PD Day Workshops and Arts Market’s Upcoming Charity Craft Supply Swap

We’ll be making a lot of changes to the Intergalactic Travel Authority (our storefront) in the next little bit. We’re not quite ready to announce our plans quite yet, but we do want to take a minute to thank you, our loyal space travel companions, for all of your helpful input and feedback. We’d be positively lost in space without your help!

PD Day Workshops


We had a blast hosting our PD day Alpha and Story Making App workshops this past Friday!

Our Story Making App Workshop is a chance for young storytellers to help us create a story-making app that’ll allow kids to create and share their stories. Thanks to the input we got on Friday, we’re well on our way to developing this app! Thanks to everyone who came out for our PD day workshops!

Arts Market’s Upcoming Charity Craft Supply Swap

Arts Market is hosting a Charity Craft Supply Swap on Saturday, February 21! Swap your beads for paint brushes, meet some creative people and donate to a worthy cause.

Arts Market has teamed up with STRanger Artiste who started the Cold Hands Warm Heart Project with PARC. Instead of a cash participation fee, they ask that you donate an item from the list they’ve posted on their Facebook event, such as toiletries, blankets or hand warmers to give to those who need them most this winter season. Any leftover crafting supplies from the event will be donated to Story Planet.

Check out Arts Market’s Facebook event page for more information. We’re so excited to be a part of this event!

Sean Waisglass


Sean Waisglass has been an essential cog in Story Planet’s extra-terrific volunteer machine ever since he arrived a few months ago. He popped his head in one day to check out the space and (lucky for us) hasn’t left since!

Sean is a super friendly terrestrial with a killer eye for photography. He is always the first volunteer to respond when we are in a space jam and need volunteers ASAP. His fateful landing on this Story Planet has been nothing short of incredibly helpful and so much fun!

We asked Sean to answer a few questions about himself to paint a brighter picture for those who have yet to meet him. Check out his responses below!


1. Favourite Planet to live: 

Earth. I like this big ol’ ball of water and rock.  (2nd choice: Saturn. Curious about what goes on in those rings.)

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read:

Can’t narrow it down, but the one book I’m always cracking open and finding interesting is the dictionary, so maybe that’s technically my favourite!

3. Favourite writers:

I really like reading about people’s lives, ideas, and the way the world works, so I read a lot of non-fiction. Authors like Mark Twain, George Plimpton, Joan Didion, Christopher Hitchens, Jane Jacobs, David Foster Wallace, and Hunter S. Thompson have all written great essays and journalism about everything from culture and sports to politics and identity. There’s a lot to learn about life on this planet!

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth:

My two favourite pastimes are complimentary to each other: riding around on my bike, and taking photos. Both are a great tools for exploring and appreciating all the things the city has to offer, like our waterfront and parks, our various buildings and neighbourhoods, and all the different kinds of people living their lives together here. (You can follow along with me at: instagram.com/seanwaisglass)

5. Favourite Earth food:

I like a lot of the food that comes from the Earth continent known as Asia.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience here:

The earnest answer would obviously be a moment when one of the kids at Story Planet and I helped each other learn more about how amazing human language and imagination is. The honest answer would be one of many memories I have of the kooky stuff the kids have come up with during the storytelling Alpha workshops. Like when they made up a villain who lived in a cave and ate meatballs that were actually portals to other dimensions, or a hero who was half snake, half cereal bowl, and had a beard make of electricity.

Looking for Fundraising Ideas, Alpha Workshops, PD Day App Making Workshop, Mindfulness for Teens and Volunteer Openings with Story Planet

As you may have read in our last blog post, we’ve recently launched new research in partnership with the Michael Cohen Group (MCG), with financial support from the OMDC, exploring how teachers use digital books in the classroom.

On top of that, we’ve got a whole line-up of fun events and workshops planned for this week. If you’d like to get involved, follow this link to find out how you can sign up for our upcoming volunteer orientation event!

