Learn how to code!


Don't worry. Coding is WAY easier than you think, and your kids will probably pick it up faster than you can imagine, without even realizing it.

Check out this quick and easy lesson on how to create a maze game using Scratch, one of the most amazing, fun (and educational) programs around.

What You Will Need

  • To use Scratch without downloading: https://scratch.mit.edu/

  • Download the Scratch program to your computer so that you can use it without internet: https://scratch.mit.edu/download

  • A computer - you can use a tablet, but the control functions will look a bit different than on a computer

Parent Tips

Coding is one of the most amazing opportunities to let kids explore on their own. I highly encourage you to let the kids explore the program and the video lesson with as little assistance from you as possible. You can also encourage them to go off script and play with the program and explore it however they find interesting- you will be surprised the amazing things they will be able to figure out on their own! Since coding is so valuable for practicing problem solving, this is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions such as "Hmm... that didn't quite work... what could we do to try again? What could we change next time?" etc. when they get stuck.

Questions and Activities

Explore Scratch! What else can you make?

Additional Resources

Online Scratch Tutorials

20 Games to Create with Scratch Book

A bunch of mazes for inspiration

How Cryptocurrency is all about Coding

What Works? Research into Practice: Computer Coding in the K-8 Mathematical Curriculum

Curriculum Connections

Coding isn't actually in the Ontario Curriculum yet as it's own subject, or as a unit in mathematics. However, it is very popular in teaching today for a number of reasons, including it's future applications for students, it's benefits in mathematics, as well as practical experience in a growing field. However, it is discussed in other teaching resources for the following helpful reasons:

  • Coding helps abstract mathematical concepts be expressed in a concrete way. For example, in Geometry and Spatial Sense units where the focus is to“describe, sort, classify, build, and compare two-dimensional shapes, teachers have had students use Scratch to draw a square - the extensions from here are endless.

  • Dynamic modelling allows students to investigate relationships, pose and test what-if questions, and easily share their findings and knowledge with peers, as well as family and friends.

  • A low-floor and a high-ceiling environment supports differentiated learning. This means that you don't have to have very much experience to get started with coding, but extending the lesson for students who appreciate more of a challenge comes very naturally.

Coding is also a fantastic way to learn problem solving skills, which is one of the most important skills taught in the classroom today. Coding helps the learners test their ideas in a concrete way.

Today we will be creating some beautiful nature art and explore the plants around us, just as everything begins to bloom for spring! While we are collecting plants to create our works of art, we will also learn about the plants we collect from, as well as any creatures we may see while we are exploring.

What You Will Need

  • flowers and leaves picked from garden/walk

  • wax paper

  • drawing paper (printer paper is okay, but a thicker paper will work better)

  • hammer

  • camera

Parent Tips

Today, we will focus on what living things need to live, and what differences in plants we can see when we investigate them before picking our flowers.

  • If your child is in Grade 1, the main focus is on the characteristics of the plants.

  • If your child is in Grade 2, the main focus is on the insects and animals they see while picking the flowers.

  • If your child is in Grade 3, the main focus is the human impact on plants and other life systems, as well as comparing characteristics of plants.

  • (See the questions and curriculum expectations below for ideas of questions to ask your child while they explore)


Watch the video below to start off!

Start with your collection of flowers, your paper, hammer, and wax paper.

Lay out all your flowers on your paper face down.

Cover your flowers with wax paper and press firmly into place with your hands.

Use your hammer to hammer all your flowers into the paper! Don't hammer too much on the centers of your flowers, as you will get a lot of pollen and moisture on your paper.

Let the flowers dry on the paper, then gently brush off with your fingers. When you're finished, you should have something like this! You could also continue to decorate your page. I used some fine tip markers to outline my flowers and add some detail, which was a lot of fun!

Questions and Activities

  1. What do you know about what plants need to live? Do you think the flowers you picked had these things? What can you see on the plant that would help it get these things?

  2. What differences can you see in the plants you investigated?

  3. Did you see any bugs or other creatures while you were picking flowers? What things were the same about the creatures you noticed? What things were different?

  4. How can we ensure that our exploration doesn't harm the plants? What should we do to cause as little harm as possible?

  5. Take a picture of one of the plants you take a flower from. Try to label all the parts of the flower (see additional resources for an example).

Additional Resources

Books about plants available on Overdrive with your library card:

A full, ready to teach lesson about Characteristics of Living things: https://www.worldbookonline.com/sciencepower/lesson?lessonid=sci1-characters-840015

A full, ready-to-teach lesson about Plants: https://www.worldbookonline.com/sciencepower/lesson?lessonid=sci1-plants-840024

More tips for pressing plants: https://www.worldbookonline.com/activitycorner/project?id=cr1953087

Creating a sun catcher with your pressed plants: https://www.worldbookonline.com/activitycorner/project?id=cr2246103

Curriculum Connections

Grade 1 Understanding Life Systems: 2.2 investigate and compare the basic needs of humans and other living things, including the need for air, water, food, warmth, and space, using a variety of methods and resources; 2.3 investigate and compare the physical characteristics of a variety of plants and animals, including humans; 2.4 investigate the physical characteristics of plants(e.g., basic parts, size, shape, colour) and explain how they help the plant meet its basic needs

Grade 2 Understanding Life Systems: 2.2 observe and compare the physical characteristics (e.g., fur or feathers; two legs or no legs) and the behavioural characteristics (e.g., predator or prey)of a variety of animals, including insects, using student-generated questions and a variety of methods and resources.

