Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study *updated Dec 2020

Online Learning Tools and Resources for At-Home Study *updated Dec 2020

With the school disruptions of the past year, it is essential to find ways to continue to provide learning opportunities and critical services to our students. Below we offer a selection of online learning resources that may prove useful in your efforts to support your child’s learning at home. Please note our top ten resources have been highlighted to supplement our RISE at Home programming!

* original post April 2020; updated December 2020

Click here to explore the BC curriculum by your child’s grade-level and subject.



LDS is offering the following programs to our students and families free of charge thanks to our generous AT sponsors. To learn more about these products, or to receive your free copy, please contact 


Website and mobile app offering simple and effective tools for organizing ideas, brainstorming, taking notes and more in the form of mind maps. 


Toolbar available on many platforms offering simple and effective literacy support tools like text to speech, dictionaries, highlighters, and focus aids. 


A program available on many platforms that offers advanced digital writing assistance to improve spelling, grammar, tone, and wording.  

BeeLine Reader  

A browser extension that uses a simple cognitive trick — an eye-guiding color gradient — to make reading on-screen easier, faster, and more enjoyable 

Live It Earth   

A Vancouver-based company offering kids, schools and families online learning about the natural world that takes them from sea to space. Offerings include live broadcasts, expert Q&A, and fun activities that encourage kids of all ages to get away from the screen and in-touch with the world around them. 


Online curriculum resource for early years – 11 years old. Subjects include: math, science, english, design, and history.

Practice questions, assignments, and tests for math, science, and english language arts grade 5 – 12.

Boost student engagement & fact fluency with this free multiplayer educational games, math games, language arts games, and more. Designed for grades 1 – 6.

Animated Educational Site for Kids – Science, Social Studies, English, Math, Arts & Music, Health, and Technology. BrainPOP aligns all topics to the standards.

Breakout Edu
An immersive learning games platform to support learning in math, sciences, and language arts. Organized by grade and topic, there are a wide range of games to choose from.

CK-12 Foundation
Each lesson has a reading passage, videos, optional review questions, and self-graded practice questions. The lessons can be assigned to Google Classroom. Free School closure webinar: How to teach online and learn from home with CK-12.

Classroom Secrets
Digital learning tools in all subjects for grades K-6 including spelling, history, math, and reading.

The folks over at Century are allowing parents to access all their resources for free over the next few weeks. Designed for students of all ages, kids can brush up on their math, science, and reading skills.

Digital Learning Academy
An online learning platform with 32 STE(A)M courses that come with lesson plans, instructions, online materials, quizzes, worksheets, and more. Educators will receive full access to all of these courses at no cost during the coronavirus crisis.

Discovery K12
Discovery K12 provides a complete online curriculum for pre-k to 12th grade. All main subjects are covered, plus extra curriculum courses. Curriculum is free to use and available worldwide.

Edmentum is offering schools and districts subscriptions to its online academy and subscriptions to its online practice program. Email and watch the recorded webinar to learn more.

Edu-Together will be providing selected services including online courses, staff training and tech assistance “at cost” to any schools or students who are unable to attend school due to the Coronavirus. This website has online courses for high school students in math, history, science, and languages.

Free full access to Emile games-based learning resources for reading and math. Designed for early learners and primary grades.

Fluency & Fitness
Fluency & Fitness® helps students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Find over 900 videos to help your child keep learning at home and burn off some extra energy. The company is offering its subscription website free for parents to use at home during the school closures.

Free printable K-8 math and reading packets for students.

IXL is built on four key components: comprehensive K-12 curriculum, a Continuous Diagnostic, personalized guidance, and real-time analytics.  Free IXL access for 90 days is offered in addition to a free webinar series with strategies for at-home learning, plus implementation resources and videos to help plan for school closures.

PBS Learning Media
Videos, games, lesson plans and supplemental materials can be searched by grade level, subject area, keyword and standard. PBS Learning Media’s Google Classroom integration makes it easy to share resources.

Khan Academy
You can learn anything. Expert-created content and resources for every course and level. Always free.

Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids is a free online education program for children ages 2 – 7. the mobile app was designed by child development experts at Stanford University and engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math, while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional skills. Always free, no ads, no subscriptions, with an offline version available for when internet access is difficult.

The classroom magazines team has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones.

Online game-based learning for students in grades K – 3. Starfall’s emphasis on phonemic awareness, systematic sequential phonics, and common sight words in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity has proven effective in teaching emergent readers. Starfall activities are research-based and align with Individual and Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.

This site provides ELA, Math, Science and other areas of study for children through 6th grade. Free unlimited access.

Walkabouts: The Active Learning Platform
Walkabouts are on-demand adventures that transform math and language content into short, movement-rich activities for Pre-K through Second Grade students.


Age of Learning
Age of Learning provides schools closed due to the coronavirus with free home access for all affected families to  digital education programs ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and ReadingIQ. Programs serve students in preschool / pre-k, elementary school, and middle school. Access to a digital library and online educational games for learning reading skills. Designed for early learners.

