DIY Kids’ Birthday Parties: Looking for Inspiration

We are about to embark on Silly Season: that time of year when my little chickens hatched, one after the other, in April, May and June.  Three months of birthday planning and parties are ahead of me, and I am already behind!

I really enjoy hosting the kids’ parties at home.  Beth-Anne recently posted this list of tips from Alyson Schafer to our facebook page (via The Mabelhood) about hosting a party for kids at home.  It’s got lots of sound advice, and I especially liked how Schafer spelled out present etiquette: decide ahead of time if you will open presents at the party or after.  If you open them during the party, make sure the birthday child thanks each guest individually; if you open them after the party, make sure the birthday child sends a thank you note acknowledging the gift.  I like my kids to open the gifts after the guests have gone home, and I’m glad to know that it calls for an extra thank-you.

In the past, we’ve had parties at which we put on plays, parties with a fencing instructor, and, of course, sleepovers that featured very little sleep.  Beth-Anne has hosted a fabulous Ninja Party, and Carol has written about a horrible birthday party and the perils of trying to make everybody happy.

As I cast about for ideas for this year’s crop of parties, I keep coming back to the loot bags for inspiration.  I love putting loot bags together, and I usually find a book that works with the theme of the party: knights, magic, fairy tales.  My kids make bookmarks with a drawing and a note of thanks, and that goes into the book with each guest’s name printed at the top.  Add a sweet treat, bundle it up, and you’re done!

This year I’m putting the cart before the horse and looking at books that have inspired me recently and that could give me a theme:

charlieCharlie’s Dirt Day

written by Andrew Larsen

illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli

We could get the kids to paint flower pots, fill them with dirt and a plant and send them home with a good read and a green thumb.  Between the painting of the pot and the planting of the plant, there could be the kind of birthday chaos that is best enjoyed with a short shelf life.

basquiatLife Doesn’t Frighten Me

by Maya Angelou

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat

We’ve been twice to see the Basquiat exhibit at the AGO.  Both times, Littlest and Middlest got busy getting their art on.  The first time they sketched, the second time they sculpted, getting inspiration from the art on the walls.  We could do an art activity and get the kids to create their own signature motif, like Basquiat’s crown.

 

mattOur Woodland Birds

written and illustrated by Matt Sewell

I can’t get enough of Matt Sewell’s bird illustrations.  They are an amazing balance of being entirely his own style while being reliable enough representations to help you identify the bird.  Littlest and I sat down yesterday to paint, a luxury afforded by the slowly tapering end of hockey season, and he painted an homage to Matt Sewell.  We could give the kids sketch books and pencils and make bird art.

 

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Littlest’s copy of/homage to Matt Sewell.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Jennifer Flores on DIY

jbs-130516_68We are thrilled to have as our guest today Jennifer Flores.  Blogging since 2007, Jennifer is the writer behind Rambling Renovators, a chronicle of the renovations, DIY adventures, creative projects, and home life she shares with her husband and daughter at their home in Toronto. Offline, Jennifer focuses on bringing the blogging community and lifestyle brands together as the Founder and driving force behind BlogPodium, Canada’s Conference for Lifestyle and Design Bloggers.

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I’ve always been a DIYer. From the time I would make clothes for my dolls to now when I make felt food for my daughter’s play kitchen, I’ve always found joy in doing and making things myself. But in this world of Pinterest and Instagram where your feeds are filled with picture-perfect projects from seemingly over-achieving women, that joy can be short-lived.

Where we once derived pleasure from the simple act of learning a skill and using it to create something uniquely ours, nowadays the pleasure might not come until after our home-baked meal/Christmas craft/upcycled thrift store find generates likes and repins from dozens of strangers. And I think that’s when doing it yourself becomes a don’t. Social media has really allowed us to expand our ideas of what’s possible. I’ve been inspired by countless projects on Pinterest. I’ve dusted off the sewing machine, wielded the glue gun, and mastered the miter saw because others have done it so why can’t I? And that’s a good thing! It should be good enough. But still.

