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All Places > Explore > Parents as Partners > Primary Learners (Gr. 1-3) Curriculum Supports > Blog > 2015 > March



Learning to read is a big milestone for your child. But what are the best books for your early reader?


We have compiled a list of book recommendations from a panel of teachers, authors, book sellers, academics and librarians. The books range from picture books like "Cat in the Hat" to series like "Captain Underpants", and include fairy tales, books about superheroes, and books for your budding activist.








The Beginner:

Parents should look for books with short sentences using simple words with five letters or less, and try to pick titles that will appeal to their kids


"The Cat in the Hat"

by Dr. Seuss


"Bink And Gollie"

by Alison Mcghee, Kate Dicamillo


"Good Night, Good Knight"

by Shelley Moore Thomas



Fairy Tales:

Fairy tales have been passed down in families since storytelling began, span all cultures, and are the most-read book genre at bedtime.


"Something from Nothing"

by Phoebe Gilman


"Such a Prince"

by Dan Bar-el


"The Paper Bag Princess"

by Robert Munsch



by E. Nesbit



Heroes and Villains:

Books for kids who love to read about the good guys versus the bad guys.



Books for the Budding Activist:

Here are some books for the child who wants to change the world and doesn't know where to start.


"On My Walk"

by Kari- Lynn Winters


"Lily and the Paper Man"

by Rebecca Upjohn


"Children Around the World"

illustrated by Donata Montanari"

Welcome to Five Minute Science where we offer up cool science experiments you and your kids can do together using everyday household items, in about five minutes!

In this experiment, you get to write secret messages with invisible ink, and learn some science from the experts at Let's Talk Science.



To show what happens when you apply heat to an acidic substance.

Be sure to ask your child what he or she thinks might happen before you do the experiment—what will happen when heat is applied to the invisible message on paper?



The Experiment


  1. One half of a lemon or bottled lemon juice.
  2. Small bowl
  3. Cotton swabs
  4. White paper
  5. A heat source like an iron, a 100-watt incandescent light bulb, or a radiator. **PARENTAL SUPERVISION IS ESSENTIAL
  6. A pen or pencil to write a decoy message (optional).


  1. First, let your child decide what the secret message should be. If your child wants it to be super-secret, he or she can write a decoy message or draw a picture with pencil that will disguise the secret message.
  2. Pour 60ml (1/4 cup) of bottled lemon juice into the bowl or squeeze ½ of a lemon into the bowl.
  3. Dip the cotton swab into the lemon juice. You or your child can use the cotton swab to write the secret message on the paper.
  4. Let the paper dry completely.
  5. Using an iron on an ironing board, or another heat source, heat the paper for your child (children should not handle a hot iron). Do not let the paper get so hot that it burns.
  6. Watch what happens to the "invisible" ink?


Explaining the Science:

Did you see the invisible ink change colour and become visible? Why do you think that happened? Here's the scientific explanation. Lemons are naturally high in acid. When the acidic lemon juice is applied to the paper, it is absorbed into the paper’s fibres. When the paper is heated, the heat breaks down the chemical bonds and frees carbon-based compounds. The carbon-based compounds go through a process called oxidization and turn brown, and that is how you are now able to see the lemon juice ink.


Curriculum Connection:

This experiment is simple, safe and appropriate for any age. In the Ontario Science and Technology curriculum, Properties of and Changes in Matter is taught in Grade 5 where "“students will explore changes of state and investigate the difference between physical changes (which are reversible) and chemical changes (which are not reversible). Concepts learned in this strand about the use of heat to effect changes in matter will be relevant to the study of energy conservation in the next strand."


Extra Credit!
  • Try the experiment again using milk, or apple juice instead of lemon juice. What happens?
  • You do not need a heat source to create invisible ink. You can “develop” your ink in other ways. Try mixing 60ml of baking soda with 60ml of water in a small bowl. Dip your cotton swab into the solution and write a message. Let it dry. Paint over it with grape juice. What happens?
  • Play TVOKids Dr. Ben Senburner's Lab (click on Dr. Ben Senburner's Lab and then on "secret message") to write more secret messages.

Welcome to Five Minute Science where we offer up cool science experiments you and your kids can do together using everyday household items, in about five minutes!


In this experiment, you'll look like you're performing magic, but you'll really be applying Newton's First Law of Motion, which we'll learn more about with the help of the experts at Let's Talk Science.



To illustrate Newton’s First Law of Motion, which can be stated simply: An object at rest will stay at rest, unless a force pushes or pulls on it, and an object in motion will stay in motion, travelling in a straight line, unless a force pushes or pulls on it.



