Teachers on Call

Archive for February, 2018

March Break Toronto: 10 Things To Do

With the weather warming up and the days getting longer, it means that winter is almost over and March break is here!

There are a ton of fun and educational activities in Toronto to keep you and your little ones busy without leaving the city.

Here are some of our favourites with an educational twist:

1) The ROM is hosting their annual March break activity, with a viking theme this called Viking Adventure.  Travel back in time to learn about viking history, voices, clothing and pretend to be a Norse warrior!

2) For students with a passion for singing, dancing and acting Mirvish Productions are offering March Break Musical Theatre Intensive.  This program offers young performers an opportunity to immerse themselves in quality training in an inclusive and supportive environment.

3) Have a family game night.  This is a fun filled way to spend quality time and practices building vocabulary, numeracy, history or geography skills.

4) Learn about Science:  Mad Science Toronto has full and half day programs that are hands on and interactive.

5) Make Spring arts and crafts: Visit your local craft stores for children to work on arts and crafts related to spring.

6) Visit Legoland Discovery Centre: Located at Vaughan Mills shopping centre, this centre is designed for children ages 3 to 10 and has tons of LEGO build and play zones, along with a cinema and different adventures.

7) Learn how to start your own gardens at Canada Blooms.  Kids can take home their own vegetables, flowers and learn about agriculture and starting their own gardens.

8) For art lovers out there, the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is hosting a week of March Break Fun.  This includes an exciting assortment of hands-on art making, creative play and interactive programming.  These activities are free with general admission to the AGO.

9) Home Depot is hosting March break workshops for kids to teach them about building.  This also provides kids with important skills in measurement and spacial perception.

10) For movie lovers out there, TIFF is hosting its annual TIFF Kids International Film Festival.   The event will feature ten days of programming that will teach children about filmmaking and animation.

What are your plans for March break?

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Pi Day – 5 Ways to Celebrate

Pi Day (March 14) is almost here!

What is Pi?  It is one of the most famous numbers in Math that represents the ratio of every circle’s diameter to its circumference.   It is unique since it’s digits never end or never repeat.   However, since it goes on forever we use 3.14 to approximate its value.

To learn more, click the video below:

Educators and mathematicians around the world have made March 14th as the day of celebration.

Here are five fun math activities from our tutors to get engaged:

1) Enjoy Pi themed foods -Have a Pizza Party.  Remind your kids that it represents the ratio of circle’s circumference to its diameter.   Have them measure both the circumference and the diameter to see it in real life.  Once you are done, cut the pizza into different slices and learn about ratios.

2) Create a collage: Cut out numbers of newspapers and magazines to make a work of art.

3) Make a paper chain with a different colour representing each digit and see how far you can make the chain

4) Expand vocabulary with a themed words contest.  Challenge your kids to come up with as many words that start with Pi in 5 minutes.  Ie. pink, pick, pimple and pizza.

5) Read about it: In Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure) turns math concepts into memorable stories.

Have a wonderful time celebrating math!

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How to Choose the Right Summer Camp

With one of the coldest winters in recent memory, it is tough to think that summer is just around the corner.   Even though there are several months of school remaining, planning ahead and choosing the right summer camp for your child can take time to do research and ensure the camp’s programs meet your daughter or son’s needs.

Fortunately, we have put together some suggestions to help get you started on the journey of selecting the right camp.

Discuss Your Child’s Interests:  Before doing any research, it is important to understand what your child’s goals and interests are over the summer.   First, gage their feelings and comfort level with going to camp, in particular if you are considering overnight.   Some additional questions and discussion items to consider are around what type of camp they are interested in (ie. sports, arts), what they are looking to accomplish and how long they are interested in attending.

Get Up to Speed:   There are numerous resources to get started on searching for Toronto day camps and overnight camps.   Here are three suggestions:

Help We’ve Got Kids – Summer Camps:  In addition to being an excellent resource for all parent needs and questions, HWGK has a listing of close to 300 summer camps and activities.  Parents can refine their searches in different areas including:  overnight, arts, specialty and sports camps.

Post City Magazines – Camp Guide:  Helpful resource with close to 100 Toronto day and overnight camps listed.   Depending on your child’s interests, refine your search by speciality and camp type.   Don’t miss their special Camp Guide insert in your local Post City Magazine.

Our Kids:  A leading Canadian resource in camps and private schools, Our Kids allows you to search various camps by location, type and sport.   They also have an excellent resource guide for parents with all the key questions and concerns that will likely arise.

Learn More:  Once you have had a chance to understand your child’s interests and get a better understanding of the camps available, it is time to narrow down your research to a smaller list of camps.  As you are considering your options, here are some suggestions to help assist you with your decision:

Follow-Up Questions:  Once you have reviewed a camp’s information online, we would recommend following up with them on any key questions you might have.  Some questions to think about asking are around:  counselor to camper ratio, safety procedures, camp philosophy, ongoing communication process with parents, accreditations, typical day for a camper and policy for child illness / refunds.