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There is that feedback loop now that didn’t exist before. The need not only to do the thing but to share it as well. Increasingly, Doing It Yourself does not necessarily mean Doing It For Yourself. As a blogger, I’m well aware of the currency a clever and well-executed DIY brings: comments, page views, re-pins. Even in offline life, there is satisfaction in saying “Oh this? I made it myself”. When you start to seek that external acceptance though, you set standards that might be impossible to meet.

Then there’s the idea that DIY is somehow a step backwards, a regression to times when there was an expectation for a woman to be domestic. When did DIY become a four-letter word? To me, DIY is a choice and in some ways, an inevitability. If I’ve been given the skills and natural talents to be able to craft and create things, shouldn’t I do just that? My inability to throw a football is just as strong as my ability to throw a stylish fete. Neither of these define me as more or less of a person. It just is. I think DIY is just another facet of one’s personality, expressed in physical form. Just like we all have a singer and a painter inside of each of us (albeit at different levels of ability), we all have a DIYer inside us. And when one chooses to express that ability, online or offline, I think it’s a very beautiful thing.

The Magic and the Mystery of Making Things

alafoss-lopi-1231I make and craft and create to discover the magic and the mystery in things.  Pickles?  I can make those!  Handknit sweater?  That, too!  A felted handbag?  I learned how to do it one summer seven years ago.  Lip balm?  I made some this year!

What all of these things have in common is not necessity or having to make do or any kind of motive of need or fashion.  Nor is crafting a particular passion.  I can go for months without taking up a new project.

What they have in common is that I wanted to unravel the mystery of something that struck me as beautiful and rare.  I loved making lip balm with my boys not only because it was a great idea for Valentine’s favours, but mostly because it took all of the mystery out of something I use several times a day.  I had been paying an outrageous $40 per tube of lip treatment because after many, many tries, it was the only one that worked.  Learning how to make my own, made cosmetics something totally accessible, and I could control the quality and the contents.  That was a powerful feeling.

I have known how to knit since I was a child, and my mother, bless her patience, helped along many a hobbled project when I was little.  Most of them I abandoned.  In elementary school, I think I may have completed a knitted bear, and perhaps a blanket to go with it, and in high school I made myself one simple summer sweater, but I was not a star knitter by any stretch of the imagination.  My mother was.  She knitted, crocheted and sewed the most beautiful and intricate things.  She always had a project on the go.  When I got to university, and my mother was an ocean away, I happened to see some gorgeous Icelandic wool on sale in a bin in big department store, of all places.  It came in a cellophane package, with about ten balls of wool for the main colour of the sweater and one ball each of the secondary colours.  There was a pattern for a chunky fairisle sweater, and it looked so wonderful for the Montreal winter that was already hinting at its severity.  (I had moved from Egypt.  I was not at all used to Canadian winter.)

I love the internet!  This is not the pattern I used 25 years ago, but that's the model, complete with her white headband.

I love the internet! This is not the pattern I used 25 years ago, but that’s the model, complete with her white headband.

At first, I just looked at it longingly, feeling that it was something so far out of my reach, and then I thought, “No, I have what I need to be able to make that.”  I bought the wool and the needles, and I set out to make it.

The only problem was that in all the knitting I had done, my mother had always cast on the stitches for me.  I had never done that alone.  I didn’t have any choice but to go it alone this time, so I taught myself how to cast on simply by closing my eyes and remembering the motions of my mother’s hands as she did it.  There was a trick and a rhythm, and after a few false starts I found them.  I was amazed at the time to have been able to draw that out of my memory.  Muscle memory by proxy.

