150 Reasons Why We Love Canada

reasons to love Canada

I love Canada, from it’s gorgeous majestic landscapes to it’s iconic beginnings and famous people that we have produced. From coast to coast there are so many things to see do and experience. People to meet and enjoy and experience and appreciate the differences and uniqueness that make up our country.

I love all the accents and dialects of the different regions and the pure joy and friendliness wherever you go. So in honour of Canada’s 150th year I’ve (with the help of many friends) compiled a list of 150 Reasons why we love Canada and I hope it inspires you to come see us and experience Canada for yourself.

  1. Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia – this has to be the most beautiful placereasons to love Canada
  2. Universal Health Care
  3. Our delightful obsession with maple
  4. Stuart McLean and his Vinyl Cafe
  5. This Hour Has 22 Minutes
  6. Our plethora of National Parks (over 40)
  7. The Rocky Mountains
  8. The Prairie Skies
  9. Our eloquent (and frequent) use of ‘eh’ in a sentence
  10. We touch 3 oceans!
  11. Bryan Adams “Summer of 69”
  12. Tim Horton’s
  13. Canadian Bacon
  14. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomsreasons to love Canada
  15. Gorgeous landscapes
  16. Our ‘go with the flow’ mentality
  17. Terry Fox
  18. The Covered Bridges of New Brunswick (there are 60)
  19. The Great White North
  20. The polar bears of Churchill, Manitoba
  21. The Little Church in Drumheller (it seats 6)
  22. Bob and Doug MacKenzie
  23. The Badlands – I love this landscape and the discovery of so many dinosaurs in this area
  24. Beaver Tails – a delicious yummy sweet treat
  25. The Bluenosereasons to love Canada
  26. Fresh Atlantic seafood
  27. Gentle Patriotism
  28. Birthplace of Hockey
  29. The Calgary Stampede – the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth (love this 10 day celebration of cowboys and our Calgary beginnings)
  30. Kejimkujik National Park
  31. We never give up
  32. The Kids in the Hall
  33. Poutine
  34. Donairsreasons to love Canada
  35. Our ski hills – they are not hills they are actually huge majestic mountains! unless you are skiing Martock in NS, but let’s not talk about that
  36. Michael J. Fox
  37. The Canadarm – remote-controlled mechanical arm with NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, the robotic arm deployed, captured and repaired satellites, positioned astronauts, maintained equipment, and moved cargo.
  38. Anne of Green Gables – the beloved story of Anne Shirley an orphan girl who goes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Has sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 20 languages.
  39. We always say sorry – even when it’s not our fault. We are polite and caring, when we bump into someone by accident we are always the first to apologize
  40. Our tolerance and acceptancereasons to love Canada
  41. The National Film Board – has always made lovely and delightful little cartoons and vignettes
  42. Ogopogo – our resident sea monster in the lakes of the Okanagan
  43. The Cabot Trail – Nova Scotia
  44. Hopewell Cape Rocks – these look like giant flower pots and are pretty cool – New Brunswick
  45. The Caesar – yes we invented it by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn
  46. Keifer Sutherland
  47. Loius Riel
  48. We invented the telephone – by Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck, NS in 1876
  49. Our giant moose – and other cool wildlife here
  50. Invention of Basketball by Canadian James Naismith
  51. Jim CarreyAnne of Green Gables
  52. We invented insulin courtesy of Fredrick Banting
  53. Santa Claus is Canadian – it’s true he lives in the Canadian North and officially has a Canadian passport
  54. Hawaiian Pizza – created in 1962 by Sam Panopoulos in his pizza joint in Chatham, Ontario
  55. Trick or Treat is ours – the Halloween phrase “trick or treat” was first used in the hamlet of Blackie, Alberta way back in 1927
  56. The Bunny Hug – if you live in Saskatchewan it’s not a hoodie
  57. Big country, small town feel
  58. Winnie the Pooh – During the first World War, troops from Winnipeg (Manitoba, reasons to love CanadaCanada) were being transported to eastern Canada, on their way to Europe, where they were to join the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. When the train stopped at White River, Ontario, a lieutenant called Harry Colebourn bought a small female black bear cub for $20 from a hunter who had killed its mother. He named her ‘Winnipeg’, after his hometown of Winnipeg, or ‘Winnie’ for short.
  59. Superman – co created by Joseph Shuster and has had many Canadian actors such as Erica Durance and Margot Kidder play our favorite Superman characters
  60. Newfoundland (and Newfies) – there’s just nothing like the rugged lands of Newfoundland and the colorful people with their big welcoming smiles and accents. It’s often said that Newfoundland is in it’s own little corner of the world they are so unique to the rest of Canada
  61. The many many abundant and beautiful lakes we havereasons to love Canada
  62. We have our own desert – South Okanagan, British Columbia
  63. The fruit of the Okanagan – peaches, cherries, blueberries, strawberries and more!
  64. We have a town, Oliver, BC, that has over 100 wineries within 50 km
  65. We started the NHL – at it’s inception had 4 teams all in Canada
  66. We have a mile zero at each end of the country (east and west)
  67. We experience all 4 seasons
  68. Niagara Falls
  69. Freedom of speech
  70. Freedom of religion
  71. We invite, embrace, train and absorb immigrantsreasons we love Canada
  72. The right to protest peacefully
  73. The Trans Canada Highway connecting us from coast to coast
  74. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was formed in 1920 by the merger of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP, founded in 1873) with the Dominion Police (founded in 1868). The former was originally named the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), and was given the Royal prefix by King Edward VII in 1904. Much of the present day organization’s symbolism has been inherited from its days as the NWMP and RNWMP, including the distinctive Red Serge uniform, paramilitary heritage, and mythos as a frontier force.
  75. The RCMP Musical Ride – a spectacle known around the world the RCMP Musical Ride is performed by a full troop of 32 riders and their horses. Their performance consists of intricate figures and drills choreographed to music. These movements demand the utmost control, timing and coordination.
  76. Alexander Graham Bell – though born in Scotland, lived the majority of his life inreasons we love Canada Canada and became a Canadian citizen who invented the telephone
  77. The CBC radio and television
  78. The Northern Lights
  79. Takakkawa Falls – Canada’s second highest waterfall
  80. PEI Confederation Bridge
  81. Laura Secord – Canadian heroine of the War of 1812
  82. The Wonderbra – made in Canada by Moses (Moe) Nadler
  83. The vast amount of open space and wilderness in our country
  84. Nanaimo Bars – invented in 1952 by E. MacDougall for the Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary, British Columbia
  85. L’Anse aux Meadows – first Viking settlementreasons we love Canada
  86. St. Anne de Beaupre
  87. The Fortress of Louisburg
  88. The Habitation – Port Royal
  89. The Churches of Mahone Bay
  90. The goalie mask – Jacques Plante was the first goaltender to create and use a practical mask in 1959. Plante’s mask was a piece of fiberglass that was contoured to his face. This mask later evolved into a helmet/cage combination, and single piece full fiberglass mask. Today, the full fiberglass mask with the birdcage facial protector is the more popular option because it is safer and offers better visibility.
  91. The large number of volunteers we have in Canada
  92. The invention of the Imax – Ivan Graeme Ferguson, one of the inventors was born in Toronto on October 7th 1929.
  93. The Log Driver’s Waltz – my favorite Canada vignettereasons we love Canada
  94. Nellie McClung – Canadian feminist, politician, author, and social activist.
  95. John Candy
  96. Our plethora of Birch Trees
  97. Quebec Winter Carnival and it’s International Ice Sculpture Contest
  98. Lake Louise
  99. The red sands of PEI
  100. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park – shared between Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada’s first and only
  101. Revelstoke Railway Museum – presents the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway inpotato boats the Columbia Mountains as well as the role the railway and it’s workers have played in building Canada as a nation.
  102. The Enchanted Forest – set in one of British Columbia’s beautiful old growth forests, it’s a magical place where visitors can see, touch and step into the homes of fairytale heroes, villains and creatures that hold so many memories for all of us!
  103. Writing on Stone Provincial Park – set in the prairie grasslands and along the spectacular Milk River this area contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the great plains of North America.
  104. The various modes of transportation – we have the opportunity to travel by car, boat, train, plane, bicycle and more
  105. William Shatner – such a fantastic colorful man and the actor who played the infamous Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek series
  106. Jann Arden – native Calgarian and Canadian music artistreasons to love Canada
  107. We have two official languages – French & English
  108. The CN Tower – when built in 1974 was the world’s tallest communications tower
  109. Our wonderful zoos – Toronto and Calgary being the two largest in Canada
  110. The Vegreville Ukrainian Egg
  111. Buchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
  112. Vancouver Aquarium – an Ocean Wise ® initiative, is home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life. It’s also Ocean Wise headquarters, where our scientists, educators and conservation experts do their work, not only to protect our oceans but to inspire others to join us in our mission.
  113. Rugged and wild coast of Tofinoreasons to love Canada
  114. Granville Island -a peninsula and shopping district in Vancouver, BC, filled with charm and features a farmers market, an extensive marina and local artisans
  115. Prairie thunderstorms – watching the lighting literally strike across the prairie
  116. A real walled city – Quebec City is the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. Plus it’s on the water.
  117. Top summer vacation spot in the world – Muskoka Cottage Country is the best. Lakes and waterfalls weave through 17 historic villages, where canucks gather to hear the nightly wolf chorus.
  118. The adorable slang phrases you ever did hear – need to run to the biffy or bring your two-four?
  119. Butter tarts – are a distinctly Canadian treat. Some articles have traced their origins to pioneer cookbooks published in the early 1900s. However, a 2007 Toronto Star article suggests they date back to the mid-1600s and the arrival of the filles de marier, or imported brides, from France.
  120. lanse-aux-meadowsOld Montreal – once enclosed by stone walls the oldest part of the city is a charming and beautiful area, where you’ll find Notre Dame Cathedral, stone warehouses and residences bristling with Victorian ornamentation. Also a wonderful spot for an old fashioned horse drawn carriage ride through the magical streets of the old city.
  121. MEC – Mountain Equipment Coop, a Canadian consumers’ cooperative, which sells outdoor recreation gear and clothing exclusively to it’s members founded in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1971 and noted to its commitment to environmental causes.
  122. Casa Loma – a Gothic Revival style house and gardens, lasting architectural and historical legacy in midtown Toronto, Ontario. Constructed by Sir Henry Pellatt in 1911 it took 3 years to complete at a cost of 3.5 million dollars. Featured in movies such as XMen, Chicago and Twitches Too.
  123. reasons to love CanadaThe Edmonton River Valley – is the largest largest urban park in Canada, with more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways and 20 major parks, a natural wonder with unparalleled opportunities to connect with nature.
  124. Largest producer of potash in the world – Saskatchewan
  125. Tunnels of Moose Jaw – tour the underground tunnels where Al Capone was said to have used in his bootlegging days and explore the history of the Chinese Immigrants
  126. Caves of Vancouver Island – Vancouver Island has the largest concentration of caves in North America. Nearly 4% of the island is ‘karst’ which is a landscape formed by the erosion of soluble rocks. (That’s limestone, dolomite or gypsum.) These landscapes are characterized by sink holes and caves, which is the reason why Vancouver Island has more than 1,000 recorded caves.
  127. Has two official sports – winter sport is hockey and the summer sport is lacrosse
  128. First lighthouse in Canada at the Fortress of Louisburg
  129. reasons to love CanadaSignal Hill – 1901 when the famous Guglielmo Marconi made communications history at Signal Hill by receiving the first ever transatlantic wireless signal.
  130. The Spiral Tunnels – built on the most difficult piece of the Canadian Pacific Railway track so trains could safely climb the ‘Big Hill’ safely and is a fascinating sight to view (looks like the train is literally going in two different directions)
  131. Magnetic Hill – Moncton, New Brunswick – drive to the bottom of this world-famous hill, take your foot off the brake and your car will roll uphill in total defiance of natural law, even as your brain is telling you it’s simply not possible!
  132. L’Ile de L’Anticost – a wild and enchanting island bathed in the transparent light of the North in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and a National Park
  133. reasons to love CanadaAnne Murray – first Canadian female solo singer to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts, and also the first to earn a Gold record for one of her signature songs, “Snowbird” in 1970
  134. The Tragically Hip – Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario
  135. Gordon Lightfoot – Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.
  136. Rick Hansen – is a Canadian Paralympian, activist, and philanthropist for people with disabilities. Most famous for his Man in Motion tour.
  137. Springhill Miners Museum -The coal mines of Springhill, Nova Scotia were huge, some of the deepest and most extensive in the world. The museum encompasses the lives and stories of the Springhill miners including the story of the Springhill Mining Disasters in the 1950s which were two of the worst mining disasters in Canadian History.
  138. reasons to love CanadaThe Acadiens – descendants of the French settlers who came to Canada and mostly lived along the shores of the Bay of Fundy.
  139. We were the major port for the rescue and recovery for the Titantic – Halifax, NS was the closest major port when the Titanic sank and played a key role in rescue efforts. Cable ships were sent from Halifax to recover the bodies of the dead and many of those people were buried in the cemetaries in Halifax. There’s also an extensive exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic depicting the Titanic disaster.
  140. Joggins Fossil Cliffs – Explore one of nature’s most inspiring creations, where the highest tides in the world reveal the most complete fossil record of the “Coal Age,” 100 million years before the dinosaurs.
  141. The Second City – though the first one opened in Chicago the Second City in Toronto has found memories for me and is the home of many great starts for famous Canadian actors such as John Candy, Mike Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd and has a special place in my heart because my sister Leslie Seiler works there! It has since grown to become the world’s premier comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation—with live shows every night.
  142. churches of mahone bayNeil Young
  143. Tom Cochrane
  144. We invented the Walkie-Talkie -The walkie-talkie as we know it today was produced by Canadian inventor Donald Hings in the 1930s. He created it for his company CM&S in British Columbia and it was originally known as a “packset.”
  145. The Cape Breton Highlands – one of Canada’s most enchanting places, where the mountains meet the sea. Wind through lush, forested river canyons carve into the ancient plateau, edged by rust-coloured cliffs and keep your eyes peeled for moose and bald eagles.
  146. The Salmon Run of British Columbia is a wonderful natural spectacle you have to see with your own eyes to experience the full brilliance of this colorful event.
  147. reasons to love CanadaThe Champlain Boulevard Walkway – kilometres of walkway along the beautiful St. Lawrence River
  148. Maple Syrup Pie – traditional French Canadian pie (Tarte au Sucre)
  149. The Micro-breweries of Quebec – home to more than 150 microbreweries and over 30 hop producers offering high-quality products, Québec beers stand out from the majority of U.S. beers through their long fermentation.
  150. The farmers – that is where our roots come from. That is how this great nation started and many families continue in this industry today to bring good quality food to our table.

