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Enjoying the Holidays: 9 Tips for Families of Children With Special Needs

Provided by the Episcopal Center for Children; photo: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Thinkstock

The holidays can be fun, but they can add stress to the lives of children with special needs. The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization serving children with special needs ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers the following tips to help.

“Children with special needs enjoy the holidays but they are especially sensitive to the changes in routines that the holidays bring,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “Making a plan and adjusting your expectations can go a long way to creating a positive holiday experience for the entire family.”

Tip #1 – Make a plan for the holidays and share it with your family. Create a schedule for your family’s holiday activities and post it for your child to see. You may need to use pictures to help a young child. Talk about the schedule with your child, so he or she can anticipate what will happen. Review the schedule weekly. Also discuss the schedule with others in your home, so they understand what is going on and how they can best support your child with special needs, so everyone can have a fun holiday.

Tip #2 – For holiday gatherings, give your child a job and a schedule. Ask your child to help collect coats, give out treats, or greet arrivals. Rehearse the plan. Give your child a schedule for a festive occasion so he or she knows what to anticipate.

Tip #3 – Maintain routines as much as possible. There may be special activities for the holidays, but try to keep your child’s schedule as close to “normal” as possible. 

Tip #4 – Eat healthy foods and know how new or special foods impact your child. During the holidays there are all sorts of fun foods and treats to enjoy. Some children are more affected than others by dietary changes. Pay attention to your child’s moods and how diet and situational changes may be impacting him or her. Bring along with you food that is familiar to your child if you think it may be needed.

Tip #5 – If your child is sensitive to unfamiliar smells, help manage them. You can add a little cinnamon to play compound to help a child experience this smell minimally. Ask guests visiting your home to not wear heavy perfumes if your child is sensitive to them.

Tip #6 – Get your child into the spirit of the season through gift giving. Gift giving provides an opportunity to practice social skills. Help your child make a gift for someone else, and practice how to give the gift to that person.

Tip #7 – Take breaks when needed. Sometimes children need a break from the hubbub of holiday activities and busyness. Fill a bag or backpack with a few favorite toys, games or activities. If you see your child is getting stressed, get out the bag and find a quiet spot to get them out.

Tip #8 – Do not allow presents to be a hindrance to enjoyment. Some children with special needs find it dis-orienting to unwrap things that are new and unfamiliar to them. If that is the case for your child, wrap a few favorite toys for your child to unwrap. Children who have trouble with fine motor skills may find unwrapping some gifts frustrating. You can adjust packages to their comfort level by loosening ribbons and paper. And ask others who give your child gifts to be aware of his or her needs.

Tip #9 – Give your child the gift of your attention. Holidays can be busy for grown-ups and children. Make sure you spend a few minutes of quality time with your child. Give him or her your full attention. Practice active listening, where you listen to what your child is saying and then repeat it back to them to demonstrate that you were listening.

Where to See Santa Claus 2016!

ChristmasSanta at the Mall

Bass Pro Shops at CrossIron Mills
The most wonderful time of the year is almost here! Gather the family and come to experience the joy of a classic Christmas. Get a free photo with Santa then stay for FREE games, crafts and activities that celebrate the season. If it’s busy, the store will give you a Bass Pass to come back later and skip the line.
When: November 13 – December 24, 2016
Location: 261055 Crossiron Blvd, Rocky View AB

Chinook Centre
Santa arrives at Chinook Centre on November 28, and would love for you to visit. Book ahead online and skip the long lines – this is a very popular spot to see Santa!
When: November 25 – December 24, 2016
Location: 6455 Macleod Trail SW, Calgary AB

Deerfoot City
Featuring a backdrop of real trees offering beautiful keepsake photos. Located in the North Sport Chek corridor this year and photos are available at the 2016 special rate of $9.99/sheet.
When: November 25 – December 24, 2016
Location: 901 64 Ave NE, Calgary AB

Market Mall
Santa will be welcoming visitors at his Playland in Market Mall. Make sure to book ahead! If you have time, why not visit the Magic Gift Workshop and have a gift wrapped by the Tufties?
When: November 20 – December 24, 2016
Location: 3625 Shaganappi Trail NW, Calgary AB

Marlborough Mall
Visit Santa all season long. Check the website for hours.
When: November 19 – 24, 2016
Location: 3800 Memorial Dr NE, Calgary, AB

Northland Village Mall
Northland Village’s Village Square will be transformed into Sugarplum Lane. Parents can bring their children for fun activities, yummy treats, and a visit with Santa! Be sure to bring your camera to take photos for a small donation to Habitat to Humanity (no photographer onsite).
When: December 1 – December 24, 2016
Location: 5111 Northland Drive NW, Calgary AB

Southcentre Mall
While waiting for Santa, your kids can watch a holiday movie at the Magic Pond, located near Santa’s Enchanted Forest or take an Elfie Selfie! After seeing Santa, be sure to decorate your own cookie in the Cookie Kitchen. Southcentre has a list of the busiest times on their website.
When: November 19 – December 24, 2016
Location: 100 Anderson Road SE, Calgary AB

Sunridge Mall
Santa will arrive at Sunridge Mall on December 1, 2016 and they are offering Santa photos free of charge this year; just bring your own camera, camcorder or smartphone. In lieu of payment, a monetary donation to KidSport Calgary is gratefully requested.
When: December 1 – 24, 2016
Location: 2525 36 St NE, Calgary AB

Westbrook Mall
Visit with Santa at Center Court!
When: November 19 – December 24, 2016
Location: 1200 37 St SW, Calgary AB

Other Places to See Santa:

Airdrie Santa Claus Parade
Take family and friends to the Santa Claus Parade where Santa and numerous floats roll down on Main Street and light up the downtown. This is a fun, festive way to set the mood for your holiday.
When: December 3, 2016 – 5 p.m.
Location: Main Street – The Parade will start at Fletcher Park (6th Ave NW and Main Street) and will proceed southbound Main street to Ridgegate.

High River Santa Claus Parade
Join the third annual Light Up George Land Park and the 30th annual Santa Claus Parade. There will be live music, entertainment, photos with Santa, firepits, hot chocolate, unique gifts and more!
When: December 2, 2016
Location: Downtown High River

Fort Macleod Santa Claus Parade
Parade starts at 11AM and runs down 2nd Ave. to Main Street and then heads East up Main Street to 6th Ave and turns north to 25th Street. Come join us for music, fun and the start of the Christmas season!
When: November 26, 2016
Location: Fort Macleod

Holiday Shopping with Kids

by Elizabeth Pantley; photo:

It’s the time of year when many people hit the stores shopping for the best bargains in gifts and holiday foods. It’s also the time of year for kids to beg, whine, fuss and have major meltdowns and tantrums in the malls and stores. Here are some tips to make your shopping trips pleasant – and maybe even fun!

Understand what’s really happening

Typically, it’s not shopping that young children object to, but the stressful environment and the business-like approach parents adopt when holiday shopping. In addition to that, the length of most shopping excursions tends to exceed a child’s limited amount of patience. So here’s what to do to make your outings more peaceful and maybe even fun:

View shopping trips as a holiday event, rather than an errand.

This is a great time to achieve two things at once: get your shopping done and have quality time with your child. Many shops are decorated for the holidays – so take a few extra minutes to view and appreciate these. Stop for a hot chocolate, snack or juice. When you have a more cheerful attitude it can easily rub off on your child.

Plan more time to shop.

When you’re not in a rush, you and your child will be more relaxed and have a better time. Make a list in advance, plan your route and stick to it. Roaming the stores pondering choices makes it a much longer event.

Engage your child.

Show your child all the interesting things on the shelves. New things to see and smell are everywhere! Older children love to be helpers at the store. They can make the choice between two different things, find items on the shelves, or put things in the cart. Children who can read might enjoy having their own short list of items to find. Having a voice in what you put in the cart is very exciting and empowering for children.

Make it safe and comfortable.

Use a sling, baby carrier, backpack or toddler-friendly shopping cart. Carriers are great for babies since they can securely and safely watch all that is happening around them. Older babies and toddlers love those fun car-shaped carts. If you’re going to be a while, add a towel to soften the seat bottom for a more comfy ride.

Respect your child’s desires.

A simple acknowledgement can help: “Yummy. Those cookies do look good.” Follow this up with an explanation of why you’ll not be buying them, without sounding reproving, such as, “We’re not buying any cookies today, because when we get home we are going to bake our very own cookies!”

Create a wish list.

Whenever your child declares, “I want this!” tell him that you’ll remember that. Jot it down on paper and call it his ‘wish list.’ If he sees you actually writing down his desires it can take the sting out of not bringing home the object of his desire.

Prevent the constant “gimmees.”

Let your child know in advance what things you will or will not be buying before you enter the store. If you can, allow him to choose one small treat to put in the basket each time you shop. If this is the routine your child will know not to ask for an endless list of things. Having to decide on one specific thing also gives a purpose to the trip.

Have consistent rules and remind the kids of these before your trip.

It can help to write out the top four or five shopping rules. Put the notes in the car or your purse and review them each time before you even begin to shop.

What not to do

Don’t take a hungry child shopping.

You might not intentionally plan this, but it happens. If it has been an hour or two since your child last ate, the first item on your list should be a snack that your child can eat as you shop. A box of crackers or a bag of pretzels can work wonders to take the edge off. Ask a clerk if your child can eat it now and then you’ll pay for the empty bag. Or ask if the store provides a free child’s snack, often you’ll find free fruit for this purpose in the produce department.

Don’t take a tired child shopping.

Avoid scheduling shopping trips too close to nap or bed time. Tired children are absolutely more fussy and impatient. Which make parents more edgy, which can, in turn, make the trip miserable.

Don’t shop at the store’s busiest hours.

When possible, schedule shopping times to avoid the biggest crowds. More people in the store mean longer lines and more complications. A quiet, less-populated store will also help you feel less stressed. A cashier or manager may be able to recommend good shopping times.

First seen on Kids in the House. These tips are from The No-Cry Discipline Solution.

Kids Helping Kids

by Christina Rowsell

P95_smallAs parents we hope our children grow up to be responsible, kind and giving. The only way that will happen is if we instill that positive energy around them. You’ve heard the saying, “Children lead by example.” Which often puts pressure on the parents to constantly show their children how to be responsible, kind and giving. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just not always easy to do. However, what if children were led by the example of other children?

100 Kids Who Care Calgary is doing just that. The idea was born off of 100 Women Who Care Calgary. Which was born off of 100 Women Who Care. The original idea started with Karen Dunigan in Jackson, Michigan in 2006.

Co-founder of 100 Kids Calgary Danielle Donovan says it’s inspiring to see the next generation of givers in Calgary. Donovan says, “I wanted to find a way to introduce my children to the concept of giving and supporting those in need within our community.” Donovan, who is a stay at home mother of three under the age of eight, wanted to find a charity where her young children could be actively involved beyond simply sending money. After attending her first 100 Women meeting in Calgary, Donovan knew she had found what she had been looking for.

The vision of 100 Kids Who Care Calgary is to teach the next generation the importance of supporting our community and that even children can make a big difference in the lives of others. We truly are stronger together.  These children range in age from five to 17. They get together four times a year to make a big impact in their community.

The latest meeting was held October 12, 2016 at Elbow Valley Golf Course, who donated the space. The kids did an amazing job speaking for their charities. The winner of the group donation was Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids, nominated by Tristan.

Tristan reminded us the importance a nutritious meal has on children’s lives. Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids strives to ensure there are no hungry kids in Calgary. Their mission is to work with local schools to identify hungry kids and ways to feed them. They know that children require healthy food to be able to focus on their education and become the best that they can be.

Their ultimate goal is to become a catalyst in the advancement of community based initiatives to break down barriers caused by malnutrition. In the end, their focus is on fostering healthy development, nutritional education, and ending youth hunger in Calgary.

Wonderful opportunity for our children to learn about amazing charities right in our own back yard. The commitment of 100 Kids Who Care Calgary is a $10.00 donatation four times a year. With a hundred kids or more that’s going to make a huge impact.

The next 100 Kids Who Care Calgary is coming up soon. To find out more and to join visit

What’s Up in October?

Our Fall may be short in Calgary, but we love it! October is packed full of fabulous family-friendly events, performances, festivals, and more! Looking for something  to do? Check it out!

The Calgary Baby & Tot Show
October 1, 9:30am to 5:30pm & October 2, 11am to 5pm. There will be local and national exhibitors showcasing the latest in technology, apparel, toys, and more to assist parents every step of the way! There will also be interactive workshops and seminars, parented play areas, arts & crafts, and ongoing entertainment! Free admission for kids 12 and under. For more information and to purchase tickets online and save, visit the website.