Making that sweater was so much more than just arming myself for a cold winter.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment in moving myself from beginner to intermediate knitter, and my joy at succeeding at the project was immense.  I wore that sweater for years with great pride.  I made two more, all with the same sense of joy, and with increasing confidence and willingness to improvise with colour and pattern.  It was also contagious: several other women in my dorm went off and bought the same kit, and we’d sit and knit together, avoiding term papers and the drama of the wider world for just that little while.  Making our own sweaters gave us a common purpose and a space apart from the world that worked so hard to define us.

The moment of remembering my mother’s hands casting on my stitches is a touchstone for me.  I think of it often and fondly as a minor miracle of memory and motion and chance.  How many times would I have actually witnessed her casting on stitches?  How carefully was I watching?  I often wonder if or what motions of my hands my own kids will remember years hence.  We don’t plan these moments, but in some way, shape or form, I hope that there will come a time when they are trying something and can close their eyes and see me doing it.

At Issue: Does DIY DYI (Do You In)?

For our At Issue discussion this week, we are looking at the pleasures and perils of doing it yourself.  We will be discussing the debate of whether DIY culture is enriching and helps people to be independent from the marketplace or whether it creates (yet another) sphere in which we are measured against impossible ideals or whether new domesticity amounts to nothing more than a regression to the domestic sphere.

Are you more drawn to Pinterest Fails than Pinterest-worthy pics?  Are you a master or a menace with a power drill?  Do you aspire to be magazine-worthy with your projects and décor, or are you content to either farm out the work or not do it at all?

Join us this week as we discuss our own takes on whether DIY is Doing You In.

jbs-130516_68We are thrilled to welcome as our guest this month Jennifer Flores.  You may know Jennifer already from her amazing design blog, Rambling Renovators.  The blog chronicles Jennifer’s and her husband’s adventures in renovating their 1950s Toronto home.  She keeps it real, and keeps it gorgeous!  Take a tour of her house, and you will see what I mean.  We got to meet Jen in person through a blogging conference that she organizes, Blog Podium.  We have attended for two consecutive years, and we always learn so much from the presenters and other conference-goers.

In the mean time, for a great discussion of the many facets of this debate, check out this review of Emily Matchar’s Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity Ann Friedman summarizes wonderfully the push and pull of feminism, the workplace and the new cult of domesticity.

Hockey Nook DIY

I am a hockey mom.  It’s not all I am, of course, but with three boys in competitive hockey it sometimes really does feel like hockey fills every nook and cranny of our lives.  I took that feeling to its literal extreme this week with this hockey DIY project, and in less than 15 minutes, I filled a tiny corner of Middlest’s room with a hockey vignette.

My project began with a trip to Blacks.  We were invited to visit the store on Yonge at Eglinton to experience their Playground for Photography, and I was inspired the minute I walked through the doors.  We were introduced to a myriad of ideas for taking photos to the next level, from pillow cases, to phone covers to bound books, but I was most captivated by the gallery wall.  Humble instagram photos really came to life grouped together and mounted on interesting surfaces.  (I will be writing about my own gallery of photos from my daily walks for our Photography Month in June!)

Blacks kindly offered us a sample of a mounted photo, and I chose one of Middlest right after he had scored a goal.  Here is the original, taken with my iPhone in less than ideal conditions through plexiglass and with him in motion.  I mention this because you really do not need to begin with a perfect photo for this to work.

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I mistakenly shot the photo with a filter on my phone camera, but it was a fortuitous mistake.  I then added shading to the corners and deep focus to blur the edges with Phototoaster.

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This is the image I gave to Blacks, and I chose to mount it on a metal plate that really complimented the tone and texture of the image.  Metal wall art begins at $34.99 for an image that measures 8 x 8, which is the size that I had.

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I love the mounted image, and I was so excited to find a place to hang it.  The photo is small, but I wanted to give it pride of place, so I knew that it would have to be part of a vignette, and the wall by Middlest’s bed was the perfect spot for it.

