BreakoutEDU Digital – Online Escape Games for Students

Want a fun activity for your class that promotes communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity? Check out BreakoutEDU Digital Online Escape Games!

What is it exactly?

  • An online digital escape game co-founded by Justin Birckbichler and Mari Venturino
  • Based on the BreakoutEDU kit educational games from James Sanders & Mark Hammons
  • All is organized and played on one website
  • Google Forms are used to make the locks (using data validation) and embedded into Google Sites
  • Games promote problem-solving, collaboration and can tie into any curriculum area
  • Find online clues that unlock the different types of locks in the Google Form on the site (you don’t need to find the locks in any particular order!)
  • Click around, find links, read carefully and use your “escape room” mindset to break out
  • All you need is an internet connection and a link to one of the games

Give it a try!

I’ve created two bilingual similar (but not identical!) games for a recent conference presentation. Feel free to try them out yourself or with your students.

Converse Confusion Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj Le méli-mélo des Converse Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
English version: Converse Confusion (

French (FSL) version: Le méli-mélo des Converse (

Here are some photos of TDSB Google Camp attendees posing after successfully breaking out!
Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj French Online Escape Games - Larissa Aradj
I made the posters for the purpose of posing for celebration photos. You can find the folder to download and print them here or by clicking on the shared folder below.

Breakout Posters - Converse


As I mentioned above, these games are an amazing way to promote collaboration, problem-solving, communication, teamwork, critical thinking, creativity for students…and the list goes on!

I also love that as I listen to conversations while my students are playing, I can immediately hear:

  • Who my leaders are
  • Who needs to work on leadership skills
  • Who needs to work on growth mindset
  • Who my good communicators are
  • Who thinks outside the box
  • Who gives up right away (this has never actually happened because they’re always so engaged and eager to figure it out!)

For more online escape games check out the BreakoutEDU Digital site and the Sandbox for crowdsourced games by teachers like you and me! Sylvia Duckworth has also created some amazing TEAM Digital Breakouts with a Canadian theme (both French & English versions, too!), check them out and read all about it here.

If you’d like to know more and learn how to make BreakoutEDU Digital online escape games yourself please check out my presentation slide deck below inspired by & 

Thanks for reading. Happy breakout’ing, hope you enjoy these online escape games!

Larissa Aradj

Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge

Pic Forward Logo Mrs. Geek Chic

What is Pic Forward?

Pic Forward is a global green screen challenge for students, teachers and schools. The idea is to have people all around the world edit our monthly green screen photos, then to “Pic Forward” or “pass it on” via social media to other classes so they can participate too. My grade 4 & 5 students are leading this project and want to try to spread creativity around the globe.

So far we’ve had Pic Forward participants from 4 countries! Check out our participant map below:

How Can You Participate?

Taking part is easy, all you need is an editing app and some creativity! The website I built with my grade 4 & 5 students has everything you need in order to participate in our Pic Forward Global Green Screen Challenge! My classes made an introduction video, nomination videodigital flyers, rules, and a “how-to edit” page to help promote the project. You can check out what previous participants have created here. Interested? Please fee free to follow us on social media channels –  @PicForward on Twitter, @PicForward on Instagram and Facebook. We hope you’ll be in touch!

Pic Forward How-to @MrsGeekChic

Check out to participate in the fun today, we can’t wait to meet you and see your creations!

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How it All Started

During our school’s Halloween celebration last year many students were dressed in amazing and original costumes. I decided to capture their creativity on camera, so I pulled out my homemade green screen, hung it up in the gym and took pictures of dressed up students in front of it. They loved that we could change the background to add context to their costumes!

I wrote a post on our Lord Lansdowne PS school blog to share all of the Halloween green screened photos, you can check that out here. The children loved it so much that I wanted to come up with a way to continue this beyond Halloween!

It was actually a physical education challenge called Burp It On  that my students and I had participated in the year before that inspired the idea to go global with Pic Forward. I thought, why not take photos in front of the green screen then see what backgrounds other students and teachers around the world would put into them. It was like a modern day Flat Stanley or Postcard Pete, do you remember them? (Thanks, Michelle Armstrong for making this connection and reminding me of our old school paper friends!) By participating and running Pic Forward my students get to travel the world without leaving our classroom, plus it lent to creating potential relationships and collaboration with classes in other provinces, states and countries.

Curriculum Connections

As a Media Literacy teacher, my goal is to encourage my students to make responsible and positive decisions regarding their use of technology. Many of my lessons are centred around {digital} citizenship, positive digital footprints, healthy living/relationships and global competencies. My overall teaching goal is for my students to be excellent global citizens online and in life in general. I can’t think of a better way to introduce these topics than with an authentic project where we can think critically about social media and our uses of digital tools.

Some of the main themes and topics my classes will touch on through the course of this year-long project are:
Digital Citizenship
Internet Safety
Problem Solving
Digital Fluency
Reading and Writing
Media Forms & Literacy
Positive Digital Footprints
Healthy Living
Critical and Creative Skills
Global Citizenship & Character

You’re nominated! What’s your green??

A huge thank you to everyone who has already taken part in our project, we’re looking forward to many more creative pics in the future.

Pic Forward Student Blog

**My students recently decided they want to share their Green Screen learning with a student blog. Check it out here:

Happy green screening!

Là où je dors – An Interactive Website and Videos for FSL Classrooms

With the updates to the FSL curriculum in Ontario, we now have Listening and Speaking as two separate strands instead of the previous stand-alone “Oral” strand. For the Listening portion of the curriculum, I’ve found TFO’s Idéllo platform to be a great place for students to watch controlled content videos and for teachers to find ample resources, all in French. You can search for videos by grade level, subject, type, theme or skill – there are so many to choose from! Another bonus is that it’s free if your school board has a subscription. One of my favourite video series from Idéllo also has its own website, it’s called “Là où je dors“, and it is completely free.

Là où je dors is an interactive website with a selection of videos of Francophone children from all over the world who each give a glimpse into their lives and bedrooms. I love that this site exposes my students to several French accents and dialects that they wouldn’t necessarily hear here in Toronto.

Here’s a look at the website:

I had my students begin with the ‘Carte du monde’ tab in order to explore what areas of the world the Francophone children were from. Each star is a location on the map that features information and videos about specific children.
Là où je dors CARTE - Mrs. Geek Chic

When you click on the “Chambres” tab you can see an interactive photo of the children’s bedrooms. Certain items in the photo are hyperlinked and you can read about the objects in the room. The child’s name appears on the left and you can choose to view their video or click “Son Histoire” to look at one-page overviews of their story.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s an example of the one-page overviews, you can choose the tabs along the top to view “Son pays”, “Sa maison”, “Ses passions” or “Bric-à-brac” – there’s one for each Francophone child.

Là où je dors - Mrs. Geek Chic

There’s more! Within the Idéllo platform, you can find “à l’écoute” downloadable PDF teaching tools (les fiches) that go along with each of the Là où je dors videos. They include curriculum links, language acquisition strategies, assessment suggestions and lesson ideas. Here’s an example of one of the many “fiches” available for this video series.

Là où je dors FICHES - Mrs. Geek Chic

To find the above PDFs sign into your Idéllo account at (top right) –> search “Là où je dors” in the “Search by Keywords” field (top right) –> go to “Filter” (on the left) –> click “Type” –> Check off “Thematic Folder” and you’ll see them in the results (page 2-6 of results because the videos show up on page 1). Here’s a gif to walk you through it.

Last month I was featured in their French publication called Idéllo Magazine in the “Coup de coeur” section, I wrote about “Là où je dors”.

idello Là où je dors Magazine Mrs. Geek Chic

Là où je dors Magazine -Mrs. Geek Chic

Here’s the link to the full online Idéllo Magazine from December:

I’m heading to TFO’s Les Tablettistes Conference in Ottawa on Friday, looking forward to a great day of bilingual learning!

Give Là où je dors and Idéllo a try, I’m sure your students will enjoy them as much as mine do!

Google Drawings 101

Larissa's Google Drawings 101 | Mrs. Geek ChicGoogle Drawings is one of my favourite G Suite tools, it truly is the ultimate blank canvas. Not to mention, everything I show in these tutorials about images, cropping, WordArt, etc. can also be used in Google Slides!

What is Google Drawings?

  • Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be an artist or amazing drawer or artist to use this tool–I’m not!
  • Drawings is a simple GAFE/G Suite  tool in which you can:
    • annotate on visuals and photos;
    • create illustrations, posters, graphic organizers, digital manipulatives and more.
  • Think of it as Google’s version of “Paint”…but better!

How can you use Google Drawings in your classroom?

Google Drawings Examples | Mrs. Geek Chic

Outside of the classroom and school context, I use Google Drawings often for creating things like logos, blog banners, social media flyers, photo collages, promotional posters, website icons and buttons, the list goes on. It’s a very versatile G Suite tool that can be used for almost anything!

Based on postive feedback from my “The Ultimate Blank Canvas – Creating wtih Google Drawings 101” workshop, I made some YouTube tutorials to compliment that training session.

Here are my 5 Google Drawings 101 tutorial videos: Intro & Shapes, All About Images, Creating with Shapes, WordArt and Shadowing Letters and How to Crop Into Shapes. Check them out below or on my YouTube Channel.


Here’s the Slide Deck from my training session:

Hoping this post helps you get creative and you enjoy Google Draw as much as I do.

Happy digital drawing!

Introducing Sketchollage – Sketchnoting & Photo Collages Come Together!

Sketchollage – a new creative way to express ideas, notes and experiences in your sktechnotes.


Recently my friends Marie-Andrée Ouimet and Sylvia Duckworth inspired me to start sketchnoting. It’s basically like taking creative digital notes with drawings, logos, sketches and shapes mixed with handwriting. I’ve made a few now, they can be found here.

Sketchnoting is a way for me to sit back, decompress and wind down from a busy day. I can let my creativity go wild, even with my almost inexistent art/drawing skills. Despite my new love for this new hobby, I was realizing that my lack of artistic skills was making it harder and taking much longer for me to really express myself in my sketchnotes.  Not being able to depict people, the core of all of this being my PLN & relationships, made me think my sketchnote was missing some key aspects.

I wanted to paint a picture to convey my experience at the Bring IT Together (#BIT16) conference over the past 2 days…wait…”paint a PICTURE”…hummm…why not add photos into a sketchnote to help convey what happened at the conferece that way?

That’s where Sketchollage was born, it’s a mix of SKETCHNOTING & PHOTO COLLAGE. I feel pretty good about my first attempt because I was able to add photos of the sessions and capture smiles and energy on my camera then put it all together. Furthermore, it’s fun to add borders, frames, speech bubbles and designs over the photos, kind of like a digital scrapbooking.

Here’s my first ever sketchollage, it’s a mashup of my 2 days in Niagara Falls presenting and learning at #BIT16:


I am going to continue to sketch-smash and include photos in my sketchnotes from now on when I can!

If you try it, make sure to use the hashtag #Sketchollage and please share it with me, I’d love to see all of the creativity out there!

Happy sketchollaging….!!


Coding in French – Free Printable Coding Blocks

It’s a pleasure to have a guest blog post today by Ashley Soltesz, a fellow French teacher who like me is on a mission to share French resources with others so we don’t have to keep recreating the wheel! She’s made some amazing free French printable coding blocks you can use in your classrooms, enjoy! 

Free Printable French Coding Blocks @MrsGeekChicA primary goal for me as a French Language Teacher is for my students to see the relevance in learning to communicate in French, be it in Reading, Writing, or Speaking.  I want my students to know that what they do in English, they can do in French and in turn, receive many opportunities because of this skill that they have.  If, somewhere in the future, my students think back to the time spent in my classroom, I want them to remember that what they learned, was useful and important to them.  This includes use of the French language to discuss and teach others about their interests.  A large interest of students (of various ages) is in technology.  Many are starting to develop an interest in coding and creating using different forms of technology. Coding encourages students to try something new; to create something they thought was impossible; to use a new language to communicate; and to use critical thinking skills to solve problems.

But, as many Core French teachers are on a cart, or if a French teacher is in a classroom, they may not have access to the technology to permit this type of learning when many rooms have more than 30 students and fewer tools to use.

While using twitter one night, I saw a teacher using coding blocks.  Hand’s on, tangible, printed blocks.  No actually technology was involved.  I loved that this was a fun and easy way to include coding for French learners.  I googled the blocks and found them.  (  I knew that these blocks could help my students, but I needed them in French.  I asked on Twitter, on Facebook, anywhere I could.  They were nowhere to be found.  So I decided to make them and I would like to share them with you all.  You can find them here: (or in the folder below). This link will take you to the blocks that I have made and other helpful documents.

I have created two sets:

1) a small set for centers (to be printed on 8.5” x 11” paper); and,

2) a larger set (to be printed on 11” x 17” paper) for use in more open spaces (i.e. gymnasium)).  

I am working on editing, and revising these blocks as needed.  The language is from the Scratch Website so that if students want, they can transfer their knowledge to the Scratch platform.  I wanted to have a tool that is both useful and transferable from one classroom to another.

