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Holiday Gifts for Teachers That Are Guaranteed to Please

The search is on for gifts to express appreciation for your child’s teacher and the important work they do. Supplies are one thing that’s always welcome – they’re practical and useful gifts that can save a teacher money and provide a lot of fun for the class. If you want to give teacher more of a “treat” that they get to enjoy for themselves, we can help you with that, too!

Here are some ideas to help make it easy to find the perfect gift. Be sure to include your kids in the process of shopping! If you’re thinking of supplies, not only is it fun for them to select the items they want to use, they have expert knowledge on what is needed… and they may know some of your teacher’s likes and hobbies to help give a gift a personal touch.

Desk Items “Just for Teacher”

Pads of paper, pens, and pencils are items that always seem to disappear. Quality equipment (such as staplers) are also worth their weight in gold! Stationary is great for all the nice notes teachers like to write and send home. A chic desk organizer is something every teacher can appreciate – either on its own, or a creative “gift basket” for the other items you may want to gift!

Sophisticated Treats for the Classroom

If parents are pooling resources for a group gift, there are often costly supplies that are usually out of budget. STEM toys and games, electronics, books, and specialty paints are enjoyable for kids and teachers alike and can be purchased in group gift situations.

Personalized Items

If your child’s teacher has everything already, consider personalized items including notepads, adult labels, and stamps with custom impressions like “Good Job! – Ms. Smith.”

Little Luxuries for Teacher

Easy-to-care-for plants for the classroom, their favourite tea or hot chocolate mix for breaktime, funny signs for their desk, a pleasant hand lotion to keep in their drawer for winter-dry hands… the possibilities are endless!

Arts and Crafts Materials

Things like crayons, glue sticks and construction paper may not seem exciting, but these resources are used daily for lessons and activities – and teachers use more of them than you may think!

The Trusty Gift Card

Gift cards are easy to coordinate for a joint gift and guarantees the perfect choice, especially if you don’t know the type of pens – or wine – they prefer!

Don’t forget to have fun with the presentation. You can make gift baskets with a caddy, tote, or desk organizer as the base. Or perhaps try assembling your gift in the shape of a snowflake or tree to capture the spirit of the winter season!

Most importantly, don’t forget to include a thank you card with personalized note from you and your child; these are treasured keepsakes!


To make your shopping easier this season, we’re pleased to partner with Staples to give away school supplies and a $250 Staples Gift Card (total value, $300). Enter via the contest below! We’ll be drawing the winner on December 7, 2018. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to Ontario residents only.

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Mid-Summer Check-In Tips from Julie Cole

Are you as surprised as we are to discover we’re halfway through summer? With the school season only weeks away, a midsummer check-in can be just the thing to make sure you’re on track before the bell rings again.

We consulted parenting expert, and Mabel’s Label’s co-founder and mother of six, Julie Cole, to find out how she gets everything done before summer is over.

Julie suggests organizing your checklist by the vowels. And as educators, we agree.

“A” is for:

Appointments: There’s no need for your child to miss school over appointments. Schedule haircuts, the dentist, eye check-ups…and whatever else is hanging around on your list.

Academics: Kids need a break over the summer but August is the perfect time to dust off their little brains and do some practice—refresh the times tables, pull out the books, and spend time reviewing tough concepts. This will help all kids feel better prepared for back to school but especially any little ones with a learning disability.

“E” is for:

Entertainment: Now’s the time to make good on any promises you made about special summer activities. Check the list and schedule a time to make them happen. And with it being midway through the summer, you may begin to hear, “I’m bored.” It’s not your job to be your child’s summer entertainment. Encourage them to get creative and adventure independently— give them the freedom to make it happen.

“I” is for:

Inventory: Pull out last year’s school supplies and take note. What can be used again and what needs replacing? Refrain from last minute shopping when everything is on low supply and buy online or plan a shopping excursion before the final August rush. Now’s the perfect time to order your Mabel’s Labels to keep everything organized and reduce the chance of kids losing their supplies.

