Story Box at Mann Art Gallery interactive fun for Family Day

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Kim Orynik reads to a group of children during the Story Box at the Mann Art Gallery on Monday.

The Mann Art Gallery was home to an interactive literacy activity on Monday as gallery teamed up with the Prince Albert Literacy Network teamed up to host a Story Box.

Kim Orynik facillitated the event and planned it with the Mann Art Gallery’s Lana Wilson. Orynik said they’ve thought about doing a Story Box day since before the pandemic, and this year they thought they’d give it a try.

We were thinking about having something at the gallery, books that younger children could read or that we could read with the children,” she explained. “Because the Prince Albert Literacy Network already has an amazing collection of something called Story Sacks where we make interactive packages to go along with a book, so because they already have those interactive story sacks we decided to make a Story Box.”

Both the Mann and the Literacy Network have a story box that can be lent out to schools or other childcare centres. Each story box features ‘The Museum’ by Susan Verde, with art by Peter Reynolds.

The book tells the story of a girl visiting a museum. It’s written for children ages three to eight. Orynik reads the story and guides the children through the museum that is inside the box.

It is all about the way art makes you feel and how do we express those feelings,” she said.

It’s an interactive method of storytelling and of reading the story.”

Each story reading featured a group of eight children who were able to select replicas of the book’s artwork and install them on the walls of the story box gallery. Children were encouraged to put them on the walls and create their own displays.

The story box also features games and activities related to the book. The games can be played immediately afterward or another day.

Orynik said no two groups do things the same way, which makes the story box more accessible.

You can use that and play those games in a manner that suits the age and stage of the children,” she explained.

One expample was the spinner game where the children spun a paintbrush and landed on a shape.

They found that shape and made a collaborative piece of art,” she said.

Before or after the guided reading with Orynik, children and parent could explore the Prince Albert Winter Festival Art Show and Sale that is currently running in the gallery. Children were given a little activity sheet where they could look at the different pieces of art to find pieces that made them feel happy, sad, or other emotions. They then sketched their own piece of art on the activity sheet and came back to the education room to colour or paint their sketch.

Orynik said the cold weather, which forced the cancellation of several outdoor Family Day events, helped draw people indoors for the activity.

This very cold morning we had five families already arrive and we expect to have many more people coming through the day because we are operating this until 3 p.m.,” she said.

Story Boxes weren’t the only activity either. Attendees could also complete unfinished canvasses by local artist Leslie Emiel.

Sometimes people do collaborative artworks together and one of our local artists donated a number of canvasses that were started but not finished,” Osyrik said. “The children are now in the process of completing a canvass that was started by an artist in town.”