Teachers on Call

10 Winter STEM Activities

STEM Winter Activities

It’s January and we are in the heart of the winter season.    To celebrate the winter months our team of tutors has pulled together some of our favourite Winter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) ideas and activities.    We have also included an A for STEAM to make it Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

The ideas below cover a wide variety of STEM activities, but focus on a common idea: Winter!

1) Learn about Seasons: build a circle of the year with four quarters (one for each season).  This incorporates fractions (quarters), art (pictures to show seasons) and engineering (if you are able to spin the wheel).

2) Take an Education Field Trip: Even in the cold weather it is nice to take a break from the house.  Take your child to the Ontario Science Centre which has great activities and exhibits to learn about STEM.

3) Play with STEM Toys:  Our President, Joanne Sallay features 10 STEM Gift Ideas For Brainy Kids

4) Snow Science: Fill three jars with ice, snow and water and see if they all have the same H2O.  Leave the jars in room temperature and watch the snow melt.  Before doing so guess which jar will end up with the most water and why. Discuss how water changes form when it freezes, melts or becomes a gas.   For older students, this helps promote an understanding of chemistry and molecular structure.

5) Shapes and Patterns: Make coloured icicles by attaching a string to a porch or deck and letting it hang with a cup filled with colored water. Watch as ice forms along the string with different colours.

6) Pictures and Videos: have your child take pictures of any holiday gifts to create their own collage or video.  There are tons of online tools to edit, add music or overlay text.

7) Build a Snowflake: Using construction paper, tape / glue and photos of real snowflakes, this activity teaches children about basic shapes, symmetry and the structure of snowflakes.

8) Friction: Learn about friction and try to push different items across the ice and see which one goes the furthest.

9) Learn about Nature: National Geographic for Kids has tons of games, videos and articles to learn about nature and the winter season.

10) Build a Snowman: How could we not include this for winter activities.  Building a snowman helps teach kids engineering to build items with the right size and shape to ensure they stay sturdy and don’t fall over.

Posted in: Educational Technology

Leave a Comment: (0) →

5 Ways to Set School Goals for the New Year

With 2018 upon us, it is time for new year and new goals.  But what about those goals you set with your child this past fall for the school year?

With the first half of the school year almost complete, the new year is a great time to sit down and refresh your initial goals.

Here 5 ideas to help update your child’s goals for the school year:

1) Evaluate Progress & Discuss Challenges:  Not every subject will be your child’s strongest.  Discuss obstacles on these subjects with your child and teacher and how you can work together to overcome them.

2) Re-Write Your Goals: Writing down your goals is a wonderful way for you and your child to take ownership.  If your child is not old enough to write the goals out themselves, feel free to lend a hand.   The new year provides an opportunity to refresh and update their initial goals and make new ones for the remainder of the school year.

3) Create Goals That are SMART:  SMART Goals are:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant, Rigorous, Realistic, and Results Focused
T = Timely and Trackable

4) Showcase Goals and Progress:  Posting goals and displaying successful work / achievements around your house is a wonderful way to keep goals top of mind and celebrate your child’s successes in school.

5) Have Fun and Be Positive:  Use art work or games to help visualize any goals and consider any small rewards to celebrate milestones or successes.  Most importantly – make goal setting fun!

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

Five STEM Gifts Kids Will Love to Receive (and Parents Will Love to Give)

STEM Gifts

With the focus in schools today on science, technology, education and math (STEM), many modern toys are catering to this trend. After all, STEM gifts provide much more than entertainment. They offer opportunities for children to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Here are five educational gift suggestions that kids will love to unwrap:

1)  VTech Brilliant Creations Genius Junior Laptop

Adults will feel good about giving preschoolers their very first laptop. It promotes comfort with a device they see their families using from a young age, and gets children comfortable using the working cursor mouse before beginning school. This mini computer has 80 learning games and is bilingual.

2)   Tile

For a cool tech item, check out Tile, the personal item tracker. Many adults depend on it for locating their keys and other belongings. It’s also a great present for students of all ages and can be used to track backpacks, computer cases, and sports equipment – just to name a few items students don’t want to misplace.

3)   Instax Mini 9 Camera and Instax SP-2 Printer

The holiday time is about making memories with friends and family. Youngsters will like taking pictures on the spot and watching them develop. Families will also love the ability to print photographs immediately from their smartphone or tablet with this printer. There are so many creative options over the holiday season to use this gift. Create your own photo station at your next holiday party and give your guests their picture to take home.

4)  Learning Resources Gears!