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Books are as big a part of our lives as hockey, and they really fill every nook and cranny of this house, so it made sense to include books in the vignette, too.  I put up an invisible book shelf from Umbra to ground the vignette with a stack of hockey books.

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Then I set one of the many, many hockey trophies this boy has already collected on top of the books.  And voila!  A quick and simple project to honour the ways we fill our days (and nights, and weekends, and holidays, and….)

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A Labour of Love: My Dollhouse Adventure: Guest Post by Holly Forsythe

If you have little kids who enjoy adorable movies about piglets—and are, therefore, quite possibly the sort of person who is thinking about building a dollhouse—you’ll probably recall the opening sequence of the 1995 movie “Babe.”  The first shot depicts the foyer of a lovely Georgian home, with elegant furnishings and stained glass lunettes, which is suddenly disrupted by the intrusion of a giant thumb. As the camera pans out, we realise we’ve been looking at the interior of a dollhouse that Farmer Hoggett, the film’s central human character, lovingly embellishes for his granddaughter. The moment gives us a reassuring wink about the controlled and affectionate handling of the miniature world portrayed in the film. It also gives us an early insight into Farmer Hoggett, whose patient, imaginative, and inventive nature enables him to perceive the latent talents in the story’s porcine protagonist. You have to be a certain kind of person to build a dollhouse.

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I wasn’t necessarily planning to be that sort of person. My daughter, Grace, fell in love with a dollhouse in a waiting room. She talked about the toy for months. She’s an unusually gentle, thoughtful, and self-denying little old soul, so when she asked for a dollhouse for her birthday, I didn’t have the heart to say no…even though the prospect terrified me a little.

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You can buy dollhouses in quite a few different forms: as kits, ready-made, with or without furniture, and in a number of different scales. I was a little surprised that the major toy stores don’t really carry proper dollhouses. Ours stocked three kinds of mass-produced sets, but they all seemed more babyish and generic than what we had in mind. We also decided against the generic toystore sets because their scale was too small. The most common scale for proper dollhouse furniture is 1:12 (also called “one-inch scale”): that means that one foot of length is represented by one inch in the dollhouse (so a doorway, that would be seven feet high in reality, is 7 inches high in the dollhouse). The toystore brands commonly used a 1:18 scale (“two-third inch scale”), which would make it difficult to collect furniture from eclectic sources.

The Little Dollhouse Company, located near Mount Pleasant and Eglinton, is pretty much the only dollhouse store in Toronto. There used to be brick-and-mortar dollhouse stores in Cambridge and Elora, but they’re only online now.  We started looking around online on Craigslist, Kijiji, and Ebay. There were quite a few mass-produced dollhouse systems available second-hand and also quite a few kits in unopened boxes: not everyone has the resolve to build a kit, but if you do, that kind of dollhouse is a keeper.

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By the time my husband lucked out with a great kit online, Grace’s birthday was looming very close, so we decided to break the construction into two phases: we hired a student from George Brown to do the basic construction so Grace would have a present to open; afterwards, I would complete the finishing touches to the structure (porch, gingerbread, fireplace), paint, and furnish it. If you hire someone to build your kit for you, I recommend that you establish a fee for the entire project: our poor student worked day and night to meet his deadline and we definitely went over budget paying him by the hour. That being said, I think it was a smart decision to have the main structure built by someone who knew how to make things square and level.

The kit itself was very clear about the assembly process. It had diagrams to correspond with each sheet of plywood and very detailed instructions. It’s tedious but essential to read the instructions completely before beginning. If you’re a “wing it” person, this is not your sort of project. The process is broken into stages: at each stage, you carefully remove specified pieces from the plywood sheet using an exacto knife, sand them, paint them, and glue them in a precise order following a diagram. The results are much tidier if you paint before assembly (I painted the student’s part of the structure after he assembled it). Most of the online guides assume that you’ll use house paint, but acrylic craft paint worked just fine for me: since you have to paint pieces at many separate stages, it’s smart to use premixed colours. I got small bottles of premixed colours at the local craft store for a dollar each (the acrylic in the crafter’s/stencilling aisle is way cheaper than the artist’s acrylic). You need wood glue for a lasting hold, but you can sparingly use your glue gun to hold pieces in place while the wood glue slowly dries. This will allow you to hug your children instead of standing around holding gingerbread to the roof while it dries (haunting memory). And you will need to hug your children for inspiration. As I say, I only did the superficial decorations on Grace’s dollhouse but, working from morning drop-off to afternoon pickup and then again from their bedtime till mine, it took me ten days to finish.

