Students are keeping busy this summer at SCDSB STEAM Camp

From July 31 to August 18, almost 700 students from across the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) have been participating in summer STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Camp, which focuses on strengthening students’ literacy and math skills. Programs are taking place in Alliston, Barrie, Collingwood, Innisfil, Midland and Orillia, as well as at the Education Centre in Midhurst.

This year, summer learning programs are available for:

  • Grade 3 and 4 students
  • Grade 7, 8 and 9 students
  • Special Equipment Amount (SEA) – for students with special needs using assistive devices

Each program (other than SEA) consists of a half day focus on math/numeracy and a half day focus on STEAM or mindfulness activities. SEA is a full-day program that includes training for students on how to use special equipment, and academic activities that they can complete using the new equipment.

Principal of Special Education, Stephen McClelland, has been involved in the summer learning programs for seven years and has witnessed the growth of the program as well as the students.

“The STEAM Camp is meant to support those students who may be struggling with math or literacy. We want to make sure that they receive an opportunity to grow and gain confidence in their skills before entering a new grade level at the start of the school year,” he says.

The benefits of the program aren’t just for students, but for the schools and staff as well.

“With the STEAM camps and SEA programs, we are well connected to parents and families, as they come in to the school to bring their child, sign the child in and there is a daily interaction between the parent and teacher. Also, host schools get to keep the equipment that is ordered for summer learning programs for use year-round for all students, which is a huge benefit to them,” he adds.

At the end of the day, students are able to see their successes more clearly and regularly, as they are only focusing on two to three subjects a day, versus five or six throughout the school year. Class sizes are smaller as well, allowing students more interaction with the teacher.

“Our students have a lot of fun in our summer learning programs,” says McClelland. “Everyone is much more relaxed and the teachers get very creative with the programming and activities that students take part in.”

Activities include working with robots, drones, computer programming/coding, field trips and outdoor learning opportunities.

Each school hosting the summer learning programs has a childcare facility on site, so parents are able to enrol their children in care after hours and fees will apply (summer learning programs run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Summer learning programs are free for all families.

Are you interested in enrolling your child in summer STEAM Camp next year? Be sure to contact your child’s teacher or school principal to inquire. Specific programs for grade levels will be available, along with applications in June 2018.

Children new to the country and SCDSB experience the true nature of Canada

A group of children new to the country got to spend a week at the Tiffin Centre for Conservation at the end of July and participate in a summer camp, giving them a first taste of what Canada’s nature landscape is really like. The camp, supported by the Rotary Club of Barrie and organized by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, focused on giving the students experiences that they have never had before, such as canoeing.

“This was such a wonderful opportunity for these children,” says Tatiana Khrystynko, program coordinator, Newcomer Welcome Centre and English as a Second Language at the Simcoe County District School Board’s (SCDSB) Barrie Learning Centre. “It really helped them adapt and get to know a part of the community that they now call home. I can’t thank the Tiffin Centre, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and Rotary Club of Barrie enough for providing such a memorable experience.”

The children have come from far and wide, including Brazil, Sudan, Vietnam, China and Ukraine. During their time at the Tiffin Centre camp, they examined different specimens in the pond, learned about various species at the Tiffin Centre, went canoeing and learned how to build a boat and a shelter using materials from the forest.

A majority of the students will be attending SCDSB schools in September and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Welcome to Canada and welcome to the SCDSB!

Preparing for the first day of Kindergarten

With the first day of school only a month away, many parents have started thinking about how to prepare. For parents with children starting Junior Kindergarten, there is a new routine to think about, along with what to pack for their child and how to make them feel comfortable about starting a new journey.

The first day for all Junior Kindergarten students in the Simcoe County District School Board is Thursday, September 7.  Here are some helpful tips on what to pack and get ready for the big day:

Be supportive
Some children feel a mix of nerves and excitement about heading back to school. Listen to your child and provide support. Show your child a photo of you on a first day of school and talk about your own experiences. Remind your child about all the caring people at his or her school. Talk about a time when your child overcame anxiety.

Get excited while prepping together
Pick a first-day-of-school outfit together, shop for lunch ingredients and plan the lunch menu for the week. Involving your child in the back-to-school planning can help generate some excitement. During these activities, talk about the great things about school—like seeing and making friends, the new staff members your child will meet, the sports and activities and the interesting things they will learn throughout the year.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit also has Tips for a Healthy Back to School.

If your child is turning four in 2017 and you haven’t registered them for Kindergarten yet, visit and watch our Kindergarten in the SCDSB video.

You can register over the summer (until Aug. 25) by calling 705-734-6363 x11750 or emailing to schedule an appointment to register in person at the Education Centre in Midhurst. Starting August 28, please contact your home school to register as school offices will re-open that week.

Watch for our upcoming blog post on healthy and fun lunch and snack ideas!

School’s in for summer!

Many high school students use the summer break to spend time with friends, work a part-time job or check out the region’s attractions. It may be a surprise to some, but there are a growing number of students who are using their time to get ahead by taking summer school courses.

The structure of summer school has changed over the years; taking a course over the summer doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a classroom. There are now a variety of ways that students can spend their time learning. Students can take a course online from the comfort of their home, or in a lab, learning about cosmetology or how to play guitar.

