Tag Archives: activities and events kids

7 resources to help kids Learn to Code this summer

apple 2014 retail_learn_youth_camp

The case for why kids need to understand tech as an important 21st century skill has been made (see awesome code.org video on this here), but it’s not yet a core concept taught as part of the basic school curriculum.

So here are few options for parents interested in helping their kids develop tech skills this summer:

1. FREE – Virtual Google “Maker” camps – “Building, Tinkering and Exploring” 6 weeks starting July 7th 11 a.m. PST 

Google is offering six weeks of fun things to make and do for kids – all they need is a Google+ account and access to a PC, smartphone or tablet (if they are younger than 13, they will need to use the account of a parent).  The Maker Camps will have a weekly structure. In the morning, kids will complete a creative DIY project (for example a toy rocket) and in the afternoon they will also use Google Hangouts to talk to expert artists, makers and inventors as well as do virtual field trips to locations including Legoland in Denmark and Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop. See more here.

2. FREE – Sign up for a class at an Apple store – Various locations – local schedule 

At the Apple Store, you will find a variety of programs tailored just for kids, no purchase required. Youth Workshops, Field Trips, and Apple Camp are great ways to get kids thinking, learning, and creating — all while having fun. See more here.

3. $45: Learn to Code for Girls in Vancouver – Be like Ada – Sat, July 19th

Ada Lovelace, the beautiful black and white movie star and also a prolific tech inventor is the inspiration behind this one day bootcamp is for high-school girls only. They can learn to code and meet other girls just like them and hear from superhero women who have cool jobs because they code. To register, go to:www.belikeada.com

4. Code Kids Canada

See this CBC documentary for how and why kids are learning to code in the Maritimes. Inspirational videos galore you can show your kids to get them motivated. Motivation is then often enough to get them interested in using the many online and apps available to learn tech (see esp choice 1 above and 8 below).

5. Coder Dojo – Weekend Learn to Code for kids

CoderDojo is a global movement about providing free and open learning to youth, with an emphasis on computer programming. There are Coder Dojos in Toronto and Calgary, and one is being set up here in Vancouver.

6. Digital Media Academy – Summer Camps – $900+

This amazing opportunity to get top notch exposure to all aspects related to technology creation and use does not come cheap – but is now an option available across Canada. Week long summer camp classes for kids aged 8 to 12 and 13 and older covering a multitude of topics (film creating, game design, iPhone programming, robotics, app development etc) can cost around $900 each – sign up here for the few spots left. They have been doign in since 2002 and apparently, it is a life changing experience.

7. Apps and Games – Learn as You Play (ok for kids 8+)

 My Robot Friend allows kids to program the path of a funny robot and follow it’s adventures – hilarious and educational. Download here.

 The concept is simple — direct a robotic arm to move crates to a designated spot — but Cargo-Bot creates young programmers as it encourages the kind of innovative thinking necessary to learn programming skills. Download it here.

Hopscotch, is a simpler version of MIT’s scratch, and is AWESOME. It allows kids to quickly create games and animations by simple drag and drop of different commands. Kids can modify everything from size to speed to color – and see the results fast which is something that gets them hooked. Download it here.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mom, geek, CEO co-founder myBestHelper


Summer = farmer’s markets!



We wrote recently about helping kids develop their taste buds: Karen LeBillon’s 2nd book “Getting to Yum: Curing and preventing picky eating”, endorsed by a Harvard Medical School pediatrician, helps with taste training for kids.

The other things that help is to see where food comes from. Showing this to kids directly works amazingly, as UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver demonstrated through his work with schools. Here is a video showing school kids who could not identify a potato from a tomato!

Farmer’s markets can help with that. Summer is a great time to visit one – and here are the listings for VancouverCalgary and Toronto. The best is when your kids can actually speak with the vendors and ask what they are passionate about – markets are full of creative people who are driven by their love of what they do, and it’s so interesting to discover the people behind the produce and the products.

If you can’t make it to a farmer’s market, there are some great online resources on “farm to table” food. Enjoy!

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, CEO cofounder myBestHelper

The future is not pretty and that is a great thing!

Pulling radishes from our yard garden this week, the kids initially made faces at the gnarly misshapen not-perfectly-rounded shapes so dramatically different from the perfection seen at the stores. But a few minutes later, the first crunches into the delectably tasting produce that melt in their mouth with a rainbow of flavors, there was no further complaint. In fact, the ten years old started a conversation on how this is similar to people – we are all different and that is a great thing!

Farmers markets are all around us – and they often display things that are not perfect in the classic sense of the word, but are perfection in the context of nutritious and delicious.

Did you know that a landmark study on this was done in 2004 by University of Texas team led by Donald Davis  and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. This declining nutritional content is linked to the wide adoption of agricultural practices designed to improve appearance, size, growth rate and pest resistance with little effort focusing on nutrition.

“Crops can grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.”

The resurgence of the 100 miles diet, urban farming and farmers markets gives me hope – and so is the concrete example that this teaches our kids that what is not perfectly pretty is actually truly beautiful.

You can find a farmers market near you, using the Farmers’ Markets Canada Association.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, physician mom CEO myBestHelper


For the child artists among us! Comic cosmic fun


Our kids made these with Halftone, iPhone and iPad comic-maker app

Comics have had a huge come back, with TV series and films and now increased use within the school system to get reluctant young readers hooked on books.

We have really enjoyed this trend and the kids are thrilled to be able in minutes to doctor photos using iPhone/iPad apps like the awesome HalfTone, loved by over 2 million people (the photos above and below were done by them last September). And full disclosure: we are not getting anything for promoting them, it’s just the best toy we have given them for a dollar!

Halftone is award-winning in Canada, US and UK and not just because it can instantly turn your photos into unique, vintage comics with captions, speech balloons, graphic stamps, and fonts (including built-in comic fonts).The coolest part for parents is that the resulting image can be super-easily sent via e-mail, uploaded directly to Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, and Flickr, shared with apps like Instagram, Camera+, and Color Splash, printed, and even sent as a real, physical postcard through the mail!


Fun activity with kids – make a comic from photos on iPhone and iPad app

If you live in Vancouver and you are interested in getting some FREE expert guidance, it’s time for comic fun this weekend by ArtStarts! An award-winning artist and illustrator specializing in comic books and film-making, Julian Lawrence is doing two workshops tomorrow June 29th, 2013 at the ArtStarts Gallery, 808 Richards St, Vancouver (map) and you can choose between two 45 min sessions at 11am and repeated at 1pm. If you live in New Westminster, the same sessions are given on Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 11am and 1pm at River Market at Westminster Quay, 810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster (map). Kids over 5 and their families are welcome – no need to register, but sessions fill quickly!

In the workshop kids create an original 8–page mini-comic describing themselves, their family and their culture. This will give all those mischievous masterminds a world to explore and learn! For more information, visit http://artstarts.com/free-weekend-workshops

If you do attend the workshops or use the Halftone app, please share your experience with us. We would love to hear how your comic art is coming along!

For more ideas on things to do in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto this Canada day weekend, have a look at the awesome selection done by Yoyomama or for more convenience download their mobile app  – OnTheGoKids –  for a trusted source for families when it comes to what to do with your kids, whether that’s one off events, family travel, crafts to keep kids busy on long winter afternoons, or local services for families.

Alexandra T. Greenhill, MOM, MD, CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper