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How to Survive Another March Break!

Parents and caregivers from coast to coast are trying to figure out how March crept up so quickly. We just survived the holidays and here we are again trying to figure how to keep the kids occupied for an entire week without school. Never fear…Reading With Us is here!

Learning Excursions

Have some fun exploring the Art Gallery of Ontario March 14-18, 2011. Check out one of their newest exhibits: Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts. There will be plenty of drop-in activities and performances. You’ll even get a chance to learn some cool moves and join in on the dance floor! Children will also have a chance to create their own royal costumes and bring it home.

The Great Skate Date!

Just like March Break Spring will be right around the corner and skating will be replaced with swimming. Make the best of the cool temps and lace up the skates and go gliding with the entire family. Plan ahead and bring a thermos with hot chocolate with a side of marshmallows!

Many of the skating rinks will start reducing their public skating times in March, so be sure to check with your local Community Centre for a current schedule.

History + Parliament = March Break Fun (seriously!)

Explore the historic Ontario Legislative Building through a scavenger hunt! Kids will get to dress up in the traditional black robes worn in Parliament, and participate in a craft activity. This 2.5 hour program is FREE for children ages 6-10 (accompanied by adult), but pre-registration is required.

Host a Family Movie Marathon. Choose your favourite family friendly movies and watch them all in one night. Pop some popcorn, put on your comfy PJs, get out your sleeping bags and have fun! During one of the movies, turn the volume off and make up your own dialogue just for laughs.

Build a family fort in the living room using ONLY household materials like cardboard boxes and blankets. Camp out in your creation to see how strong it truly is!

Play a traditional board game like Scramble to keep their minds sharp while having fun. If you must play video games, try to make them family friendly interactive games. Any game that causes you to stay on your feet and involves the entire family is definitely a March Break MUST!

Whatever you do, wherever you go remember: spending time with family is vital to a healthy and happy childhood. Have fun and keep Reading With Us!

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Holiday Family Fun

That chill in the air is evidence of another exciting season that the children are most excited about. With Christmas also comes more time away from school. Here are some tips to get the entire family involved and excited about spending time together.

Shake up your next holiday gathering with Friendly Family Competitions! Challenge each extended family to choose a team colour for their family and create their own unique uniforms. Your local Arts & Crafts store is stocked with incredible fun ideas to get you started. Or purchase plain t-shirts and have the kids design them with markers, sequence and/or anything else they choose.

Choose games that are age appropriate so no one is left out. Even games like pictionary and charades can be geared toward all ages simply by using categories. Choose 3-4 categories for each age group: parents, tween/teenagers and toddlers. Here are some other game ideas to get you started:

Name that Tune - Shuffle through your mp3 player (or CDs) and choose 5-10 of the most popular songs. Get the kids to choose their favourites and categorize the songs, example: Christmas songs, pop, R&B etc. For younger kids try using popular nursery rhymes. Save the songs on a CD and only play 1 second of a song for each team to guess the title.  Important Note: Be sure that all songs have lyrics that are appropriate for all family members.

Family Feud - Whether you purchase the board game or create your own questions, this rousing game will keep everyone interacting. For help creating your own questions, do an internet search on family feud questions. Depending on the size of your family, choose between 10-20 appropriate questions. Get the answers by sending a mass e-mail to your contact list. Then you will really be able to say SURVEY SAYS!

Gingerbread Man Cookie Hunt!

Reading + Holidays = Great Fun! Gather the children and read the classic story of The Gingerbread Man. Prior to the gathering, bake or purchase gingerbread cookies and put them in cookie bags. Hide the cookies throughout the house. After reading the story give the children hints to where the gingerbread men are hiding. After a child has found a cookie, ask them to sit and watch the others find the remainder hidden cookies.

Important Note: Be sure to have at least one cookie for each child so everyone has one to take home (make/buy some extra in case of unexpected guests)

Charades - This tried and true game is perfect for all family members. Just like the other games, choose categories with kids in mind. For younger children, such as toddlers, choose simple categories like animals that can be easily identified.


Surprising Prizes
- The holidays can be quite expensive, but there is no reason to add the family competition prizes to that list. Ask each family to bring one item (under $20) that a family can share. Items can include a box of chocolate, movie coupons, a board game, a family friendly movie, popcorn or even a yummy homemade treat! Put all the items in a basket and that will be the grand prize for the family with the most points.


Say 'Cheese' Before They Leave!
Create lasting memories of your family and guests with candid photos. Get the kids to play Family Photographer for the day and capture photos of guests throughout the event. If you have a Polaroid camera set up a special area in your home for fun family portraits. For a special personal touch, have the children create photo frames and insert the pictures for your guests to take home. If you don’t have a Polaroid camera, send the pictures with a thank you note after the event.

However you decide to spend the holidays, remember to enjoy those precious moments with your family. Let us know how your family celebrates the holidays. Click on comments or send your pictures to: outandabout10@gmail.com.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!


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The Baby Robins

 

Robins have built a nest right outside our neighbor’s porch light. The neighbors said they were very messy and noisy. They also tried to get rid of the nest, but the father and mother robin kept returning to the nest.


In about 4 days our neighbors noticed 4 small blue eggs. Approximately 14 days after they saw the blue eggs the birds hatched, but they were not able take a to photo of the birds so this is how they look now. They hatched the second last week of July 2010. They will soon fly away.


Robins are from North America that make there way across the continent. In the summer robins build their nests nears our homes like: our porch, our lawns and parks. In winter they build their nest where it is moist like: the woodlands, forests, mountains.


Robins eat different fruits and insect. During the spring and summer robins eat insects such as: earthworms and snails. They also eat fruits like: chokecherries, hawthorn, dogwood, and sumac fruits, and juniper berries. In the winter they store their berries. Sometimes they balance their meals by eating with bugs in them

Robins lay the eggs that they are holding after they eat a large amount of earthworms and berries. They lay each egg one day at a time. Robins can lay up to 4 eggs. The eggs are blue with green and the size of a mini Easter egg. The mother robin sits on her eggs for about 14 days. After she gets up off the eggs the babies begin to hatch. Only one baby hatches per day.

 

Blog Correspondent,

B. Brown, age 13

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Albion Hills

 

Sonia's Home Daycare took a trip to Albion Hills Campground and Conservation Area, located in Caledon, Ontario

 

 We took a picture of a beautiful lake.

 

 We swam in the pool.

 

  "Monkeing" around!

 

 Fooling around!

 

 We enjoyed playing in the sand.

 

Our group posing for a picture at the beach.

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OMG … MY KIDS ARE HOME FOR SUMMER!

 


~A Parental Survival Guide for a School-Deprived Summer~

As a recent inductee into the wonderful world of a stay-at-home parent, I’m totally freaking out! The last day of school is imminent and I can already hear those dreaded words: I’m bored! So, I’ve decided to take a page from my days in the corporate world: Research, Prepare and Execute. Don’t let your kids catch you unprepared or you’re destined for long hot summer days with cranky kids. Here are some cool ideas and tips to keep your little ones begging for bedtime at the end of the day (isn’t that our ultimate goal, anyway?)

  • Libraries are Lively! Check out your local library for FREE programs for all ages. From story times to fun with reading, math and science, there is something interactive for everyone. Some programs require pre-registration for a nominal cost (i.e. $3). Did you know Libraries carry a large variety of blockbuster movies … for free!? Visit your local Library today!
  • Cooling Down at Splash Pads & Community Centres. On a hot summer day check out the splash pads in your neighbourhood. For fun, check your city’s website for the splash pads throughout your city and visit a new one each week. Don’t forget your local community centre for a cool dip on a rainy day. At most community centres a family of four can swim for less than $30 for an entire month. Check out the Parks & Recreations in your city today!
  • Pick Your Berries & Eat Them Too! Plan a picnic at a local farm and pick your favourite fruits & veggies. This is a great way to spend time with the kids andsneak in a little lesson on the importance of supporting local farms. Check out this parent-friendly website to narrow down which farms produce your preferred fruit: www.ontario.farmvisit.com.