The South Calgary Wellness Fair – Teddy Bear Clinic
Saturday Oct 1, 2016 at 9:30 am – 1:00 pm. The South Calgary Wellness Fair is an annual event, with its theme of “Making Healthy Connections and Healthy Choices.” This Fair is for children, families, and seniors with displays, activities, and events. There will be displays of health and wellness resources, vehicles such as the Man Van, EMS, Police, Fire, the Alex Dental Health Bus, and the Library Book Mobile, as well as activities and entertainment for all ages. There will also be a Teddy Bear Clinic (bring your teddy bear or a doll for a check-up with family physician, mental and speech therapist, nurses), Colossal Play Date, Cultural Dancing, Face Painting, Henna, games for children, and activities for Seniors (Tea, Bingo, Multicultural Fashion Show). Everyone is welcome at this free event! Interpreters will be available. Check the website.

Family Fall Festival at The Jungle Farm
Saturday Oct 1, 2016 at 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Celebrate Fall with some Fall fun! Come out and enjoy all that The Jungle Farm offers as well as a great local band, scarecrow building and more! There will be lots of kids and family activities to take part in. Check the website for more information.

The City of Calgary: A Walk in the Park
Saturday Oct 1, 2016 at 10:00 am – 11:30 am. A fun and informative guided walk in beautiful Edworthy Park! Learn about the park’s origin and wildlife, explore the historical Lawrey Gardens, and more! Wheel chair and stroller accessible. For more information, visit the website.

The Calgary Reptile Expo
October 1, 10am to 5pm & October 2, 11am to 4pm. The Calgary Reptile Expo! This expo is free for kids 3 and under and TARAS members. For more information, visit the website.

TeenFest at Shakers Fun Centre
Saturday Oct 1, 2016 at 11:00 am – 4:30 pm. By creating opportunities for interaction, activities, workshops, and performances, TeenFest (for ages 12 to 18 and their families) will engage and connect to the businesses and organizations that support our youth. For more information, visit the website.

Culture Fest 2016
Sunday Oct 2, 2016 at 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm. Welcome to Culture Fest 2016! This is also a free family event. For all the festival details, visit the website.

October 7 to 17, check website for schedule. Wordfest is coming to Calgary! Creators of the books Fox and Squirrel and If I had a Gryphon will dazzle readers! See them live at the Glenbow Museum Theatre on October 12 at 10am. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Thanksgiving Pie Bake-Off
Oct 7, 2016 – Oct 8, 2016 at 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Fall is here and thoughts of Thanksgiving dinner are starting to tempt your tastebuds. To help you select the pie you will serve up this year, join for the 4th Annual Thanksgiving Pie Bake Off, and choose a favorite pie in support of the Calgary Food Bank. Make a cash donation to the Calgary Food Bank and you will sample the 5 delicious pies, satisfy your taste buds, and help ensure all Calgarians have food on their plates this Thanksgiving. Join for the Pie Bake-Off on Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8 from 11am to 2pm in-between Innisfail Growers and Big T’s Smokehouse. It’s going to be slice! Check the website for more details.

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Presents, Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time
October 7 at 7:30pm and October 8 at 2pm. Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Presents, Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time. Capture your family’s imagination with the music of Frozen, Tangled, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King performed alongside original Disney film clips. To purchase tickets, contact 403-571-0849 or visit the website,

Mommylicious: A Trade Fair & Fun Event
Sunday Oct 16, 2016 at 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. This is a free event! There will be 40+ vendors, a bouncy house, face painting, craft area, kids fun zone, reading nook, and much more! For more information, visit the website.

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy & One-Man Lord of the Rings
One-Man Star Wars Trilogy plays October 18, 20, 22*, 23*, 26, 28*, 29*. One-Man Lord of the Rings plays October 19, 21, 22*, 23*, 25, 27, 28*, 29*. *Two-show double feature. Canadian actor and uber geek, Charles Ross, brings his solo madcap creation One-Man Star Wars Trilogy to the stage in this mind-bending whirlwind of a show. Ross retells the classic trilogy in 60 minutes – all the characters, the music, the ships, and the battles.  One ring to rule them all, and one man to perform the entire Lord of the Rings adventure in one night! Watch as he recreates the enchanting world of Middle-earth with nothing more than elbow pads and his outrageous imagination. Be prepared to journey through the trilogy: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King in 3,600 seconds of unbelievable kinetic entertainment!