reasons to love Canada

Canada is a wonderful, beautiful, diverse place and even though I would say that I explored and experienced many parts of this great country there is so much more to see as I have really hardly scratched the surface. This list of what we love was super fun to put together and I learned quite a bit.

Thank you to all the people who contributed their thoughts and ideas to this list without you I’d have been sitting here for months to get to 150. And I love the diversity their contributions created.

What do you love the most about Canada?

Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade with Ease

calgary stampede parade

Kicking off “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, the Calgary Stampede Parade is a world famous parade that showcases floats, bands, riders, cultural entries and much more. Led by the World Champion Stampede Show Band this two hour parade is not one you want to miss and is an important part of the Stampede experience.

Calgary Stampede ParadeWhen I first came to Calgary I was scared away from going to the Calgary Stampede Parade (attended by up to 400,000 people each year) by my boyfriend at the time. He told me horror stories about how you had to get up at 5 in the morning to go downtown and claim your spot so you had a decent place to view the parade – which started at 9. The whole idea of going down that early and waiting around for the parade for hours just did not appeal to me, no matter how much I loved parades, so I never went.

And I definitely could not imagine getting up that early and doing that with kids! So it’s ironic that it wasn’t until I had kids that I started going to the Stampede Parade. My oldest was 8 the first time we went, and the twins were 2. I really wanted to go and I was tired of waiting around for someone to come with me and being scared by the prospect of not being able to find a spot to sit.

The Magic Formula

Calgary Stampede ParadeA few years earlier my sister had been in town and had gone to the parade with her girlfriend who lived here in Calgary. Her girlfriend had discovered a ‘secret formula’ that allowed her to go down to the parade at a reasonable time and still get a decent spot to sit and view the parade – with her kids and without fighting the crowds; so I took a chance and tried her method to take my kids to the parade without having to go down for 5 am (which honestly is ridiculous). Sure you can purchase bleacher seats and show up whenever you want but these tend to be expensive and few, as 80% of the route is free seating.

It worked beautifully. Not only did we get super spots, right on the curb to view the parade, we only had to wait for an hour or so before the parade came our way (and there is pre parade entertainment starting at 7:30 am) – so it was super easy to keep the kids entertained and engaged until the parade started. Honestly it was fantastic, the kids loved the parade and I was so glad that I had taken a chance and went.

Now we attend the parade every year using this technique that well, yes I am going to share with you, as well as these 6 other tips to make your Calgary Stampede Parade experience with kids not only memorable but easy and fun for all.

7 Easy Tips for Taking Kids to the Calgary Stampede Parade

Pack a Healthy Lunch & Snacks – a well fed kid is a happy kid and you are a happy parent. I always pack lots of snacks and a lunch for everyone so that nobody gets cranky from being hungry. Yes there are places downtown where you can purchase food, but the pickings may not be the most healthy and lines will be long. If you bring your own not only can you choose foods that you want your kids to eat (and they enjoy) but they can eat when they’re hungry and you don’t have to go chasing after food or make them wait.

Calgary Stampede ParadeBring Folding Chairs – you may find these a bit challenging to carry with the kids but believe me it is worth it (and as they get older they can carry their own chairs). Watch the parade in comfort as sitting for two hours on the curb can make your butt pretty sore. The kids will likely be up and down from their chairs but that’s ok, still make sure everyone has their own as everyone will be more comfortable. They are also great space markers if you have to zip to the bathroom or run and grab something and don’t have another adult to leave behind to ‘guard the spot’.

Get into the Spirit of Stampede (and get the kids excited about it) – dress for it! Grab cowboy hats and boots, jeans and button down shirts and wear them to the parade. Kids gear is not that expensive or you can buy second hand. The kids will love dressing up and it’ll build their excitement and interest in what’s happening.

Bring Hats, Suncreen and Water – it can get very hot along the parade route and you are sitting there for at least two hours. Make sure you have full water bottles for everyone, hats (cowboy style of course) and sunscreen. Some places along the route provide some shade then turn into sun or vice versa so be prepared.

calgary stampede paradeDress in Layers (or at least bring a sweater and raincoat) – my mother always taught me to be prepared and that you never go out the door without your raincoat, even when the sun is shining brightly (we all know how fast Calgary weather can change). It also tends to be cooler in the morning as you are waiting and the parade starts and much warmer by the time the parade is over. If you bring a few layers it allows you to put on and take off as needed so that your body temperature is comfortable during the parade.

Pick Your Spot at the end of the Parade Route – this is what I do every year and we find a really good spot curbside for the kids. We drive down and park near the end of the route, getting down there by 9 in the morning, and we never have an issue getting a spot. Now this year they have thrown me for a bit of a loop because they have reversed the parade route – going backwards to what they usually do – so this throws a bit of a glitch into my plan, but the same concept will apply. We find our spot at the end wait maybe an hour for it to start (doesn’t that sound way better than 5 am) and the parade is finished on our end by noon.

Bring backpacks and/ or a wagon – you’re probably wondering how you’re going to carry all this stuff. When the kids were smaller I would bring a large backpack that I put everything in and a wagon for the chairs. As they got older though they would bring their own backpacks and carry their own chairs (seriously start them early and it will become second nature to them – when we went to Florida this year there were times I carried nothing because everyone could carry their own stuff, it was fantastic).

The parade really is a wonderful experience and can easily be enjoyed with kids and by parents with these easy tips (one tip for parents if you want coffee bring your own the line ups for this coveted beverage are crazy!)

Calgary Stampede Parade Combo

It is not one to be missed simply because you’re concerned about the crowd or getting a spot, these can be easily navigated. Really everyone is down there to have fun and enjoy the parade. So as long as everyone is mindful, patient and polite the Calgary Stampede Parade can be added to the memory books as a positive experience and one that is enjoyed year after year.

Calgary Stampede Parade

Have a tip you use when taking your kids to the parade? Share in the comments below.

Thinking of taking the kids down to Stampede grounds? Check out these tips to get the most out of your day, have fun and keep everybody happy.

8 Tips for Gardening with Kids

gardening with kids

I love getting outside with the kids and digging in the garden. They love getting out there and putting their hands in the dirt, planting their seeds and then watching attentively each day waiting for that first bit of green to come up.

They get so excited when it peeks through and though I sometimes have to tell them things like not to overwater their plants, they love the experience and enjoy the success of producing their own flowers or food.

Benefits of Gardening with Kids

mud activitiesGardening with children provides many benefits and learning and you can start involving them at a very young age. It builds upon their innate curiosity to learn and ask why, learning by doing and of course nurturing their love of playing in the dirt (playing in the dirt is actually good for you!)

It teaches them responsibility, environmental awareness, patience and developmental benefits such as fine motor skills and planning and organizing. There’s even scientific and math concepts that you can teach through gardening which I always find so amazing how nature can teach us just by being involved with it. Plus it’s a fabulous bonding experience and it’s fun! Not to mention that your outside getting exercise and soaking up the sunshine.

Gardening with kids can be super easy and with these tips you’ll have success in no time.

Tips for Gardening with Kids

Give them their own spot – this is the most important thing. The kids need to feel like they have their own spot that they can garden in and that you are ok to relinquish control over! You should certainly work with them and guide them on what to do, but you really want to allow them to do it and try a few things as that is how they learn. It’s ok for them to plant a seed too deep and have it not come up or to over water an area. Yes you want them to experience success but it’s also ok for them to experience something not working. Then there’s the opportunity to discuss and explore why. And if you don’t have a lot of space try container or pallet gardening.

IMG_0900Give them their own gardening tools – set them up with their own kids size gardening gloves, garden shovel, knee pad, etc. which are easily found at your local garden center or online sites like Amazon. When they have their own tools to work with it makes them feel more important and that they have more control. Also make sure their tools are durable and strong, invest in the metal ones, not plastic that can break easily.

Start from seed – one of the best learning experiences in the garden is to start right from the beginning. I know in some climates the growing season is short and it’s easier to buy seedlings and plant those. Children will learn more by seeing the growing process right from the beginning – plus they get so excited when they see that first shoot of green peeking through.

In those situations start your seeds earlier inside and then transplanting them to the outdoor garden once it’s warmed up (here in Calgary rule of thumb is nothing until after May long weekend). You could do a combination, some from seed and a few of seedlings, which is what I tend to do, which provides both experiences.

Let them pick what they want to plant – if they get to choose what plants they want then this not only empowers them it gives them a more vested interest in what’s happening. As the parent give them choices that would work in your garden space and that will provide the kids with the most success. Choose from this Top 10 list of Crops for Children which are easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.

gardening with kidsLet them decorate their garden – let the kids add a little bit of their own flare to the garden by making their own garden stake or scarecrow. Adding a fairy house or some other decorative item to a corner of their garden. Let them be creative!

Show off their work – when showing off the garden – either physically or through pictures – make sure to highlight the kids garden. This will ensue a sense of pride and accomplishment and creates a motivator for them to continue.

Encourage them to work it right to the end – work with the kids to see the garden season all the way through. Get them to help care for the garden even after the fruit has been harvested and teach them how to prep it for the winter and next growing season. This is a valuable lesson in teaching them the importance of all the steps and how each step supports the fruit that they produced and enjoyed. As well as all about the circle of life.

gardening with kidsModel what you want them to do – the easiest way to get them started is to be gardening yourself. Kids watch and learn from the adults in their lives so if they see you doing it they are going to want to do it to. Encourage them when they come over and ask questions, give them small tasks to get them involved and take time to answer their questions.

When I was little my aunt had a huge beautiful garden (and still does) that she worked and enjoyed every year. I loved going to her place and helping her, asking questions. Even as a family we had a small garden plot – and as a result all 3 of us girls love gardening and do so in our adult lives.

Starting with these simple tips will ensure the most success for gardening with kids. As you get going and the kids get older, with more experience you can then introduce concepts like rain barrels and why they’re beneficial, planting specific plants to attract pollinators like bees, humming birds and why that’s helpful to the earth. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about them now (as you are likely doing some of those things in your garden already) but you can use them as ways to expand and build on their knowledge as they go and so as not to overwhelm them with a lot of information at once.

The best tip though is to enjoy yourself! Get out there and have fun with the kids and reap the benefits as a bonus!

gardening with kids

Have some great tips for gardening with kids? Share in the comments below.

Earth Day Crafts for Kids

earth day crafts

I love taking kids outside and teaching them about nature. It’s so simple too, especially when they are young. They love being out there anyway and I love to nurture that wonder and curiosity, fostering that appreciation for the world around them.

It’s one of the reasons I really like celebrating Earth Day – though I believe we should be doing things every day to save and protect the Earth, it’s a great opportunity to enhance that experience and perhaps expand on it a little more.

One of the things I like to do is find ways to create natural or environmental crafts that either highlight nature or are created from recycled/ reused materials to demonstrate that there are other uses for things we have around the house.

I also find that it encourages them to expand their mind and look at things a little differently. Like I need a watering can but don’t have one. What can I use that I have or create in order to meet that need? Or how can I take this natural item and turn it into something else, learning a little more about it at the same time?

Plus it reduces our impact on the planet by reusing things creatively (and teaches children to do so as well).

Try these Earth Day Crafts from Recycled Materials

Children of all ages enjoy making crafts, and it is an excellent way to teach them about reusing and recycling. Make these fun and easy crafts with items from around the house.

Plastic Jug Watering Can

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • 2 litre plastic milk jug
  • small nail
  • hammer
  • stickers

Wash milk jug out thoroughly. Using nail, poke holes in the lid of the milk jug; this should be done by an adult. Have the child decorate the jug with stickers. Child may also decorate by painting the jug or gluing on buttons, beads or yarn instead of or in addition to the stickers. When finished, fill the jug with water, put on the lid and show the child how to tip the jug to water the garden.

Ladybug Rocks

What is needed:

  • smooth, round, oval rocksearth day crafts
  • acrylic paint in colors of choice
  • 2 googley eyes per ladybug
  • black sharpie marker
  • acrylic matte sealer
  • white glue

Wash and dry rocks. Paint the rocks in desired colors, let dry. Paint 1/4 of the rock black for the head and let dry. Using the black sharpie, draw a line straight down the center of the rock. Dip the paintbrush in black paint and paint dots on the back of ladybug. Once paint is dry spray with acrylic sealer. Glue on the eyes when the sealer is dry.

Coffee Ground Fossils

What is needed:

  • 1 cup of used coffee groundsearth day crafts
  • 1/2 cup of cold coffee
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • wax paper
  • mixing bowl
  • some small objects to make impressions in dough
  • empty can or butter knife
  • toothpicks
  • string to hang fossil, optional

Mix together coffee grounds, cold coffee, flour and salt. Knead dough and flatten it out on to waxed paper. Use the can or knife to cut out circles of dough large enough to fit “fossil” objects. Press objects firmly into the dough. Take object out. To hang fossil, poke holes into the edge to hold string. Let fossil dry overnight.

Paper Plate Earth (makes a nice keepsake)

What is needed:earth day crafts

  • small paper plate
  • blue paint
  • green paint
  • red construction paper – cut in shape of heart
  • white paper
  • paint brush
  • marker

Place the white piece of paper on table or counter. Make sure they child will be able to reach it easily. Paint one of the child’s hand green. Have them place their hand on the white paper, press down and then lift straight up to make a print. Let the hand dry.

Paint the paper plate blue, covering it entirely, so it looks like the Earth. Write the name of the person making the craft on the heart (if the child or person is old enough they can write their name themselves). While the paint is still wet place the heart on the left side of the plate – the wet paint will act like glue and it will stick. Cut out the green hand print in a circle shape, stick the hand on the blue plate on the right side. Let the whole thing dry.

I also recently found this Stained Glass Earth and Earth Day Balloon Stamping that I really enjoy. In fact, love the balloon stamping! Can’t wait to try it with the kids.

earth day crafts

Whatever you choose to make the kids will love it, and though they may not connect all the dots today about what it’s all about, an impression will have been made and you’ll be surprised what they remember and appreciate! And if your child’s not the crafty type you can always try out some of these great Earth Day hands on nature activities.

What are your favorite Earth Day or Recycled Crafts?

Winter Adventures – Snow Activities for Kids

Blog custom Snow Activities for Kids

Winter is one of those seasons that you tend to either love or hate. The cold, the snow, the blustery wind and ice. Yet there is a beauty in winter that is unrefined, undiscovered and definitely under appreciated.

Think about how the kids light up with delight when they see those first snowflakes falling from the sky, excited to get home and play in it, even if it is just the tiniest fluff. They’re not thinking about how they have to shovel it or how the roads are going to be. My kids often can’t wait to build a snowman or make a snow angel, and sometimes I have to tell them there just isn’t enough snow. But they go out anyway and try it or create something else.

I believe the key to appreciating winter is going out and doing fun activities that you enjoy, as well as knowing how to dress and how long to stay depending on the temperature. Because you don’t want to get frost bite or hypothermia no matter how much fun you’re having!snow activities for kids

Also exploring winter in different ways allows you to appreciate the unique things that the season offers, as well as providing some knowledge and understanding. Winter is a really beautiful season full of wonder. Think about the sunshine sparkling off the new fallen snow, glimmering in the the sunlight. The beauty and intricacy of a snowflake and how no two are ever alike.

It’s important to teach our children about the season and how to get out and enjoy it. Because let’s be honest, winter is not going to go away. It will always be here and unless you move – it’s happening. And with the growing rates of inactivity in children, it’s even more important to get them active and outside.

8 Fun Snow Activities for Kids

Use these snow activities to teach children about the beauty of winter and how to appreciate it. Children are naturally creative so these snow activities capitalize on their imaginations while using materials that are common in winter. It also helps them learn and question about what’s happening in the season.

Snow Painting 

snow activities for kidsA very simple but creative activity for children is painting or coloring in the snow. I did this with my preschool class at Trico and they were very engaged in it. We only had about 20 minutes that day but we could have easily doubled that time and kept them interested.

Mix a few drops of food coloring and water in a spray bottle and mix together. Pick a spot of undisturbed snow and spray the color on the snow. Sometimes we use plastic cookie cutters as a pattern and create a design. Do this by placing the cookie cutter on top of the snow and then have the child spray their color inside the cookie cutter. Gently lift the cookie cutter off the snow and voila! a perfect shape. You can also buy snow markers which comes with a colored powder that you add water to and mix in the marker bottle. This is a great idea but it is a one use for the mixture. The great thing about them is you have the marker container after the mixture is gone, which you can reuse again and again. Just add your own food coloring and water mixture.

Ice Castles

snow activities for kidsThis is one of my favorite snow activities for kids. It is like building a sand castle but you’re using ice instead! You have to plan ahead slightly to have your ice pieces ready but it is super fun, especially when you have beautiful colored blocks.

In a number of different sized containers, fill them with water and put in the freezer to freeze. If desired add food coloring to your water before freezing – this makes beautiful colored ice to use. Freeze a variety of shapes and colors – from ice cube trays to small yogurt containers.

Once frozen pop the ice out of the containers and let the children start building. They can create towers, cities or different kinds of sculptures. Encourage them to use the snow to help the ice stick together when needed.

Blow Bubbles

snow activities for kidsHave you ever blown bubbles outside in the winter? This is a really cool activity as the bubbles actually freeze. When the bubbles freeze you get amazing crystals of ice forming with unique designs (something you would’t see in warmer temperatures). It’s very cool because children can actually watch the bubbles freeze and the crystals form in the bubble. It’s a fascinating experience and one that will be different every time.

Snow Obstacle Course

Set up a small obstacle course in the snow. Pile up snow to make hills to go over or around, add in things like hula hoops for hopping or smaller piles of snow for weaving in and out of. Get the kids to help you create the obstacle course and then try it out!

Go Hunting for Tracks

snow activities for kidsGo exploring and look for animal tracks with the kids. Winter is one of the best times to see tracks as you have a great surface to create imprints. Help the kids identify the tracks and even create some of your own. This is best done in an area that is undisturbed by human traffic but to get started could be done around your neighborhood to discover dog, cat and bunny tracks.

Tic Tac Snow

Create a giant tic tac toe board in the snow. Use natural items like pine cones or twigs for the x’s and o’s. Taking turns one at a time each, each child places their natural item in a square, alternating until the board is full or one of them gets three in a row. The goal is to get a line of three of their natural items to win.

Snoball Throwing Contest

snow activities for kidsDraw a large circle in the snow. Have the children each create a pile of snowballs. Depending on the number in your group and the age of the children will depend on how many snowballs. With 3-5 year olds I would suggest they each make 2 or 3 each. Children 5 and up 3-5 snowballs. Draw a line in front of the circle for them to throw from. Again where you place this line will depend on the ages of the children. Have each child take a turn one at a time, throwing their snowball aiming to get it into and as close to the middle of the circle. Each child throws one snowball and then the next person goes, rotating until all the children have thrown all their snowballs. Whoever is closest to the middle of the circle wins.

Variation: Draw a circle in the snow for each child participating. Make sure the circles are all the same size and the ‘throw line’ is the same distance from each circle. Each child then throws their snowballs into their circle one at a time. This reduces wait time and allows each child to only compete with themselves, which is often more ideal with smaller children as they remain more engaged.

Explore with a Magnifying Glass

snow activities for kidsI find a magnifying glass to be a wonderful thing. It is very cool to see the world up close and even more so to make it a little bigger. Children often discover things they may not have before by just looking at something through a magnifying glass. In winter, let them explore by looking at snow, ice, tracks, and other natural items. Enhance this activity by getting them to look at different forms of ice and noticing the differences or similarities, like icicles or a sheet of ice over water (like a puddle). You can do this with snow (fresh undisturbed snow, compared to compact walked in snow) and other natural winter items.

If you want to take it one more level, get the children to draw what they saw through their magnifying glass on a piece of paper or journal. (Either have clipboards and pencils ready to do it outside or get them to do it once they return inside. If possible best to do it outside in the moment as they can not only see the item but their memory is the freshest).

Enjoying the snow can be more than the traditional snowmen, snow forts, skiing, toboganning, snow tubing, etc. Not that their is anything wrong with those activities but in some cases they are not always accessible. Expanding children’s horizons and understanding of winter in a unique way makes them love and appreciate this beautiful wonderous season. Plus there are minimal materials and equipment needed and are easy to do in your own backyard. These activities are great for adults too! so get out there and enjoy it with them.

snow activities for kids

What is your favorite snow activity and why? Share in the comments below.

Savor Signature Hot Chocolates at the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

yyc hot chocolate fest

It’s here again! The YYC Hot Chocolate Fest celebrating it’s 6th year serving delectable signature hot chocolates in a friendly competition all over Calgary and supporting Calgary Meals on Wheels.

This is one of my favorite times of year! Savoring, tasting, testing and indulging in various signature hot chocolates, created specifically for this event. Whip cream, marshmallows, chocolate and caramel sauce; with flavors such as Marble Coconut, Maple Bacon and Theatre Hot Chocolate. Each dripping with flavor and chocolatey goodness. Every year I try to get out and try them all but since I only have 28 days to do it, it makes it pretty tough!

This year there are 77 businesses participating, doubling the participants from last year. That would mean that I would have to have about 3 hot chocolates a day for the entire month in order to have them all. I guess as a hot chocolate connoisseur it’s a must!

yyc hot chocolate festI love the creativity and flare in this competition as the businesses create their own signature hot chocolates. Not only with their combination of ingredients but with the names for them as well. Like the Light Cellar’s White Chocolate Matcha Kiss or Blenz Will You Accept This Rose? There are traditional or classic hot chocolates as well as spirited ones that have that little extra kick. And if you’re dairy free not to worry there are a number of businesses (not all sadly) that do offer a dairy free option which means you can also be in hot chocolate heaven. Can you imagine? Where to begin?

The event runs from February 1-28 and people are encouraged to vote and rate each drink they try which is then used to determine the winner for best hot chocolate. Social media feeds such as Twitter and Instagram runneth over with pictures and comments on all these hot chocolates. Not only luring you out to try it yourself but helping to spread the word about the festival. And some of those pictures… yum! I just want to lick the screen.

There are also prizes for those who try the hot chocolates. You grab a passport from any of the participating businesses and when you go to each vendor and have their hot chocolate they cross off their square. Submit a photo of your completed passport and you could win a fabulous prize pack – even if you’ve only had one. I’ve always been one to ‘complete the whole thing’ (it’s like a scavenger hunt) so I am totally into this.

yyc hot chocolate festI also love going around Calgary and discovering some of the local businesses and coffee houses. It is a great way to promote those little tucked away spots that you may not have found otherwise. And you discover some neat tidbits too. I was at Blanco Cantina on the weekend, who offer a lovely spirited hot chocolate, Blanco’s Chocoloca, and discovered that they are the second largest carriers of different tequilas in Canada. In fact, from where I was sitting the whole wall in front of me was lined with many different kinds. I would have never stepped in there otherwise (and this fact was actually very exciting to my friend who loves tequila).

It also takes you to a lot of places in the downtown area, which for me personally is not a place I go to that often, but again encourages people to go and explore your own city a little more.

I think my definite favorite so far is the Saucy S’more Hot Chocolate at Sauce Italian Kitchen & Market, while the Corbeaux at Analog (basil infused Lindt white chocolate) is a very close second. I don’t know if it’s that big dollop of marshmallow meringue, all that expresso chocolate sauce or the yummy graham cracker crumbs… but with this one I was literally in heaven. So good.

Still, there are many more to try and I only have one more weekend left to get out there! On my list is the Guiness Hot Chocolate at the Fairmont Palliser and the Citrus Ginger Orange at Monogram Coffee. It’s doable right? Of course I’d love to try more but I need the festival to be a little longer! Or perhaps they might deliver? then I could just line them up at my house.

So grab the fam this weekend and get out there and try a few hot chocolates, maybe a Parisian or Lavender Love. Take lots of delectable pictures to put on Instagram and vote for the ones you like the best! It’s a great way to discover what’s in your own backyard and support a local charity while indulging in some delicious hot chocolate!

yyc hot chocolate fest

Winter Adventures – Snow Tubing

Blog Winter Adventures Snow Tubing

You could win a Family 4 Pack for Snow Tubing at Calgary’s Acura Snow Tube Park courtesy of WinSport. Enter here

Snow Tubing is a fabulous outdoor winter activity that has taken many ski resorts by storm! This exhilarating concept of cruising down the snow covered hill on an inner tube is not only fun but a great family activity.

A secondary activity to the toboggan, snow tubing originated sometime back in the 1800’s. The concept of cruising down the hill in a tube slowly gained popularity over the years and really took off in the 1990’s when many ski hills decided to offer an alternate outdoor activity for the increased non skiers that were coming to the hill.

snow tubingAnd let me tell you snow tubing is an absolute rush! We had the pleasure of trying snow tubing for the first time at Winsport’s Acura Tube Park here in Calgary. Boasting 9 lanes and Western Canada’s largest tube park, it is quite different than hopping on the toboggan and zooming down the hill. First off, it is safer as the tube park is set up with lanes, so when you go down the hill you have your own wide space to zip through. Plus it is staff supervised and they moderate when people go, making sure the lane is clear before the next person zooms down.

Second, you can save those legs going up and down the hill with your tube each time because you ride the magic carpet to the top. This allows you to stop and enjoy the ride up as well.

snow tubingThird, the lanes are groomed and maintained. So though you may experience some dips and curves they are none of the bumps or bare spots that you might run into on the traditional toboggan hill. Easier on the tailbone and the rest of the body!

The kids were super excited to give it a try. Children have to be at least 42″ to ride by themselves but children 36″ or more can go if they ride with an adult. Chloe was a little trepidatious but totally wanted to go by herself regardless. Luke, as he does, just watched everyone else go first, getting the lay of the land, seeing what to expect, and was quite confident to go on his own once it was his turn.

snow tubingWhen it’s your turn the staff actually give you a push and launch you down the lane. Either giving you a spin or sending you straight – which they ask you what you’d prefer before they do. Being a little cautious myself I asked for straight the first time I went, but honestly you want to spin! (Just remember to wait a minute or so when you get to the bottom cause you might be a little dizzy). It is so much more fun. Spinning and zooming safely down the hill really is exhilarating. I screamed every time and loved it!

