Alien Landing Imminent!

Our ever popular Alien Has Landed event is happening at Artscape Wychwood Barns on March 24th, 11 AM! Bring the whole family and help us figure out the mystery of who has landed and why.

https://torontostorytellingfestival.ca/2018/#events

Story Planet will run a 3-day story-writing workshop with a grade 5 class, at Valleyfield Public School on April 16th. Our awesome lead artist, Josh Rosen, will illustrate the story and show the students how to draw the alien, step-by-step.

 

From one of our last Alien Has Landed at Gracefield Public School!

We are indebted to our wonderful workshop volunteers, who braved the cold crash site for four hours, and spent even more time working one-on-one with students to help them craft a totally original, totally awesome story!

We are also so grateful to all our amazing volunteers, without whom Alien Has Landed could not have been a success. Our team of engineers and tech wizards designed and built a spaceship that truly awed everyone, children and adults both! We cannot thank them enough for all their tireless work. They made this spaceship crash a magical experience that 500 young students are going to remember for years to come!

We are so excited to launch this program again in spring 2018 (when it’s hopefully a little warmer, too!).

Featured Explorer: Kris Bone

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar long-time volunteers, Kris Bone. Kris is not only an awesome volunteer who has helped inspire kids all over the GTA, he’s a published writer, comedian, and overall cool human.

Check out his responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: Earth is nice (so far), but I hear that Venus has some great restaurants.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: The People of Paper, by Salvador Plascencia! It’s a magical little book about luchadors who are secretly saints, origami so deft it can replace human organs, and a no-holds-barred fight between the author of the novel and a small village that he created. It’s the book that keeps me writing when I start getting tired and considering taking up plumbing or becoming an undertaker.

3. Favourite writers: Hunter S. Thompson, Andre Alexis, David Foster Wallace, Erik Larson, and that gorilla who paints.

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: It’s a three-way tie: Reading, napping, and writing.

5. Favourite Earth food: Mars bars, ironically.

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: I was part of a workshop a few years ago with a group of second-grade students. The facilitator, in talking about characters in stories, asked the group if they thought characters always had to be boys or girls–could they think of other things that could be characters? One little boy put his hand up and declared that “animals, animals could be characters!” The facilitator agreed. A girl in the second row put up her hand and proclaimed that “donkeys could be characters!” Again, the facilitator agreed–donkeys are rare but wonderful protagonists. Then, one boy near the back put his hand up in the air and waved it around–he desperately wanted to contribute. Our facilitator looked over at him and asked him what he thought. The boy said: “It could- it could be a cinnamon donkey!!”

I have rarely laughed so hard as I did that morning, and I think about it often (but maybe not for the reasons you’re expecting). That boy was right! A cinnamon donkey COULD be a character! Who am I to say otherwise? When we’re writing stories from our imaginations, why couldn’t a cinnamon donkey exist?

When I write, now, I often remember that boy when I find myself thinking that something shouldn’t or couldn’t happen in one of my stories. My characters can, and should, do everything–why not? And maybe, one day, I’ll find a way to work a real live imaginary cinnamon donkey into one of those stories, too.

Featured Explorer: Anna Fitzpatrick

At Story Planet, we work with some of the most amazing, inspiring, and truly wonderful humans on the planet, and we’d love for you to learn more about them too!

We would like to introduce you to one of our stellar long-time volunteers, Anna Fitzpatrick. Anna is not only a dedicated volunteer who is adored by children all over the GTA, she is a fabulous Toronto writer and journalist, and overall great person.

Check out her responses below!

1. Favourite planet to live: I only have experience living on planet earth, but Sailor Venus is my favourite of the Sailor Scouts so I’ve always gotten a good vibe about there.

2. Favourite book or the last great one you read: Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

3. Favourite writers: All the young writers I meet through Story Planet, of course! For grownups, I love Shirley Jackson, Jack Handey, and Monica Heisey

4. Favourite thing to do on Earth: I’m addicted to Duolingo, an app that helps you learn new languages. They’ve yet to add Martian, so for now I’m just practicing Russian.

