[twitter]The weather report for spring across Canada is in: what has been one of the wickedest winters in more than a century will continue for most of the country. Sure, Vancouver is going to burst with cherry blossoms, and the prairies will see a normal trend, but from the the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, you’re going to have to buckle down for more bad news.

So with spring break upon us, you have a couple of options: you could escape to the sun, or you could find some indoors activities to keep the entertained without getting bored. If all you can do is option B, here are some options to geek out keep everyone entertained.

1. Learn How To Code


I’ve been passionate about teaching my kids a second language. They’re both in French Immersion programs, but really the language all kids need to learn is coding. They need to know HTML, they need to know some Java, some CSS. They need to know how to make the internet run. The consumer web is only just 20 yrs old and look how far we’ve come. Imagine what the next 20 yrs will bring. Kids with the skills to make machines do what they want will get ahead.

Coding For Kids For Dummies is a book to work through to teach them (and maybe you) some basic coding and projects.

2. Get Deeper Into Minecraft


I still don’t understand Minecraft other than to say it’s LEGO on an iPad. I have friends whose kids have created servers to play with their friends, I’ve seen videos and photos of the intricate things people build online, but right now I just give it to my kids and let them go. They’re figuring it out on their own. How to build, how to survive, how to create.

This Minecraft For Dummies Collection is helping me understand what it is they’re doing, and how to help them get ahead.

3. Start a band

Garageband app
Your computer can do a lot more than you think it can. Apart from 2 years of flute lessons in grade 7 and 8 and a career in radio, I have no musical skill whatsoever. I mean, I can time out beats, and I understand song structure, but I can’t really play anything. That didn’t stop me from writing my own music using GarageBand. When Jen was in labour with the boys, I wrote music in the chair next to her while I waited to become a dad.

If your kids have taken some lessons, or have an interest in music, why not dig deeper into the GarageBand app on your digital devices and make some music.

4. Build a Computer

If you really want to know how a computer works, build one from scratch. Raspberry Pi takes things back to the basics. It’s a credit card sized computer that you build and then code. Think about how we did things in the 80s, if we wanted a computer to work, we had to code it. This is a start from scratch kind of project.

You can plug it in to a computer monitor or TV (OMG, I remember my parents buying an extra tv just for our Commodore 64), and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.

So grab a Raspberry Pi kit, like the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 2 (1GB) Ultimate Starter Kit with over 40 components (pictured) and then pick up Adventures in Raspberry Pi to figure out what to do next. Written specifically for 11-15 year-olds, this book explains the fundamentals of computing with 9 fun projects.

5. Make movies

We’ve messed around with some great apps on the iPad. The boys have loved dropping huge action movie SFX into scenes with Action Movie FX, they’ve given each other super powers with Super Power FX, and we’ve even tried some stop motion movie making with LEGO Movie Maker.

Those are all great instant clips, but what do you do with them when they’re done? Get the kids to work on something bigger. Write a script. Shoot different scenes. Put them all together, even by mixing in some of the fun stuff done on the apps.

Learning iMovie might also be good for you to pull all those clips you keep shooting on your iPhone together into something you might watch again! 🙂

Disclosure: I was provided with review copies of these books from the publisher.

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