Book Creator
Parents can help their school-age kids make their own books using Book Creator’s 90-day free tutorial, which lets kids write and illustrate their own creations.

Classroom Cereal
Grammar practice in free, printable short stories.

Browse our free collection of reading passages in all literary and nonfiction genres for grades 3-12.

Dyslexia Academy
Dyslexia-Academy is an online dyslexia school of support for Parents, Teachers and Pupils.

Ecree provides real-time feedback on the elements of foundational academy writing: argumentation, organization and analysis. Due to COVID-19 school closings, Ecree is offering all students free access to its interactive writing assistant software until May 31, 2020.

Handwriting Heroes
Handwriting Heroes is a multisensory handwriting curriculum that teaches children how to form their letters through animations, stories and song. iPad app is being offered free of charge. Letter formation videos – always free.

Early learning reading program for ages 2-8 that is personalized to your child’s interests to help them fall in love with learning.

Libby App
Free Overdrive app for digital books and audio books. Access through libraries.

High-interest, cross-curricular texts with accompanied lesson plans. Reading level of the articles can be adjusted. Free access to Newsela’s entire product suite for the rest of the 2019/2020 school year.

Phonics Hero
Phonics Hero teaches school-aged children to read and spell with systematic phonics. Using a step-by-step approach, the 850 games teach children the 44 sounds, the reading and spelling of words, and how to conquer sentences. Available on tablets and computers. 30 days full free access.

Screen-free, ad-free audio streaming service for kids 3-12, featuring podcasts, audiobooks and music. Use the promo code PINNA4KIDS. To activate, create an account and enter the code in step 2 of the sign up process. Two months for free.

ReadWorks is an online resource of research-based reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12. Always free.

Storyline Online
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creative illustrations. Always free.
Short videos and readings that answers various intriguing questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions to test knowledge. Good for building vocabulary, comprehension, and reading skills for elementary and middle school students.

Writing Legends
Free writing program for students. Guides through the writing process, and promotes independence. Includes over 200 writing activities.

Vooks brings children’s books to life with animated illustrations, read-a-long text and narrated story. The ad-free platform features a variety of titles.


Asecend Math
Ascend Math offers K12 math instruction providing an individual study plan for each student. Free service is offered from now until the end of April for schools new to Ascend Math.

Bedtime Math/ Cabin Fever Math
Bedtime Math helps families introduce math as a fun part of their daily routine, like a beloved bedtime story. Also, this resource contains ideas for hands-on activities that students can do at home to better understand math concepts.

Boost your math understanding by getting instant feedback on your work.

Data Classroom
DataClassroom is a web app that allows students in grades 6-12 to make graphs (line, bar, box plots, dot plots, etc.) and do basic statistical analysis. This activity uses data from the 1918 influenza pandemic to illustrate why schools are closing in an attempt to flatten the curve. Start a free 90-day trial to create classes with student accounts. Company CEO Aaron Reedy says that teachers can email him directly to extend a trial longer than 90-days.
Automated online math tutor, like a Google for math. Enter your math problem or search term, press the button, and it shows you the step-by-step work and answer instantly. 2nd grade through college.

Free science and math simulations for teaching STEM topics, including physics, chemistry, biology, and math, from University of Colorado Boulder.

Join more than million students, teachers, parents and school leaders using our zero cost math learning platform for grades 1–8.

ST Math
It’s a PreK-8 visual instructional program that leverages the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems.

K-5 curriculum aims to build deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students. Always free.

Free math facts fluency website.


Develops apps for learning chemistry concepts.

American Chemistry Society
Free articles for high school students to learn about chemistry topics such as chemical reactions, acids/bases, etc.

Defined Learning
Hands-on projects are based on situations in STEM careers to help learners discover their passions and choose a pathway to a promising future.

ExploreLearning Science4Us
Science4Us covers Inquiry, Physical Science, Life Science and Earth & Space Science with lessons designed for K-2 students. 1000’s of online and offline activities teach students using videos, interaction, poems, songs, and digital notebooks. Free 30-day trial.

NASA Kids’ Club
NASA Kids’ Club helps children in pre-K through fourth grade learn the ins and outs of NASA’s missions using hands-on educational games. There’s also a “Now in Space” slideshow that introduces budding astronauts to the crew currently orbiting Earth on the International Space Station.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids has put together a site full of free educational videos, games, and activities that center on wildlife and preservation for kids of all ages.

Free science simulations, scientist profiles, and other digital resources for middle school science and high school biology. No login required. Always free.

Tyto Online
Next Generation Science video game focused on middle school students. Free 60-day trial offered with the possibility of extension for schools affected by COVID-19/coronavirus closures.


Active History
British educator Russell Tarr offers tools and resources for teaching history including interactive simulations, quizzes, and games. A one-month free trial is available on request due to school closures.

Big History Project
Big History Project is a free, online social studies course that emphasizes skill development such as writing and critical thinking, as students draw connections between past, present and future.


Conjuguemos makes learning verb conjugations in Spanish, French (+ 7 other languages) easy with drill practices and fun multi-player games.

ESL Library
Offering Plus subscriptions to all Standard users, and its printable lessons on Pandemics and the coronavirus are also currently free for non-members.


BeeLine Reader
BeeLine Reader helps students read on screen more effectively. It is used both by skilled readers (including high school and college students) and readers with dyslexia, ADHD and autism. The technology is backed by educational research and has won social impact awards from the United Nations and Stanford University. Free access to the BeeLine Reader Browser plugin for Chrome has been added.

CMU CS Academy
Online, interactive high school computer science curriculum that is entirely free.

Minecraft: Education Edition
A game-based learning platform that aims to promote creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive digital environment.

Typing Club
Always free. Master touch typing using this game / educational program.

Youth Code Jam
Free bilingual, hands-on coding activities for K-8 that can be used in school or at home, teaching basic computational thinking and computer science concepts. Adventure Mode helps drive student-centered learning.

Offering Vidcode’s full computer science curriculum and coding platform at no cost during COVID-19/coronavirus closures.


Digital Theatre Plus
Three million students, at over 2,000 academic institutions, in 80+ countries have unlimited access to some of the world’s finest productions, unique backstage insights, practitioner interviews and written analysis. Free during this time.

Mark Kistler
Offering free access to free, virtual, live webcasts for art/drawing lessons for students needing to work from home during this period.


Cisco Webex is the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.

ClassDojo is a free tool for parent communication, sharing information, and portfolios, provide a platform for teachers to assign and students to complete and submit work online.

EdConnect is a video messaging tool that brings the classroom environment online.

Online app for video conferences. Has features to project desktop screen, and a whiteboard.

From creating digital content and capturing lessons with video, to organizing digital assignments, our myViewBoard education solutions help deliver classroom interaction in digital learning.


Quizlet makes simple learning tools that let you study anything. Start learning today with flashcards, games and learning tools — all for free.


Game-based interventions that focus on improving social and emotional skills in K-8 students. Educators can get a free 30-day trial and have as many students as they’d like to play the programs at school or at home. Free SEL lessons/activities and printables.

Mission Makers: Sierra—propelled by her experience as a parent

Mission Makers: Sierra—propelled by her experience as a parent

As the Communications and Fundraising Manager, I am often assigned the task of interviewing staff about their work. Its always interesting to hear people’s stories, to find out why someone chose to work at the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS). Today, I’m doing something a little different; I’m sharing what led me to LDS.

am the parent of a non-binary* child with a learning difference. While my child Riley** is now a successful adult, I still remember clearly what their elementary school years were like. Riley was a bright kid, but very disorganized. They made what seemed like careless mistakes that resulted in lower grades. Riley was anxious in group discussions and did not like to raise their hand in class. Riley’s teacher for both Grades 3 and 4 assigned a tremendous amount of homework, which became a tearful and exhausting experience for both of us. 

Fortunately, Riley’s Grade 5 Teacher recognized the disorganization as a possible sign of a learning disability. I could not afford a Psychological Education Assessment (PsychEd), which ran about $2,000 at the time. The teacher explained that while the school did finance PsychEds, every school was only given a small number of slots each year, and children with behavioural issues or multiple disabilities were prioritized. Since Riley was a sweet and shy child, they were never disruptive in class, and their teacher said it might take years to work up the waitlist if it even happened at all. 

Thanks to some financial help from the great-grandparents, Riley received a PsychEd that resulted in a specific diagnosis and began twiceweekly sessions with an LDS instructor who specialized in their disability. At that time, I was a low-income graduate student; we lived in city-owned, rent-controlled housing; and I did not have the income to access these critical services. LDS helped me apply for in-house and external bursaries that covered nearly all my child’s expenses. From Grades 5 through 7Riley received LDS individualized educational support. Riley went from being a C- student to being a B+ student. When Riley graduated elementary school, they won the award for the mostimproved student.  

Besides improved grades, my child experienced other outcomes from their LDS instruction. Over the three years that Riley attended sessions at LDS, their confidence, ability to advocate for themself in class, and organizational skills improved dramatically. Riley learned the tools they needed to be able to handle schoolwork and homework on their own. Riley’s grades continued to improve, and by their senior year of high schoolthey became an A/A+ student.  

Riley also came out of their shell. Riley joined the Drama Club and began performing in plays and film productions. Before my eyes, I watched my kid transform from an anxious child afraid to raise their hand in class to a confident teenager willing to get up on a stage! After I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing and after Riley graduated from high school, we moved to Victoria, BC, where Riley now works and lives on their own.  

I never forgot what LDS did for my child. It was Riley’s remarkable transformation that inspired me to apply for a remote position with LDS when one became available. Riley is proof that LDS changes lives, and I wanted to help change lives too. 

Riley’s school years weren’t easy. I know what it feels like to be a low-income parent of a child with a learning difference. The difficult situation isn’t necessarily permanent, but when your kids need help, they need help nowregardless of whether you’re finishing a degree, or going through a rough patch, or—like many today—recently unemployed due to no fault of your own. 

