Category Archives: education

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:

Two great books to learn from.

I’d like to share two books with you that are great for teachers, parents or anyone who wants to learn something new.

The first one is a great book for those wanting to learn more about writing for children. Whether you are an established writer or want to write your very first book for children, Marion Crook’s new book Writing For Children and Young Adults is a wonderful resource.
The book starts with the basics and covers just about every important aspect of writing: from planning and plotting to characterization, tense, voice all the way to dealing with rejections and contracts. The book deals with fiction as well as nonfiction and other genres. It gives details on such mundane aspects as your writing space and your income – important considerations for any writer. With a chapter on submitting, on multiple submissions and even on marketing this book is a perfect resource for all writers of children’s materials.

Writing for Children and Young Adults, Marion Crook
Self Counsel Press
ISBN 5199597058719241

Ever thought of learning Arabic? The written language looks daunting.
But in Sugar Comes From Arabic, author Barbara Whitesides starts simple, by looking at “scribbles” and breaking down the script to basics. Using samples like Harry Potter (for P) this book is great for classrooms with refugee children, so that others can learn their language. If you are involved with a support group to bring refugees to your hometown, this is a fun book to use so that you can perhaps learn to communicate better. It is also a great resource for any international school!

Sugar Comes From Arabic, A Beginner’s Guide to Arabic Letters and Words, Barbara Whitesides
Interlink Books
ISBN 978-1-56656-757-2

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living – by Mem Fox

Radical Reflections: Passionate Opinions on Teaching, Learning, and Living  by Mem Fox

Mem Fox, internationally acclaimed children’s book writer and educator offers insights into the learning process, language education, and the pleasure, growth, and power that reading and writing can bring.
Some of her most well known titles include Possum Magic and Koala Lou, I Do Love You.
But this title is fabulous reading for any educator, including homeschooling parents. She explains how no child will ever get passionate about filling in the blanks, but how to turn anyone into an avid reader.

At the same time I should mention Mem’s book specifically at parents:

Reading Magic is a great guide to reading with children, now in a new and revised edition. Fox reveals the incredible emotional and intellectual impact reading aloud to children has on their ability to learn to read. With passion and humor, Fox speaks of when, where, and why to read aloud and demonstrates how to read aloud to best effect and get the most out of a read-aloud session. She discusses the three secrets of reading, offers guidance on defining and choosing good books, and–for this new edition–includes two new chapters on boy readers and phonics, a foreword, and a list of “Twenty Books That Children Love.” Filled with practical advice, activities, and inspiring true read-aloud miracles, this book is a turn-to classic for educators and parents.

I have often used these books as gifts for educators or new parents. Hope you love them.

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Something Else by Kathryn Cave, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Sometimes a book is based on such a simple yet brilliant idea, that you think ‘why didn’t I think of that?!’.
Something Else is like that.
Have you ever told a kid that he is ‘something else’? Well, Something Else is like that. He tries hard to be just like everyone else. But everything he does shows how different he is. Just when he is feeling very different, and alone, Something shows up.
Has Something Else finally met someone just like himself?

This story is perfect for every child who feels different. Also great to discuss differences and acceptance in school.

Paperback, 32 pages Mondo Publishing
ISBN 1572555637 (ISBN13: 9781572555631)
Winner of the first UNESCO Prize for Children’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance (under 8s).

Lesson Plan: