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‘Out of the world’ literacy options for kids today

It hasn’t been easy during the pandemic for anyone, and especially for folks with kids. It has been even harder for kids who are suddenly stuck in their homes in some parts of the world while are separated from their friends and regular classmates in other parts of the world, with no idea on when they would get back to just having fun.

Keeping kids entertained and educated, mostly remotely, has become such a challenge for parents and educators and yet these grownups are constantly coming up with new ways to make education fun for their kids in these tough times.

Last week, I watched a NASA live program called Story Time From Space where astronaut Shannon Walker read a book from the International Space Station and that program made me wish I was a kid again.

This wonderful initiative from NASA and the Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space, has been launched to take some load off educators and parents during this stressful pandemic and homeschooling times, and to get kids all across the world interested in all things space.

My six year old cousin watched this live NASA event with me and several other kids from all over the world — Europe, Russia, elsewhere in Canada, U.S.A. and India. The event had the book’s author Houston Kidd, talk about the writing process, Dr. Thomas Boothby, a Tardigrade scientist talk about what Tardigrades are (they are microscopic organisms) and even had other astronauts talking about space, spacewalks, sunsets from space, etc. The program even had the option for kids to send in questions for the speakers and the astronauts.

This story time isn’t just about stories or STEM education but an opportunity to witness and peek into the lives of astronauts actually living in space. I was completely hooked onto the live telecast and I even went back and watched a few of the previous space story times.

Closer to us on this planet too, I am constantly amazed by how many opportunities today’s kids are getting in terms of exposure and experience, early on in their lives. Here, in the small northern communities in B.C. too, there are folks who are constantly trying to reinvent and teach life skills to kids, from carpentry to kindness, several projects and events have been happening in the communities constantly. Last year, kids’ gardening kits were offered in Burns Lake, while several craft and hat-making workshops have taken place in Houston through the public library. The Lakes Literacy organization is constantly coming up with ways to keep kids engaged, entertained and keep them learning. From organizing story walks, to sharing information on programs like the Story Time From Space, the organization has been busy all throughout the pandemic.

These initiatives are absolutely fantastic and much needed. I am always eager to hear about more such learning opportunities for kids and if you, or anyone you know is doing something interesting, I hope you share it, for the rest of the world to see.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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