Now, LDS offers even more programs to help low-income familiessuch as Family Coaching and UBC PsychEd Referrals. LDS has Pro-D, Spring Break, and Summer Break Camps that give working parents a safe and specialized place for their children when school is out. LDS has expanded their programs for teens to include RISE after School and PEERS Social Skills. 

If you think kids with learning differences deserve equitable, affordable access to learning support, no matter what their family’s financial situation is, please consider donating to RISE to the Challenge and help us raise $100K for 100 Kids who need our help now. 


*a non-binary person does not identify asor solely asa man or a woman and often uses they/them/their pronouns.  

**name changed to protect their privacy. 


UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

UBC and LDS collaboration brings affordable, accessible psychoeducational assessments to students

LDS is thrilled to announce to our families that we are now able to offer referrals for psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations to some of our families!


We are collaborating with the University of British Columbia’s Psychological Services and Counselling Training Centre (PSCTC). The PSCTC is a university-based setting for clinical training and research within the UBC’s Faculty of Education. The PSCTC supports graduate training in psychoeducational assessment and intervention, and in counselling, maintains an up-to-date Test Library of psychoeducational assessment and intervention and mental health and social development resources, provides service and leadership in the profession and community, and facilitates research in education.


This collaboration with UBC will be a game changer for many of our families, who will now have access to an affordable assessment over a time span that is potentially years faster than currently available via other means. Having this additional evidence and deeper understanding about their child’s learning strengths and stretches will help our families be better advocates for their children and ensure they get learning supports that are tailored to their child’s needs.


These evaluations will be offered by PSCTC at a rate that is roughly half of what is available via private practitioners. And thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors, qualifying LDS families will be eligible for partial to full bursary support to subsidize the cost of the assessment so that we can make it accessible and affordable to all. 


While LDS is facilitating these referrals and will be providing space at our Learning Centre to conduct portions of the assessment that need to be done in person, families will have a direct relationship with UBC PSCTC, will follow their procedures and policies, and will have full ownership of all reports and data generated through the evaluation process.


Everyone at LDS would like to thank the professors, staff and students at UBC’s PSCTC for offering this invaluable opportunity to our families. We cannot wait to help more families access the learning supports they need and deserve! 


How do referrals work? 

LDS families will be referred to the PSCTC; a professor will arrange an initial intake screening call to see if and what degree of evaluation might be most appropriate for each child. If you are interested and have not yet been contacted by us, please reach out to to discuss this opportunity.


More about psycho-educational and neuro-psychological assessments at PSCTC (from )
The PSCTC Assessment Clinics offer psycho-educational assessments and/or consultation for children and youth who have questions about their cognitive, academic, social-emotional, or behavioural strengths and weaknesses in order to provide diagnoses and/or to develop strategies to meet their individual learning needs. Clinicians are interns, senior graduate students, current doctoral students, or recent graduates from the UBC school psychology training program. Interns commonly fulfill this rotation during the summer months. Overall coordination of work in the Clinics is provided by the Professional Practice Leader, working with other doctoral trained, registered psychologists or Certified School Psychologists.


The PSCTC also has a neuropsychological assessment clinic where the emphasis is on neuropsychological evaluation of children and youth to help identify areas of strength and weakness to help with their medical treatment, educational planning, and treatment (such as therapy/counselling or behavioral management). The evaluation will be appropriate for children and youth who are experiencing difficulties with learning, attention, behaviour, or social functioning, difficulty with emotional control, medical or developmental problems that affect the brain, or brain injuries from accidents, medical treatment, or other experiences. The assessment reports will also provide support for children and youth who may have a history of cancer, concussion or traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, ADHD, learning disabilities, Tourette’s Syndrome, and other medical conditions. This assessment clinic will also provide supervised training opportunities for School and Applied Child Psychology doctoral students and is a primary training rotation for doctoral interns in the BC School and Applied Psychology Internship Program. 

LDS’s research-informed approach provides customized remedial programming that effectively meets student needs

LDS’s research-informed approach provides customized remedial programming that effectively meets student needs

Authors: Melissa Sager, Associate Director of Learning Support at Learning Disabilities Society, with support from Dr. Nancy Perry, Professor and Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education  

At Learning Disabilities Society (LDS), our instruction programs follow our unique Research-informed Individualized Student Education methodology (RISE Method). Developed from our intake process, BC’s Curricular Core Competencies, a broad array  of research-based instructional strategies, and ongoing assessment of student learning, our RISE Method supports the learning strengths and stretches of each of our students through customized programming.  

Our Instructors offer a wide range of teaching and tutoring experiences in our centres, online learning platforms, and host schools. Our staff includes BC Certified Teachers, Special Education Assistants, Orton-Gillingham certified instructors, Speech-Language Pathologists, graduate-level subject matter specialists, and experienced inclusive education tutors.  

LDS Instructors are passionate about teaching and gifted in building rapport with students. The Learning Support Team works closely with them to design programs that encourage growth and mastery of specific skills, with the goal of helping students move more confidently towards independence, and gain empowerment through self-regulated learning.  

One of the core principles of our RISE programming is the high level of importance placed on really getting to know the students we support. We learn about our students’ unique interests, develop a comprehensive understanding of their learning profiles, and work as a team to make informed and meaningful decisions on their behalf. These decisions range from making Instructor-student placements, to choosing the most appropriate research-based curricula and/or effective teaching frameworks to promote optimal engagement through learning.  

As learning and teaching theories evolve over time to keep up with a world that is constantly changing, LDS conducts ongoing research to stay current on the most effective, research- and evidence-based methodologies and programs. We offer numerous programs and curricular options to our Instructors, and they receive ongoing training and case management from our Learning Support team, from internal and external professional learning opportunities, and from each other.  

Most importantly, we understand there is no one-size-fits-all approach to setting students up for success. LDS always considers requests from families or schools regarding specific instructional strategies, including Orton-Gillingham approach, but recognizes there also are other programming options that may be equally or more effective for students, depending on their unique learning profile and interests.  

“Learning Disabilities Society draws from a deep pool of instructors with diverse training and experienced learning support managers to provide their multi-method RISE programming that is grounded in current education research. I commend their offering of a wide range of programming options that are current, ‘state of the field’ and enable optimization of each remedial program design. Importantly, Learning Disabilities Society has diligently followed a holistic approach to instructor training, remedial program development and student assessment to deliver comprehensive individualized support that is ideally suited to each student’s needs.” – Dr. Nancy Perry, University of British Columbia Professor and Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education  

LDS is proud to do customized intake and program design to match the unique literacy, numeracy, and executive functioning needs of our students.


LDS’s portfolio of program and curriculum options include:  

  • Sound Partners – A research-based tutoring program that provides individual instruction in early reading skills.  
  • REWARDS – A powerful research-based, short-term, and specialized program for adolescent students in grades 4–12 who struggle reading long, multisyllabic words and comprehending content-area text.  
  • Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) – The Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model combines instructional strategies with a means to self-regulate. The goal is to teach the strategies that students need in order to write, while supporting them to be motivated.  
  • Orton-Gillingham – A direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia. 
  • Step Up to Writing – A multisensory, explicit, and systematic approach to teaching writing that is designed to provide clear strategies, methods, and supports for increased student success.  
  • Words Their Way – Based on years of research into invented and developmental spelling, the classroom-proven framework of this successful series is keyed to the five stages of spelling and orthographic development.  
  • Making Words – Making Words fosters high-order thinking skills and requires students to apply phonemic learning. This strategy builds holistic understanding of language by exploring how sounds form words and words form ideas.  
  • JUMP Math – An evidence-based program that has produced significant improvements in students’ achievement and attitudes in math.  
  • PR1ME Math – PR1ME Mathematics is a world-class program based on effective teaching and learning practices of Singapore, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong – consistent top performers in international studies.  
  • Dynamic Math – Guided workbooks and practice material that supports the BC Math Curriculum.  
  • The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) – World-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems.  



Go Red for Dyslexia

Go Red for Dyslexia

This October, the Learning Disabilities Society invites you to join us as we #GoRedForDyslexia to help raise awareness for a condition that affects 20% of Canadians. To learn more about Dyslexia, click here.

What is Go Red?

Go Red is a global community of passionate individuals and organisations that campaign to promote literacy and a greater understanding of dyslexia. It is our hope that during dyslexia awareness month, we can encourage people to #GoRedForDyslexia.

Why Red?

The dreaded red, a color we’ve all seen throughout our education. The red marker used to highlight our mistakes is all too familiar for people with dyslexia around the world. Associations have chosen this color to take back its meaning and globally promote dyslexia awareness. Starting in Australia, this movement has grown worldwide with organisations from the UK, USA, and Canada all joining the campaign. Get involved and let’s go red to succeed with dyslexia.

How can you get involved?

As Dyslexia Awareness Month begins, we want to encourage our members to Go Red. We would love it if you could get on board with this global campaign and share your involvement on social media using the hashtag #GoRedForDyslexia. Here are some ways for you to show your support:

  • Wear something red for the day. Strike your best pose and share via social media using the hashtag, #GoRedForDyslexia.
  • Dance to a song in the #GoRedForDyslexia Spotify playlist.
  • Change your profile photo using one of the #GoRedForDyslexia Facebook Frames.
  • Display your line drawing creations throughout your home/school and share using #GoRedForDyslexia.
  • Download #GoRedForDyslexia social graphics to share with your followers – don’t forget to pay it forward by tagging others to get involved!
  • Make a donation! There are lots of charities and non-profit organizations that work to spread awareness and assist those with dyslexia. Here are a few:
  • Keep an eye out for BC Place Stadium and Sails of Light to be lit up in red on October 22, thanks to our friends at Dyslexia Canada
Summer Camp Reflections: That’s a Wrap!

Summer Camp Reflections: That’s a Wrap!

