Category: Activities

Links to Junior High Resources

Here are some links to resources related to the foundational lenses and teaching pedagogy for Junior High Students. List compiled by Myself, Emily Cantin, Emily Chretien, Madison Martin, and Karin Solde.
A great resource aimed at teaching middle to junior high school students about
genocide in a way that contextualizes the atrocities. I like it because it presents
historical context and talks about genocide as a global and historical human tragedy.
Also provides a number of lesson ideas.
Educational site with lesson plans meant to teach global interconnection, privilege,
philanthropy, and charity to junior and high school classes. Doesn’t teach from a
place of apology or pain but from a duty to help those less fortunate.
TeachUnicef provides topic materials on the subject of global citizenship for grades K-12 allowing teachers to browse unit and lesson plans in either Spanish or English. Unicef states that lesson in global citizenship provide foundational concepts that ‘springboard’ investigation into further themes of global/social activism.
This lesson plan focuses on grades 6 to 8 and takes a social studies approach, particularly geography, to investigating the questions: “What does it mean to be a global citizen?”. The class content focuses on research of major countries, regional development in Canada/World, and building map skills.
A cross-curricular approach allows citizenship to be incorporated into other lessons as and when it arises. This site offers articles such as “We are failing poorer students”…These articles can be a starting point or hook for starting a project or inquiry based learning.

This is a PDF with some ideas from the Education Council of the Netherlands. I have included some quick reference pages.
This website has a huge amount of resources for teachers in regards to social justice and
global citizenship, including setting up a global cohort for teacher candidates, and covers
topics such as environmental education, human rights, international development, and peace and justice. Teachers can develop lesson plans and resource kits around these issues, and submit them to share with others.
This a great lesson plan on which to use as a foundation and build upon. Students start by reading through an issue of Canada’s History (but it could be by discussing current events on the news, etc.), then brainstorm issues experienced in developing countries. Students then learn about Canada’s current role in International development by exploring Canada’s International Development Agency. Students then write a letter to the Minister of International Cooperation, expressing their support of a program that appealed to them. Students then determine if issues explored occur in their own communities (poverty, hunger, etc.), then research local charities or organizations dedicated to addressing the issue(s). Finally students choose an organization to support, and organize a social
justice activity (fundraising, etc.). This would be a great lesson plan for grade 7-12 as students have the foundational knowledge of research, and should be being encouraged to participate in actions that address social justice and global citizenship education before graduation.
This website is useful for teaching world statistics by reducing the population of the world to 100 people. This resource can be used for highlighting issues of gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, social class, and location through simplified statistics that are tangible for middle school aged students. I would suggest using this at the beginning of a unit on global citizenship or to introduce subjects like poverty, water quality, literacy, etc. If you explore the website a little further, there are also lesson plans available to download under the tab labelled “schools.”
This link connects to a teacher’s blog with resources that are also useful for teaching world statistics by reducing the world to 100 people. This blog has links to other websites, as well as infographics and videos that are not available on the website. The videos and infographics are particularly helpful for visual learners in your classroom, and may inspire creative projects. The content on both websites connect to social studies as well as mathematics.
Almalgamation of Canadian aboriginal resources spanning all curricular areas. Moreseo
geared towards middle-high school but includes resources for all grades.

Red Cabbage pH Indicator Activity

Here is a wonderful activity for all ages that can be used as an introduction to acids and bases.

Acidity and basicity are a property that many chemicals possess. We use them to refine oil, bleach textiles, in our industry, in our food, in our house, and in our bodies. The way the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) produces energy is by utilizing an acidic gradient across a membrane. The effects of acid mine drainage and acid rain on the environment can be devastating.

Acidity and basicity can be measured by chemicals called “pH indicators”, which measure how acidic or basic a chemical is on a scale called the pH scale (pH stands for power of hydrogen). The scale goes from 0-14, and substances are acidic if they have a pH less than 7 and basic if they have a pH greater than 7. Acidic substances release hydrogen into solution whereas basic substances absorb it. The scale also operates like the richter scale used to measure earthquakes – an acid of pH 3 releases 10 times as much hydrogen into solution as an acid of pH 4, and a base of pH 13 absorbs 100 times as much hydrogen as a base of pH 11.


To create the red cabbage indicator, simply buy a red cabbage and boil it in a couple litres of water for approximately 15-30 minutes. The longer you boil it, the stronger your indicator will be. I recommend creating 2 litres of concentrated cabbage juice and diluting it by a factor of 10 when using it in class. This is not necessary but will make your juice last much longer.

Collect a bunch of household chemicals, or better yet, ask your students for suggestions on what to collect for the experiment. Not every chemical will induce a color change but the majority of soaps and cleaning supplies will. Allow your students to make predictions about what will happen based on what they know about the household chemicals. Be sure to pre-load information about the traits of acids and bases (acids taste sour, corrode metal, bases taste bitter, feel slippery, etc). This activity can be done at any grade level, and you can even use a crude color scale to identify the pH of your materials.

Picture from:

Balloon Flame Tests

Everybody loves this demo.

I actually learned how to do this because my senior year chemistry teacher for better or for worse trusted us to do demos. Naturally, we all picked one that involved exothermic reactions, if you catch my drift.

Invariably once you get into astronomy you’re going to get asked how we know what the cosmos is made out of. We simply took a look at the cosmos through spectroscopic telescopes and observe the lines of color that appear. Each element has its own spectral “fingerprint” we can observe, and you can show this in a more exciting way with exploding hydrogen balloons mixed with a small amount of powdered material. The explanation is pretty physics-y, but I’ll try to explain it simply.

Molecules are collections of atoms which are bonded by electrons. The electrons exist at a basic energy level relating to their distance from the center of the atom. When a molecule absorbs the appropriate amount of energy (in the form of a packet of light energy, or photon), the electron becomes “excited” and raises itself to a higher energy level. This level is usually unstable, and the electron “falls” back to its previous level. In doing so, it releases an amount of energy equal to the gap between that high energy level and the lower energy level. Since the energy of that photon is determined by its frequency, and frequency is related to wavelength, each molecule will release a photon with a unique wavelength of light. In our case the energy used to excite the molecules will be heat from the combustion of hydrogen, but the combustion of methanol in a spray bottle also works. Look at the difference in the color of the flames between a solution of sodium ions and strontium ions.


Special thanks to Gordon Gore for this glamour shot.

There are a number of ways to collect hydrogen, a couple of which you can incorporate into science lessons. You can either create hydrogen and oxygen through the electrolysis of pure water (the ‘ole car battery and the two pipes trick, or you can get a kit online), or by dissolving a pure metal in hydrochloric acid. I usually use aluminum because its dirt cheap, but zinc dissolves more readily. I’ll walk you through the process.

1. Weigh out about 7 grams of zinc pieces or finely torn aluminum foil, and place this into a pre-stretched balloon.

2. Pour 100mL of 6M hydrochloric acid into a 150-mL Erlenmeyer flask. Set this up on a lab stand at a tilt so you can stop the metal salt from falling into the acid.

3. Put a pinch of metal salt into the balloon. Strontium, lithium, sodium, potassium, copper, and iron produce colorful results.

4. place the metal pieces into the flask and quickly stretch the balloon over the mouth of the flask while holding the bulb of the balloon in place so we don’t get premature reactions.

5. When ready, pour the dry metal out of the balloon and into the flask. When bubbles stop forming, pinch and tie off the balloon. If you’ve done this my way, you should have a collection of hydrogen in the balloon with a small amount of metal salt.

6. In late High School, you may be able to ask them to calculate the wavelength of light that would be emitted and make an educated guess on the colour. For other grades, provide the dominant wavelengths and give students a chart that maps out wavelengths on the visible light spectrum and ask them to make a guess.

Did the colours line up with what they expected? Always ask students to reflect on what they have done. Here are the balloon explosions for plain hydrogen, strontium nitrate, and sodium carbonate. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can plainly see the red light of strontium and the brilliant orange of sodium. Copper chloride produces a green flame, potassium compounds are more purple, and powdered iron produces yellow sparks.


SAFETY CONCERNS: Acid and explosions are bad for you; always wear gloves, labcoats, and safety goggles when performing this procedure. Hydrogen production can be doen in a fume hood but the explosions may damage it. If possible, perform activity behind a safety screen, make sure all students are sitting at the back of the class, far from the demonstration. Metal salts may react unfavorably with the hydrochloric acid, so be careful that none ends up in the flask.


West Coast Chinese Boy

Novels are one of our biggest tools as teachers, as they allow us to visualize new perspectives and explore ages long (or not so long) ago. Despite the slightly up front title, this book is a great resource to explore the plight of Chinese immigrants in Canada during the early 20th century. The book is autobiographical and written and illustrated by Sing Lim.

Like residential schooling, the treatment of Chinese immigrants by the Canadian government is an ugly stain on the scarf of what it means to be Canadian, and the oppression and discrimination of the Chinese was normalized in society. In 1885, the government of Canada put the “Chinese Head Tax” into law, which required all new chinese citizens to pay at first 50, then within a short 2 decades rose to 500 pounds (a small fortune for the average Chinese citizen). This law was passed specifically to curb Chinese immigration into Canada. At the height of the white-supremacist era of society in BC, all Chinese immigration to Canada was outlawed in 1923. This was despite the fact that the vast majority of the railroad – especially the most dangerous parts – was done by Chinese immigrants, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. West Coast Chinese Boy tackles these issues from the eyes of a child, as Lim was a boy during the Head Tax era. In Vancouver, where this book takes place, many early 20th-century attitudes towards Chinese citizens still persist to this day – a grim reminder of those days of open discrimination. However, so too does the bright and vibrant Chinatown and the Chinese-Canadian community.

Much of the brevity in this difficult time comes from the descriptions Lim provides from this childlike perspective and his “artwork” in the style of the doodles he used to make with traditional chinese writing tools. Though they lived in the poorest, tight, cramped, leaking tenements, Lim happily recalls family feasts and fond memories of cooking with his uncle and running errands for the traditional chinese herbalist. He pays special attention to his traditional Chinese schooling and familial attitudes towards it. They had cut their braids, a denouncement of chinese citizenship, but his father was adamant that he preserve the traditional ways. This in many ways mirrors the struggles of aboriginal Canadians and other immigrants in Canada. They were not Chinese citizens, not entirely Canadian, but distinctly Chinese-Canadian. Descrimination is implied in the areas of town he does not travel, and how they had to travel in groups to mitigate instances of white Canadian bullying.

This identity is explored in the people that Lim interacts with, including his aboriginal friend, Johnny, his kind uncle Jing, the herbalist, and the various employers he had all over Vancouver. Overall, the book is a great way to introduce young (grades 3-6) students to this particular era of Western Canadian history. I wouldn’t recommend the book for higher grades unless it is coupled with other historical novels as it is a shorter book. However, it is visually stimulating and offers students an inside perspective on some of the people most affected by prejudice in this era of history in BC.