Speak with Friends / Family:   These are a very helpful source if their daughter or son has already attended the camp.   Not only learn about the quality of the camp, but also understand whether the camp will be the right fit for your child.   If you are still looking for any references, the camp directors should be more than willing to provide references upon request.

Information Session / Open Houses:  Many camps host an open house or information session outside of the summer months.   This is a great chance to see the facilities, meet the leadership staff and ask about any questions that relate specifically to your child’s needs in person.

Special Needs:  If your child has an allergy, learning disability or other medical condition, inquire what extra support the camp can help assist with special requirements for your child.  There are many camps designed specifically for children with various special needs.

Selecting a Camp:   Once you have narrowed down your options, note all the pros and cons and ask for your child’s input.   Select your top choice and register as early as possible as many camps have limited registration and offer a discount for early signup.

Supporting Your Child:   As the school year comes to an end and camp approaches, it is beneficial to prepare your son or daughter about the camp experience.   This is particularly important if it is their first time at camp in general or attending overnight camp.  Discuss all the exciting activities at camp they will enjoy and how they will meet new friends outside of school.

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How to Review Your Child’s Report Card in Three Easy Steps

February is a month filled with academic feedback for students. Report cards are delivered home for students enrolled in elementary school and secondary programs. Shortly after receipt, there may also be an opportunity for parent-teacher interviews to discuss results.

Report cards are an important resource to reflect on achievement, progress and areas to improve on. It’s important to make use of this important document before it gets filed away for the year.

The mid-year report card is especially helpful as there is still plenty of time to make positive changes before June.

Our team of tutors at Teachers on Call have put together the following tips for parents to review the report card and navigate next steps:

Have an Initial Read:

  • Review the report card in full prior to sitting down with your child and the classroom teacher for parent-teacher interviews.
  • Read the comments and identify successes and opportunities to improve on.
  • Stay big picture – remember every year is different and some will be more challenging than others.

Review with Your Child:

  • Your child will have a lot of insight on their report card.  Ask them what they think about it.  If you are able to make discussions about school part of your regular family routine during the year, it will help avoid any surprises during report card time.
  • Celebrate their accomplishments and stay positive.  If your child’s report card had lower marks, find areas of success and ensure they are recognized.
  • Avoid comparisons with any friends or family – it’s important to stay focused on what is realistic for your child.

Make a Plan Together:

  • After reviewing the report card, write down questions to ask if there is a parent-teacher conference.
  • Prepare a follow-up plan with your son or daughter and think about what activities and goals you can set for the rest of the school year.
  • For areas to improve on make realistic goals (even if small) and think about strategies to help improve any organizational skills.
  • Work with your child to consider any additional academic support or tutoring they may require.

Should you have any questions on next steps, please feel free to consult our office in the process.

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Easy Ideas for DIY Valentine’s Day Cards

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, parents and children alike are starting to think about what they will take to school to hand out to their friends. Homemade DIY Valentine’s Day cards are a personal and thoughtful way of showing someone how much you appreciate their friendship. Making Valentine cards is also a great way for young kids to practice handwriting while exercising their creative skills.

Bookmarks

Creating Valentine’s Day themed bookmarks is a fun way to show someone how much you care. The best part of making bookmarks is that you are not limited to one shape or saying. Choose different shapes and designs to make your bookmarks really stand out. Use a saying such as: “In my book you’re tops,” or just decorate them with hearts. The possibilities are limitless when creating Valentine’s Day bookmarks as you can even create different shapes and designs.

Pencil Valentines

Handing out Valentine’s that are attached to a pencil is a neat idea because it provides the recipient with an educational tool they can actually use. The good news is that there are many different formats you can choose to make these Pencil Valentine’s. You could make cute little butterflies by cutting out heart shapes and placing the pencil in the middle, or even a little inchworm that says: “Inching along to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day.”

Ruler Valentines

Much like the Pencil Valentine’s above, these Ruler Valentine’s provide the recipient with a useful educational tool. Just create a cute little pouch that the ruler can go through and caption it with something adorable like: “You rule!”

Valentines to Colour

With this neat Valentine’s Day idea, it’s just as easy as designing something the recipient can colour in such as a heart or butterfly. You can even take this idea one step further and tie a little crayon onto the card. If designing something for every card feels too overwhelming, try making one design to colour and then photocopying it for multiple cards.

Playdough Valentines

Homemade playdough and cookie cutters can speak volumes this Valentine’s Day. Spend the day creating your favourite homemade playdough and cutting it into little heart shapes, finish the Valentine off by wrapping the playdough and the cookie cutter in cellophane and attaching the playdough recipe to it.

There are many fantastic ways to create DIY Valentine’s this year; each one will be a creative and unique gift for your child to give to their classmates and teachers.

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