You can also go down in groups of up to 4, where each person is in their own tube but you are all holding onto another tube in your group. This can also be lots of fun and another way to share the experience.

snow tubingPasses for the park are quite reasonable, starting at 18.99 for youth and can be purchased in 2, 3 or 4 hour rides. You also have the ability to reload your cards at a reduced rate for future rides!

The only downside is even though the park has 9 lanes it can get quite busy at the top and hard to determine which line for which lane you are in. Since they are newly opened, they are still working out some of the kinks in the running of the park so that it is smooth and efficient. But they are doing a great job! the staff are so fun and friendly and most people are pretty understanding about being patient and waiting their turn.

Snow tubing is a fabulous alternative to tobogganing and I feel a bit safer as it’s more controlled (you also don’t need to bring any equipment). And with the new bylaws here in Calgary only allowing toboganning on 22 designated hills it provides another great option for kids and families. I also love that it’s local! There are other snow tube parks in the mountains outside of Calgary like Norquay, Nakiska and Lake Louise but if you don’t want the addition of the longer drive then this is perfect! So zip down to WinSport and check it out before the season ends.

Want to experience Snow Tubing at the Acura Snow Tube Park for yourself? Enter here to win a Family 4 Pack courtesy of WinSport. Contest closes March 5.

5 Family Fall Festivals to Attend this Year

fall festivals

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I love getting out and enjoying the season, whether it be simply heading outside enoying the fall colors, a walk or out to one of the many Family Fall Festivals in and around Calgary.

I love taking the kids out to the many different festivals and events that celebrate Fall in and around Calgary. And there are definitely a lot to choose from! Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, apple festivals, harvest festivals and more. I actually didn’t realize just how many there were. I knew of the more common and popular ones but when I started researching I was surprised to find 20 or more to choose from. And there was a nice variety from free to ticketed events, days or evenings with activities that appeal to every age.

fall festivalsI was very excited about some of these and couldn’t wait to get out and attend, experiencing first hand what they were all about. Ones like the Torch Handbuilt Motorcycle Festival, the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival and BBQ on the Bow all sounded fantastic.

We do though have our favorites. Ones that we tend to go to each year due to the fact that they appeal to everyone in the family and are very well structured family events. At each of these, there is always something of interest for everyone.

Top 5 Family Fall Festivals

Calgary Corn Maze – Autumn Pumpkin Festival & Flashlight Nights

fall festivalsThere are a number of pumpkin patch events around Calgary but the Calgary Corn Maze is currently the one closest to us. They boast pumpkin games and crafts, as well as the pumpkin explosion! (this is something you just have to see). You can also enjoy fun farm activities as well as pick your own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch to purchase and take home. Plus you can still explore the maze, which is pretty beat down by this time of year but the kids still love cruising through it!

Flashlight Nights are on Friday evenings where you navigate the maze in the dark. If you arrive early you can still take in many of the family fun events before heading into the maze. It’s super fun to navigate in the dark and definitely gives you a whole new experience.

Illuminasia at the Calgary Zoo

The first time we attended this Illuminasia I was absolutely amazed. These handcrafted authentic Chinese Lanterns are gorgeous and definitely a sight to see. They are so beautiful as they “light up the zoo and set the stage for an experience like no other.” They fall festivalsare amazing. We went 3 times last year and enjoyed it every time. The Stage Show is not to miss as it is very well done and entertaining for all ages! It is a fantastic cultural event. There are other added activities such as Learning How a Lantern is made, musical performances, garden displays and learning about the national animals of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

Heritage Park – Fall Themed Weekends

Heritage Park has always been a favorite in our family. In the fall they are open weekends only until Thanksgiving and offer different themes for each of their weekends. Events such as the Harvest Sale and Railway Days feature different family activities and events around their theme. My kids love Railway Days as we all love trains! Of course as it gets closer to Halloween they offer a great kid friendly event, Ghoul’s Night Out.

Okotoks Harvest & Blues Festival

fall festivalsThis is a weekend of concerts, exhibits & activities to celebrate harvest and blues music! There are free family activities on Saturday, that include carnival games, face painting, wagon rides and a full blues concert from the back of a flatbed truck! There are also evening concerts (ticketed events) that feature various blues performers.

Calaway Park – Halloweekends

Open weekends in the Fall, Calaway Park celebrates Halloween all season with their Halloweekends. This family friendly Fall/ Halloween event is a great way to head out of town (just a little bit) and enjoy the Fall season. Wear family friendly costumes and stroll down Hallo Street, if you dare. Enjoy tricks and treats and spooktacular rides.

These family friendly fall festivals alone will keep you busy and the kids busy every weekend til Halloween, not to mention the other great festivals that I haven’t even mentioned yet. I certainly love our favorites but I would also recommend branching out a little bit and trying something new. I kind of make it a goal each season to go to one that we haven’t been to before and see what it’s all about.

One event that is coming up this weekend is Alberta Culture Days. Celebrated around the province this a vibrant, three-day celebration with a variety of events in your area. Not having attended this one before I am looking forward to checking it out this weekend!

fall festivalsI find that there are so many opportunities to get out and explore our city and surrounding area. Not only enjoying this beautiful Fall season but also learning a little bit more about our culture, heritage and community.

What Fall events are you attending this Fall?

Tips for Experiencing the Calgary Stampede with Kids

calgary stampede with kids

I love the Calgary Stampede! It is one of my most favorite times of year. The whole city comes alive with buzz and excitement, and the energy in the city is fantastic. When I had kids I knew that the Calgary Stampede would become one of our summer traditions. People looked at me like I was nuts wanting to take my kids to the grounds because it is busy, crazy and loud. But I have found over the years that going to the Calgary Stampede with Kids is not a difficult or horrible endeavor. In fact, with a little planning and awareness, you can have a fantastic day on the grounds with both you and the kids wanting to come back for more.

Tips for going to the Calgary Stampede with Kids

Pre-Plan

calgary stampede with kidsTake a look at the schedule and decide what events you would like to see and what days and times they are. Then plan the rest of your visit around them.

Go during the week

I always recommend you go with your kids on a weekday (omitting Kids Day and Family Day). The crowds are smaller and things are less busy. This will cut down on your waiting times and keep kids happier as they are engaged quicker.

Go early, leave early

Go early in the day, when the grounds open (typically 11 am – there are a couple of exceptions). You not only beat the crowds but head out with kids that are fed (give them a good breakfast), fresh and ready to go. Then when you’re ready to call it a day, for us it’s usually around 4 or 5, the evening crowds just starting to come in and you are on your way out.