Our team moved into Summer 2020 with uncertainty. What would LDS’ first year of summer camps look like amid a global pandemic? Despite the additional challenges that COVID-19 brought, we (Camp Co-Directors Mel and Sarah) were determined to serve as many children as possible while keeping health and safety at the forefront of our decisions. 

With changing public health conditions and recommendations, we navigated what has become our new collective normal. We kept a positive attitude and approached potential problems with an opportunity mindset for ourselves and the summer camp team.

This opportunity mindset was tested as we moved to reduce the number of instructors and campers in our learning spaces. With safety in mind, LDS limited our capacity levels to a maximum of six students at camp each week, down from the twelve we had initially planned. Instead of letting this become a barrier, we extended the number of weeks we hosted camp to increase attendance. Our team then focused all our efforts into making each week memorable, exciting, and educational for each student.  

Sarah was the Co-Director and led all operations and communications. “Overall, it was a challenging summer for Mel and me,” Sarah explains. “It stretched our limits at times, but—at the end of each week—hearing parents’ and campers’ positive feedback kept us going to keep improving and refining our program to provide the best possible experience during this difficult time.”  

Each week we had a variety of children from different backgrounds and levels of need. With the limited number of campers, our team took this as an opportunity to take customization to the next level. Our RISE and Tell camp adapted reading and writing goals to meet the needs of every child. This camp explored various forms of storytelling, from autobiography to graphic novel to poetry. 

One benefit of having smaller groups of campers was that we were able to adapt the activities to meet the student at their level while still teaching them new skills and exposing them to new genres of writing. Mel and Sarah worked as a team to deliver the best possible experience weekly. With Mel being the lead Co-Director and the lead on learning support and program educational delivery, she helped to support camp leaders with the unique learning and behaviour needs of each student.  

Mel, Sarah, and the LDS team would like to thank our families for their support and trust, and for sending their children to summer camps with us! As well, we’d like to thank our funders who helped make summer camps attainable for all families, regardless of how their financial situations may have changed since March. We are excited to see our LDS community grow and to invite some friendly faces back to LDS for our Fall 1:1 Program. 

—Mel and Sarah   


Melissa Henderson is our Learning Support Manager. Mel completed a B.A. in Speech Sciences at UBC and has a passion for linguistics and education. With prior experience in remedial instruction and administration within remedial therapy organizations, she has seen the difference that proper support and quality instruction can make in the lives of students with learning disabilities.  

Sarah Vopni, our Community Manager, brings a background in communications, project management, and global development. Her passion is supporting individuals and organizations to live authentically and in collaboration with others. Most recently, Sarah completed a post-graduate certificate in public relations with a strong focus on internal and external communications. 

Summer Camp Reflections: Freaking Out About Science!

Summer Camp Reflections: Freaking Out About Science!

Lindsay Underdown, an LDS Summer Camp Coordinator, designed the schedule and led activities for RISE and Solve, LDS’s science camp. Lindsay has a degree in Science and has taught a science camp before. She says her position with LDS brings together her three passions: science, working with kids, and working with people with learning disabilities. 

“The design of the camp is to encourage kids to develop their curiosity, to be enthusiastic about science so that it’s not a scary thing,” Lindsay explains. 

“If they are curious, they want to learn. So the camp helps develop that curiosity in science and the natural world. We deliver lessons on a broad range of scientific topics, everything from earth science to chemistry to engineering, so they have…a broad foundation of knowledge. They also work on those critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills.” 

On the first day of camp, students got an introduction to science and the scientific process, as well as problem-solving skills. “They start to grow their crystals, we talk about collecting data through observations and creating a hypothesis. So they have a sheet and they do their crystal hypothesis of what they think it’ll look on Friday, and every day we collect observations of it and pair our results with our hypothesis to do a simple experiment that they’re excited about—’cause it’s crystals!”

The students also did an Adventure Room where students worked together to solve a series of puzzles to get the next clue. “We call it an Adventure Room rather than an Escape Room because they’re not trapped and we don’t want to freak anyone out!”

“It wasn’t in the original plan, but working with kids you sort of learn, ‘oh, they’re interested in this, we need to address this, and adapt as we go.’ So Monday, we also talked about viruses and COVID-19. What is a virus? How can we protect ourselves?” 

The instructors provided scientific understanding “without freaking them out! Which I think we’ve done a pretty good job of!” Lindsay tells me. “What does handwashing actually do? Why do we need to do it for 20 seconds? What is the purpose? Instead of just having arbitrary rules, it gives them an understanding of why.”

On Tuesday, kids also got a chance to build their own solar oven with a box, reflective piece, cellophane, and black paper to trap heat. On Wednesday, they tested it by making S’mores (a pretty great test, if you ask me!). Thursday was Ecology Day and kids learned about the different types of trees and why certain trees grow in BC. Friday was all about engineering. 

Every day is full of fun experiments. From making lava lamps to using chemistry to fill balloons, kids get a whole week to freak out about science. 

Lindsay’s teaching philosophy includes inquisitive learning, discussions, and activities. “Sometimes they’ll ask questions that are not a part of the lesson plan, not something I scheduled, but are great questions and they are genuinely curious about it. Last week, I started the day with, ‘Tell me something you know about science and something you’re curious about or want to know about.’ 

“And one of them said, ‘I know there are spiders that are as big as a dinner plate.’ …And the other kids said, ‘Those aren’t real!’ So we pulled up pictures and we talked about it. 

“We talked about venomous versus poisonous animals. We ended up spending about 40 minutes and they talked about snakes and spiders and that wasn’t even Ecology Day! It just happened! That’s what I want to see because if they are curious they are going to want to learn. …As long as they go home with a positive understanding of science and little more familiarity with the concepts—that’s what I hope for. ” 

“I feel like I can relate” to the students, Lindsay says. “I’m dyslexic and have ADHD.” 

Lindsay wants the kids to know about her learning differences: “I’m very open about that and I’ll joke about it, ‘Oh, that’s just me being dyslexic!’ when I misspell something on the whiteboard.” 

“Make it OK to ask for help,” she says. “Normalize learning disabilities, learning differences, neurodiversity—because a lot of the time I think kids don’t have that representation of someone who is succeeding and doing well with a learning disability. I think that’s important”

Lindsay shares a conversation she had with one of her students when she mentioned her dyslexia: 

“Oh, yeah, spelling is really hard. I have dyslexia, so sometimes..I need some help,” Lindsay said. 

One of the girls looked at Lindsay and said, “Oh! That’s what I have too!” 

“Yeah, that’s OK, some of us do,” Lindsay said.

“Oh! OK,” the girl said. 

“She didn’t say much,” Lindsay explains, “but she was thinking. You could see the wheels turning. And I thought, ‘This is good. This is important.’” 

“Sometimes kids feel a stigma around it, or they feel embarrassed, and building up that confidence about who they are, and who they are is great! And it doesn’t matter what learning difference or disability or neurodiversity you have, you can still do great things!

“I want them to feel good about themselves and who they are. And if I can have any part of that by providing representation, I want to! I want to help build them up so they go home with a positive self-image and a positive idea of science.”

Summer Camp Reflections: A Day in the Life of an LDS Summer Camp Amateur Author

Summer Camp Reflections: A Day in the Life of an LDS Summer Camp Amateur Author

As the Communications Manager, I am assigned the fun and interesting task of interviewing staff about their work. With my background in creative writing, I am particularly eager to learn more about the RISE and Tell Summer Camp, which focuses on writing and storytelling. 

Erin Roberts, Summer Camps Lead Instructor, is responsible for creating and delivering the curriculum for RISE and Tell and she sits down with me virtually to fill me in on her experience. “I’ve been working as a one-to-one instructor with LDS for two years now,” Erin tells me. “With my other work, I’ve done group facilitation. This was a nice merge of those two worlds.”

Erin is able to both lead group activities and work individually with kids, where she learns their fears around writing and how she can help break down those fears. “I just really enjoyed doing this over the summer—taking those two things that I love doing and having them go together.”

The camp’s curriculum is centred on a different writing genre each day:

Monday: Poetry
Tuesday: Biography and Autobiography
Wednesday: Writing for Media (storyboarding and screenwriting)
Thursday: Graphic Novels
Friday: Oral Story Telling with an Indigenous focus

On Monday, kids learned how to use their senses to describe their natural world and write about it in a poem. 

On Tuesday, “One camper wrote this amazing zine as an autobiography and it had all the details he needed. And he was one who said, ‘I don’t want to do this. I can’t write. I can’t do it.’ And then he wrote the most!” Another camper “made a zine every day on a different topic! It’s been great to see her find a way to express herself and what she’s interested in.”

“Wednesday was movies, so talking about stories from a plot perspective: rising action, climax, falling action, resolution—those mechanics of a story—but thinking about it from a movie perspective to, kind of, sneak in that lesson,” Erin says, laughing. 

Erin used the Disney movie Frozen as an example: “‘What happens in the beginning? What is that called?’ I try to find ways to make it accessible to all learners—because they are all at different stages—and then we can adapt. One camper got so into it that she wrote two pages of a movie story and plotted it all out and cast it and everything!”

“That’s so great!” I say, “I did an MFA in Creative Writing and when I took Intro to Creative Writing, they actually used the movie Wall-E as an example of all the perfect elements of a three-act structure of a movie.”

“I’ll have to remember that for next year!” Erin says.

On Thursday, the kids worked on graphic novels. They presented their stories, beaming with pride. Erin explains: “I wanted to have them showing their work and taking pride in their work. We talked about the different ways a graphic novel tells a story…or, how can we tell a story without any words? Here’s a sequence of three things happening—what’s the story and how do we know?”

“They basically got a mini-MFA!” I interject. “This is all stuff I went over in my MFA! These kids are ready for graduate school!”

Friday focused on oral storytelling. Erin brought in some improve games to show how a storyteller uses their voice and their body to make their story more interesting and exciting. She included perspectives on Indigenous storytelling to weave in themes that might get missed in school. 