I printed off some, laminated them, and then cut them out.  They fit together like a puzzle!  By laminating them, the students can fill in the blanks using dry-erase markers for words, values or whatever is required, and then reuse them over and over again.

free French printable coding blocks1 @MrsGeekChic


Now I’m wondering: How can I use these blocks to further my students knowledge in ALL subject content?  I’m not sure, but I’ve put together some ideas for primary (I’m teaching grade 2 French Immersion in the fall).  You can find them here: Please feel free to add to the Doc and let us know how you’ve used coding blocks in your classroom!

free French printable coding blocks3 @MrsGeekChicfree French printable coding blocks2 @MrsGeekChic

Do you have other ideas?  How would you use these in your classroom? I would like to know and share the ideas in this PLN that is quickly growing.  Join me in sharing ideas and pictures on Twitter this upcoming year (use the hashtags: #FSLchat #FRIMM #CODINGinFSL).

-Ashley Soltesz


Here is the folder with everything you need to get coding “en français” with your students!

Printable French Scratch Coding Blocks Folder


Have fun with this great free French resource! Happy unplugged paper coding!



“Oh snap, no tap!” Paying with an Apple Watch – My Experiment at Toronto Retailers

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that I dove in and bought the latest Apple Watch, yet another gadget to add to my ever growing tech collection! Luckily I was able to score a deal on Kijiji, those who know me also know I hate paying full price for things if I don’t have to! In this post I’ll tell you all about Apple Pay with an Apple Watch and where you can use it in Canada, and my experience at local Toronto retailers.

I absolutely love my Apple Watch, but was a bit skeptical of the notion of “Apple Pay” and paying for things from my wrist.  I decided to conduct an experiment at local Toronto retailers to combine my love of technology and shopping…my friend Tamara and I hit up the mall and the mission was to try to pay for as many things (that I was already buying) as possible with my new wrist wallet, that sounds weird, but we’ll just go with it.

Let’s start from the beginning, before we went to the mall I had to load all of my cards onto my iPhone ApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic1(and WApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic2atch) via the ApplePay Mrs.Geek Chic3Wallet” App that comes on all new iPhone models. You’ll only have to do this once. I loaded 2 credit cards and one debit card. It was an easy process, and kind of fun too! I used the iPhone camera to load my cards, the camera somehow registers the name and numbers on the card and pulls them up onto the iPhone screen so you don’t even have to type out all the numbers. Nice! Then there were security measures and codes I had to get via secure email from my banks (BMO & CIBC) in order to finalize the card-adding process.

The Wallet App “Pay” part only allows you to add debit or credit cards, but I wanted to have all of my loyalty cards (remember I like to save a buck!) on my watch as well…so I found another App called “Stocard” that allows you to scan in your loyalty/store cards and keeps them on your phone/watch for you. I loaded all of my loyalty cards similarly to the Wallet App, they have a list of frequently used cards, you click it then it prompts you to scan the card. If the card has a barcode you scan it and the number automatically gets stored in the app for you. Here are a couple screenshots from the Stocard App on my iPhone.

Stocard Mrs. Geek Chic
Screenshot of Stocard Loyalty Card App
Stocard Mrs. Geek Chic2
Sreenshot of Stocard App “adding cards”














Now that everything was loaded onto my watch and phone it was time for a trip to the mall. I tried to pay with my watch every time I made a purchase. I quickly figured out that only stores that have “tap” / “contactless payment” compatible machines worked with my watch. Look for the following symbols at the checkout: Tap Pay Logos

Here’s a chart that shows where it worked and where it didn’t based on a few trips to local merchants:Apple Pay Chart Mrs. Geek Chic

Here are some photos of my Apple Watch in action:


In the end I was pretty impressed with the ease of use and functionality of the Apple Watch for using Apple Pay and being able to quickly make purchases without searching through my purse for my wallet and fiddling with all of my cards. However, I was hoping more stores would be equipped and that maybe even I’d be able to leave my purse that weighs a brick at home for future shopping trips. As of today (July 2016) there aren’t enough retailers that have compatible “tap” or “contactless payment” machines to be able to pay with the Apple Watch everywhere. I’m sure as time goes on more and more stores will upgrade to include this feature. For now, I’m going to have to continue to carry my heavy purse around with me so I can avoid “Oh snap, no tap!”* situations!

–Note that Apple Pay will only work in stores with iPhones and Apple Watches, it won’t work on iPad devices as of now.


(As of July 2016, I will update this list as I learn about more stores)
-Apple Store
-Canadian Tire
-Chapter’s Indigo
-Giant Tiger
-Mark’s Work Warehouse
-Best Buy
-Petro Canada
-London Drugs
-Jean Coutu
-7 Eleven
-Shopper’s Drug Mart (Optimum card scanned too!)
-Dollar Tree
-Call It Spring

-Tim Horton’s
-Taco Bell
-Pizza Hut
-On the Go rest stops
-Crepe de Licious
-David’s Tea

-Pizza Pizza
-TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)
-Air Canada
-Ticket Master

Don’t forget to “watch” 😉 for Apply Pay retailers in Canada and let me know if you come across any others. Happy shopping!