The Experiment


  1. A pie plate
  2. An empty cardboard toilet paper tube
  3. A raw egg (yes, raw)
  4. Water
  5. A large drinking glass


    1. Fill the drinking glass with water (about ¾ full).
    2. Place the pie plate on top of the glass.
    3. Carefully place the toilet paper tube on top of the pie plate, positioning it over the water.
    4. Set the egg on top of the toilet paper tube - make sure to place the egg on its side, not how you'd find it in an egg carton.
    5. Get ready to smack the pie plate, but first ask your child what he or she thinks might happen to the egg when you smack its support out from under it? Then, using your dominant hand, and starting from about 30 cm away, smack the side of the pie plate horizontally. It is important to hit the plate horizontally, and don't be shy - give it a good solid whack.
    6. Observe what happens to the egg.


Explaining the Science:

Did you see the egg drop into the glass of water, instead of flying away with the pie plate and toilet paper tube? Is that what you expected? Why do you think this happened? The scientific explanation is that the egg is following Newton’s First Law of Motion which says that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by another force. The egg is not moving when it sits on top of the cardboard tube - it is at rest. When you hit the pie plate with force it causes the pie plate to fly out from under the egg. The toilet paper tube gets caught on the edge of the pie plate making it fly away too. But the egg is not caught on anything, so for a fraction of a second, the egg stays at rest in the air, even after losing its support, until the force of gravity pulls the egg towards the ground - or in this case, the glass of water. The egg stays in motion heading down into the glass, until the force of the water hits it, breaking the fall and causing the egg to come to rest, unbroken, in the glass.


Curriculum Connection:

This experiment is simple, safe and appropriate for any age. In the Ontario Science and Technology curriculum, “Movement” is taught in Grade 2,  “Forces Causing Movement” is taught in Grade 3, and “Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms” is covered in Grade 5.


Extra Credit!
  • For extra pizzazz, add food colouring to the water.
  • Try the experiment again but instead of using a pie plate and one egg and toilet paper roll, try using a larger tray, with a lip around the edge, and five tubes and eggs. This one takes a little practice but it can sure wow a crowd.
  • Try using more or less water, or different types of liquid. What happens?
  • Try using longer or shorter tubes to support the egg. What happens?

games_puzzles_644x362.jpgchad biio pic_133x84.jpg

Chad Richard is the Program Consultant for K-12 Numeracy with the Durham Catholic District School Board and a tutor with Homework Help, the free online math resource for kids in grades 7 to 10.



“Life is more fun if you play games!” ~Roald Dahl


I have always loved this quote because it’s true - games and puzzles do make life more fun. Maybe it’s because they’re often associated with a reward of some kind - whether it’s an actual prize, or just the sweet feeling of success.


Games and puzzles can also help us be more successful in our math learning. They teach us perseverance, patience, strategy, problem solving, and how to learn from our mistakes, in a relatively risk free environment. Win or Lose, we’re always ready to play another day - that’s the same attitude we want to instill in our kids when it comes to math.

There is nothing like board games or puzzles to bring the family together, and research shows that they can improve a child’s problem solving and abstract reasoning skills.


war_card_game_170x255.jpgBut with so many games and puzzles to choose from, where do you start?


Here are some fun and easy suggestions:


  1. Apps: As we all know, kids spend a lot of time with digital devices. App stores have lots of games and puzzles, many of them for free. Let your kids have fun and learn math skills too, with games like checkers, chess, card games and Sudoku.  If you search for great puzzles and games on most search engines, you’ll find articles with great app recommendations for various devices.  Here’s one great app list.
  2. Card Games: If you are not fortunate enough to have the latest gadget, don’t fret as all you need is a deck of cards.  There are hundreds of card games that can help your kids learn math skills like counting, ordering, quantity, memory, operations, spatial reasoning and problem solving.  Here’s a list of 10 easy games to teach your kids.
  3. Board Games:  Kids can fine tune many math skills with their favourite board games.  “Snakes and Ladders” teaches kids
    counting, “Sorry” teaches kids quantity, “Chinese Checkers” can teach ordering, and a good game of “Monopoly” (Junior or regular) is packed with math, board games_259x169.jpgfrom counting board spaces, to learning about money.  Most board games are under 20 dollars, so they’re an inexpensive investment in your child’s math learning that can reap rich rewards.
  4. Puzzles:  A good jigsaw puzzle can improve a child’s spatial reasoning, which research shows is critical to a child’s math development. If you want something even more challenging, try puzzles like Sudoku, KenKen, and Kakuro.
  5. Dice:  Last but not least, do not underestimate the power of dice.  This portable and inexpensive prop has the power to improve a child’s math skills, especially his or her operational sense. There are many games using dice that can help kids improve their abilities to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  Happy Playing!