“O” is for:

Organization: Pull out the family calendar, it’s time to plan those extra-curricular activities. Discuss what your kids are wanting to do, consider other family needs, and then you can decide what will work.

“U” is for:

You! The parents! Was there something you wanted to do this summer? Put yourself on the list so you can meet your own summer goals!

Check out this video from Breakfast Television Toronto where Julie shares these tips in detail

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Top 100 Finalists for Superpower your School Contest

Earth month

Earth Day Canada and Staples Canada have announced the top 100 finalists for their annual Superpower your School contest. Check out the list of 100 eco-conscious finalists from schools across Canada. Is your child’s school one of them?

The final judging, led by a panel of volunteer organizations interested in sustainability, is taking place in the weeks leading up to Earth Month. The ten winners will be announced in early April- five elementary and five secondary schools.

Common themes among last year’s winners include solving a community or environmental issue and environmental activism-view the eco-champions here. Deb Doncaster, President, Earth Day Canada, says, “Through projects and programs like these, we are getting closer to a safer and eco-friendlier environment, which in itself is something to celebrate.”

Winning schools each receive a $20,000 Staples shopping spree for new technology products. David Boone, CEO, Staples Canada says,“It’s a great pleasure for us to award the next generation of environmental leaders with the equipment they need to keep growing and learning to be environmentally responsible.”

We’re looking forward to viewing the winning innovative projects. Stay tuned!

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4 Ways To Practice Going Green All Year Long

Earth Day

After a long winter, celebrating Earth Day feels like a fun way to kick off a return to sunnier days and the promise of warmer weather.

Schools often plan Earth Day events which take students outdoors to clean up the community, plant trees or prepare a school garden. There may even be an assembly or two, with eco-fashion shows, recycling skits, and student-driven public service announcements.

It’s no wonder that following all their Earth-focused learning in April that students come home filled with excitement and sometimes anguish over the Earth.

How can we take the passion for the planet, they exhibit during Earth Day activities and ignite them all year long into eco-warriors?

We asked Sara Vartanian, the founder of the green lifestyle site Green Moms Collective for four tips on how we can turn going green into fun yet educational learning for kids. Here’s what she had to say:

Get Outdoors as Much as Possible

Beyond the physical and mental benefits of being outside, children should have regular experiences with the outdoors in order to care about the Earth. Without this connection, how will they begin to understand why it’s so important to care about protecting it?

You don’t have to plan a camping trip to enjoy nature (although that can be fun), head to a local green space, conservation area or even a park. The more your child can adventure outside, the more likely they will develop a love for nature.

Teach Kids How to Give Back to The Earth

Plan a family brainstorm session or two to gather your children’s ideas on how you can take care of the planet. Here’s a few ideas to help inspire you:

  • Plant a butterfly garden

  • Join in community environmental initiatives

  • Host a toy, clothing, or book swap

  • Read books and watch movies about the Earth and share their knowledge with others

Grow Your Child’s Food Literacy

Visit farmer’s markets or pick-your-own farms so your child can meet the people who grow their food as well as choose food fresh from the farm.

If a market visit is not a possibility then a trip to the grocery store works, too. While shopping, point out local food signs in the produce section and discuss with your child why they may want to choose these foods. Consider adding a regular ‘local food’ dinner as part of your family’s meal plan.

There are plenty of eco-minded discussions you can have with your child about food including talking about buying in bulk, packaging and food waste.

Encourage Your Child to Care for Their Items

An easy way to ‘go green’ is to buy stuff that lasts and keep it a long time, too. Model the importance of taking care of your items and notice when your child does, too.

Talk with your child about how reusable items cut down on waste. School lunches are a great place to start.

Assuming you’ve already invested in reusable lunch gear, help your children take care of their stuff by making it easier to keep track of with name labels. Eco-friendly lunch gear isn’t cheap to buy but if it’s not lost, it lasts year-over-year.

