What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 7 – C’est le temps de pratiquer notre français.


It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.

Before we get going, don’t forget to make a silly face out of paper to put in your front window for families that are out for a walk can spot them.

Today is the UN French Language Day and also the 50th anniversary of La Francophonie, the international organization of French speaking nations. So I wanted to provide families with some sites and activities to not only celebrate the day, but also give your kids a chance to work on their French Language skills.

Off-line activities

Cook a French meal – Food is a tremendously important part of French culture. You can bring some of this into your home. This can be as simple as putting cheese curds and beef gravy on your fries to make a homemade poutine or you could try making a tourtiere and feves au lard or even a coq au vin. Most importantly, make sure there is bread. The French are renowned for their breadmaking. If you can make bread, look up a recipe and try one at home. And when I say cook, I mean with your kids. Cooking has a lot of math and reading embedded in it and it helps children develop skills they need to become a functioning adult.

Set up a French cafe  – Take a TV tray or small round table, drape it with a tablecloth (red checked if you have it). Use your favourite music service to play French music, or choose this selection from YouTube. You and your kids can take turns being the waiters and customers. Use whatever French you remember to communicate. The food and beverage can be make believe, but you could try making a cafe au lait for them to try as part of the activity.

Put on a Fashion Show – France is still the world center for fashion. Have your kids put together a collection and then put on a fashion show. This could be a series of drawings that they put together in a lookbook or they could pull actual clothing from their closets and put on a fashion show. 

Learn How to Mime – Show your kids this video of a mime. Ask them how they think the artist made it seem like he was climbing a rope. Then show them this video with some instructions. Have them try to mime a scene. There are plenty of videos on YouTube for inspiration.

Play a board or card game in French – Most of the classic board games we have at home can be played in French. For example, the game Guess Who would be easy to play while speaking French, as would Uno or crazy eights. If you don’t know a word in French for something like the suit of clubs, look it up using Google Translate. You will not only learn new vocabulary but be modelling lifelong learning. Plus, by linking learning to fun, the knowledge tends to stick better in our brains. We really are wired to play to learn. (Clubs are trèfles by the way.)

On-LIne Activities

First thing you need to do if you have a library card is check to see what on-line book services your library offers. In many cases there are audiobooks and ebooks, in French that you can borrow through the library website. They are free and you can tailor the books to your child’s interest.

TFO is a French-Language television station in Ontario that is partially funded by the Government of Ontario. They have lots of videos and interactive games for kids. Same thing for the Zone Jeunesse from Radio-Canada. Have your kids spend some of their online time today playing games to practice their French.

1Jour1Actu – This is a website from France that produces news articles written at a child’s reading level. One of their best bits is the animated 1Jour1Question where kids’ questions are answered. Read one of these a day with your kids and discuss them. Not only will you be helping to build their comprehension of French, but you will also be helping them to build their understanding of the world around them.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s list, the Granby Zoo in Quebec is doing an educational video in French on their Facebook page every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This would be a great thing to watch with your kids and then discuss what they watch to reinforce the vocabulary covered and make sure they understood what was discussed.

If you have a Netflix subscription, watch the French version of Nailed it! We watch it as a family and in addition to laughing at the bad cakes, we have learned new slang, like “C’est Du Gâteau!” This would be a great activity for a more advanced French Learner. But many movies and shows on streaming services come in other languages. Fiddle with your settings and see what you can do to switch the language for your kids.

And let’s not downplay humour. There is the classic Têtes à claques. But warning, this is not for your younger children, but teens might appreciate the humour in this favourite webseries. And don’t be surprised if they pick up some slang.

Other places you can explore with your kids:

Merci à:

  • Lindsay Allison
  • Stéphane et Tanya Beaulieu
  • Derrick Bulley
  • Lorie Hamilton
  • Kay Kolenko

Who all made suggestions of websites and apps to help me build this list.

What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 6 – Virtual Field Trips!


It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.