Take your own food

Pack a lunch, healthy snacks and waterbottles for everyone. I find when my kids are fed and hydrated they are happier and last longer. I’m not saying don’t enjoy some of the fares on the grounds, but they can be quite expensive and add up fast. Also they are not always the healthiest choices and kids need good stuff to keep them going. When you have your own food, it allows you to feed the kids when they are hungry, without having to go find somewhere to eat, stand in line, etc. Also having water and staying hydrated is key. The grounds can get quite hot, so water is important.

Take advantage of the Free Kids Activitiescalgary stampede with kids

There are lots of free kids events like the Kids Tractor Pull, Chuck Challenge and Penning. There’s also Buckaroos with kids performances with their favorite characters, as well as a character performance on the Coca Cola Stage. There’s the Dog Bowl and the Corral show. Of course there’s the Kids Midway and new this year is the Indian Village Interpretative Program, where you can see daily dances, traditional Pow Wow and drumming. All free with gate admission.

 

Pre-purchase Ride Cards or other coupons

calgary stampede with kidsBefore the Stampede starts you can buy Ride n’ Play cards at Sobeys and Safeway. You cash them in on the grounds for either a ride all day wristband or 60 coupons and save about $20. They are only on sale though up until Stampede starts. Once it has started you cannot purchase them. You can also get deals or coupons on gate admissions. Kids to the age of 6 are free, but you can get free admission for 7-12 year olds when you buy a case of Coca Cola.

Don’t forget sunscreen and hats

It can get quite hot down there on a sunny day and the sun beating down on the pavement. Put sunscreen on before you go and take it with you to reapply throughout the day.

Dress for the weather

Weather during the Calgary Stampede can be unpredictable. Take a raincoat. Even though the prediction may be bright and sunny, thunderstorms are not uncommon this time of year. Also dress appropriately for the day. Bring layers or change of clothes for the kids.

Plan it into your Budget

calgary stampede with kidsThere are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, the Calgary Stampede is expensive. I always plan it into my budget each year as well as take advantage of the deals and coupons that provide savings, making my dollar go a little farther. Another good idea is to decide what amount you are willing to spend on the grounds. Be realistic but cap it and stick to it so you won’t regret it later.

Know your limit

Don’t do too much and don’t overstay, know when your kids have had enough and it’s time to go home. Better to go home on a high where you all want to go back, talking about what you’d like to see and do next year, then one where you’re so relieved to be home and will never go again.

Last but not least, have fun and take lots of pictures. Relax and enjoy. Don’t stress about the lines or the crowds (I always go over with my kids the expectations when we’re on the grounds, stick together, hold hands, etc. I also register them at the Lost Child booth as soon as we get into the park). Go with the flow and be able to let things go. It’s ok if you don’t get to it all.

Going to the Calgary Stampede with kids can be easy and fun. With a little pre-planning and a backpack of items with you, you’ll create an enjoyable and memorable experience for all. I have used these tips with my kids over the years and as a result they love it and ask to go back every year.calgary stampede with kids

Get Dirty! Mud Activities for Kids – Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids

mud activities

Mud glorious mud! I love mud. I love playing in it, building with it, digging in it, rolling in it, squishing my toes in it. No wonder kids are drawn to it, it is so much fun to play with. Whether you are covering yourself in it from head to toe or creating something with it, it just feels good. And it’s good for us!

Mud often gets a bad wrap because it can be quite messy and a huge job to clean up. But playing in mud is actually extremely healthy for us and is part of an innate need to not only ground ourselves (connect to the Earth) but a basic biological need for our growth and development. Plus it’s fun!

mud activitiesPlaying in the dirt and mud has many physical, psychological and emotional benefits. The exposure to natural organisms in the dirt actually builds strong healthy immune systems, decreases the risk of allergies and asthma as well as decreasing anxiety, depression, stress and obesity. It allows kids to get creative and explore their natural world. Whether they are building a mud house, making mud pies or just squishing their fingers through it.

And there are so many options when it comes to playing in the dirt. When I started exploring different mud activities I was surprised at how many things there were to do. Many of them quite simple (I’m sure a child would just come up with these things but as an adult sometimes I need a little nudge in the right direction).

Playing in mud certainly does not have to be a structured activity and there is a lot of value in free play, such as discovering limits, developing creativity and ideas, testing things. I find kids can play in mud for hours without any specific goal or purpose and in that they are learning. But there is also value in guided and structured play which helps a child focus on a specific goal, leading to deeper learning, development and expanding their exploration.

When I announced to the twins that we had a ‘mud project’ to do, Chloe was all over it, while Luke was a little hesitant and said he might not do it. I said that was fine but knew once he saw what was going on he’d likely get in there. (And I was right!)

3 Simple Mud Activities for Kids

What you will need:mud activities

  • big bag of dirt
  • water
  • buckets
  • shovels
  • old clothes

We used our sand table and started by dumping a big bag of garden dirt into it. It was the perfect height for the kids and kept it contained in one spot. I had put the kids in old clothes so that I didn’t have to worry about staining or washing. We added water and off they went, immediately starting to mix with their hands.

The first thing I did was just let them mix it, squish it, shape it, do whatever they wanted with it. There were lots of oohs and awes and screams of delight at how sticky and messy it was. Chloe soon started covering herself in it.

I had set out the materials for the two other mud activities I wanted them to try so they were ready for them to move to when they were ready. These were mud painting and making mud bricks. I had explained to them beforehand what activities we were going to do so they knew what was happening. This allowed them to move at their own pace and complete the activities.

mud activitiesMud Painting

  • paint brushes
  • large sheets of bristol board

This is simply taking mud and painting with it. Get a large piece of bristol board (you’ll want bristol board or something similar in thickness as paper will get soggy fast with the water content in the mud); and some paint brushes and let the kids go to town. You may find that they’ll quickly discard the brushes for their hands and that’s ok too.

Mud Bricks

  • egg cartons

We used an empty egg carton and packed the mud into the different sections. I explained to the kids that we did not want the mud to be higher than the top of the carton and that they needed to be levelled off. Once the carton was full, we put it in the sun to let them dry and set. Curious and excited the twins wanted to know how long it would take them to dry. I told them it would likely take a day for them to be ready, then we could pop them out and build with them.

Tips to make your mud activities successful (and easy clean up)mud activities

  • do it outside
  • set up the space you want them to do it in
  • go over expectations for mud play (where to do it, what activities they could try, etc.)
  • use a large tupperware, sand table or something similar to mix up your mud
  • use old clothes so you don’t have to worry about staining or washing
  • hose them off (literally) and clean them up outside

And get in there with them! Mud play is good for us adults to. Think about it, we go to the spa and spend money to get a mud wrap, willingly. Not that I’m saying don’t go to the spa, as it has so many other benefits, but playing in the mud at home is free! And it’s a great way to connect with your kids and share beautiful, fun, happy memories. So go ahead get dirty! Play in the mud!