Straight from Westside’s learning-with-technology expert, Ashley Bayles, here are some suggestions for websites, apps, and other resources that may help you and your child engage with technology in meaningful ways over the summer.
Foundation Years & Middle Years
It is important to keep in mind that as with anything, it really depends on what you want your child to be doing. Summer is an important time to have new experiences as a family. No single resource will be great for every family or child, so please take time to explore what is best for your family.
For summer learning the National Geographic Kids website is a great resource. There is also a site called Storyline Online that complements the Libby app I recommended in the last Parent Academy as it helps with literacy skills.
BrainPop is a subscription site, but has free content to engage children in many subject areas. Khan Academy is a great resource, and it has an app for kids 2-6 that might interest your young child. I also suggest that parents of younger children also take a look at the variety of apps offered by Duck Duck Moose.
A great tool for easy design is Canva. Perhaps your child wants to design their next birthday party invitation using it! Another interesting site that the older children enjoy is Wolfram Alpha which uses algorithms and AI to find answers to all your questions. Have your child examine the types of responses they get from Wolfram with those of a different search engine.
In terms of coding apps there are plenty of options: Box Island, Lightbot, Tynker, and Kodable are the most popular options, especially for younger students. As children get older Scratch becomes very useful and you can also look at the Raspberry Pi resources as your child outgrows Scratch.
Canada Learning Code offers workshops for all ages and they have specialized sessions for 6-8 year olds (parents attend as well). I suggest looking at the Gamemaking and Circuitry with Scratch and Makey Makey or Animating with Scratch to see if it appeals to your child. Artmaking with Scratch for 9-12 year old girls and their guardian/parent is another option.
Apple and Microsoft Store Workshops
The Apple Stores offer free workshops on a variety of topics so your child can attend and you can learn alongside them, for Foundation Years parents who are new to coding and technology, I would highly recommend any of the coding sessions so you can have a better understanding of it yourself. Microsoft also offers free workshops as well, and I feel their Metrotown location offers the largest selection of programs.
Vancouver Public Library Workshops and Events
VPL Offer Many Special Events and Programs for Adults, Families, Teens and Young Children, so I suggest checking out their Event Calendar and searching for items of interest.
The VPL Summer Reading Club offers amazing sessions for K-7 students and many of them are connected to the ADST Curricular Competencies and Big Ideas. Some highlights I noted are: Programming with Raspberry Pi, Lego Robotics Club, and Whiteboard Animation. Please consider signing your child up and attending some of these great events.
As you can see, the options are endless.
Be sure to give your child downtime over the summer along with opportunities to experience new things that they might not explore on their own.
Miniversity - Grades 8 to 12
No single resource will be great for everyone, so please take time to explore what is best for your family and what interests your teenager.
The Libby app is fantastic. If you want to make sure your teen has access to high-interest books, this app makes it easy for them to find and read them. Khan Academy is another great resource for students to review concepts they may have learned already or to preview material in preparation for next year. Another interesting site that teenagers (and adults) enjoy is Wolfram Alpha which uses it's own algorithms and AI to find answers to your questions. For students interested in art and design, I suggest they take a look at Canva.
MOOCs offer great opportunities for self-directed summer learning for students and parents. Users 13 and over can choose from any subject area they want and learn on their own schedule. Some of the most popular sites are edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. There are free and paid options on all sites.
I am a member at MakerLabs right now and have really enjoyed exploring creative opportunities offered through the tools there. If you want to work with your child on some unique design projects, I recommend checking it out.
If your child wants to take one of these courses, you must also take it with them (13-17 year olds can only take courses with a parent/guardian, 18 or older can take it alone).
I am in love with laser cutting and highly-recommend the Laser Cutting 101 course as an introduction (I have been designing and making my own notebooks, coasters, and jewelry). Some other interesting options are the Triangle Shelf Workshop, Arduino 101, and 3D Printing and Scanning 101.
Another similar option is the Vancouver Hack Space.
Apple Stores offer free workshops and so do Microsoft Stores with the Metrotown location offering the largest selection of programs. Free Geek also has an Open Help Night where you can get free technology support.
Canada Learning Code offers workshops for all ages, including parents. The Teens Learning Code program offers female-identified, trans, and non-binary youth ages 13-17 opportunities to take action on ideas that will shape our future while leveraging the power of technology. Two workshops being offered in Vancouver this summer are Data Insights with Python and HTML and CSS: Learn how to build an Online Resume.
Codecademy and Free Code Camp are just two of many options for learning to code online. Code.org is also full of resources and so is the Raspberry Pi Project page which includes Scratch, Python, Blender, and HTML resources.
Vancouver Public Library
The VPL offers many special events and programs for adults and teens, so I suggest checking out their Event Calendar and searching for items of interest. For example, they are having a Virtual Reality Open House on Thursday of this week. As part of the Teen Summer Challenge they are offering a Graphic Novel Workshop with a Marvel writer, and this Harry Potter Escape Room experience.
There is also an opportunity for students to join next year’s VPL Teen Advisory Group to plan future events and programs for teens. Click here to see all the specialized teen programs they offer, such as the Summer Writing & Book Camp.
Another great resources is the VPL’s Inspiration Lab which offers access to specialized tools, software and spaces for digital creation.
Anyone with a VPL card has free access to Lynda.com which is fantastic for students and their parents to learn more about different technology tools. You can then use these tools at home, or access many of them for free at the library.
Science World Extravagant Evening for Teens (SWEET)
On June 28, Science World is offering a FREE event just for teens. Click here for more information and to register your teen. There is also an opportunity for students to join the Teen Advisory Group for Science World.
As you can see, there are countless opportunities for your child to explore new passions or further develop their skills over the summer.
Westside Parents, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or need further advice.