5. Favourite Earth food: Love me some mashed potatoes

6. Favourite moment/memory from your experience at Story Planet: Once in a story writing workshop we were coming up with a character, and one of the students suggested it be “Tall like Miss Anna.” I felt so seen.

Story Planet is Looking for Volunteers!

At Story Planet, we love and appreciate every single one of our amazing volunteers, and we would love to have more folks join our incredible team!

We are looking for volunteers to help us with our in-school workshops for the Winter Term (January – March, 2018). Please read through the details below thoroughly to find out more about how to apply.

As a workshop volunteer, you will:

  • Support Story Planet facilitators & artists during our high-energy literacy workshops in school all over the GTA
  • Work one-on-one with students to help them build their confidence as well as their communication and writing skills
  • Be a mentor to students of all ages, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12
  • Get loads of great experience working with children and youth in groups and one-on-one
  • Have loads of fun and be totally inspired!

To become a Story Planet workshop volunteer, you must be able to commit to:

  • Volunteering with us for the entire winter term (January – March)
  • Volunteering 3 hours per week between 8am – 3pm, Monday – Friday (our workshops take place during school hours, and will be scheduled in advance)
  • Travelling to various schools in the GTA where we conduct workshops
  • Completing a vulnerable sector police check (this will be done through Story Planet, and costs $20)
  • Attending a volunteer orientation and training session.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are interested and able to meet all of the above requirements, please email the volunteer coordinator Liz Mochrie at volunteer@storyplanet.ca with the subject line: “Volunteer Application for Winter Term.”

 

In your email, please provide a brief explanation (2 – 3 sentences) of why you would like to volunteer with us. After that, you will be sent the full volunteer application form as well as further details.

 

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Update: Story Planet’s New Headquarters!

Update: November 8, 2017

We’ve been painting!!

Thanks to the amazing Farha and Logan for getting the place launch ready. We’ll need a few hands to help with some more painting and some carpeting!

Email me liz(at)storyplanet.ca if you like to help make our space beautiful!

Our new space at Parliament Library will be creative workshop, meeting and office space. It will enable us to run consistent, impactful programming for children in the neighbourhood (both James Town and Regent Park), as well as allow schools from all over the GTA to come on a field trip to us.

The space will be designed for maximum creativity and will feature all kinds of art from kids, artists and writers. We will embrace our galactic theme so children entering the space truly feel like they are going to a new, imaginative place where their ideas matter.

We know from the library that there are many families and children who are in need of creative and writing support. Toronto Public Library is the perfect partner because they are a trusted space, with the perfect companion to writing support…books! They are as excited as we are about the impact we can have on the community and how we can support each others’ programs and co-create new ones. 

We will be offering after-school programs twice a week, weekly field trips, Teen Writing Group, as well as camps, and that’s just to start!

Story Planet at Word on the Street!

It was a blazing hot day, but we had a total blast making crafts with awesome kids all day!

Major kudos goes out to our incredible team of volunteers who made the festival such a fun and creative experience for everyone!

We can’t wait for Word on the Street 2018 – see you there!




Summer Musings

Bed in Summer

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
If you have a favourite poem, send it to us and we’ll post for others to enjoy!
liz@storyplanet.ca

Alien Has Landed at Topcliff!

Story Planet had an amazing week working with students to uncover the stories of a mysterious landing. The students learned all about comic books and told their stories in true cartoon style! More to come…

Books For Earth Day

Copy of StoryPlanet_Diversity

With Earth Day approaching, we’re thinking more and more about the importance of protecting our incredible and beautiful planet here at Story Planet. We know that stories have the power to educate and connect us, and so we believe that reading and sharing stories that help teach us the value and importance of protecting our Earth are now more important than ever. We recommend the following list of books to help any young people in your lives (and you too!) learn more about the environment, and how crucial it is to have respect and care for our special Earth. We hope you love them!

