Free and Cheap Family Summer Fun in Calgary

94_Autonomy_S128Summer is short in Calgary, so everybody wants to make the most of it – unfortunately, sometimes that means it can be an expensive season. Want to enjoy cheap or free family activities in Calgary all summer long? We’ve got all kinds of options for you!

Beat the Heat

Splash and Swim at City of Calgary Pools. Every Saturday and Sunday at select pools enjoy a splash and swim during regular public swim times. $2 per adult and $1 per child or senior.

Splash Parks and Wading Pools. Beat the heat and enjoy the summer weather in Calgary by visiting one of our many wading pools, spray parks and outdoor pools around the city. These are totally free and a great place to cool off on a hot day – don’t forget your sunscreen! Wading pools, spray parks and outdoor pools are typically open from mid June (weather dependent) until fall. Find locations here!

Outdoor Fun

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.  The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Centre is totally free to enjoy and has been providing migratory birds with a place to rest their wings since 1929. That’s more than 80 years of conservation! To date, 270 species of birds, 21 species of mammals and 347 species of plants have been recorded at the Sanctuary and Nature Centre. The Nature Centre is open to visitors. The centre has interpretive exhibits and information about local wildlife and parks, and there are occasional programs for visitors. Visit the website for more information.

Stay N’ Play & Park N’ Play. Looking for free, high-quality programs for your kids this summer? These safe, supervised programs are designed to help children make new friends and learn fun activities to help them on their path to healthy and active lifestyles. Programs run weekdays and are weather dependent. Look for more details at

Mobile Adventure Playground.  The City’s mobile adventure playground is back this summer in a park near you. The playground runs from now until September 29. The mobile adventure playground is not a registered program, but a playground that offers a different way to play. Onsite play ambassadors are there to inspire play and keep the playground safe, but not directly supervise the children. Parents are encouraged to stay and watch their children play and see how their imaginations soar in this new adventure space. Visit to see dates and locations.

Bow Habitat Station. Marsh Dipping Tuesdays go on all summer long – for just $4, have buckets of fun in the Interpretive Wetland’s marsh discovering the critters who make their home there. Check the website for more information.

Spruce Meadows Movies at the Meadows. For just $15 a carload (if you buy ahead,) enjoy a family movie at Spruce Meadows every Wednesday night at dusk from July 19 – August 23. Bring a chair, blanket and friends and enjoy a movie under the stars! Popcorn, movie treats and meals are available to purchase on the lower Plaza, so feel free to come early. Check the website for movies.

Visit a New Playground. Calgary is home to an incredible variety of public playgrounds! A memorable day out can be as simple as checking out one your kids have never been to before. is a wonderful local website featuring reviews for dozens of playgrounds across the city.

Indoor Fun

Glenbow Museum. The museum offers free admission from 5pm – 9pm on the first Thursday of every month; perfect for a quiet summer evening!

Play a Game at Pips Board Game Cafe. For just $5 per person, play as many board games as you want for as long as you want – kids under 3 are free. Parents play for 1/2 price on Monday! Pips has a great selection of games suitable for kids; just ask!

Grain Academy Museum. This completely free museum is located on the plus 15 between the LRT and the BMO Centre at Stampede Park. Guests can watch a video depicting how the prairies were settled, watch a working grain elevator demonstration, view a model train display showing the movement of grain from the prairie to the terminals at Vancouver, and much more! Check out the website.

Cineplex Family Favorites. Every Saturday morning at 11am, watch a family favourite film for only $2.99! A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting Free The Children. Check the locations and movies here.

Crafts at Michael’s. Michael’s offers crafts and art projects for kids at extremely low prices a few times a month. Options vary depending on your local store, but prices start at $2. Check the website for your store’s calendar.

Projects at Home Depot. Hands-on Workshops designed for children ages 5 – 12. Held on the 2nd Saturday of each month at all The Home Depot stores. Each child can bring home a newly constructed project, an achievement pin and certificate, free of charge. Check the website for more information.

Devonian Gardens. While most of the gardens are still closed for repairs, the playground is now open! Perfect for a rainy day. Check the website for more information.

Calgary Public Library Programs. There are a huge variety of free programs for kids of all ages offered at library branches across the city; register online here!

Canada Day 150 in Calgary!

There’s so much going on all over the city on Canada Day – take the whole family out and enjoy!

The City of Calgary Canada Day Celebrations. Canada Day is Calgary’s largest single-day festival and this year, it will be even more special as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday all across downtown Calgary! More activities and festivities will be added to join annual favorites such as the Living Flag, Powwow dancers, live music, and fireworks.

11pm; Canada Day Fireworks. The fireworks are being launched from the Centre Street Bridge at 11pm. Wherever you happen to be at 11 p.m. on Canada Day, if you can see the sky above the Centre Street Bridge, you’ll have a wonderful view of this world-class fireworks show. You can enjoy the show  from any viewing location along the entire Bow River corridor.

3pm to 11pm; Canada Day in Airdrie. Family Fun Event includes live bands and family entertainment, some of the Calgary region’s best food trucks, henna, fireworks, face painting and many surprises to come. Check out their Facebook page for further details!

4pm to 11pm; Canada Day in Cochrane. Celebrate Canada Day at Mitford Park! A variety of Food trucks, Jumpstart Games hosted by Canadian Tire, Multi-cultural Activity Centre hosted by the Cochrane Immigrant Services Committee, Bumper Balls, Mini-Golf, super inflatable slide, Interactive Reptile Display and photo ops, Kids Zone, mascots, fireworks, live music and more!

9am to 11pm; Canada Day in Chestermere. Join us for a fun filled family celebration, as we come together as a community for Canada Day! Pancakes, kids activities, bunny races, swing dancing, wagon racing, cake, fireworks and more!

Canada Day in Okotoks. