Thursday, December 27, 2012

Free and Affordable Things To Do & Places To Go (in Toronto) With Kids This Winter

It's important to spend quality time with your kids over the holidays, but going out every day can be costly. Here are some fun and free or affordable things to do this winter:

The Distillery District is a pedestrian-only area in downtown Toronto. The architecture is authentic Victorian industrial and the stores are one of a kind, offering toys, cupcakes and housewares.

From first light until 10 pm, 7 days a week, you can skate for free at Nathan Phillips Square. Rink guards and maintenance staff are always on site for your safety. More info here.

Cineplex theatres offer Family Favourites on Saturday mornings at 11 am. For $2.50 per ticket and with a great list of films, you can treat your family to a fun, affordable morning at the movies.

Harbourfront Centre offers a great view of Toronto's waterfront as well as airplanes landing at and taking off from nearby Billy Bishop Airport. Enjoy activities such as skating, shows and events and walks through Toronto Music Garden. Harbourfront is easily accessible by car or TTC.

Riverdale Farm offers a variety of kid-friendly educational programs throughout the year, plus the farm is open every day, year-round, so you can visit the animals and explore the grounds.

Tobogganing is a fantastic family activity. All you need is warm clothes, a sled or crazy carpet, and a thermos of hot chocolate. And snow would help! Earl Bales has great hills.

Check out books and DVDs and take advantage of family programs at the Toronto Public Library-- all for free with a Toronto library card!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Link Love #3

This is a really cute matching game for kids-- and you can make it yourself, on the cheap!

Free, printable "doodle sheets". These look fun!

At The Selectively Silent Child, we're offering a free printable Selective Mutism symptoms and causes checklist. If you're considering an assessment for your child, it's a great resource.

Great advice.

This cat is adorable.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Link Love #2

These homemade holiday hot cocoa pouches would make a great gift-- and you can put them together with your children.

Magic Mud looks like it could keep kids busy for hours!

I don't enjoy winter, but think these nifty ice balloons make the season worthwhile.

A no-sew superhero cape! How cool is that?

Taylor Mali's What Teachers Make is a poignant,empowering poem. Each time I read it, I love it more and more.

Be kind to your friends and yourself: 10 ways. (Full disclose: my daughter wrote it! But I really liked it).

Hanukkah isn't over yet! This is a cute, easy craft to make with your kids.

Here's a great, Canadian resource for parents and teachers. Another? Hanen. And a similarly superb resource.

Finally, here are some troll dolls.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ten Commandments of Interaction with Children

Thou shalt not speak to a child from across the room.

Thou shalt get down on the child’s eye-level and use child’s name.

Thou shalt accept, help identify, and validate children’s feelings.

Thou shalt teach and encourage children to use problem-solving.

Thou shalt be aware of tone of voice and speak to children respectfully, always mindful of their self-esteem.

Thou shalt ask open-ended questions to encourage thinking skills.

Thou shalt greet children warmly when they arrive, and continue to make them feel welcome and accepted throughout the day.

Thou shalt state things in a positive way; telling children what they can do, and not what they can’t do.

Thou shalt serve as a positive role-model

Thou shalt remember to use praise and positive reinforcement – including appropriate affection.

By Cathy Abraham via DLTK  &  Image 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Link Love #1

Welcome to our very first edition of Link Love! I've enjoyed (and bookmarked) countless amazing links in my years as a teacher and parent, so it's time to share them with you, and spread some love in the parenting/teaching blogosphere!

How do you feel about this controversial 'gender-neutral' children's Christmas catalogue?  I think offering children the opportunity to play with 'boy' or 'girl' toys is a great thing.

Will homeschooling help the anxious child?

There are some great ideas in the Toronto Savvy Guide To December.

The ABCs of mental health is a fantastic resource.

A really cute Christmas picture & some delicious Channukah cupcakes ....just because!

Also holiday-related: a sweet Christmas craft.

Teaching shapes is easier (and more fun) with ideas like these.

If you're a teacher, you'll definitely appreciate this.

I adore this teacher troll doll. So cute! 

Can't wait until the next Link Love? Visit my Pinterest boards for more!

What's the best article you read this week?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giving Back To the Community: "Mitzvah Mitten Mountain"

As Winter begins,
we are reminded of the need to wear warm clothes to protect ourselves from the elements. I endeavour to teach my students that many children in our city do not have these bare necessities.

I grew up the youngest of five in a poor family in northern Ontario. We had to walk 2 miles into town to get to school. If I was lucky enough to have mittens, they were thin and barely kept out the wind. Sometimes they froze solid and my teacher would have to defrost them on the classroom radiator.

Every year, I am reminded of what it was like to grow up without. I am fortunate enough now to have warm clothes, scarves and gloves, but I can't forget my frost-bitten childhood. I never want another child to feel that cold.

With this in mind, last year my co-teachers and I set a goal: to collect 100 pairs of mittens for less- fortunate families in our community, with the help of our students and their parents. We called the project Mitzvah Mountain of Mittens (mitzvah is the Hebrew word for 'good deed'). We engaged many families in giving back to our community, sharing resources and appreciating what we have.

This year, we’re dreaming bigger: we want to collect even more cold weather accessories for a local charity to distribute.

We asked those in our community to bring new, unused, mittens, gloves, scarves and hats to the growing “Moutain” in our building.

So far, we have collected 102 accessories, already surpassing our goal! Most importantly, the children in our class are learning about the importance of giving back, instilling in them a lifelong desire to help those in need, and that lasts even longer than a Canadian winter.

Image Source: CindisStudio on Etsy. You can actually buy these handmade mittens for your child or for charity, if you're so inclined!