One-Man Star Wars Trilogy runs in rep (alternating evenings, some double-features) with One-Man Lord of the Rings at Pumphouse Theatre, October 18 to 29. The Lord of the Rings and the characters, items, events and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises. All rights reserved. One Man Star Wars Trilogy performed with permission of Lucasfilm Ltd. All ‘Star Wars’ elements property of Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Check the website for more information.

Y Stage Theatre Series Presents, Alligator Pie
Oct 21, 2016 – Oct 23, 2016. Check website for show times. Y Stage Theatre Series Presents, Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie, at Vertigo Theatre. Alligator Pie brings the celebrated children’s poems of Canada’s Father Goose, Dennis Lee, to vibrant theatrical life. For ages 3+. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Strathcona Square Pumpkin Festival
Saturday Oct 22, 2016 at 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Strathcona Square has been apart of the community & city since 1992, while their community has grown and others have grown around them they have maintained that community spirit. In recognition of that spirit Strathcona Square is hosting its first “Pumpkin Festival” on Saturday October 22 from 11:30-3pm free of charge and open to everyone!

The Pumpkin Festival will have a Pumpkin Pie & Pumpkin Carving Contest with prizes for the TOP 3 in contests, Entertainment and activites. Do you think or have been told that you have the BEST Pumpkin Pie ever, than enter our contest today; registration forms available at various merchants in the Square who have the Poster in their Window or contact us at or

The Pumpkin Pie contest is open to Amateur and Professionals alike. Ok calling all Children & Families; do you have fun creating your carved pumpkins for Halloween, if so this contest is for you; The Strathcona Square Pumpkin Carving Contest enter our contest today! Registration forms available at various merchants in the Square who have the Poster in their Window or contact us at or

Ghouls’ Night Out at Heritage Park
October 27 to 29 from 6 to 9pm & October 30 from 4 to 7pm. Ghouls’ Night Out at Heritage Park Historical Village! Have tea with the Mad Hatter, wander through the pumpkin patch, play carnival games, dance with Zombies, and more! For ages 3 to 9. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Monster Mash Halloween Bash at Village Square Leisure Centre
Friday Oct 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Come dressed in your favorite costume and join for creepy crafts, ghostly games, and ghoulish activities! This is a free event.

Monster Mash-Up at TELUS Spark (Sponsored by Calgary’s Child)
October 29 & 30 from 10am to 5pm. Monster Mash-Up at TELUS Spark! Proudly Sponsored by Calgary’s Child Magazine. Monster Mash-Up is the perfect family-friendly event to kick-start your Halloween celebrations. Enjoy activities and watch a live science demonstration with the whole family to get everyone in the Halloween spirit. It’s sure to be a frightfully fun time! Cost: Included with Membership and Admission. Free for kids 3 and under. For more information, visit the website.

Illuminasia – Magic for the Whole Family!

If you’ve been at the Calgary Zoo lately you have probably seen the beautiful silk lanterns of Illumninasia have returned for a second year. And, while they are a beautiful addition to look at on your day trip adventures they are absolutely spectacular when the lights go down.


The lanterns themselves (over 260 of them) were individually created over five weeks by a team of 55 highly skilled artisans. The display stretches from the North Entrance and is centralized around the conservatory and the gardens.  They showcase the four seasons and culturally significant animals. One of our favourite displays is the Flower basket on your way down to the bridge to the island. For those curious about how such magical pieces were created you can learn about the process displayed on 12 lanterns set up just outside the Kitimba Café.

While the lanterns are the big draw there are also drop-in activities, entertainment performances, and paid activities. The artists who do the calligraphy are amazing.


The program run from ThursdaySunday from 7 p.m. until 10 P.m. and will only be available until October 16, 2016.

Here is our guide for taking your family to see the lanterns:

  • Plan to go early – there is nothing more spectacular than watching the lanterns slowly come to life as the sun sets. The Zoo recommends giving you and your family between 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes to get the best experience.
  • Pack for the weather – the sun sets quickly and it’s great to have some warm clothes, blankets or mittens.  Or warm up by doing one of the kids’ activities in the Kitimba Café.
  • It gets crowded – for the best views of the lanterns walk around while The Journey of the Monkey Princess is happening at the main stage by Grazers. The family show happens at 7:30 and the second show geared to an older audience happens at 8:30.
  • On that note: Skip the Stroller – or wagon if you can. We know they are handy but there are lots of people and some of the displays are in spaces where it’s hard to maneuver and you’ll have to find parking for it if you watch the show.
  • Set on seeing the show? Get there early. There are lots of hay bales set up for seating as well as limited risers. While there are good views from almost everywhere if you have small children you’ll want to stay way back from the speakers.
  • Most importantly? Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!


We hope you enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Plan you path around the Calgary Zoo with this handy map!

General Admission

  • Adult $24 + GST
  • Child $15 + GST

Engage Members (20% discount)

  • Adult $19.20 + GST
  • Senior $19.20 +GST
  • Child $12 + GST

There is also a charge for parking $7 per vehicle.


Fun Before the Snow Flies

It’s September, and Calgarians know that means the snow is coming! Looking for a few last things to do before the snow really gets flying? There are all kinds of fun and exciting events going on around town over the next couple weeks which you should really check out!

Sep 14 to Sep 18
A smashup of art, science, and engineering! Festival events are held city-wide across Calgary. For full schedule details and to plan your festivities, visit the website.

Calgary Greek Festival
Sep 16 to Sep 18
Enjoy traditional Greek food, entertainment and culture as the Greek community of Calgary hosts its annual festival! For more information and schedule of events, visit the website.

Full Moon Maze at The Jungle Farm
Sep 16, 7 to 10pm
Want an event for those needing a little thrill? The Jungle Farm corn maze will be open this evening from 7 to 10pm to enjoy by moonlight! The cool Fall air may be a little chilly, so you may want to bring your jacket and a flashlight. Check the website for more information.

2016 Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival
Sep 21 to Sep 25
The 2016 Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival features 20+ hot air balloons from across Canada and the world flying over High River, with many pilots competing in the Canadian Balloon Championship. Friday evening balloon glow gives visitors the opportunity to see the balloons up close, meet the pilots and visit the food trucks. (All flights and events weather-dependent.) Check the website for more information.

Friday Flashlight Nights at the Calgary Corn Maze
Sep 23 and Sep 30
Bring a flashlight and your send of direction. Last admission is at 8pm. And catch the last pig race at 7:15pm. There are also tons of great pumpkins to choose from in the patch! Check the website for more information.

2nd Annual Kiwanis Apple Festival.
Sep 24 to Sep 25, 10-4 pm
There is free admission. Have some family fun with apple baking and tasting, bouncy castle, face painting, games, farmers’ market, live entertainment, silent auction and more! Net revenue to support the operation of Kamp Kiwanis, a summer camp for underprivileged/disadvantaged children. /KiwanisAppleFestival@KiwanisApple. Website.

Family Fall Fair 2016
Sep 24, 2016, 10 to 4pm
Canmore Community Daycare Society Presents the Fall Fair 2016, a fundraiser for the Canmore Community Daycare Society. Lots of activities for families (horse rides, clowns, face painting, bouncy castle, live music, photo booth, hay maze…and more). Affordable fun for all! Have fun! Learn a few things! Celebrate children, families and our amazing community! Website.

Railway Days at Heritage Park
Sep 24 to Sep 25, 10 to 5pm
Ignite your imagination as the trains take centre stage with demonstrations, hands-on activities, and exciting exhibits. Take part in the Kids’ Railway Challenge. Enter to win great prizes! For more information, visit the website.

Autumn Jubilee at Kayben Farms
Sep 24 to Sep 25, 2016, 10 to 5pm
Going beyond the pumpkin patch! Kayben Farms introduces Autumn Jubilee. Celebrate the Fall season for four weekends at Kayben Farms with special events, entertainment, music, displays, and shopping. September 24 & 25: Celebrating local talent – live music on stage all day. October 1 & 2: Artists in action – shop at an artisan market, watch artists create on stage. October 8 & 9: It’s all about food! Sampling, buying, and discovering local food. October 15 & 16: Honouring agriculture, past and present. For more details, visit the website.