Looking for Fundraising Ideas

We’ve been taking a break from outer space to look at our inner space to see how we can make it more awesome. Specifically, we’ve been focusing on the Intergalactic Travel Authority (our storefront) to see if we can make it a more viable contributor to our budget. This means looking at the business model and seeing what we could be doing differently (however radical).

Last Thursday, we hosted a town hall meeting to hear if you, our loyal space travel companions, and you gave us a lot of great ideas! With your help, we’ve made some exciting decisions about the Intergalactic Travel Authority that we’ll be sharing with you soon. We look forward to hearing what you think and getting your feedback on those changes. If you weren’t able to come by but have ideas you’d like to tell us about, please feel free to email, call or even arrange a time to come and meet with us in person. We’d love to see and hear from you!

Alpha Workshops

This week, we welcomed the grade 5 class from Pauline Public School for an Alpha Workshop. While they were here at Story Planet, the students co-wrote “The Bright War of 1985,” a story about Ethel Coocka, an evil girl made of Lego who had snakes for hair!

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Thanks to your generous contributions, we will be hosting Alpha Workshops for classes from participating Toronto elementary schools every week until March.

While most of the Alpha Workshops we have scheduled in the coming weeks are only for schools coming by on field trips, we do have open registration for the PD Day Alpha Workshop this Friday, January 23 from 10am-12pm, but space is limited! Click here to find out more about our Alpha Workshops and to sign up.

PD Day App Design Workshop

We got so much great feedback from the kids the last time we ran this workshop, that we’re doing it again!

This Friday, January 23 from 1pm-2:30pm (right after the Alpha Workshop), kids between the ages of 8 and 11 are invited to come help us design a storytelling app that’ll help kids like them create and share their stories.

The registration cost for this workshop is a suggested donation of $5, so contact Joe if you’re interested. But please note that registration is almost full!

Remember to Breath: Mindfulness for Teens

Starting on Thursday, February 12, Story Planet will be the venue for a 5-week introductory mindfulness practice workshop for teens between the ages of 14 and 19. In this program, teens will learn mindfulness practices that will be helpful them manage stress, improve attention and focus and increase overall well being.

The program will be run by Sara Marlowe, MSW, RSW, a clinical social worker who has offered numerous mindfulness groups and workshops for teens, adults, children and families. Follow this link to find out more information about this workshop or to register.

Story Planet is not running this program, but we are happy that it is happening in our space!

Volunteer Coordinator Position

We’re looking for someone to help on the administrative side of Story Planet and to support our current coordinator, Rebecca.

If you are organized, social media savvy, enjoy communicating with others on multiple platforms and have a passion for Story Planet, we want you! Oh — and if you know your way around a website, that wouldn’t hurt either!

We are looking for someone to commit at least one day a week in-office, plus be open to answering emails if need be throughout the week.

For more information, or if you’d rather check out some of the other volunteer opportunities we have opening up, please don’t hesitate to email us at volunteer@storyplanet.ca.

Story Planet Launches New Research!

Story Planet and the Michael Cohen Group (MCG) launch new research that reveals current in-school digital book practices, key influencers, and purchase drivers among Ontario early elementary teachers and school librarians. The project, “If We Build It Will They Come? Digital Books in the Educational Landscape,” also provides insights at the school and industry level.

“This research helps us understand how and when teachers and librarians use digital books in school. As we develop our own publications, written by children, we’ll have a better sense of how we ourselves can incorporate digital books to encourage children to create their own stories,” says Liz Haines, Executive Director of Story Planet. “Additionally, we’re happy to share what we’ve learned with the Ontario digital book creation community and hope it is useful in informing their strategic plans for growing their business.”

