Category Archives: activity

Creative Resources for Being Home Alone

Now that everyone is staying home in isolation, what to do – alone or with kids?

You don’t want to spend the entire time online so here are options to print colouring sheets, crafts, create treasure hunts, and much more. It is an amazing array of creative ideas, offers of free stories, books, museum visits, trips to national parks and much more.

I will try to update this list often. I also try to only use links to sites that are truly free and don’t require sign up. Enjoy your time of being creative, reading, learning and staying well.

• For educators and older students, this list includes virtual visits, musea, science activities and other very impressive stuff to do at home.

Vancouver Aquarium offers live webcams to observe sea otters, penguins and jelly fish.

• If you have learned about Egypt, why not go down into the tomb of King Tut? If you imagine it getting cooler and quieter as you descend, this is just what it’s like for real! Notice the many hieroglyphs and look at the ceiling. They tell the stories of the pharao’s life…

From Wild Babies by Margriet Ruurs & Andrew Kiss

• Over 30 different field trips, including San Diego Zoo and even to Mars!

Virtual Tours and 360º views of US National Parks. 

• Real National parks across the US will temporarily be free for all visitors, offering easier access to natural spaces during the coronavirus outbreak.  Entrance fees will be waived at all national park sites that remain open, the National Park Service effective until further notice.

• And Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico invites you to come along with a park ranger
Web cams of bears, otters and more.
• Feel like a stroll along the Great Wall of China? Now you can do it virtually:
• The Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC offers free talks and activities:Royal BC Museum,

• The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has a brand new YouTube channel with interviews, demonstrations and readings of books: Bibliovideo  –
• For fans of Magic Treehouse, here are readings, recordings, games and much more about the books:
• Lots more books being read aloud here!
Room To Read offers a free library of books from around the world.
Story time from space, books being read by astronauts.
• Meryl Streep reads Charlotte’s Web!
• Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton reads (Neil Gaiman’s) books.
Children’s books read in Spanish: for those who speak Spanish but also to learn a new language.
• And in French too! Free app with illustrated children’s book to help you learn French.
• This amazing list includes Project Gutenberg’s thousands of free books as well as foreign language books and much more.
• Audible is offering free audio books while school is out:
• Interviews with authors and fun tidbits about books:

Listen to poets share their work!
• Here are 25 sources of free public domain books.
Pacific Edge Publishing offers free educational materials for homeschoolers and parents.
• This link is to Open Culture, linking you to many free books, audio books, ebooks, courses and more.
• Here is a free kids’ book about Staying Home:
• Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library donates free books to children and organizations but also offers online stories to listen to:
• And Michelle Obama reads books to children every Monday:
NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA has an amazing website full of films, documentaries, filmed books, historical stuff, science for all ages and more:  It’s free but you do need to set up an account.
• Tutorials by Barbara Reid on making plasticine art!
Virtually tour several musea, in Paris, London and more, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
• NFB presents Stop Motion, Animation workshops.
• Singing is fun! Here’s an app for karaoke, including kids’ songs.
TIME FOR KIDS now has a free digital library.
• Sci/Why is a science blog by Canadian children’s science writers full of cool stories and links:
Earth – And now for something just cool and fun: have you ever been on the beach and tried to dig to China? Now you can! Except it’s not likely China where you will end up. Check it out this antipodes map!
MAPS – this site does offer books and games for sale but also has links to free crafts and apps, all related to maps and geography.


The Wall of Birds has an interactive component that lets you learn details and listen to the sounds of many birds.
• Print these scavenger hunts out to use any time:

Pick One and Finish the Story

Pick one of these story starters and finish writing the story!

• ‘Jason knew he shouldn’t be waiting for Greg. He knew that the bell was about to ring. Mrs. Jackson would be mad if he came in late. But he just had to find out why Greg had gone into that alley. And why hadn’t he come back yet?…’

• ‘“Stacey Jacobs!” The teacher’s voice was loud. Stacey startled out of her day dream and back into the classroom. She had no idea what he had asked her but all the children were staring at her. She took a deep breath and said…’

• ‘The dog came out of nowhere. It ran across the square, in between two parked cars and then straight toward me. I didn’t know what to do. If I didn’t pretend this was my dog, the cops would catch it and take it to the S.P.C.A. And then what would happen to him? So I didn’t think much, I just…’

After you write the first draft, do what all writers do: read your story and rewrite it.

Free Fall Writing

Today, take a sheet of paper and a pen to a comfortable spot: the table, your desk, a lawn chair, anywhere.

Then spend FIVE minutes writing free fall.
This means ANYTHING that comes up in your head. Just write for the sake of writing. Don’t try to think of a character, or a setting, or a description. Just write what comes to mind. Even if it is “I don’t know what the heck I’m writing…”

Free fall writing helps to clear your mind, helps to bring new ideas to light. It will make writing easier than when you always try to write with a clear idea in mind. It is even used as therapy. Google ‘free fall writing’ and you will find many websites and books devoted to the topic.

Try it.
If you like it, do it again tomorrow. Just five minutes.
After a few days, make it ten minutes. Pretty soon, your free fall writing might take a shape, show you a pattern. But don’t look for it soon.
Just write. Anything that comes to mind, without taking your pen off the paper!

Rhyme for a Reason

Read several books of great poems for kids:
• any title by Jack Prelutsky
• Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
• a Dr. Seuss book. Look up poetry books by Bruce Lansky, David Greenberg, Kenn Nesbitt (

• Read poetry books by Sheree Fitch and Loris Lesynski!!

• Read The Party and Two by Two, by Barbara Reid!

Now write a poem about a boy who did not do his homework.
Make up wild and funny excuses.
Use rhyme.
aa, bb.
Or a, b, a, b.


Use dialogue to create a believable character.
An adult sounds different from a four year old. A teen speaks different from a senior. And a trucker may sound different from a lady selling yarns. Select one of the following dialogue exercises, or do them all!

• Write a page of dialogue between a man working in the hardware store and an elderly lady who comes in looking for a tool.

• Write a page of dialogue between a pilot and air traffic control. Make it exciting.

• Write a page of dialogue between six year old Anna and her friend Michael. They are in the backyard. Show me, through their dialogue, what is happening.

Which children’s books have great dialogue? Read a Clementine book, and a book by Wendy Maas.

All the Write Moves…

Having just spent an intense week at the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers’ Workshop (, I decided to write some posts aimed at helping (beginning) writers. Most of my blog has been aimed at fellow booklovers and reading. However, many of you might also enjoy doing some writing activities.

So, I will aim to put a new writing activity on this blog each day for the next month or so. Just a short one. Something aimed at helping you to write each day for the sake of practise. We’ll look at description, voice, tense, dialogue and more. See how this fits into your day. Write for 5 minutes, if that’s all you have. Or expand my short activity into an hour of writing for you. Do it as a stand-alone exercise or fit it into a piece you already have… Just write.

So, for today, here we go.
The golden rule we’ve all heard about: SHOW, don’t tell.
Take me for a walk along the harbour. SHOW me what it looks like. Be sure to include the smells, sounds and feels of a harbour front on a… sunny day, or blustery day.