The many benefits of participating in summer school include:

  • learning a new skill and gaining a credit at the same time
  • smaller class sizes and more one-on-one time with the teacher
  • flexible learning options – can also take a selection of courses online
  • focused learning on one subject versus several at one time
  • getting ahead and earning credits before the school year starts
  • opportunities to retake a course and improve a mark
  • meeting students from other schools
  • completing fast-track preparation for college or university in just one month
  • earning missed credits

As well, there are opportunities for students to earn a credit and travel at the same time through the EduTravel program. Currently, there are 60 students in Fiji studying biology, 30 students in New York, Washington and Boston studying English, and 350 students travelling to Ottawa, Montreal and New York City studying Civics and Career Studies.

“We have 2,500 students registered in summer school this year, which is the largest number we’ve ever had,” says Tammy Rodaro, vice principal, Adult & Continuing Education. “I think the variety of courses and options for in-class and online has a lot to do with the growing popularity.”

Check out the recent news clip from CTV Barrie regarding the changing landscape of summer school:

CTV News Barrie – Summer school is in session

Want to learn more about summer school?  Visit

Top 10 sun and water safety tips

This post was written in partnership with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips on sun and water safety:

Girls playing outisde

1. Choose a high SPF sunscreen: Use sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours and after swimming.

2. Protect yourself: When the UV Index is three or higher, protect your skin as much as possible. Wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat that covers as much skin as possible, as appropriate to the activity and weather. Wear sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses. Seek shade or bring your own (ex. an umbrella).

3. Limit time in the sun: Try and limit your time out in the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (even on a cloudy day) when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. When your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Be sure to wear protective clothing and sunscreen, and stay in the shade when possible.

4. Never leave children alone: Even if it’s just for a moment, make sure you never leave children alone when in or around water. Close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to ensure your children are safe.

5. Start swimming lessons: Children may be at a lower risk of drowning if they’ve had some formal swimming instructions. However, the decision to enrol a child in swimming lessons should be made by the parents based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water. Swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.

6. Avoid fast moving water: Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water. Educate your children on rip currents, so they are prepared in the event they get caught in one.

7. Test for an allergic reaction: Before using any sunscreen on your child, check for an allergic reaction, especially if they have sensitive skin. Apply to a small patch of skin on the inner forearm for several days in a row. If the skin turns red or otherwise reacts, change products.

8. Look for “water resistant”: When buying sunscreen, look for claims on the label that the product stays on better in water (“water resistant”, “very water resistant”).

9. Keep rescue equipment nearby: When swimming, keep some type of rescue equipment (shepherd’s hook, a long pole, life preserver, etc.) and a cell phone with you. Make sure your rescue equipment is made of fibreglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.

10. Use a life jacket: Blow-up water wings, “floaties”, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security. Remember to supervise your children closely even when they are wearing a life jacket.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Content from the following websites was used as resource material:

Keep your kids busy this summer with these fun activities

Are your kids getting bored already? Running out of ideas for things to do? Check out these ideas in and around Simcoe County.

1) Visit your local library for a wide variety of books for your children to discover as well as free summer programs! From arts and crafts to Lego and robotics, your community library has something for the whole family.

Barrie Public Library
Orillia Public Library
List of other libraries in Simcoe County

2) Take a hike! Visit your local conservation area, connect with nature and get some exercise. Some examples include:

Earl Rowe Provincial Park
Scanlon Creek Conservation Area
Minesing Wetlands Conservation Area
Tiffin Centre for Conservation
Edenvale Conservation Area
Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area

3) If you live in Simcoe County, you aren’t far from the water! Plan a beach day, get some sun and enjoy the water (safely –wear sunscreen! Keep your eye out for our upcoming post on sun and water safety).

4) Get crafty! Check out some of these outdoor summer craft ideas and learn how to turn a walk in the forest into an adventure:

Summer craft ideas for kids
Discover – Woodland adventure booklet

5) Get out and enjoy what your community has to offer at a summer festival or event. Here’s a list of some events going on this summer:

Alliston Potato Festival
Carrot Fest
Downtown Orillia Summer Block Party
Canada 150 Celebrations – Rubber Duck Tour (Midland)
Movies By the Bay

6) Go to a local park for a picnic. Get the kids to help make and pack a healthy lunch for all to enjoy. Click the link below for ideas on what to pack:

What should I pack in my picnic basket this summer? 

7) Check out local museums and historical attractions in our area:

Centennial Museum & Archives – Penetanguishene
Huronia Museum
Leacock Museum and National Historic Site
MacLaren Art Centre
Museum on the Boyne
Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons
Simcoe County Museum

8) Try a new sport, get your bikes out or rent a boat/canoe for the day.

9) Go berry picking or visit a local farm/farmers’ market for fresh produce. Here’s a list of some local pick-your-own farms:

Barrie Hill Farms
R Family Farm
Murphy’s Farm Market
Ego’s Garden Centre
Fernwood Farms & Market

10) Make fun summer treats that are healthy and will keep the kids cool on a hot day:

More than just ice cream: The frozen treats of summer

Goodfellow PS students build Habitat for Humanity models

Goodfellow Public School in Innisfil recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity Huronia to build model homeless shelters that may be built for communities in the future.

Students in Mme. Bojmelgrin’s and Mme. Prim’s Grade 6 and 7 Extended French classes used skills learned in math, language and science to create three prototypes that were presented to Humanity Huronia’s Construction Manager, Robert Cikoja.

Cikoja was so impressed by the students’ ideas that he offered to work with the school to build models of the mobile homeless shelters. The models may eventually be built in large scale to help local communities.

Goodfellow PS students and the mini shelters they constructed.

Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership. The organization’s simple premise is that no matter who we are or where we are from, we all deserve to have a decent life.