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In our case, the structure was assembled before the interior was decorated. In rooms with hard-to-reach places, I painted (with the premixed acrylic) but I wallpapered the more open spaces (I found some really pretty pads of paper for scrapbookers, which was heavier than wrapping paper). We’re furnishing gradually. Most pieces of furniture cost at least $5: to furnish a room, it will generally cost you around $30, depending on your source. I found a dollhouse furniture maker on Etsy who had reasonable prices and contacted her to arrange a starter kit order. We raised $70 for the furniture from the guests at Grace’s birthday party and that will get us the living room, dining room, bathtub, bed and dresser (plus shipping!). We’re going to let the rest of it be a labour of love instead of desperation.

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No matter how you do it, setting up a proper dollhouse is going to be relatively expensive. If you decide to take on some of the construction or decoration of the house, it is also going to be fairly time-consuming. This is probably why the people who are really into dollhouses don’t make them for children. There is a quiet subculture of dollhouse hobbyists who enjoy building and furnishing elaborate structures for their own satisfaction. For the most part, these grownups wouldn’t be very comfortable letting children play with the product of their labours. If you come across one of these experts in your dollhouse adventure, don’t let them know that you think toys are for children. Hardcore dollhouse hobbyists have immersed themselves in a special kind of creative impracticality: benefit from their knowledge, use them as a resource, and you can substantially limit your own dip into that pool. Hopefully, my first-and-only-time experiences in dollhouse building can help save you even more time (certainly) and money (hopefully) if you decide to take the plunge.

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Holly Forsythe Paul has worked at the University of Toronto as an adjunct professor of English since 2003.  She lives with her talented husband and two lovely daughters in Toronto.

 

Theme Week: DIY with and for Kids

Meg started us off last week with her DIY project to hang kids’ art without marking up the walls.

For the rest of this week, join us as we share our latest DIY projects, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the mean time, if you are doing any spring cleaning of closets this week, hang on to your stray gloves to make these amazing stuffed toys.  They make an excellent rainy day activity.

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DIY: Hook It Up…But Not Forever: Guest Post by Meg Gardner

Our guest today is Meg Gardner from the blog Loving Albany.  Meg is the mother of three boys, and, brace yourselves, her house is all white!  It’s all white and it works.  Meg’s house is a stunner, and you can get a peek here at Houzz.  She’s sharing with us today her most recent project: a temporary solution for hanging photos and kids’ art–without wrecking the white walls!

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I have three boys aged 9, 7 and 4.  They like to sleep in the same room.  Until recently.  I had to kick the oldest out one night for being too silly at bedtime.  He never looked back.

Which was great.  Except for this.

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He took his new room seriously.  Old toddler comforter?  Be still my heart.  Random stuffies and favorite hats?  Awww.  Taped picture on the wall?!?  I can’t take it.

So we helped him sort things out with a trip to IKEA.

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But those taped pictures were multiplying….

…just as this showed up in my email.

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I subscribe to Houzz.com emails.  It’s an amazing site filled with inspiration and ideas for your house.  From décor to organization – real life, actual, fulfilled projects in people’s homes, as opposed to the Pinterest fails that exist repeatedly in my life.

When I saw this photo, I got inspired.