“By identifying current usage as well as the needs and barriers to the more extensive use of digital books in school, we hope this research helps both the Ontario education community and the digital book creation industry as they contend with the complexities of the successful incorporation of digital media into the education system, ” said Carmina Marcial, research director at the MCG and the principal investigator for this project. The research reveals the current state of flux in Ontario schools regarding the purposeful integration of technology, including digital books.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Computers remain the most prevalent device used by students to read digital books in school, followed by the iPad
  • The most common way both teachers and school librarians look for digital books is through peer recommendations
  • The top digital book purchasing influencer for teachers is having a curriculum tie-in, for school librarians their students asking for a specific book
  • Words being sounded out when clicked on and audio narration of text were the top 2 features of digital books rated as “beneficial” by teachers and librarians
  • A common strategy for schools and district school boards to date has been to first secure the infrastructure that will enable schools to utilize new technologies. Acquisition of content on a more systematic basis will follow
  • There are some topics/themes that are underserved by current offerings of educational digital resources
  • Digital book design often inhibits learning effectiveness as a result of distracting, non-essential interactive features. Simultaneously, digital books offer enormous opportunity for enhancing learning when appropriate interactive features (e.g., highlighting of words, dictionary, etc.) are included

Funded by a grant from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the project aims to help Ontario’s digital book creation community find ways to maximize their investment in the digital shift and grow their business.

The study’s methodology involved a four-phase program of primary and secondary market research. Primary research included individual interviews with project partners and school policy makers and an online survey with first and second grade Ontario teachers and school librarians. Secondary research consisted of a review of academic, research, and market knowledge regarding digital books and the digital book industry.

Strategic implications and recommendations – crafted through an analysis and synthesis of findings from the four phases of the Project — are included in the full report. The full report is available on the OMDC website, www.omdc.on.ca under “Research funded by the OMDC”.

Project partners include the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC), eBOUND Canada, Groundwood Books, Kids Can Press, and TVO. Partners participated in initial foundational interviews that helped identify the informational needs of digital book creators and set the stage for the rest of the research.

Story Planet is a non-profit, storymaking centre that delivers free workshops in literacy and arts that encourage young people to create and tell their stories by igniting their imagination, fuelling their knowledge and equipping them with the tools they need to launch their voice.

MCG is a research, evaluation and consulting firm with extensive experience with children, youth and families in the areas of education, child development, media, marketing and strategic communications. Engaged in applied research, scientific evaluation and knowledge-based consulting, the firm’s professionals represent the social sciences, including education, child development and psychology.

An agency of the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is responsible for stimulating economic development in Ontario’s book and magazine publishing, interactive digital media, film, television, and music industries. For more information, visit www.omdc.on.ca.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization, founded in 1976. We are dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. With book collections and extensive resources in five cities across Canada, the CCBC is a treasure-trove for anyone interested in Canadian books for young readers. Our programs, publications, and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers.

eBOUND Canada’s goal is to advance any publisher’s digital engagement, no matter their size or their level of expertise. As the market evolves, so will we, always with this mandate in mind.

Groundwood Books is an independent Canadian publisher of beautiful and thought-provoking books for children. For over 35 years we have been attracting attention, praise, starred reviews and awards for our warm and intelligent children’s books

Kids Can Press, the largest Canadian-owned children’s publisher in the world — home to major children’s brands Franklin the Turtle and Scaredy Squirrel, and to an array of international award-winning books — celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2013. From its early years as a small collective borne out of a desire to publish high-quality, socially responsible children’s books, Kids Can Press has evolved into a broad-based content company, adapting as the world of books and publishing has changed through the decades.

About TVO. As the technological extension of Ontario’s public education system, TVO’s vision is to create a better world through the power of learning. TVO provides learning opportunities for Ontarians through innovative educational products, in-depth current affairs, groundbreaking documentaries, and award-winning TVOKids resources both inside and outside the classroom. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.