Any building enthusiast will love the opportunity to expand their creativity and put their budding engineering skills to use with this motorized 121-piece gear set. It includes flashing lights and a power motor which introduces children to architecture and secures their knowledge of STEM concepts such as cause-and-effect.

5)  Treasure Chest of Wood

Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘loose parts’ learning experiences at your child’s school? This treasure chest is a perfect example as it’s full of a variety of wood shapes including dowels, spindles, blocks and petal-like shapes. Children will be inspired by the playful, open-ended possibilities that encourage problem-solving and lead them to natural explorations. Those with an artistic flair will be asking for paint and glue and turn this STEM activity into one which includes the arts (STEAM).

What would you add to the holiday shopping cart?

We’ve partnered with Staples Canada for a giveaway that’s just in time for the holidays!

You can win a Staples $100 gift card by entering below! The contest is open to people living in Ontario and ends December 19th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: Math Tutoring, Science Tutoring

Leave a Comment: (0) →

Holiday Gifts For Teachers That Won’t Break The Bank

Gifts for Teachers

Say thanks this holiday season with a gift that shows your gratitude for the time and heart your child’s teacher puts into teaching them.

We polled our team of tutors for a list of seven thoughtful yet practical presents that are big on appreciation without putting a big dent in your wallet.

A handwritten note: Teachers genuinely appreciate artwork and mementos from their students. Encourage your child to prepare a handmade picture or card with a thoughtful letter. Don’t be surprised to see it displayed in a place of honour at the teacher’s desk next time you visit the classroom.

A children’s book: Teachers are always looking for new books to add to their collection. Head to your local Indigo and let your child choose a book to gift their teacher; if you’re worried the teacher may already have it, stick with one of the latest finds. Encourage your child to write a personalized inscription inside the front cover to make this the perfect teacher appreciation gift.

School supplies: It’s no secret that teachers can’t get enough of school supplies. Dry-erase markers and colourful Sharpies are two popular supplies that teachers love to use but rarely buy for themselves. Pick up a pack or two of these multipurpose markers for a gift that’s guaranteed to be well-used all year long.

Gift cards:  You can’t go wrong with gift cards, and Indigo or Staples are excellent choices. Teachers love the chance to stock up on supplies or pick up a new book to enjoy with their class. Another popular option is a gift card to the coffee shop that’s nearest the school, to be used for a lunchtime coffee run.

School-safe snacks: Beyond regular classroom time, school days are jam-packed for teachers. Between supervising an extra-curricular, indoor recesses, meetings, and staying late for planning and marking, they can put in a lot of extra hours. Create a snack pack full of healthy, nut-free treats that your child’s teacher can leave at school to nourish them when they need it most.

A tote bag: A roomy, durable tote bag with a reinforced bottom is a fantastic teacher gift. They’re always carrying books, marking, science and craft supplies between home and school, and a great bag will make it easy to do.

Gloves: With hours spent outside for yard duty, a cozy pair of gloves will keep a teacher’s fingers warm during the winter months while still giving them the freedom to use their fingers to help with jackets and opening snacks. Choose something on the thick side, as the weather feels extra cold when standing around in the schoolyard.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

20 Questions To Ask Your Child About School






When you see your child after a day at school, it’s natural to want to know about their day. We spend 6 or more hours away from them, and we want the details. Often our enthusiastic question, “How was school?” is met with a one-word answer (fine!) that ends the school conversation before it starts.

Asking about your child’s day is a meaningful way to gain an understanding of their feelings towards school, academically and socially. As children move into the higher grades, you’ll get less communication from the teachers, so engaging in conversation about school is particularly important.

Our team of tutors shared questions that kids will actually answer about their day, so you can get the information you want without asking over and over again. The trick is to keep the questions open-ended enough to allow for more than a one-word response.

We recommend choosing 1-2 questions a day and working your way through the list.

1. What book did you read at school today?

2. What did you enjoy at lunch time?

3. What was the most exciting part of your day?

4. What was the most challenging part of your day?

5. Tell me about what you did at recess/lunch/gym/library today.

6. When did you do something kind for someone else today?

7. When did someone do something kind for you today?

8. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

9 How are your preparing for your ______?

10. Are you having a hard time following any of the expectations in class? Is anyone in your class?

11. What do you think your teacher does after school?

12. What are you enjoying the most about recess?

13. Who is annoying you the most at school? What have you done to try to make it better?

14. What would you like to accomplish this year?

15. Tell me about a moment you were proud of yourself.

16. What do you think grade______is like?

17. Who do you wish you could have a playdate with every day?

18. Is there anything I can do to help you with ______ (math/friend/lunch/science etc.)?

19. Tell me what would make a perfect day at school for you.

20.  Did anything funny happen today? I could use a laugh.

Do you have any more questions to add to the list?