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My goal was to give him a way to hang the pictures without anything being too permanent.  It’s his room to decorate, but his tastes will change.  And so might his bedroom.  We have a couple more rooms on the 3rd floor, which may be more appealing as he reaches his teenage years.

A Teenager???

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I grabbed a 1×2 piece of clear pine wood at Home Depot and asked them to cut it to size (cuts are free).  I stopped at DeSerres for the Bulldog clips and Michaels for the screw-in hooks, which happened to be white!  Score!

And after contemplating how long he will actually occupy this new bedroom, I decided to use Command Strips instead of screws to attach the wood to the wall.  This package of 4 strips holds a picture frame weighing up to 16 lbs.  Bingo.

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I asked him to help me put it all together and got about 5 minutes of painting.

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After 2 coats and letting it cure overnight, I got to drilling.  Measuring and drilling.  Measuring, calculating, re-measuring, re-calculating.  And measuring one last time before drilling.

Which turned into this.

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The wood almost blends into the wall, letting the pictures shine.

And now for my favorite, the before and after.

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I love walking up the stairs and sneaking a peek into his room now.  If only he’d make the bed…!!!

Super Easy, Crowd-Pleasing Hors d’Oeuvre

IMG_2668Did your week nights just suddenly open right up?  I’m kind of scared to say it out loud, but ours sure did.  We may have lost an hour on the weekend, but in the all-to-brief post-season, we gained four hockey-and activity-free nights this week!  Time to have friends over and see people again!!

Got plans to have friends over?  You can make this delicious and dead simple party platter in less than five minutes.

Ingredients

shallow, rectangular serving platter

1 small package of goat cheese

1/4 cup best green and black olives, pitted

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

five sprigs of fresh rosemary, one stripped and roughly chopped

baguette or crackers

Method

Smear the goat cheese over your serving platter.  A square or rectangular one works well for this so you can frame it with four sprigs of rosemary.  Sprinkle olives and chopped rosemary over the cheese and drizzle with olive oil.  Garnish with sprigs of rosemary.  Serve with fresh baguette or crackers.  That’s it, that’s all.  So simple, so delicious.

With thanks to my friend Valerie, who brought this to my house and I feasted on it and thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  Valerie got the recipe from Kirsten, of Palmerston Design, who decorated Meg’s house, who is one of our guests this month.  We’re keeping it all local!

Ideas for March Break Activities Around Toronto

From Nathalie

I took Middlest to see National Theatre Live’s production of Treasure Island recently, and I really like the idea of taking kids to see plays at the movie theatre.  While we sat in a Cineplex theatre in Toronto, we watched a live production of the play being staged in London, complete with a 20-minute intermission.  Of course, seeing the play in the theatre lacked some of the fun and sense of occasion that goes with a night at the theatre, but that informality is exactly what appealed to me with young kids.  We ate our popcorn and drank our drinks and it was all very relaxed.  I’d like my kids to see as much Shakespeare as possible before they encounter it at school, and for the price of a movie ticket, you really can’t go wrong.  King Lear is showing tomorrow, Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen will be showing Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I am dying to see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet later this year.

And if it’s fine art that tickles your fancy, head over to the AGO, which has fabulous programming for kids to complement their latest exhibition of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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From March 14-22,  join the AGO for one of nine creative days of exploring the amazing art of Basquiat. The whole family can enjoy beat boxing, dancing and drumming performances; interactive storytelling; art making; films and family-friendly tours of the Basquiat exhibition.  As with every new exhibit, the AGO also runs Family Sundays, from February 8-March 29.  Each week families are invited to explore a new aspect of Basquiat’s work through art-making and hands-on activities (1 – 4 p.m. in the Weston Family Learning Centre).  For a complete line-up of activities, visit www.ago.net/family-events.