“Structuring the camp with a different theme every day is more accessible and engaging…. I live by the mantra, Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger, and this is the kind of camp that I would’ve loved when I was younger.”

“My son has a learning disability,” I tell Erin. “He was always so creative, and to this day he is always creating, so I think finding each kid’s strengths can really make them feel successful.”

“And showing them the strengths they already had, but didn’t know.” 



Instructor Erin Roberts comes to LDS with a background in childcare, support work, and youth education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from UBC. In addition to tutoring at LDS, she is a program leader for youth education programs.

Communications and Fundraising Manager Sierra Gemma brings 10 years of experience in communications and writing to LDS, in particular in support of grants and fundraising. She has a BA in History and Sociology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

RISE Summer Camps Series: Reflections on the emotional investment of our camp counsellors

RISE Summer Camps Series: Reflections on the emotional investment of our camp counsellors

This summer has been challenging and rewarding. For the first time, LDS offered RISE Summer Camps specially designed for kids with learning differences. We chatted with Matt Tikkanen to find out what the Summer Camp experience has been like from an instructor perspective.

Matt is an Educational Summer Program Coordinator and, along with other staff and instructors, he works with children in the small, safe, and specialized groups attending the LDS Summer Camps. Matt has a Bachelor of Arts from Capilano University, but it isn’t his academic background that helps him connect so well with his students; it’s the fact that Matt has a learning disability too. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is also friendly, fun, and quick to smile.

Matt says what he finds so special about the LDS Summer Camps is the 1-to-1 time that instructors have with the kids. As an instructor, “you have to be on the entire time,” Matt explains, laughing. But it’s exactly that intensive engagement that has such an impact on campers. 

“In terms of what we’re able to do,” Matt says, “is help kids with the academic side, but also feeling good about yourself when you leave camp. Our role as instructors includes trying to figure out how we individually support the children to succeed for themselves.” 

There are challenges to this work. “What I found emotionally tough is that you’re working with kids and you really see yourself within that kid. It can be hard not to because you think, ‘I know what it’s like to struggle in school!’ That’s been…difficult.” 

That said, the rewards outweigh the challenges. “The rewarding part of working with kids that have learning differences,” Matt explains, is when the students “walk out of camp and think to themselves, ‘Wow, I do feel really good about myself and I can accomplish whatever I set out to accomplish!’”

“That great thing about LDS is it can help children and their parents get an understanding of what it’s like having a learning disability and it’s OK, it’s not the end of the world, it’s not ‘the worst thing ever!’” Matt says, imitating the intonation of a tween. “Within the camps, you can help kids feel good about themselves and that they can be successful and, hopefully, you can help them transfer that into the academic setting.”

Another rewarding aspect is watching the kids work together. Matt gave an example of one cohort who worked really well together during an Escape Room adventure. Despite their individual learning differences, “they were all communicating and listening and hearing other people’s ideas and talking about what they wanted to do. The reason they succeeded was that they worked really well as a team. It was great to see.” 

Overall, Matt says, “It’s been a really fun experience. It’s been cool. Wait, don’t say, ‘It’s been cool!’” he says, laughing again. “It’s been really rewarding. I’ve taken more out of it than I thought I would.”

If you’d like to learn more about our camp programs, please visit our RISE Summer Camp or our RISE Spring and Pro-D Camp program pages.

Our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice.

Our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice.

We stand in solidarity with #BlackOutTuesday. Here’s why:  

We are a charity that exists to serve all children and youth with learning challenges. We know that doesn’t mean we can just open our door and expect “all” those children and youth to walk in. We know we need to always be learning and doing more to actively understand who EACH and every one of those children and their family are. Each individual child and their family deserves our humility, respect, understanding and time. Each individual child and their family deserve our hard work to make sure we are serving them, and that we are continually doing what we can to dismantle the systems – including those that operate internally – that may pose barriers to their full participation. Each individual child deserves to feel LDS is actively creating and holding a safe space for them.  
This is our commitment to standing up against racism and injustice: 

We commit to doing active learning and training in diversity, equity and inclusion, and anti-oppression throughout our organization and to responsively changing our structures. We commit to zero tolerance for and to actively calling out racism, bias, discrimination and injustice. We commit to listening to Black, Indigenous and other Peoples of Colour and their communities on ways we can better hear, include and serve them individually and collectively. And we commit to reporting back to our community at least quarterly on our work and seeking your feedback.  

We thank the communities of allies, educators, activists, philanthropists and others who are helping us, a predominantly white organization, learn more about how we can take responsibility without putting the emotional labour on those who are fighting ongoing oppression. We encourage everyone to seek out ways they can advance their own learning and take action in a way that is appropriate for them.  

To those within our community who are racialized and who are experiencing oppression and discrimination, we know your resilience and strength and we want to do our best to support you and be an ally. Please know you belong here, and wherever else you choose to be. 

Please reach out any time with your thoughts, ideas and feedback.  

Humbly on behalf of the LDS Team, 

Rachel S. Forbes, Executive Director 

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