Teachers on Call

STEM Education Over March Break to Keep Learning Fun

With the March Break coming up fast, it’s time to start planning activities to keep your child engaged over the short break.

One of the best ways to pack some education into the spring break fun is to try STEM-related activities. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and focuses on combining these four areas into a powerful learning that connects to real-world experiences.

Our friends at Indigo make it easy to foster your child’s interest in STEM during March Break with blocks, books, and DIY activities that open up possibilities to budding inventors and engineers. We’ve gathered a few of our favourite choices, and Indigo is offering them all to one of our lucky readers!

LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox

With the LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox kids can customize and build their own talking robot friend named Vernie. An extra neat feature is that Vernie responds to voice with facial expressions that directly correlate to it’s mood. The LEGO BOOST is a great way to encourage your children to participate in STEM, as they complete fun activities and code their own robot friend.

Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials

Making slime is all the rage these days, and this book that includes over 100 Slime recipes, that don’t use Bora, won’t disappoint sticky-loving kids. Creating slime is an amazing STEM activity that allows children to explore chemical reactions, different properties and perform tests. The Ultimate Slime DIY Tutorials book offers so much fun for over the March Break.

Ada Twist, Scientist

This wonderful book is about the inquiring minds of children and is a direct celebration of STEM. Follow along as Ada Twist and classmates open the conversation about gender roles and bring a very welcome perspective into women and science.

Klutz: Make Your Own Bath Bombs

Kids can scientifically transform their bathtime by learning the science associated with creating the best fizz-including chemical reactions. Using different molds, children can mix together ingredients to create colourful bath bombs.

Gumball Machine: Build a Machine that Really Works

Little engineers with a sweet tooth will enjoy the freedom to create their own working gumball machine using easy-to-follow instructions that show kids how parts work together to create a machine.

Iggy Peck’s Big Project Book for Amazing Architects

This is the ultimate STEM book for kids, with over 40 fun design and STEM projects, from doodling and drafting to blueprints and building. Iggy Peck takes little readers on a fun adventure with a unique mix of art skills, science and technology to create some stable structures. This activity book will give children the chance to invent new gizmos, design dwellings, imagine a new cityscape and more.

We’ve partnered with Indigo for #KidsBreak this year, with an #IndigoKidsBreak prize pack to keep kids having fun while they are off school. Value approximately $325.

Entering is simple. You can win the Indigo prize package of all our favourite items  by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends March 8th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring

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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!

Posted in: Math Tutoring

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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.


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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7 reasons to attend Reading For The Love Of It

Reading for the Love of It 

Every year the Teachers on Call team looks forward to attending the annual Reading For The Love Of It (RFTLOI) language arts conference in downtown Toronto. This is a longstanding reading convention and celebration of books that is geared towards the education community. This February will mark the 42nd year.

Here are our top 7 reasons to check out this year’s Reading For The Love Of It:

  1. Keynotes from your favourite authors and literacy advocates…like Laura Numeroff and Humble the Poet!
  2. Step away from the classroom for professional learning of your choice. There are workshop sessions covering various levels of literacy from kindergarten through secondary school.
  3. A chance to check out exciting exhibitor displays, and the latest children’s books and novels from an array of book publishers and stores.
  4. Engage in important discussions and learning around important topics like fake news, mindfulness, STEAM and more.
  5. Network with other educators from across Canada.
  6. Be a fan. Get your books signed from renowned authors and illustrators like Vikki VanSickle and Barbara Reid. Your students will love this!
  7. Walk away with strategies and ideas to inspire you throughout the rest of the school year.

Date & Time: Thursday, February 22 & Friday, February 23

Location: Sheraton Centre Hotel, Toronto, ON

Register: Save your ticket

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5 STEM Websites for Kids (that are fun!)

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is an important area of focus in the classroom and at home.  One of the questions we often receive, is how do I engage my daughter or son in STEM?

Fortunately, several of our Math and Science tutors, have shared their 5 favourite and fun STEM websites for kids:

1) The Science of Winter Olympics: With the Winter Olympics around the corner, the NBC Learn team has teamed up with the National Science Foundation to prepare 16 videos about how Math and Science impact sports.   There is an opportunity to learn about gravity, friction, speed and the biology and chemistry of the human body.

2) Science Bob: This website covers everything about science, including research tips, experiments and a Q&A section for everything you were wondering about science.

3) Cool Math Games: Excite your younger kids with this fun and interactive website that covers all things math, including numbers, logic, skill and strategy.

4) National Geographic Kids: This website inspires young adventurers to explore the world through games, apps, maps and videos.

5) Brain Pop Jr: This site and it’s older version Brain Pop offers tons of educational videos and games in areas like math and science along with social studies, art and history.


Posted in: Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring

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A Special Initiative for all Eco-Schools


Does your child go to an Ontario eco-school? If so, this Superpower your School Contest is an initiative you’ll want to share with them.

Schools who make earth-friendly practices a priority will love the opportunity to enter for a chance to win one of ten prizes of $20,000 worth of new technology from Staples Canada.

Earth Day Canada and Staples Canada have partnered together for eight years and during this time have awarded 80 eco-conscious schools technology to help nurture their love of the earth through learning.

How can a school win?

Keen eco-schoolers should work together to showcase a special environmental project their school community has been involved in or their overall eco-efforts. Certificates, data, photos, and results all help tell the story.

For inspiration on what to share, eco-champions should be sure to check out last year’s winners. There were common themes amongst the winners, such as solving a community or environmental issue and environmental activism. Some of the winning projects included: helping people grow their own food, awareness campaigns and media to address the changing environment, and student involvement in conservation practices.

Interested schools can enter the contest, here until January 31st.

How can a school start making positive environmental changes?

Start small and grow!

  • Create an in-school awareness campaign about school lunches
  • Start a boomerang lunch program
  • Plan to revive the school garden
  • Design a playground to have more natural space and make a plan to include these elements
  • Plan all school trips to be outdoor trips

Plus, read our list of four more ways to go green all year long.

Posted in: Science Tutoring

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Kickstart A Lifelong Reading Habit In 15 Minutes A Day

Spending 15 minutes a day enjoying a literacy activity is a great way to reinforce a positive attitude around reading. The more frequently you read as a family, the more your children will gravitate naturally to reading!

Why not kick off a year-long reading habit beginning on Family Literacy Day on January 27th?

Family Literacy Day is an annual literacy event that’s taken place across Canada since 1999. Every year, thousands of schools and other literacy providers host family literacy events to bring parents and children together to encourage 15 minutes of literacy learning fun.

Our team of tutors is often asked by parents how they can help their kids love reading, so in preparation for this year’s Family Literacy Day, we’re sharing five engaging ways to show your children that learning to read is fun.

  1. Sign up for a library card and then get out the family calendar to plan regular visits to stock up on books that reflect your child’s current interests. Once your child signs up for a library card, they can even borrow books digitally!
  2. Reread your child’s favourite books. While you may get tired of reading the same books the repetitive reading helps children’s vocabulary grow and deepens their comprehension.
  3. Don’t stop reading together even when your child can read for themselves. They still benefit from the dedicated time together. Instead, choose a novel and take turns reading aloud a chapter.
  4. Storytelling is a fantastic way to build your child’s oral literacy. They rely on playing with tone and volume to help evoke the power of emotions. As children learn to tell stories, they’ll naturally bring what they learn to their reading and writing. Get cozy and sit around making up silly stories or retell old favourites!
  5. Over dinner or before bedtime, dedicate 15 minutes of family time to engage in conversation about everyone’s day. Use our list of 20 questions to ask your child about school as a starting point.

Now grab a book and get reading!

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