboy Bear, published by KidsCan Press.

“The best part was that we got to share our ideas in order to create the story.”

Student, Kensington Community School


Authorfest was a series of 10 Alpha workshops hosted by four Toronto District School Board schools: Keele Street Junior Public School, Perth Avenue Junior Public School, Parkdale Public School, and Brock Junior Public School.  These schools invited more than 800 students from schools throughout the GTA to take part. Each day, we set up shop, and worked with anywhere from 2-4 groups of students to create their very own books. A big thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for supporting this amazing event!

All of these books were written by our kid authors!

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