If you are in Vaughan, you can hit three great destinations in one fun-filled day.  Start at LEGOLAND, where Carol, Beth-Anne and I took our boys a while back and loved it, then head over to Sky Zone Vaughan to bounce their sillies out.  It’s wall-to-wall-to-wall trampolines, and, yes, they can bounce off the walls.   You can pay to bounce for 30 minutes or in increments up to two hours.  There are special toddler times for the littlest ones, but generally, jumpers should be already walking and be able to follow the instructions of the staff.

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And when you are done jumping, go chill with the cold-blooded creatures at Reptilia.  As Canada’s largest indoor reptile zoo, Reptilia boasts a collection of over 250 reptiles, amphibians and arachnids (!).  Reptilia is also taking the show on the road, and they will at Hillcrest Mall for March Break from March 19-21.    At Reptilia Live! there will be interactive meet-and-greet, and guests can get to see, hold and touch a variety of cold-blooded creatures and learn interesting and educational facts.

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Show times are as follows:

[Thursday / Friday, March 19 and 20]

11:00 – 11:20 | Live animal show

11:20 – 12:00 | Meet and Greet

1:00 – 1:20 | Live animal show

1:20 – 2:00 | Meet and Greet

3:00 – 3:20 | Live animal show

3:20 – 4:00 | Meet and Gree

[Saturday, March 21]

12:30 – 12:50 | Live animal show

12:50 – 1:30 | Meet and Greet

2:00 – 2:20 | Live animal show

2:20 – 3:00 | Meet and Greet

If you go on the Thursday, look for Carol and Nathalie!  We’ll be there with some of our brood.

Toronto for Kids also has a great round-up of camps, shows and activities.  Check it out.

From Beth-Anne

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The Young People’s Theatre is one of my favourite not-so hidden gems in the city. The productions are always top-notch and tailored for a younger audience. Over March Break the classic tale of Pinocchio takes the main stage and to enhance the experience theatre-goers can sign up for the Puppet Lab and learn from experts how to create their very own, unique puppet. Space is limited. For ticket and show information visit Young People’s Theatre.

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For older children, The Heart of Robin Hood is a great bet! I have been a patron of Mirvish Productions for many years and The Heart of Robin Hood easily makes my top 5 list. The real story of Robin Hood may surprise you – Maid Marion is no shrinking violet, Robin’s not as generous as you may have believed and Friar Tuck . . . poor Friar Tuck. The original music is guaranteed to have your feet moving but it’s the transformation of the theatre into Sherwood Forest that is truly remarkable. If you’re looking into introduce theatre to your tweens or teens, this is the show to attend but hurry, the run ends on March 29. For tickets and show information visit Mirvish Productions.

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For the dancers, The National Ballet of Canada’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, looks simply magical. I have not yet seen it but judging how much the boys enjoyed The Nutcracker, it appears it would be a hit. The costumes and the staging are receiving rave reviews and the sneak peeks shown on the website justify why. On stage March 14-29. For tickets and show information visit The National Ballet of Canada.

From Carol

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It will still be wintry, but hopefully just a notch or two higher on the temperature scale, which means perfect timing for skating.  I love outdoor skating whenever we can get it, and Toronto boasts both Nathan Philips Square and the Natrel rink down at at Harbourfront are wonderful urban settings for gliding on city ice.

Or head over to the Brickworks for a smaller, more intimate outdoor skating experience on their public rink, and then head over to one of their drop-in programs for kids over March Break.  Paper mache boat building, both for individual boats and a collective boat, caught my eye.  Suggested donation $5.

Boats make me think of not winter, and I’m feeling ready to move on to our next season with Canada Blooms, our largest flower and garden festival. The many events and workshops fall over March Break, and offer opportunities for children to get their hands dirty getting ready to garden.  Kids will also be able to take home vegetables and flowers to start their own gardens at home.

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For a unique cultural experience, the Aga Khan Museum offers stunning exhibits and collections that explore Muslim civilizations – head over on the Wednesday of March Break to enjoy and explore for free between 4 to 8pm.

Do you have any favourite suggestions for the March break?  Please share them!