COW bus visits Bentley

By June Norvila

A different kind of ‘school’ bus stopped for a short visit in Bentley on Feb. 19. The black and white 38-foot long bus, painted to imitate a Holstein cow’s coloring, was parked in the Bentley main street town parking lot and adults were invited to come in with their small children and explore some fun learning activities with them.

“It is not a babysitting service,” facilitators stressed, but is a chance to have some quality time with your youngster(s) while giving you some ideas of how to promote literacy at home. Indications are that literacy begins with speaking, singing, and reading, etc. to the baby and by listening to the small child. That leads to a love of reading and thus better writing skills.”

By invitation from local groups, the Alberta Prairie Classroom On Wheels (COW) bus travels to rural and smaller urban Alberta communities promoting and encouraging family literacy skills.

Inside is an open play area similar to a playschool room geared to showing parents, grandparents and guardians/caregivers ideas about how to promote reading and help develop oral and comprehensive skills while engaging in fun learning activities with their pre-schoolers. Many ideas like story props, simple jigsaw puzzles and puppets, and memory and matching games are very inexpensive and can be made at home.

Many wonderful ideas are shared with the visitors to the bus by facilitators, and the facilitators say they too come away with new ideas that they can pass on. After the visit they also leave behind some quality children’s books.

The bus will attend local special community events, if available, but is now being booked up into March of 2011.

To get more information about the COW bus and other programs of the Centre For Family Literacy call toll free 1-866-421-7323 or visit: www.famlit.ca.