What’s Up This Weekend? – September 9 to 11

94_Autonomy_S128Second Annual ILLUMINASIA Garden and Lantern Festival at the Calgary Zoo
Every Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sep 8, 2016 – Oct 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Thursdays through Sundays, September 8 to October 16. Authentic Chinese lanterns will light up the Calgary Zoo and set the stage for a unique experience like no other in Calgary! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

The LEGO Imagine Nation Tour
Friday Sep 9, 2016 at 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm
The LEGO Imagine Nation Tour is stopping at Calgary’s BMO Centre from September 9 to 11! LEGO fans of all ages can discover life-size LEGO models, dive into a huge Brick Pit, learn from a Master Model Builder, walk away with giveaway, and witness a reproduction of the Calgary Saddle Dome being built out of LEGO bricks! This event offers five sessions throughout the weekend. Visit the website to learn more about the tour, to explore dates and session times, and to purchase tickets. Tickets will also be available at the door for purchase with major credit cards (no cash transactions).

Calgary Produce Marketing Association Harvest Sale at Heritage Park
Everyday from Sep 10, 2016 – Sep 11, 2016 at 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
September 10 & 11. Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies at rock-bottom prices that benefit local charities. Then stay and enjoy activities throughout the Park! For more information, visit the website.

Dream Day Fall Fair
Saturday Sep 10, 2016 at 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dream Day Fall Fair is coming to the Town of Crossfield! Dream Day is everything you loved about Fall Fairs growing up, from rides and carnival food, to having your face painted and meeting some furry friends at the petting Zoo. Also, there will be 7 show homes by Homes by Dream Calgary, ReidBuilt Homes Calgary, and McKee Homes on display. You don’t want to miss this great event for kids, adults and families. Best of all, it’s free! Here is a list of all the fun events/activities to expect: Food Truck (Spud Studz); BBQ; Ice Cream Truck; Lemonade Truck (Family Freezed); Cotton Candy Stand (Sugar Cube); Popcorn Truck (Sugar Creek Gourmet Popcorn). Activities: Euro Bungee; Face Painters; Balloon Artists; Magician; Arts and Crafts Booth; Blow-up Slide; Obstacle Course; Musical Guests (Josh Wilson Band); Petting Zoo and more! Check out the website for more information.

Wishmaker Walk – The Princess Prance Edition
Sunday Sep 11, 2016 at 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Calling all Noble Princesses! The Kingdom of Children’s Wish formally announces the Royal annual Wishmaker Walk – The Princess Prance Edition. Come one, come all for an enchanted race where everyone is a Princess for a day. The annual #WishmakerWalk sees thousands of Canadians participate in a fun, family-oriented day with one goal in common: to raise money so that children living with a life-threatening illness can be granted their most heartfelt wish. Distance: 1km or 5km route. Registration begins at 9am and event starts at 10am. For more information and for more unique ways to get involved and raise funds and awareness, visit the website.

Last Week of Summer Fun!

Ready for back-to-school? Before your kids are back in their desks, enjoy the last of what summer has to offer in Calgary with these great public events and festivals.

Country Kickback at Heritage Park – Proudly Sponsored by Calgary’s Child
August 27 & 28: Proudly Sponsored by Calgary’s Child Magazine. Relive Alberta’s rural history with a weekend of farm fun for the whole family! Guests of all ages can play games and participate in the Kickback challenge, square dance, make ice cream, enjoy live entertainment, visit a petting zoo, watch slow tractor races and much more! For more information, visit Heritage Park’s website.

Tour of Alberta – Ride the Road Tour
August 28: The Tour of Alberta Ride the Road tour is a public bike ride in Calgary that kicks off the Tour of Alberta. There are a total of four rides that are perfect for both advanced cyclists and families. This year’s ride, as in previous years, affords an opportunity to enjoy cycling in a group or with your family under traffic-free conditions. Participants will be able to discover cycling and feeling completely safe on Calgary roads. Check out the website for more details.

Music in the Park
August 28: Dust off your Stampede wear and mosey on down to Murdoch Park for an entertaining afternoon of classic country music with a modern twist at The City of Calgary’s free Music in the Park event! Performing his unique blend of wild country rock, featuring songs from his debut album “Dirt Junkie,” Bruin will showcase his talents as a singer and songwriter, and prove why he is destined to become a household name in the country music world. To view The City’s Music in the Park summer line-up, visit the website.