Teaching kids about the small and big things they can do to make a difference in the world will help empower them to feel like their voice and actions matter.

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2017 Educational New Year’s Resolutions

As kids get back to school in January, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the first half of the school year and to make some educational resolutions.

In the new year, we usually start off with the best of intentions, but don’t always follow through with the resolutions we make. That’s why our team of tutors recommends continuing to engage your child and track their progress.

Here are some subject and skill specific ideas to help start 2017 off on the right foot.


  • Practice makes perfect – Math homework can be an opportunity for students to reinforce the concepts they learned.   Schedule a regular time and location to develop a routine
  • Play Math Games to make learning fun.  Here are some of our favourites
  • Use these helpful Math apps for enrichment or support learning in more challenging areas
  • Introduce Math into real life settings. For example: on the next drive learn about distance and time.  Or during cooking time – learn about measurement.


  • Read with your child frequently and engage them by asking them to explain the story
  • Use flash cards to learn important words.  Once your child gets comfortable, combine the flash cards to create common sentences
  • Label items around the house and practice reading them with your child
  • Reading apps can help engage your child and leverage technology.  Some of our favourites include: Dr. Seuss’s ABCReading RavenQuestion BuilderWord MagicGraceabc PocketPhonics


  • Cook in French – think about all the great food you can cook and eat (ie. Crepes, Croissant)
  • TFO – Games:  Wonderful games to help improve French vocab, math, reading and science
  • French TV: expand vocabulary by watching age appropriate shows
  • Leverage technology with these helpful French Apps
  • Sign up for a French enrichment March Break or Summer Camp
  • Watch online videos to sing songs and learn new vocabulary


  • Use sports make science fun and connect it with real life.  Ie. hockey can be used to learn the Physics of friction and momentum or athletes’ nutrition can be used to learn Biology and the science of proteins, sugars and fats
  • Explore the world of science with these helpful apps for children of all ages
  • NBC Learn has wonderful videos to explain the science of everything

Organization, Time Management and Study Skills:

  • Use an agenda / planner
  • Make a consistent schedule
  • Provide a place to study with limited distractions and good lighting
  • Develop a system to track important papers / materials
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher on an ongoing basis

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Canada’s Big Birthday

It’s time to start Canada’s year long 150th birthday celebration! There are already celebrations happening around the country and it’s the perfect opportunity for kids to explore our country’s unique history, culture and identity. We have five suggestions to join in the Canada 150 fun and learning:

Plan To Visit Historical Sites

Expose children to new learning about Canadian history by providing them with cultural and historical experiences with trips to places like Fort Henry or Black Creek Pioneer Village. Many may even be a simple day trip-check out this list of National Historic Sites to help guide your explorations.

Toys With Spirit

Take a field trip to your favourite toy store for some inspiration. For all the children who love dolls, Maplelea Girls are perfect for Canada Day. This niche line of dolls captures the spirit of Canada’s unique geography, heritage and culture. Start the collection with red-haired Jenna from Canada’s East Coast and work your way to Charlsea from Canada’s West Coast.

Celebrate Canadian Authors

Check out books written by celebrated Canadian authors. Growing up, our director, Joanne Sallay, loved Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables. There are also many educational children’s books that are all about Canada. For inspiration, check out Canada concept books by artist Per-Henrik Gürth. Young readers will delight in ABC of Canada, Canada 123 and Oh, Canada, just to name a few.

Connect With Nature

Canada is home to world-famous provincial and national parks like Algonquin Park and Jasper National Park. In 2017, there will be free admission to Parks Canada places! Perhaps this will be the year you plan a family trip to visit some of our country’s sites rather than travel abroad.

Use Technology

Heritage Minutes are a wonderful way to teach your child about important moments in Canada’s history. There is a subject that will appeal to all interests from our role in sports to medicine to airplanes. Find the entire selection here. Another fun way to use technology to learn about Canada and apply problem-solving skills is by playing the Journey into the Arctic choose-your-own-adventure style game to learn about a thrilling part of our country.

