Playwise Wins 2017 Game of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine

Congratulations to George Ghanotakis and the team at Institute Philos! Playwise, the Game of Wisdom, has won Creative Child Magazine’s Game of the Year Award!

Playwise is so much more than a fun game. It provides the framework for productive conversations that foster critical thinking abilities, moral reasoning, empathy, and dialog skills in children ages 6 and up! It also develops executive function skills such as flexibility in entertaining multiple perspectives, reflection, problem solving, and attentiveness to others. It’s a character building tool that improves student performance in every subject across the curriculum.

Here’s how to play:

Playwise is a game of discussion. Players take turns asking a philosophical question from one of the five categories and reward the best answer with the question card and a laurel card. The winner is the first to collect 10 laurels and a question card from each category.  The more original and creative your answer, the more likely you are to win! You can also win bonus laurels by building on the ideas of your fellow players. Draw comparisons between one idea and another or explore the implications of your opponent’s argument to highlight its strengths and weaknesses. It may lead to a fantastic new insight! It may also lead to bed sheet togas.

George Ghanotakis is working to establish his own Canada-wide tournament of philosophical, democratic discussion inspired by the National High School Ethics Bowl and Philosophy Slam taking place in the United States. He’s calling it the Playwise Olympiads in celebration of the classical tradition of education.  We’re currently looking for schools (elementary, junior high, middle school, and secondary) who are interested in hosting the first event in 2018! For more information, or to volunteer, feel free to contact us any time at or see the Institute Philos website.



Canada Learning Code Week

From June 1 to 8, more than 10,000 kids across Canada will take part in Canada Learning Code Week, an educational program that combines history and literature with a simple programming tool called Scratch.  These are beginner lessons for kids who want to learn the basics of computer programming. No experience necessary!

We’re very proud to be partnered with Canada Learning Code this year. Students will be using Scratch to create a trivia game based on Bario Leblieux from Dustin Milligan’s story series the Charter for Children.


If you’re new to the series, Bario Leblieux aims to help children understand the right to minority language education, which is guaranteed by section 23 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The purpose of section 23 is to preserve and promote French and English, the two official languages of Canada, in provinces where it is not spoken by the majority of the population.  Kids will learn a little history, test their language skills, and learn some basic programming that they can apply to create… just about anything!

Check out the Canada Learning Code website to find a class near you!

4 Ways to Encourage Creative Writing in the Classroom

Scott PatersonDecember 4, 2015 Creativity


“But I hate writing stories!”

If you’ve heard this from your student, don’t despair. You may even identify with them. Perhaps you hated creative writing in school or felt you had nothing to add.

Creative writing can be really difficult for students if they have a lack of inspiration. Here are four ways you can encourage creative writing in the classroom.

1. Cater to their interests

Y8CKB0O8C2Every student is really interested in something. I used to get my students to write down their three favourite things at the beginning of the year, and I would find ways to incorporate them my classroom lessons.

Example: You have students that are interested in space.

Creative Activity: Pick a planet or moon and research it. Now write a story that takes place there.


2. Write what you know… sort of

We are always told it’s best to write about what you know. You hear that all the time. But it’s really not necessary, especially if you want to your students to be creative.

Most students know how to use Google, and how to perform basic research. So combine both research and creativity into one assignment.

Example: You’re teaching students about Egypt. You assign a specific topic to each student. (i.e. A student that likes soccer gets assigned a similar sport that Egyptians play)

Creative Activity: Research your assigned topic and incorporate it into a story.


3. Prompts

83HPrompts work really well with children, especially if you have a designated writing time in your classroom. I used to allocate 15 minutes at the very start of the class to creative writing.

Luckily, there are many books of prompts available. This is one that I used for high school students, and this is one I used for kindergarten – grade 2. Visual prompts, like images, work really well too!

Example: Imagine you could make things disappear. What would you make disappear?


4. Weekly Journals

OV26AOMUMIJournaling works really well with younger students – they have a natural affinity for storytelling. This activity doesn’t need much guidance: you can designate a time for students to write or draw in their journals during class time.

Don’t fret if they just scribble everywhere during the first few entries. They’ll write stories or draw non-abstract concepts when they are ready!

Creative Activity: Have the students design their own journal covers!