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

Helping Our Kids To Choose Kind Everyday

Are you familiar with the saying, “Kindness is free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere?” It’s the perfect mantra to share with your kids during this month’s Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. The week runs from November 19 to 25 and is dedicated to encouraging inclusiveness, empathy, and kindness to others.

Your child’s school may have some initiatives planned to promote a safe learning environment but there are plenty of meaningful things you can do at home and beyond.

Our top suggestion is to read books! Reading stories that offer different perspectives and topics are a wonderful way for children to connect with the characters within to understand that all people are important.

Another reason we recommend reading is that stories can help give children the words they need to express their worries and questions leading to meaningful family discussions around kindness and caring.

One of our favourite bestselling children’s novels, Wonder, with its core message to “Choose Kind” is debuting its major motion picture release on November 17. The film features Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay.

While officially recommended to middle school students, Wonder has captured the hearts of readers of all ages.

Wonder (for ages 8-12)

Written in the voices of children, this chapter book follows fifth grader Auggie Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. This story is about his quest to be treated like a regular kid and to fit in to his new school. Although it’s officially recommended for middle-school students, it can be shared and appreciated by multiple audiences. 

The original book makes a fantastic family read-aloud, followed by a trip to see the movie.

There are also three companion books written by author R.J. Palacio that further enhance themes of courage, friendship, and overcoming adversity.

We’re All Wonders (for ages 4-8):

The newest addition to the Wonder franchise has been introduced for younger readers to embrace core messages from the first. Fans will particularly enjoy introducing little ones to this adventure featuring Auggie and his dog Daisy.

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts  (for ages 8-12):

This book has a Chicken Soup for the Soul feel with a goal to inspire readers throughout the calendar year. It’s told in the narrative of Auggie’s English teacher, Mr. Browne and features 365 precepts (described as words to live by). The inspirational quotes are a mix from famous figures, celebrities, characters from Wonder, and over 100 readers who wrote in to the author (including Canadian students).

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (for ages 8-12):

This collection of short stories is for devotees who want to delve deeper into the complexities of Wonder’s other characters. They were originally published as separate e-books and are told from the perspective of three Wonder personalities. This includes Julian, the “bully,” Christopher the childhood best friend, and Charlotte, one of Auggie’s classmates.

We’ve partnered with Penguin Random House Canada for a “Wonder”ful giveaway, that includes 1 copy of:

Wonder (regular hardcover edition)

Auggie & Me

365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Precepts

We’re All Wonders Picture Book

Choose Kind Journal

Wonder Journal

Wonder Activity Set

Wonder Post-it set

Entering is simple. You can win the prize package by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends November 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

9 Ways To Improve Your Child’s Organizational Skills

Does your child have difficulty following instructions, or become frustrated with tasks that require multiple steps like getting dressed or packing their school bag? There are several ways you can help develop their organization and planning skills at home in a fun way.

Family Games

  • The Rush Hour game requires planning, organization, and spatial skills to clear the traffic jam. It has a variety of levels which makes it a great addition to the family game night.
  • Puzzles let children work on their motor planning while they look for pieces, and try to solve where they go.
  • Connect Four is a classic game that is fun for the young and young at heart. It requires problem-solving as players visually plan their strategy to win.

Paper and Pencil

  • Mazes require visual planning and fine motor control to get through the other side. There are many free mazes available online for printing.
  • Following a checklist for routine tasks helps your child helps your child organize her time and break up activities into smaller steps. Bonus! Checking items off a list helps your child feel accomplished.
  • Show them how to use an agenda and calendar.

Physical Activities 

  • Give your child chores that include planning and sorting, like folding and putting away laundry, and loading or emptying the dishwasher.
  • Practice giving your child verbal cues, using ‘first, then’ language. For example, first put away your shoes, then wash your hands.
  • Embrace the shift to simplicity by regularly decluttering with your child. Teach them how to sort through and give away toys, books, and clothes that are no longer loved or in use.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources, Special Education Tutoring

Leave a Comment: (0) →

Three Halloween Tips from Julie Cole







With Halloween on the horizon, trick or treating etiquette is on the minds of many families. We consulted Mabel’s Label’s co-founder and parenting expert, Julie Cole, to share her wisdom on the subject. After all, she has six kids between the ages of 8 and 17 who will be trick or treating this year.

Here are three of Julie’s Halloween tips to ensure this evening is safe, inclusive and respectful of all kids.

