Play Makes Us Smart!

A pioneer in research on play, Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.  “Play” changes the way our brains perceive the word-  it allows us to explore the possible and is essential for brain development.  The basis of human trust is established through play signals.

Check out the great video from Ted’s Talk:  PLAY IS MORE THAN FUN!

It is sometimes hard to play when things are tough!  It is the best thing for all of us and we need to take time even in the midst of a disaster.


Flat Stanley – Comes on your journey through the Flood of 2013

Information was shared with Literacy for Life and other agencies from Alberta Health Services’ Healthy Minds/Healthy Children Outreach Services.  The intent was to provide information to agency personnel and families on how to help children through the Flood of 2013.  One of the links they provided was FEMA for       Kids.  This is an American link however the tool they use to help prepare children for disasters is a character that many Canadian school aged children are familiar with.  Have you ever heard of Flat Stanley?  I just learned something today.  I did not know there was also a Flat Stella.  Flat Stanley originated from a 1964 children’s book written by Jeff Brown.  Read more about the Flat Stanley project by going to or  Flat Stanley actually accompanied us on a trip to the Grand Canyon this spring.

I started to think that maybe this would be an idea for families as they go through this difficult time.  I wondered if it might open up opportunities for discussion with children or give them and the family a concrete focus as they go through the many changes that families face in a disaster.   I also wondered if it might be a way to help families and children continue to build their literacy and learning skills over the next couple of months.

Download the template for Flat Stanley or Flat Stella at this site   Take pictures of Flat Stanley at the evacuation centre or the place your family is staying.  Take pictures of Flat Stanley with the wonderful new people you meet or new places you go.  If you use Facebook upload the pictures to Literacy for Life Foundation Facebook page.  We would love to see them.  Write a little story to go with your picture.

Whether you do this activity or not there is very good information on the FEMA site.   FEMA for       Kids   It contains kid-friendly flood information presented in an engaging manner.

Flat Stanley Flat stella

The Magic of a Fort – Even during a Flood!

This blog was written by a staff member before the Flood of 2013.  The intent had been to post it in July when children were out of school.  As Executive Director I came to our blog to write something that reflected what was happening due to the flood that impacted so many of our families and individuals in our communities.  I was going to postpone this post until later. After reading the blog it was very obvious that this was the best thing to share with people.  It is a fun activity that can be done anywhere with blankets found in an evacuation centre, hotel room or if you are a guest in an amazing volunteer’s home.  Create fond memories for yourself and your children during a very difficult time. Go to our Pinterest account ( and find many simple activities and links that can help soothe your children as well as support their learning.  Remember play and laughter is a great healer!

One of the fondest memories of my childhood was the weekend my Grandma and her sister babysat me.  They really made my weekend super special.  It was not that they showered me with gifts. It was not that they let me get away with more. They did not let me stay up late or eat lots of treats. What made the weekend the best ever for me was the fort. Grandma and her sister moved all the furniture around in the living room, hauled out the dining room chairs, strung up lots of towels and sheets and voila! I had the coolest fort ever. I got to spend the whole weekend lounging and playing in my very own fort. You should have heard the snickers and giggles at the end of the weekend as we raced around putting everything back in place before my mom came home. She was a little particular, but that is a whole other story. This memory is tucked in my heart as one of the very best.

Why not spend some time with your child and consider exploring the world of the indoor fort. Keep it super simple and hang a sheet over a table and make the fort underneath. In my opinion, you are never too old to make a fort. Well, as a matter of fact, I had make a fort on my Christmas staycation bucket list for 2012. My husband surprised me one morning of our holidays with a couch fort. I got to snuggle on in and spend some quality time reading and watching movies with my family – all from my little couch den.

fort 5
Forts bring smiles
  • Forts are cozy
  • Forts are fun
  • Forts are imaginative
  • Forts are creative
  • Forts are a haven

Fun it up!

Here are some ways to add to the enjoyment of fort time:

  • Bring books – read together, read alone, read to each other
  • Bring craft supplies – you never know what creative juices may start to flow
  • Bring snacks – make a snack with your child, toss it in a paper bag or basket and have a picnic
  • Go “old school” – keep the electronic gadgets away. Try it out and see what happens…
  • All ages welcome – join your kids and get in the fort
  • Add friends – invite others to play, don’t forget the family pet
  • Sweet dreams – sleep the night in your fort

fort 4

Forts are a fabulous way to give your child the time and attention they want and need.