*Kudos to Tamara for coming up with the “Oh snap, no tap!” expression!


GeoGuessr – An Addictive Geography Game to Try in Your Classroom

Geoguessr Logo

I recently heard about an awesome online game called GeoGuessr. It’s a game that drops you in random places around the world using Google Street View, then you have to guess where you are by thinking critically, finding clues, reading signs, looking at foliage, etc. It’s so addictive! The teacher in me immediately started thinking of ways to use this cool Ed Tech tool in the classroom. I’d probably try this with grade 3 and up.

-Critical thinking
-Problem solving
-Social Studies
-Mapping skills
-21st Century Skills
-Media Literacy

To play the game simply visit

You can choose to play “single player” or “challenge mode” against other people by sending a link to your opponent(s). You don’t need to have an account to play, but you can open up more features like saving your scores, creating your own maps, getting game stats, etc. if you create an account and log in. There are also preset games of famous places, cities, countries or continents if you’re not into landing anywhere in the world. Here are a few examples:
Famous Places Mrs. Geek Chic GeoguessrParis Mrs. Geek Chic GeoguessrJapan Mrs. Geek Chic Geoguessr

Here are some other screenshots of the game:
Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Geoguessr Mrs. Geek Chic

Here are a few GIFs of me playing the game:

Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek Chic
The one above is in southern Mexico, it was hard because there isn’t much to go on.

Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek ChicThis one was rare because you usually end up on a street or a dirt road, but this time I landed inside a building! I looked around and it was pretty simple to find clues (a lot easier than above!). By zooming in on the poster on the wall behind the bar I found that we were at a winery called “Pillsbury”, then a Google Search helped me figure out it was in Arizona.
Geoguessr GIF Mrs. Geek ChicYou make your guess by dropping a pin in the map on the bottom right of the screen. The closer you are the more points you get and then it tells you exactly how far away you are from the correct location. The game is played with 5 rounds, and gives you a total score at the end of your rounds.

It’s a neat game to add to a classroom learning/literature/social studies centre or to explore parts of the world you’re currently studying. You could take it one step further and have students create maps and games for their classmates then have them explore each other’s creations. There are so many possibilities, and my bet is you’ll have fun playing too!

Please leave a comment below if you think of any other ways to use GeoGuessr in the classroom.

Happy exploring!


How to add accents to Google Docs – no more copy & paste!

Still copying and pasting accents into Google Docs?

No need, because there’s an Add-on for that!!

I wanted to write a quick post to share an awesome time-saving tip with my fellow modern language teachers. After the positive and amazed reactions I got at my French Immersion school about this when I shared it with staff, I thought it might be useful for some of you as well! This GAFE tip will really speed up your typing and avoid fiddling around with adding accents from “insert -> special symbols” or copying & pasting from other pages! Try out the Google Add-on called “Easy Accents”!

It’s very simple to use, open any Google Doc, go to “Add-ons” -> “Get add-on”

Then type “Easy Accents” into the search bar:
Easy Accents Mrs. Geek Chic Screenshot

Click the blue “+ FREE” button to add the Easy Accents, next click the “Allow” button on the following screen.

Now go back to “Add-ons” -> “Easy Accents” and then click “Easy Accents – Start”. (You’ll have to start it using this method every time you reopen a different Doc that needs accents).
Easy Accents Mrs. Geek Chic Screenshot2

That’s when the magic happens! On the right hand side of your document you’ll see a drop-down menu, you pick your language then VOILÀ (with an accent ;)) You have all the accents & even some symbols available literally at your fingertips! Just click on the accented letter you need and it’ll appear in your Doc where you last had the cursor. For capitals, simply hold down “shift” when you click your accented letter and it’ll be accented in caps! They even includes those pesky to find French “guillemets”.
Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.20.16 PM

Enjoy! I hope this quick and easy tip can save you some precious teacher time!

Phys Ed Hack

Since nothing EVER sticks to the gym walls at my school I had to think of a hack for that! I decided to cut two straight lines/slits (a couple centimetres on each side of the hole) into my flat pylons in order to stick circuit training cards, instructions, and station sheets into them. It worked really well to hold up laminated pages and cardstock. I thought I’d share it so others could try it!