Welcome all kids – If you decide to participate in Halloween then welcome kids of all ages and hand over the candy. Remember that kids are unique and come in all shapes and sizes. Some children may want to participate, but choose not to wear a costume. Kids with sensory integration issues can’t wear costumes as they are sensitive to the feel of them. We don’t know what issues kids have who come to our doors, and it’s not our job to judge. So just give the candy without judgement!

Consider the Teal Pumpkin Project – Many families are opting to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project by having a teal-coloured pumpkin and handing out non-food items.  This movement is to acknowledge kids with severe food allergies and to ensure they feel safe and part of Halloween.  Julie advises families who want to participate to get a teal pumpkin at a craft store or to spray paint a pumpkin. Non-food treats like stickers and crayons can be purchased at your local dollar store.

Keep kids safe – Ensure your children are wearing costumes that fit them and visible clothing with reflective gear.  With potential for separation, consider Mabel’s Labels kids’ safety bracelets for this special night and other occasions where your little ones may wander off. These wrist bands can be customized with parents’ cell phones numbers in case kids get excited and lose their way.

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

October Giveaway: Tips, Tricks & Essential Items to Ease the After School Transition

After school time can be tricky for families after a long day.

We have a few suggestions and some great items through our October giveaway to make the after school hours happy for the entire family.

Take breaks outside

After a challenging day of school, students require time to refresh prior to tackling homework and assignments. Take advantage of crisp fall weather and suggest students get some fresh air by walking home from school, heading outside to play, or engaging in an outdoor extracurricular activity.

Stay hydrated

Whether on the go or taking a break at home, kids can keep hydrated with a warm or cool beverage with a stainless steel S’IP water bottle.

Educational activities

Consider planning a dedicated time after school for your child to engage in a relaxing activity (that can still be educational) such as reading, drawing, or STEM focused like the Grow N’ Glow Terrarium.


We’ve partnered with Indigo for a fall giveaway, with items for both kids and parents. Value approximately $200.


For the kids:

2 S’IP water bottles

1 Grow N’ Glow Terrarium


For the adults:

1 Voluspa Candle

1 Notebook

2 Boxed Marble Pens: white and black

2 Books: Milk and Honey and The Glass Castle


Entering is simple. You can win the Indigo prize package by entering below! Contest is open to people living in Ontario, and ends October 23rd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →

10 Tips for a Successful School Routine

With Back to School in full swing, families are now re-adjusting to daily routines. The start of the academic year can be overwhelming for both students and parents after the entire summer off.

Our team of tutors has rounded up these 10 tips to help your family thrive throughout the year!

  1.  Set up a monthly calendar: Every month carve out time to sit down as a family to plan out schedules. Mark down all extracurricular activities and special events in a monthly calendar, and remember to schedule in homework time too.
  2. Encourage the use of an agenda: Help your child develop good organizational habits by using a traditional agenda or digital tool to record homework assignments and important dates (i.e. projects, tests, exams).
  3. Monitor homework frustrations: It’s normal for students to feel some frustration over their homework. Check in with them early in the evening to avoid late-night surprises. If your child regularly struggles with assignments, encourage them to talk about it with the classroom teacher.
  4. Schedule time to relax: Kids need time for a break before starting homework after a long day of learning. Make sure to incorporate regular downtime and snacks into daily schedules.
  5. Have an electronics policy: Consider setting up a docking station in a central area in your home. Ask your kids to keep all electronics out of sight during homework time to avoid distractions and to leave them docked at bedtime so they can have a proper rest.
  6. Organize a homework area: A dedicated area with good lighting is helpful to store homework and for students to ultimately sit down to tackle work. Keep it stocked with papers, pencils, sharpeners, erasers and any other supplies needed.
  7. Create a place for school notes: The academic year is loaded with notes, reminders, and forms to fill out. Select a space to house them all. One idea is beside the electronic docking station.
  8. Manage the keepsakes: Soon your children’s work will be coming home for you to keep. Planning how you will keep track of these mementos will help you stay organized and reduce clutter. Decide if you will use a file folder, take photos or scan the work for a digital keepsake.
  9. Prepare gear before bedtime: Build knapsack organization into your child’s routine before bedtime. Ask them to fill their bag with an agenda, notes, homework and any other gear needed for the next day. Leave it by the front door unzipped, so it’s ready for the lunch bag to be added in before you all walk out the door.
  10. Ask for help: Draw on the expertise of others to help your child reach their academic goals when needed. This can be in the form of peer tutors, friends, homework clubs, family members, teachers and professional tutors.

We wish your family a successful school year. Which one of these tips will you put into action first?

Posted in: Parent Education Resources

Leave a Comment: (0) →
Page 5 of 22 «...34567...»