Grade 3 Understanding Life Systems: 1.1 assess ways in which plants are important to humans and other living things, taking different points of view into consideration (e.g., the point of view of home builders, gardeners, nursery owners, vegetarians), and suggest ways in which humans can protect plants; 1.2 assess the impact of different human activities on plants, and list personal actions they can engage in to minimize harmful effects and enhance good effects; 2.2 observe and compare the parts of a variety of plants; 3.1 describe the basic needs of plants, including air, water, light, warmth, and space

Today, we will be reducing, reusing, recycling! We can create art with our old plastic packaging. Now, most of us have made awesome crafts out of the recycling bin before, but this time we will be transforming our clear plastics into shrink art!

We can use our shrink art to make jewelry, key chains, little figures, wind chime or wind spinner decorations, and so much more! follow along to find out how to do this simple and flexible craft for all ages!

Despite how much fun we're having, this also covers a lot of different curriculum connections! Be sure to read through the whole post to see how this sneaky learning will help your child discover new concepts, and be sure to make use of the questions provided to maximize on this.

What You Will Need

  • clear plastic containers (like what baked goods or takeout comes in)

  • permanent markers

  • oven (and a parent to help use it!)

  • baking sheet

  • scissors

  • hole punch

Parent Tips

This craft is great for all ages! Try to invite in all your family members to try this one out. The designs can be as simple or as complex as each person likes, and the finished product can be used to create anything! Discuss with your child while they're working what features may or may not transfer well once they shrink - shape and colour will change a bit! But how?


First, we're going to need our supplies. You will need clear plastic, like what you will find on food packaging. Different types of plastic may work differently. I found that a large container like what pastries from the store come in worked best for me, but any clear plastic should work. You will also need permanent markers, scizzors, and some images you'd like to use! I downloaded my images from the internet from Harry Potter at Home, since I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and these little cartoons are just SO CUTE! You can use any image you like, but simple, clear images will be the easier. You can also just draw onto the plastic yourself, if you have something original in mind! The important thing to remember here is that the image will shrink by about half once you are finished.

Next, cut out all the flat parts of your plastic that you will be drawing on. Some plastics may be sharp once cut, so an adult may need to help with this part.

Then, we can place our images under our plastic, and we can see them perfectly to trace! Begin with the outline of your drawing, and then you can move the image out from underneath and colour it!

Above, I have shown my image on the plastic with just the outline, and then again when I'm done colouring. Repeat with as many images as you like!

Once you have coloured, carefully cut out around your drawing, and you can leave a bit of a border. Leave extra on top, and use a hole punch to make a small hole if you want to use these as charms to hang them, as seen here.

Here are all my completed drawings before I put them in the oven!

Now, we will put our designs in the oven. A couple important notes about how to do this (that I learned the hard way):

  • use parchment paper under your designs

  • you MUST place them marker side down, or they will curl in on themselves

  • use the oven at 330 degrees Fahrenheit

  • try one piece at a time until you are sure the method will work with your designs

Place your designs in the oven at 330F for several minutes. I found that it's best (and most fun!) to keep an eye on them while they are in the oven. The pieces will curl up a bit on themselves as they shrink, and then flatten out. Once they flatten out, take them out. If you keep them in beyond this point, they will curl up again but NOT flatten out as well.

This is what they looked like when I took them out! They are about half of the size they began at, and very thick, almost glass-feeling. They are so sturdy, they could easily be made into bracelet charms, sun catchers, key chains, necklaces, and so much more!

I can't WAIT to experiment with more designs and see what else I can make!

What will you make? Please share your results with us!

Questions and Activities

  1. Describe the plastic before you decorate it. Describe the plastic after it comes out of the oven. What are the major differences?

  2. What is another way you can reduce waste in your house?

Curriculum Connections


Grade 1 Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: 1.1 identify the kinds of waste produced in the classroom, and plan and carry out a classroom course of action for minimizing waste, explaining why each action is important; 3.1 describe objects as things that are made of one or more materials

Grade 2 Understanding Matter and Energy: 1.1 assess the ways in which liquids and solids in the home are used, stored, and disposed of in terms of the effect on personal safety and the health of the environment, and suggest responsible actions to replace inappropriate practices

Grade 5 Earth and Space Systems: 1.1 analyse the long-term impacts on society and the environment of human uses of energy and natural resources, and suggest ways to reduce these impacts

Across all grades: follow established safety procedures during science and technology investigations; use appropriate science and technology vocabulary

Additional Resources

Thank you Cleverly for the inspiration for the craft idea! To see what they made, click here.

For some inspiration on what to create, check out some ideas here.

For the below resources, you will need your library card number.

An activity to make friendship bracelets for the charms (or alter it for a keychain!): https://www.worldbookonline.com/kids/home#activities/craftRoom/mi000024

Huge collection of activities with curriculum activities to help extend the learning: https://www.worldbookonline.com/activitycorner/home

A unit on changes in matter: https://www.worldbookonline.com/sciencepower/lesson?lessonid=sci1-changeinma-840030

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