Family Marsh Dipping at Bow Habitat Station
August 30: Have buckets of fun discovering the critters who make their home in Bow Habitat’s Marsh! This hands-on activity is geared toward families. Rubber boots recommended. The cost is $4 per person and children 3 and under free with a paying adult. Visit the website for more information.

Cornucopia! Cobb’s Corn Maze & Family Fun Park
August 31 to September 5: This weekend is all about corn: Corn on the cob, corn fritters, corn bread, corn toss, corn games, corn crafts and more! For hours of operation and for more information, visit the website.

Have a Hay Day at the Calgary Corn Maze
Open Thursdays through Sundays in September: Check out the petting zoo; corn mazes; wagon rides; pig races; jumping pillows; playground activities; and more! Try out the new miniature scale train; mine for gems in the Lost Treasure Mining; and hang out with your friends at the Friendly Fire Arena. Visit the website for more information.

BBQ on the Bow Festival
September 3 to 4: A fun culinary festival featuring Canada’s oldest sanctioned BBQ competition! Up to $10,000 in cash prizes for Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, Third Overall, Fourth Overall, Individual Categories, and Chef’s Choice. Teams compete for prize money, a chance to cook at the American Royal in Kansas City, and a shot to win a draw to compete at the World Invitational Jack Daniels BBQ Competition in Tennessee. For more information, visit the website.

Calgary Highland Games
September 3: The Calgary Highland Games is one of the oldest gatherings in North America and will be celebrating 102 years since the first games, held in 1913. Organized by the Calgary United Scottish Games Association, these games have gained the reputation as being one of the most prestigious Highland events in the West. Attracting competitors and spectators from across Western Canada and the USA, you will watch some of the world’s top pipers, drummers, dancers, and heavy event athletes compete and perform. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

End the Summer with No Regrets

by Calgary’s Child Magazine

The boy holds many books in handsIt seems like just last week we were planning for the start of summer! For most Calgarian children, school starts in a few weeks.

Where Did the Time Go?

It can be hard for everyone in the family to change gears from unscheduled, endless days to the back to school routines of early bed times followed by early morning risings, packing lunches, homework and after school activities. To help make this transition go more smoothly, here are some tried and true tips for making the trip back to the school just a littler easier for everyone in the family.

We have a summer wish list that we all work on together at the beginning of summer, each of us add two or three ‘must do’ summer activities and we try to do one or two of them a week during the summer. Ask your child if there is anything that they really wanted to do this summer that hasn’t happened yet, make a day of it and end the summer with no regrets.

Get Your Kids Excited About Back-to-School!

Okay, so maybe your kids don’t agree that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but it is wonderful to gather all the new, unused school supplies and pack them carefully away in a new backpack or pencil case. Take your kids along school supply shopping when you are unrushed and have time to shop together for just the right pack of pencil crayons and the perfect shade of gel pens. (Make sure to check and see if your school has a class set of supplies shared between everyone – if so, pick one or two special items for their personal use.)

Phase in a Routine

One of the hardest transitions from summer to fall is bed time. Over the next few days, slowly make bed time and morning wake-up time return to normal – you can even try a dry run of a typical school morning. This is a great opportunity to start new organisational habits such as having the backpack packed (with the completed homework) at the front door, clothes laid out the night before…you get the idea.

Practice the School Route

If your child is just starting school or now has to take a bus for the first time, it can eliminate a lot of anxiety to walk or ride the bus route together before school starts. Point out landmarks along the way and, if applicable, review how and where to cross the road safely, block parent houses on the route and stranger safety. If your child is younger, a visit or two to the school playground before hand can also help to provide a sense of familiarity.

Celebrate Their New Milestone

Take your child out one-on- one for a special date, maybe a lunch or dinner, and talk about their new school year, your memories of that grade and how much older and more responsible they now are to be in this higher grade. This can provide the reassurance some children need before they start a new experience.

Get Involved at School

Studies show that children whose parents volunteer do better in school and it’s a great way to show your children that you value and support their education. The choices of volunteer tasks available at school is endless, everything from help in the library, serving at hot lunch days to cutting out art supplies at home, every little bit helps and is very appreciated.

And finally, don’t forget the camera! These times speed by so quickly – enjoy and embrace every moment.