Leave a comment of your fort experiences. We would love to hear from you.


More buzz about our GRATE Bee-vent


Spelling Bee Logo

More buzz about our GRATE BEE-vent

Sandra headshot cmyk sized for print  Sandra Wiebe, Judge

Sandra Wiebe is the sole owner and publisher of Routes magazine, an arts and culture magazine for southern Alberta. She began the magazine almost 5 years ago after completing a bachelor of communications in journalism at Mount Royal University.

As a journalist and lover of the printed word, Sandra is pleased to be supporting this fundraiser for Literacy for Life.

Jessica Patterson  Jessica Patterson, Judge

Jessica Patterson is the editor of Okotoks Living magazine. She has been spelling properly since Grade 4, when she misspelled “area” and lost the class title of “Best Speller.”

Jessica is also an experienced freelance writer, columnist, photographer and proofreader. She has written hundreds of articles on a wide range of subjects and has seen her byline appear in print and online.

She is supporting this fundraiser for literacy because she believes everyone has it in them to be good at spelling. Literacy is one of the most important life skills and a tool of personal empowerment.

And also…

According to the International Board on Books for Young People, “literacy is born from the human need to tell stories, to tell stories about one self or about others, to tell stories about the world to better understand our existence, the others and the universe we live in. All the stories, the myths, the fables and the novels, including those addressed to children are, in fact, the result of this wish and this basic need: they help us to live, to survive; they help us grow and develop.”

I support Literacy for Life as it strives to further the sharing, reading, and telling, of stories.

Doris Workman photo  Doris Daley, Judge

Doris Daley is a self-described lover of words and makes her living on stages throughout North America as one of the Canada’s leading writers and reciters of western poetry.  Many part time jobs keep her hopping, all related to the written word: proofreading, freelance writing and shifts at the Sheep River Library.

“Literacy is to my life what breathing is to my lungs,” she says. “I’d surely tip over if I couldn’t read.”

Currently on her bedside table is a collection of Australian poetry classics, a cupcake recipe book, Beau Geste by PC Wren, the Bulk Barn coupon flyer, a thesaurus, a rhyming dictionary and the current issue of Horses All.

 Pat Fream  Pat Fream, Time Keeper

Pat Fream is a freelance writer and copy editor for Routes Magazine. When she’s not writing from her sunny hilltop home near Dewinton, Pat is cooking endlessly for her ravenous teenagers, reading splendid books, volunteering at hospice or traversing the countryside on foot with her pal Tucker. Pat has a communications degree and nearly a quarter of a century of writing experience.

Pat is excited to be a part of this fun event for Literacy for Life.

A big thank you to our media sponsors

AM logo 1  Sun logo 1 high river online

Go West Video Productions

How can you help your community win the prize?

You community will be going head to head against groan-ups in your rival community in a Spelling Bee competition that will raise funds to support literacy and learning programs in the Foothills. For the teams that raise the most donations, 2nd place, and third place, a significant prize will be awarded to the local library of their choice.

Each of these 5 teams represents a Municipal Council which includes Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond, Turner Valley and the MD of Foothills #31.

Go to your team’s giving page and support your team

  1. Town of High River
  2. Town of Black Diamond
  3. Town of Okotoks – The Big Rockies
  4. Town of Turner Valley
  5. MD of Foothills #31

Want more information contact or call Sue Stegmeier at 403- 652-5090.

All proceeds from the Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee go to our Literacy Programs

47% of Albertans have difficulty with literacy that interferes in their day to day life. You can help us make a difference.

We rely on fundraising activities, grants and donations to meet the needs of our community. You can help by making a pledge, being a sponsor, setting up a giving page, supporting a team.

Donate now through Canada Helps

Thanks for getting involved with Literacy for Life

Please use the social sharing tools below to share this announcement and get your community buzzing about the Grate Groan-Up Spelling Bee! Search #GGSpellBee on Twitter and Pinterest.