Note: I completely forgot that today was the Spring Equinox (for Northern Hemisphere) and Fall Equinox (Southern Hemisphere). The day is of equal length. Take a minute to talk about this with your kids. Here is a list of simple activities.

If your family is like mine, you are getting tired of seeing the same set of rooms over and over again. Luckily we live in the Internet Age, so we can use our computers and devices to at least look at the rest of the world.

I have gathered a list of virtual field trips, but before I start, you should spend a bit of time trying to figure out how to show these on as big a screen as possible. Use a wire to link a laptop to your TV. If you have a smart TV, link your device via your wireless network using something like Bluetooth or Apple TV. If you have a projector, hook up the laptop to the projector. Then these will be much better.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden – Every day, while the zoo is closed due to COVID-19, they are hosting a “home safari”. They are about 20 minutes long and you can access today’s and all the previous ones at the link above. 

Granby Zoo – Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, this small zoo is having visits with their animals on their Facebook page. These presentation is in French, so this would be a great activity for the second language learners in your house.

Animal Cameras – A variety of facilities have live webcams that you can watch. They are static but still cool. If I watched this with my kid, I would have them try to identify the animals in the webcam. We would do some research on the web to see if we are right.

National Museum of Ireland – this is an extensive collection of specimens. You can tour multiple floors of the museum.

Carrickfergus Castle – Virtual tour of an Irish castle in Northern Ireland.

The Louvre – One of the most famous buildings in the world, you can tour its Egyptian antiquities exhibit and the Galerie d’Apollo. There’s even a tour of the remnants of the Louvre’s moat. Did you know the Louvre used to have a moat? I did not. (Requires flash to run)

VanGogh Museum – brought to you by Google Arts and Culture, you can tour the museum exhibits and see the art of this great master. Make sure to click on the photos along the bottom to access the different floors.

Google also has virtual tours of the National Parks available on Google Expedition and the Google Arts and Culture ap. They were designed for use by teachers in the classroom, but since you are homeschool during our period of social distancing, you might as well use them.

Google Maps – This is honestly one of the best ways to see the world from your couch. You’ve used it before to get directions, but now use the streetview to see what it looks like. You can also visit locations that you might never make it to, like the Adélie Penguin Rookery in Cape Royds, Antarctica or the Roman Colosseum. Google also has a gallery with the places they are featuring. This article has even more places listed. You can also go to space and visit the International Space Station and Pluto,  Why not have your child pick a place they wish to visit and then start at your house and use Google Street View to virtually navigate to your destination.

Google Earth is also another great place to go. Once it launches, you can go to the Voyager section where you can find articles, games, quizzes and other interactive features. Or just explore the world.

And if you really want to go for a virtual field trip, check out the Slow TV offerings on YouTube or your favourite streaming app. Coming out of the Norweigan broadcasting service, you can literally enjoy every minute of a seven hour train ride or canal boat trip. There are shorter one too, so don’t be intimidated 

If you need more places to look at, this article has links to MANY cultural institutions that have opened their virtual doors.

And finally, remember, unless you have recently returned from abroad, are in a high risk group or are actually sick, you don’t have to stay indoors. Try and go for a walk once a day. Try going around your neighbourhood or the local nature area. Bring a water bottle and a sensible pair of shoes. Just remember to keep your distance. Explore new areas, as long as you are safe.

And if you have made it this far, there is a movement to hang a silly face in your front window tomorrow, March 20, 2020. Have your kids make some silly faces for tomorrow. Make them big so they can be seen by the families going for walks.


This post was made with the research help of the following people

  • Tabbatha Capehart Higginbotham
  • Andrea Laliberte
  • Ann Arden
  • Ryan Furlong

All great teachers. Thank you for your help.

What to do with your kid: Covid-19 Day 5 – Not All Screen Time is Created Equal

Greetings all!  (My son said I needed more gravitas in my posts.)

It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.

Today I want to have a little talk about screen time. There is a general consensus that we need to limit screen time for children, but there is a growing body of work that shows that not all screen time is created equal. A good general rule is that technology that lets you create is better than those that just have you consume.


There are a lot of aps and websites that are available to create with. I am going to list a few, but there really are hundreds out there.

Google Suite – Yup. Google. You can do a lot with their free cloud office apps. Your kids can write stories with Google Docs. They can use Google Slides to create photo collages of their activities. Google Sheets can be used to make mosaics or patterns for cross stitch and knitting. They can use Google Sites to create a daily blog to share a daily diary. If you have access to Microsoft Office, then much of it can be done there, but the bonus of Google Suite is that it is all free and can be accessed anywhere.

iMovie – it’s on your iPad – Have your kids make movies about their day to send to their grandparents. Or make an epic saga using their action figures and stop motion animation.

Minecraft. Yes, Minecraft – The core of Minecraft is the gathering of resources which are then used in the building of structures and the crafting of tools. And while the physics may be dicey, the structures users are capable of making are amazing. Challenge your kids to recreate their houses or neighbourhoods. Have them design their dream room. It will cost you money, but so many kids already have this game, it is worth looking into.

Google Music Maker – Google Labs has an experimental music program that lets you create music using colours and shapes. Garageband on your iPad will allow you to make music as well.

Google Jamboard – this is one of my current favourite apps. Part of Google apps, it works on both the Chrome browser on a laptop/Chromebook and as an app on mobile devices. Designed as a digital whiteboard and brainstorming tool, the mobile app has a great assistive drawing tool that lets you replace a very bad drawing of a cat with a line drawing of a cat. It currently costs money for the general public to use, but if your kid attends a school that is part of Google for Edu, they can access through their school account. Encourage them to make picture books and comic strips.

These are but a few options out there. Give your kids a chance to create with technology and you may be surprised at what they are able to do.


Before I make some suggestions, not all consuming is evil, especially in times like these. There are media properties that can be a great comfort to all of us at this time. Remember, many children are upset by the disruption in their routine, the absence of their friends and the restrictions to their movements. Giving them their favourite TV show or movie for a couple hours a day is not a bad thing. It could give you a chance to get some work done or have some much needed “me time”. Remember, you have to maintain your mental health as well. Or sit with them and watch it again. 

I also remember my childhood. I am a member of Generation X. I grew up as a latch key kid and the daughter of a single mother. I had a *lot* of unsupervised TV time. Some of it was not what we would call educational. (A-Team, I am looking at you.) And I think I have turned out alright. 

So let them watch Frozen or Paw Patrol for the 1000th time. It will be okay.

What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 4 – St. Patrick’s Day

Hey all!  

It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day.  What started as a feast day for a saint has morphed into a celebration of all things Irish, especially in the Irish Diaspora. Today’s activities are focused on exploring the symbols of St. Patrick’s Day and Irish Culture.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

Read over these sites with your children. Discuss the information in these sites.


Shamrocks are a symbol of the Irish and of St. Patrick’s Day. Some fun activities you can do around shamrocks.

Make a shamrock and hang in your window – There is a meme travelling around that suggests this very same thing. All you have to do is put a Shamrock in your window on March 17th. That’s it! You can print one off the Internet or follow the instructions in this video. The idea is families on their daily walk can do a shamrock hunt. Join in. 

There are other art ideas. There is one on this page that uses the toilet paper or paper towel rolls you can fish out of the recycling. Another uses the cork from a wine bottle.  Another option is to print off this shamrock I found on the Noun Project (which BTW is a great site). Then have your child trace around the shamrock using a variety of lines and colours, until you get something like this example

If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world where spring is in full swing, look for shamrocks on your daily walk. See if you can find a four leaf clover. Before you go, read over these facts about four leaf clovers with them to get them excited about the hunt. Or you can memorize them and drop them randomly on the hunt. 

Irish Music

Irish music has become a mainstay of the music scene and there are many songs that are favourites of St. Patrick’s Day. You will have to do some careful curation to find those that are appropriate to share with children, but dig out your old CDs, fire up your favourite streaming service or turn to the trust old YouTube to share these with your kids. As a bonus, find the lyrics and have a sing along. 

Here are a few:

And while this is not quite a “traditional” Irish song, it is sung by the great Irish Rovers and is very accessible to children. It is a favourite from my childhood and I can still sing it off the top of my head.

Irish Dancing

The Irish have a rich tradition of dance. And luckily for us there’re YouTube, which has tons of videos to show us how to do it. You won’t become an expert, but you will have fun trying out the steps and your children may have an appreciation for how hard the art actually is. It would also go well with some of the Irish music from your sign along.

You can also watch clips from the Riverdance shows. Or see what your favourite streaming service has to offer.

Irish History

For older kids, an exploration of the rich history of Ireland might be interesting. Possible topics:

Irish Monasteries – Historian Thomas Cahill wrote a popular history of this period called “How the Irish Saved Civilization”. You can find ebook and audiobook copies through your local library. An older child could read this and then see what other historians say about Cahill’s thesis. This can lead to good discussion around interpretation of history.

The Potato Famine – This is a good short video on it. This event lead to what was called the Great Migration where the Irish left Ireland and moved around the world in hopes of a better life.  Your kids can research where they moved to and how their culture continues to influence those places.

The Troubles – The Troubles refers to a time of sporadic communal violence in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s. Various parties were involved including civilian paramilitary organisations, politicians, the British Army and the police. This article is a good overview. It is also well documented in Irish Culture, with songs like Bloody Sunday, Invisible Sun and Zombie and movies like Some Mother’s Son and In the Name of the Father. Again, you are going to need to use parental discretion here as a lot of the movies are intended for an adult audience, but you know your kids best. If I were to do this activity with my own son, I would give him an overview of the conflict and then jump into a discussion about the use of violence in political history. Our own family history touches on this as my paternal grandparents were members of the Dutch Resistance and my son has grown up with stories about the actions they took as part of their struggle against the Nazis. You could also go with the effects of colonization as the British had conquered the Irish at various points in their history and British citizens had moved to Ireland. This would tie in nicely to much of world history. This would also be a great use of those rhetoric skills your kids worked on during the Ides of March.

What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 3 – March 16 – Keeping Busy

Hey all! 

It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do with your kids at home. 


Seriously, have them help you cook. Even if all you are doing is opening a can of soup and microwaving it, you are teaching them skills they need for adulthood. More traditional cooking involves a great deal of math, often the measurement of fractions.  Let them help you measure the ingredients and mix. Have them set the timer and monitor it. Yes, it will take longer than if you did it yourself and it will probably be messier, but you will build a lot of neural pathways in their brains. And you may inspire them to cook more.

For older children, have them research a recipe they think they can make in your cookbook collection or from sites like this one online. Have them make a shopping list and pick it up as part of your weekly shopping. (Bonus points if they can do it from the supplies you have laid in for your quarantine.)


Let’s be honest, no one likes cleaning, but it is a necessary evil. Especially during a pandemic. Give your kids a chance to do their part. Have them do the dishes or empty the dishwasher. Teach them to clean the toilet or put their laundry away. It is another step in helping them learn to be functioning adults and gives them an activity to do that can also incorporate a bit of physical activity.

And yes, they won’t be as good at it as you would. That doesn’t matter. Give them some gentle feedback and encouragement to improve. But let them do it.


Do some yoga. There are great videos on the Internet to lead you through it. 

Dance. There are video games that you can dance with. Some of those have made it onto the Internet as videos. Play them and let your kids dance.

Just move. There is a great website called Go Noodle that has TONNES of movement videos that involve exercise and dance.

Go for a walk. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t go out. It means we need to limit contact with people that we don’t live with. There is a whole world out there. Go for a walk around the block. Drive to a local set of walking trails (weather permitting). Explore a neighbourhood that you have always wanted to see. (We may be heading to a wealthy neighbourhood to look at rich people’s houses.)

Build a Leprechaun Trap

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. As a lead up, have your kids make a leprechaun trap out of things you already have in the house. Lego and other toys. Craft supplies. Things from the recycling bin, like empty toilet paper rolls. Rumour has it many of us have more of those than we know what to do with.

When they are done, take some pictures to send to family or have them do a video chat with a loved one to show off their creation. Then leave it out to see if they catch a leprechaun. Don’t forget to take the bait but leave a treat, like candy or a few coins.

What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 2 – Ides of March

Today is the Ides of March, it is an important day in world history. It is the day that Julius Ceasar was killed in the Roman Senate. This act put the final nail in the coffin for the Roman Republic and lead directly to the creation of the Roman Empire

So how can you use that to distract your kids if you are practicing social distancing? In lots of ways. 

What happened?

There are a lot of places on the web to find information on the Ides of March. 

And once they understand the events, make sure to show them the classic Wayne and Shuster sketch.

For Younger Kids

Have them watch these videos on tying a toga. Then hand them a sheet and let them try. There is a boys’ version and a girls’ version.  Then you could discuss why there are differences between the togas.

Julius Ceasar was responsible for the creation of the month of July. Read this page to your kids and then take a look at the calendar. What do they see? Have them redesign the calendar, creating a month for themselves. How long would it be? Where would it go?

How to Make Roman Mosaics for Kids – the Romans made beautiful mosaics. This is an easy thing to recreate at home. These instructions use construction paper, but you can use anything really, magazines, fabric scraps or yarn. 

Teaching Kids About Roman Numerals – This is a simple activity involving a piece of paper and a pencil. Or a white board and marker.

For Older Kids

Investigating the Caesar Assassination – This is a great investigation activity that you can run in your home where they approach the death as if they were investigating the crime. Would be great for your true crime fans.

Rhetoric – The Romans were famous for their use of rhetoric in decision making. Speeches were studied, memorized, parsed and performed. There are many great speakers and speeches that come from this period. Julius Ceasar was said to have been a great speaker. The speech that Shakespear wrote for Mark Anthony in his play Julius Ceasar is considered to be one of the greatest in history.  This is a good overview of the topic. Have your kids use these techniques to convince you to do something, like let them have two desserts.

The Roman Number system is unique and so was their math. Show your kids this video. And then have them practice this style of multiplication.

Rome was known for its complex architecture. This page has multiple projects related to Roman architecture.  Your kids can use stuff you have around the house to make these builds. (Tip if it says poster board, use a cereal box.)

What to do with your kid: COVID-19 Day 1 – Pi Day

So you are stuck at home with your kid for 3 weeks and are scrambling for stuff to do.  I’m a teacher, I get it. This is my job. I program for kids all day, 5 days a week, 194 days a year.  Given that I teach 12 to 14 year-olds, my activities have to be interesting and dynamic. I am also the kind of person who doesn’t want to be bored, so I apply my creative to lesson planning.

So I want to offer you some stuff to do to keep your kids occupied. I am trying for one of these a day, but I am home with my own child and if Covid-19 sneaks up on me, I need to rest. But until then, I will try.

So today I have chosen activities around Pi Day.   

Pi Day is the wonderfully geeky and nerdy celebration of the concept of Pi.  It is celebrated in schools and universities around the world. I would celebrate in my class every year, so there are a lot of things you can do with this.

What is Pi?

Pi is the ratio that you get every time you divide the measurement of the circumference of a circle by the measurement of its diameter. It is a universal constant, which means it never changes. (Don’t @ me Physics people. We are talking generalities here.)

A good overview for younger children is this book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. I read this to my Grade 7 and 8s. They like to be read to. If you can’t get a hold of it through the library (because these are closing too), try this video of it from YouTube. Also, check with your local library’s website. Many of them have services that give you access to a digital copy of the book.

For older kids, one of my favorite websites is Math is Fun. They have a great page on Pi that can lead you through how Pi is calculated. (Also a great refresher for adults).

For all kids – BAKE!  So much of what we bake is circle shaped. Make a pie, a cake, cupcakes or cookies.  Decorate them with the letter Pi. And then eat them while you learn about Pi.