 

  • Michaels Arts & Crafts Store = No Glue & Glitter in YOUR Living Room! Kids can get creative at Michael’s with FREE classes where they can explore the wonderful world of cutting, pasting and creating a new project each week. Visit a store nearest you for more details or check out: www.michaels.com
  • Home Depot Kids Workshop: Yes, they will give your kid a hammer but, they actually learn something. Every first Saturday of the month Home Depot hosts a Kids Workshop for ages 5-12 years old. Kids will learn tool safety and build really neat projects to take home (and they get to wear the cutest little orange apron similar to the one’s the associates wear in the stores). Visit a store nearest you or check out: www.homeimproverclub.com
  • Ontario Early Years Centres – FREE activities: Put your tax dollars to work by taking advantage of the FREE activities provided through these provincial centres. These centres are a great place for parents and caregivers with children from birth to age 6 years old. Try out a centre near you especially on a rainy day! There are tons of toys that won’t end up sprawled across your home. During the summer, some centres are even providing FREE activities in local parks for all ages. Check out their website for a location near you www.ontarioearlyyears.ca
  • Surprising City Summer Fun: Various cities throughout the GTA are providing FREE outdoor concerts and movies for the entire family. Throughout the summer the Cities of Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga will be showing movies in and around their City Halls. Check your city’s website for more details. Amusement Parks: Choose Wisely, Spend Less! Not all amusement parks are created equal. For kids under 10 years old the larger theme parks often have less rides for them and cost more. Parks like Centre Island are perfect for this age group and the entire family. There are age appropriate rides and beautiful green acres of picnic grounds. On July 17 & 18th there will be FREE activities for children. For more details log onto www.centreisland.ca
  • Check out the Drum Café at the Toronto Zoo where the entire family can join in the fun. This interactive show will feature accomplished artists twice daily. In addition to over 5000 fascinating animals, your kids will love the water park and so will you at NO EXTRA COST . For more details log onto: www.torontozoo.ca and click on 2010 Events.

 

    

 

TIPS & IDEAS

  • Theme Days: This may take some organization, but the pay off is sooo worth it. Create a calendar of summer fun and post it where the entire family can see what’s happening. Choose a day for water fun, another day for fun with reading at the Library, followed by an Arts & Crafts day, and perhaps end of the week picnics etc. Together you all can decide how to make the most of this summer.
  • Limit Amusement Park trips to 1 or 2 times during the summer depending on your budget. Activities within your neighbourhood will enhance your children’s appreciation for their city.
  • Surprise Snacks: You’re out & about with your kids having a great time when you hear that horrid sound: the ice cream truck! Whether you’re at an amusement park or your local splash pad, try counteracting with one of your child’s favourite sweet treats. Whether it’s chocolate chips cookies or freezies from your portable cooler, just imagine the look on your child’s face when you pull out their kryptonite. The key is: DO NOT let them see you pack it at home because it will become travel food!
  • Timing is Everything! It really is true that the early bird catches the worm. When venturing to an amusement park try to arrive when the park opens (typically around 10a). Yes, you will have to get the kids out of the house earlier, but there are less lines to contend with which means more time for rides. This eliminates the need to squeeze in as many rides as possible before the park closes. Although lines can also be shorter as closing time approaches, there may also be large crowds trying to exit the park at the same time. If you arrive early, you get home earlier which means you may still be able to salvage a quiet evening! Special Travel Note: Going to amusement parks in the weekday can also eliminate large crowds, but be sure to schedule your travel time after rush hour.
  • Collect Points & Spend LESS money! Take advantage of the points you’ve accumulated throughout the months and redeem them for some summer fun. Cash in your points for tickets to amusement parks and even the movies. It may take years to save up for a flight, but smaller items like tickets and gift certificates are easily attainable. Check out these popular reward websites: www.airmiles.ca and www.hbc.com/hbcrewards.
  • HAVE FUN! Above all enjoy the time with your kids by participating as much as you can. Playing with kids is always a great cardio workout! Remember: you’re never too old to have fun.

 

Check back regularly for updated events, tips and ideas. Questions and suggestions are always welcome so drop us a line at outandabout10@gmail.com!

HAPPY SUMMER!

Wrtten by: Dinah Whitton

Dinah Whitton is a Freelance Writer and the proud Mother of two beautiful/rambunctious girls: 6 yr old Ebony & 2 yr old Moriah. After spending over a decade in the corporate world, the winds of change ushered Dinah into her dream job: Stay-At-Home Mom. In between soccer and swimming practices she also operates Lady D’s Homemade Desserts (specializing in classic homemade desserts like cupcakes & cookies … just like Grandma’s!). Dinah and her husband, Michael, are happily raising their children in Mississauga Ontario.

About Me