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Transitioning to Post-Secondary School Workshop

Transitioning to post-secondary is a challenging time in a young adult’s life and the decision making is best started in grades 11 and 12.

In support of mental health awareness month, we’re pleased our Director, Joanne Sallay, will be joining Springboard Clinic for a free workshop, Mapping Success For High School And Transition To Post-Secondary.

Joanne will be discussing how tutoring can be a proactive strategy for the post-secondary years as consistent, ongoing support helps students master areas where they may not be as strong and provides academic enrichment. Tutoring also supports organization and study skills that can foster good learning habits in the later years.

Also sharing their expertise on creating individualized plans for student success are community partners York University’s Learning Services and City Academy. This promises to be an interesting discussion – bring your questions!

Date & Time: Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm- 7:30 pm

Location: Toronto Public Library, Gwen Liu Meeting Room Northern District (Yonge and Eglinton)

This is a FREE workshop, but seating is limited, so please rsvp to info@springboardclinic.com or call them at 416 901 3077. For more details visit the event page. We encourage parents and students to join.

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Partnering with Schools for Student Success: Effective Parent Advocacy

Parents in Schools

The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, in partnership with the Integra Program of the Child Development Institute, is presenting an online workshop for parents and those who are helping parents navigate the school system. The course is called Partnering with Schools for Student Success, and promotes a collaborative approach to advocacy, based on knowledge and understanding on both sides.

The seven units explore perspectives of parents and schools, promote an understanding of the needs of students and of special education and behaviour management processes in schools, and teach strategies for successful negotiation. Scenarios will be used to help illustrate the ideas presented.

The online course is offered in two versions:

  • Professionals, and others who are working with parents, will do assignments at the end of each unit, and submit a final case study, in order to receive a Certificate of Completion.
  • Parents can choose to take the course for their own information, without submitting assignments or receiving a Certificate of Completion, for a reduced fee.

All participants will have access to a discussion forum where they can ask questions and share ideas.
The course will be moderated by Kate Cressman, and Diane Wagner, Public Policy & Education Consultant at LDAO. Kate is the Community Education and Engagement facilitator with the Integra Program of the Child Development Institute. She provides training and promotes collaboration between schools, students, parents and other helping professionals around children’s mental health and learning.

To learn more about the program and register, click here

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Celebrating Children’s Literacy in Etobicoke

Bug in a vacuum

We are proud to feature a wonderful children’s book event for Melanie Watt’s Bug in a Vacuum this Saturday, September 12, 2pm at the Queensway Indigo.   This is a wonderful opportunity for parents and children (ages 4-9) from The Kingsway and South Etobicoke areas to attend a fun event that promotes literacy.

To learn more about Bug in a Vacuum, click on the video below.

About Bug in a Vacuum:

A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room … where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance — the five stages of grief — as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Will there be dust bunnies in the void? A funny, suspenseful and poignant look at the travails of a bug trapped in a vacuum.


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3 Hilarious Back To School Commercials

Back to school commercial

With the beautiful summer weather, it is hard to imagine there is only two weeks left until back to school.    Back to school means getting back in routine and planning for the school year ahead.

However, back to school can also be fun!

That is why we put together 3 of our favourite and funniest back to school commercials.   From Rubberband Man crashing summer fun to The Breakfast Club you’ll never realized how much fun you can have getting ready for the school season.

1) Rubberband Man Back To School – Office Max

Rubberband Man visits summer play locations (pool, beach, baseball diamond, cottage, amusement parks) to deliver his favourite school supplies.

2) It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Staples

Staples transforms the holiday shopping seasons for back to school.

3) Get That Look – JC Penney

JC Penney takes us back to the 80s with a spoof on the legendary movie The Breakfast Club

Which is your favourite?

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