Summer Learning with Technology Opportunities

Children Learning with Technology

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.

General Learning 

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.

General Learning 

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. 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 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 if you have any comments or need further advice.

Learning with Technology

What do you need to know?

Westside is lucky to have Ms. Bayles as both a member of the faculty and as Westside’s Educational Technology Coordinator. Bayles is an expert in the topic of learning with technology, holding a Master of Educational Technology from UBC. She’s also passionate about sharing her knowledge with faculty and parents.  

At this month’s Parent Academy, Ms. Bayles walked parents through the ADST curriculum and how it’s being implemented at Westside. She also provided insights about how to manage and approach educational technology at home.

What is ADST exactly?

It stands for Applied Design, Skills and Technology. The main concepts, according to the BC curriculum, are Understand, Know, and Do. The goal is to have students understand specific Big Ideas, know particular Content, and then be able to implement this knowledge with their gained Skills and Processes.

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Design Thinking makes up the core of the ADST curriculum. So let’s break down what that means. Design thinking encompasses five main areas: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.

This isn’t a linear process. Although any great design must start with empathy, that process of empathizing doesn’t end as soon as the next step begins. Design thinking is more circular than it is linear. Its primary purpose is to solve problems, i.e. to provide positive results.

You can see why this is so valuable from an education standpoint. You’re not teaching students how to memorize by rote or recite facts, you’re teaching them a skill that will set them up for success in all areas of life, including their future careers.

If you can apply design thinking to a school project, you can apply it to anything. One of the greatest benefits of learning design thinking is that it teaches students that it’s okay to take risks and fail. Great success and innovation is a result of numerous failures. Trying new things will always produce spectacular failures. While failure used to be unacceptable in schools, now it’s considered a necessary tool for growth.

The era in which we live demands creativity, innovation, and problem-solving. To get there, we must all take risks, fail, assess, try again. 

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Learning with Technology at School

Often we’re scared of new technology because we don’t understand it. And our instinct might be to shield our children from this new technology.

With computer performance increasing rapidly, technological development shows no sign of slowing down. Shielding children from technology too much could mean stifling their growth and performance in the future, putting them behind their colleagues.

That being said, within the school, students are given plenty of focused time with technology, so parents don’t have to. While permitting your children to use certain apps can have value, you don’t need to double down on technology. Students receive an excellent balance at school. 


Students do stop motion animation here with clay art and their devices.

It’s common to think of learning with technology as just being in front of a screen. Technology simply means anything that extends our capabilities. A bicycle is technology. So is a computer or an iPad. So are elevators and cars. Even a crayon could be considered technology.

At school, there is just as much focus on students using design thinking as there is on actively engaging with a device. The Foundation Years STEM Fair was an outstanding example of students going through every phase of the design process to create projects that were tested by colleagues. While some projects involved computer technology, most did not.

Learning with Technology At Home

Many parents are afraid that their children have too much screen time. There is often the concern that playing video games may have negligible educational value and even be harmful. But it’s important to remember that these areas, which may be just for fun now, can turn into exciting careers. You can’t become a video game developer if you’ve never played a video game. Nor can you become an animator if you haven’t watched animated movies.

Playfully engaging with technology can be useful when younger children are at home. But there’s no need for more focused time. Students are learning enough in school that they don’t necessarily need to have additional focused activities at home. For older students, however, more focused time may be necessary if individuals are not grasping the material. 

If your child does express an interest in using apps on a device or playing games, just follow these guidelines.

  1. Always play the game or use the app with the child for the first time. Not all apps directed at children are actually suitable.

  2. Discuss the game or app after trying it together.

  3. Set time limits that seem reasonable. Your children will need your help to stop using an app or playing a game. 

  4. Ensure that your app store is password protected so that your child can’t download an app without you.

  5. Have device-free zones, so you can enjoy distraction-free family time.

  6. Be a role model when it comes to healthy device use.

  7. Strive for balance. It’s hard. But even a small effort will provide a great benefit.

Screen Time at Home and at School

At school, screens are used minimally. In the younger years, students may have one hour of screen time on an average day. This focused screen time may include creating an animation, doing basic programming, practicing math through an app, or doing a multimedia project. As students get older, they may use computers more frequently to work on projects, but classroom hours are still not focused around a computer screen. Balance is always what we’re striving towards.

While balance may seem like some ephemeral goal that’s hard to achieve or even measure, you can use the Healthy Mind Platter to guide you.

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The Healthy Mind Platter means providing ample time for all of the following: down time, focused learning time (educational apps), play time, time in (quiet reflection), connection time (in person), physical time (moving!), and sleep time.

Keeping this in mind when thinking about how much screen time is appropriate for your child will help take some of the stress away.

If you have any questions about how to use technology at home with your children or you’d like some recommendations for apps, contact Ashley Bayles:


Technology at Westside in 2019/2020

  • Class set of iPads for the Foundation Years Centre

  • Seesaw Learning Journal for the Foundation Years

  • Expansion of maker space and multimedia studio for use by all centres/grades

  • Westside is working to get the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for MYP/MVP