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer by Claire A. Nivola
Ages 4 – 8

Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot, illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
Ages 5+

Wangari Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to lead women in a nonviolent struggle to bring peace and democracy to Africa through its reforestation. Her organization planted over thirty million trees in thirty years. This beautiful picture book tells the story of an amazing woman and an inspiring idea.
Summary from Amazon.ca

The Promise and Laura Carlin
Ages 5+

A picture book of great beauty and hope about the power we have to transform our world. On a mean street in a mean city, a thief tries to snatch an old woman’s bag. But she finds she can’t have it without promising something in return – to “plant them all”. When it turns out the bag is full of acorns, the young thief embarks on a journey that changes her own life and the lives of others for generations to come. Inspired by the belief that a relationship with nature is essential to every human being, and that now, more than ever, we need to renew that relationship, The Promise is the story of a magical discovery that will touch the heart and imagination of every reader, young and old. With poignant simplicity, honesty and lyricism, Nicola Davies evokes a powerful vision of a world where people and nature live in harmony. And Laura Carlin’s delicate illustrations capture a young girl’s journey from a harsh, urban reality to the beauty and vitality of a changed world.
Summary from Amazon.ca

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
Ages 5+

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred. The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change. Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person’s actions really can make a difference in our world.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Kenya’s Art by Linda Trice, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell
Ages 5 – 8

Kenya’s class is on spring vacation and their teacher asked them to write a report about how they spent their time. But vacation is almost over and Kenya hasn’t done anything worth noting. A late visit to a museum’s recycling exhibit and a walk through her neighborhood with her daddy inspire Kenya to use her old, broken toys and other items to make art with her family. Now she’s prepared to teach her whole class how to Recycle! Reuse! Make Art!
Summary from Amazon.ca

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French
Ages 8 – 12

Clandestine e-mail exchanges, secret trips, fake press releases, and a tree-house standoff are among the clever stunts and pranks the kid heroes pull in this exciting ecological adventure.

“Sibley Carter is a moron and a world-class jerk,” reads Julian Carter-Li in an angry e-mail message meant for his greedy, high-powered uncle. The fateful message sets him on the course to stop an environmental crime! His uncle’s company plans to cut down some of the oldest California redwood trees, and it’s up to Julian and a ragtag group of friends to figure out a way to stop them. This thrilling, thoughtful debut novel shows the power of determined individuals, no matter what their age, to stand up to wrongdoing.
Summary from Amazon.ca

The Last Wild by Piers Torday
Ages 8 – 12

In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he’s told there’s something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he’s finally gone crazy. But the animals have something to say. And they need him. The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester’s help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an overenthusiastic wolf cub, a military-trained cockroach, a mouse with a ritual for everything, and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?
Summary from Amazon.ca

Under the Weather: Stories About Climate Change edited by Tony Bradman
Ages 10 – 13

From the effects of rising sea levels to changes in animal behaviour and human lifestyles, these powerful stories portray the issues surrounding climate change in personal terms and so bring them vividly to life. Offering warnings and inspiration in equal measure, the stories cover a wide range of localities from Siberia and Canada to Australia, UK, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Writers include award-winning Linda Newbery as well as exciting newcomers like Australia’s George Ivanoff. Whether read from cover to cover or dipped into for one or two stories, this book will enlighten and inspire everyone to consider how climate change will affect us all.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Ages 10 – 14

This Newbery Honor-winning, hilarious Floridian adventure involves new kids, bullies, alligators, eco-warriors, pancakes, pint-sized owls, and more. A New York Times bestseller!

Everybody loves Mother Paula’s pancakes. Everybody, that is, except the colony of cute but endangered owls that live on the building site of the new restaurant. Can the awkward new kid and his feral friend prank the pancake people out of town? Or is the owls’ fate cemented in pancake batter?
Summary from Amazon.ca

Breathe by Sarah Cossan
Ages 14+

Ever since the Switch, when the oxygen levels plummeted and most of humanity died, the survivors have been protected in a glass dome full of manufactured air. If you want to live, you pay to breathe. But what if you can’t pay? And what if you think everything could be different? Alina’s a revolutionary who believes the Resistance can save the environment, can break free, and she’s on her first mission. Quinn’s a Premium who’s never had to worry about having enough air. His best friend, Bea, is an Auxiliary who’s never worried about anything but having enough air. When all three cross paths and walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Ages 15+

Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
Summary from Amazon.ca

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Ages 16+

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.
Summary from Amazon.ca