Attractions & things to do for the kids in your life

TORONTO FUN BLOG

TOP-10 Advent Calendars!

Christmas | DIY crafts | For parents | Pinterest

Now is a good time to prepare fun and easy Advent Calendars! 

These, and more ideas, are all posted (with links to the original website with DIY                             instructions on my X for Xmas Pinterest board!

#1  Made out of Legos!

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#2  One pre-wrapped book a day! (They don't have to be new! They can even be borrowed to your local library! The fun part isn't to own them, but to unwrap a new story every day until Christmas.

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#3  Small envelops taped on the fridge, with a thought, a joke, an activity idea, a clue...

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#4  A toilet paper roll tree hiding small animals, gadgets or candies...

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#5  Paper cups elves hiding a treat!

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#6  Little wrapped surprises hanging there (no need to put hooks, you can just tie a knot)

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#7  Clothing pins, pinned around on a cardboard circle, with treat taped at the end

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#8  DIY board you can reuse next year. Use a glue gun to stick clothe pins on a board, to pin little gifts

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#9  More toilet paper rolls, this time in the shape of a little house

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#10  Muffin pan... Start on Dec. 14 if you have one with 12 slots.

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New street art around Corktown Common

For artsy kids

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A splash of colours at the right place!

Every week, I walk from Leslieville along King East to get to The Distillery. In October, I noticed an artist expertly drawing with spray paint on a pillar supporting the underpass, not too far from the Body Glitz Spa (497 King East). The following days, I brought my camera with me to follow the progress of the art piece which rapidly turned into four ambitious murals covering the four pillars, bringing a splash of colour in this otherwise grey part of town. 

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I'm thrilled because it will add to our visit to the fantastic Corktown Common. The murals are only a 3-minute walk from the Queen and Sumach streetcar stop (by Savoury Grounds coffee shop). Walking down Sumach, you get to admire a giant gnome on a building. Keep going, turn right on King and you'll see the murals. Then, a 7-min walk eastbound on King and down Lawrence Street will lead you to the fantastic Underpass Park and Corktown Common, a mere 200 metres further south (see the little map).

About StreetART

Here are photos of the making of the underpass murals. I had noticed that one of the persons involved with the project wore a sweater with StreetART logo. I looked it up and saw that it is an initiative of the City to embellish the town (and offer an outlet for artists). Each mural is signed by the thre artists Shalak Attack, Bruno Smoky and Fiya Bruxa.

In an interesting article by Anwar Ali (The new face of street art, Globe and Mail, Nov. 22), I learned that the murals are part of the Underpass Program, managed by StreetART.

Have you noticed paintings covering your local traffic signal boxes in the last two years? It is another StreetART initiative called Outside the box. How cool is that?

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If you arrive by Queen, you'll see the gnomes on Sumach Street. Walk to King then turn right.

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The first mural to appear features a woman surrounded by seas. Mother Earth?

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The second mural StreetART worked on features a young and urban Toronto, with highways and the new streetcar.

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Across the street, on the north side, the mural features a spectacular old man surrounded by references to an earlier Toronto.

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The fourth mural to be finished features a young child with the promise of a bright future thanks to a good education.

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Corktown, a boring neck of the wood no more!

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TOP-10 DIY gift ideas for mugs to make at the ceramic studio

DIY crafts | Pinterest

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Good time to go to a ceramic studio to make some personalized gifts!

Have you ever found yourself staring blankly at a white piece while sitting at the table in a ceramic studio? I have! (I'm talking about ceramic studios such as All Fired Up). Here are a few ideas of mug ideas to make at a ceramic studio found on Pinterest. There's more where it's coming from! Check the DIY fun boards: M of Mugs, P for Personal gifts and P for Personalized gifts with photos.

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TOP-10 suggestions for photo ops during school fairs

For parents | Pinterest | TOP fun lists

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For parents involved with the school council

As a member of the school council, my job was to organize the year-end family parties. Based on my experience, here are 10 cool ideas for photo ops during a fair. They speak for themselves but you'll find the links to their source on my Pinterest board titled: School Fairs: Photo ops. I also recommend you check my School Party & Fair & Fundraising board.

It can simply be a free activity within the fair, encouraging family to share it on the social media of your choice. If you choose to make it a fundraising activity, here are some suggestions:

1) You could charge a small fee for the privilege of using an ambitious decor.

2) People can pay for the right to take their photo with a special person (costumed principal, local celebrity or... a cute dog) 

3) A volunteer could be the official photographer with a decent camera and take photos of people who make a small donation. Special props or decor could be used. Another volunteer would note the email address to send the digital photo to the donor with some detail about his/her clothing (in chronological order, so the photographer can match the photo with the right email).

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TOP-10 fun things at Royal Winter Fair 2014

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Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2014 is on from November 7 to November 16!

It is a wonderful event for animal lovers of all ages where the best cows, horses and other farm animals are competing, then to be sold in auctions. It is an occasion for the agricultural industry to feature all kinds of farm-related activities and products for the benefit of the general public.

I've attended the Royal Winter Fair on many occasions with my family and we've always come across cool activities during our visits but it was often by pure luck. The truth is that if you don't explore the attraction's website prior to your visit (a time consuming task), chances are you will have the nagging feeling you’re missing out on a great activity while you're attending another.

I sifted through the Fair's website to find the 2014 activities that seem of most interest to children. (Note that the link to the Fair Map is in the top right menu on their website.)


TOP-10 fun things at the Royal Fair (check their schedule at the door on the day of your visit!)

In the President’s Choice Animal Theatre 

1) Rabbit jumping!

I’ve never seen big rabbits jumping over tiny obstacles. This activity is offered on two days only: Saturday Nov. 8 at 2:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m, and Saturday Nov. 15 at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. (Note that their activity Goats on the Go includes goats jumping and doing other tricks will be offered once, daily from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15.)

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2) President’s Choice Superdogs 

Offered twice every day. The dogs are so eager, it’s pure fun to watch them go. (Note that there will also be Jack Russell Races on the weekends: Sat. Nov. 8, 5:30 p.m.; Sun. Nov. 9, 3 p.m.; Sat. Nov. 15, 1:30 p.m.; Sun. Nov. 16, 11:45 a.m.)

3) Santa Claus and his live reindeer 

Santa will be at the Fair but only on Sunday Nov. 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.. Note that there will also be decorated Christmas Trees competing in the Sheridan Nurseries Winter Gallery

4) Mounted Police

Another unique offer is the Mounted Police on Tuesday Nov. 11 at 11:15 a.m. where we will watch and learn about this surprising side of Toronto Police.

In Hall B

5) Pizza Pizza Petting Farm 

With 60 animals, a big hit with every one. 

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6) Giant Vegetable Competition

In the Harvest Path (wherever that is! they don't explain on the map). When we visited, there was a 1093-pound giant pumpkin! Apparently the biggest one they saw at the Fair was 1414.6 lbs! The competition takes place on Nov. 8. The vegetables remain on site until the end of the Fair.

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7) Butter Sculpture Competition. Artists can be seen sculpting butter in the refrigerated Butter Sculpture Trailer (usually in the first six days of the Fair). In orevious years, after the competition, the winner got to create a new sculpture for the next three days. Try to tell your kids not to play with their food after that!

In Scotiabank Ring of Excellence

8) Many farm animal competitions take place in the barns during the Fair but two of them take place in the Ring of Excellence. The Rabbits and Cavies show is on Sunday Nov. 16 (your chance to see 600 rabbits and cavies!). The Poultry, Waterfowl and Pigeon show is also ineresting, featuring 800 birds. It is offered Tuesday Nov. 11 and Wednesday Nov. 12. (Note about the following photo: This photo was taken years ago, in a part of the Fair where we could admire the poultry waiting for the competition. I don't if it is still accessible.)

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In the Horse Palace

9) Different breeds of horses compete in the Horse Palace. While you’re there, play an i-SPY game with your kids, trying to spot as many horse-theme details as possible in and around the building. 

In the Ricoh Coliseum

This is the part about the Fair that most confused me the first times I visited the attraction. Most of the Royal Horse Show performances are ticketed events not included with the ground admission to the Royal Winter Fair (they cost around $50 per person but include ground admission). But there are moments when you can see Royal Horse Show shorter free performances in the Ricoh Coliseum. 

10) Royal Horse Show FREE performances

Friday Nov. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday Nov. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Monday Nov. 10 from 6:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tuesday Nov. 11 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon amd 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday Nov. 12 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Thursday Nov. 13 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m.

Saturday Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

Sunday Nov. 16 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Buy the book Toronto Street Art Strolls

Nathalie's tips for a smooth outing

After years of doing all kinds of outings with my children, I can assure you the secret to a perfect outing lies in the details, not the destination.

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