Homework Club, Afterlight Book Club, Parents and Tots Meetup and Updated Store Hours on the Intergalactic Travel Authority Website

There’s a lot going on here at Story Planet this week! Our Homework Club is back on, our Afterlight Book Club is meeting up and our Parents and Tots Meetup event is becoming a regular thing. On top of all that, in the very near future, we’ll be announcing lots of upcoming events and workshops, so stay tuned for more details!

If you’re interested in joining in on the fun, we’re always looking for volunteer crew members and we have some great new programs coming up soon. Follow this link to find out how you can take part and how to get involved!

Homework Club is back on!


Homework Club, the free homework help workshop we host after school on Tuesdays for kids between the ages of 6 and 12 is officially back on after pausing for the holidays. To those of you who signed up your kids in September, we’ll see you after school!

Afterlight Book Club

Our Afterlight Book Club is a monthly Meetup event that we host on the first Tuesday of every month. Anyone who enjoys reading and discussing novels in a fun and relaxed atmosphere is welcome to come. We provide the snacks and discussion questions. All we ask is that you contribute to the Meetup costs on a “pay what you can” basis. Any other proceeds from the events go to funding other Story Planet programming like the Alpha Workshop for kids.

This Tuesday at 7:30, if you have time to read the book in time, we’ll be discussing Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald: a powerful drama about family, motherhood and love.

If you can’t make it to this Tuesday’s event, next month (February 10), we’ll be discussing Sean Michaels’ Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel, Us Conductors. Click here to find more information and to RSVP to Afterlight Book Club events. Happy reading!

Parents and Tots Meetup event

As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, our Parents and Tots Meetup event is a comfortable and fun opportunity for parents of babies and toddlers to get out of the cold, grab a coffee and snack at the Intergalactic Travel Authority (our kid-friendly coffee shop), meet new people, hear from interesting speakers and hang out. We provide creative activities and fun toys for the kids. All we ask is that you contribute to the Meetup costs on a “pay what you can” basis. Other proceeds from the events go to funding other Story Planet programming for underserved kids living in Toronto.

Updated store hours on the Intergallactic Travel Authority website

We’ve updated the store hours on the Intergalactic Travel Authority website. Learn more about what we do, check out when we’re open and come by for a coffee!

All of the proceeds from the coffee and Earth souvenirs sold at the store go directly to Story Planet, which helps provide free programming to kids in Toronto, so naturally, our coffee is the best in the galaxy!

Parents and Tots Meetup, Designing an App and No Homework Club for This Week

Now that the holidays are over, our spaceship is slowly getting back up speed. There’s no Homework Club this week, but we do have some fun activities planned for our first Parents and Tots Meetup event..!

Parents and Tots Meetup

Parents and toddlers: If you’re looking for something to do this Wednesday between 10 am and 3 pm, get out of the cold and into Story Planet for our Parents and Tots Meetup event!

We’ll have toys and activities set up for your babes and toddlers, so bring some snacks, grab a coffee at the Intergalactic Travel Authority (the child-friendly coffee house attached to Story Planet) and hang out with friends! 

Homework Club

There’s no Homework Club this week, but it’ll be reconvening next Tuesday!

For those who don’t know what it is, Homework Club is a free homework help program we offer to kids between the ages of 6 and 12 every Tuesday throughout the school year.

Registration for Homework Club is closed for now (we accept new students at the beginning of every school year), but if you’d like to learn more about it, or email joe@storyplanet.ca for more information.

Design a Story Making App


Last Tuesday, we invited young writers to help us develop a storytelling app and we were really impressed with their feedback!

At first, we gave our students pre-made cards with prompts for characters, settings and props they could use to write their stories. Then we gave them blank cards and encouraged them to contribute some ideas of their own. The kids really started thinking out of the box when they suggested we turn the program we’re developing into a game!

We received a lot of great suggestions from the kids who came out last week, so we’ve got our work cut out for us for now, but we’re really looking forward to hosting a workshop like this again! Thanks to all the kids who came out and provided feedback. Your suggestions were really helpful!