Preschool Activities

Circle scavenger hunt – Have your kids find as many circles as they can in the house. Or if you are trying to take a daily walk to get some fresh air. For added fun, have them use a phone or tablet to take a picture of the circle.  You can have a conversation with them in the moment about the attributes of the circles. So is it big or small? Is it bigger or smaller than the last circle? What colour is it?

Pop Can Prints  – I love No Time for Flashcards. It is a great site full of pre-school activities that are often done with things around your house. This one has you using old pop cans to dig in paint and let your toddler make art.  If you have an older toddler, there is no reason why you can’t use full cans of soup or other goods from the pantry. 

Body Circles Challenge – Have your toddler make a circle with their body. Challenge them to try a different way. So with their hands, then their arms, then their whole body.  Can they use them to make a circle that a stuffed animal can pass through? This would be fun to have siblings to do together.

Primary Activities

Circle scavenger hunt – This is a variation of the pre-school activities.  But in addition, introduce half circles. Have your kids find as many as they can in the house. Or if you are trying to take a daily walk to get some fresh air. For added fun, have them use a phone or tablet to take a picture of the circle.  You can have a conversation with them in the moment about the attributes of the circles. So is it big or small? Is it bigger or smaller than the last circle? What colour is it?

Measuring circles – grab a few circles from around your house. Cans, toys, etc. Give your kids a piece of string or yarn. Have them estimate the circumference of the circle in lengths of string or yard and then measure it. (This could be a lot of fun if you have a bag of Twizzlers lying around. Or Fruit by the Foot.)

Pi Day Songs – A list of songs sung to familiar tunes.  Sing them with your kids.

Junior Activities

Race to Pi – This is a very fun card game that you can play with one person or many.

Pi Day Skyline Art – fun activity. All you need is graph paper, the digits of pi and markers. You can get as fancy as you want, dragging out the watercolours.  If you don’t have graph paper, you can print some out here.

The Pi Song: Funny Song to help you memorize Pi – Warning this one is annoying. There are plenty more on the web. Google them if this one is driving you crazy.

Measuring Circles – if you have a measuring tape (the one from your sewing kit is a great for this) have your kids measure the circumference, radius and diameter around the house. Alternately, give them a piece of string and have them measure the object and then compare it to a ruler. Discuss with them how well they did this. What were the challenges? What did they notice?

Intermediate Activities

Measuring Circles – if you have a measuring tape (the one from your sewing kit is a great for this) have your kids measure the circumference, radius and diameter around the house. Alternately, give them a piece of string and have them measure the object and then compare it to a ruler.  Have them write down what they found and then divide the circumference by the diameter. What do they observe?

Mathematical Pi Song – I play this all the time for my Grade 8s. Based on the movie American Pie

Memorize Pi – Find a website on Pi and challenge your kids to memorize as many digits of Pi as possible. Then have them take turns reciting it.

One Million Digits of Pi – This website has Pi to the millionth digit. Load it up and let them scroll. 

Proof of Concept – Have your kids trace the same size circle three times. 

  1. With the first circle, fold it into half and then half again, so quarters. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece.  See figure 1. Draw a line to make a parallelogram. See figure 2.
  2. With the second circle , fold it into half and then half again, and then half again to make 8 segments. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece like you did with the first one.
  3. With the third circle , fold it into half and then half again, and then half again, and then half again to make 16 segments. Cut the circle along the folds. Glue the circles, flipping every second one so that the corner touches the curve of the next piece like you did with the first and second one.
  4. Calculate the area of the parallelograms.  What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  5. How do the different parts of the circle relate to the different parts of the parallelogram? What conclusions can you draw?

High School Activities

Pi Fight – Game web Based game around radians. 

Approximation of Pi –  A great document on how we estimate Pi. Read and discuss with your kid. Do the math they covered.

Turn Pi into Music – an attempt to turn the digits of Pi into music 

In Our Times – Pi – A podcast on the history of Pi

Pi Rap Battle – Lose Yourself (In The Digits) – Pi Day Song  – Video is grainy, but this is just fun.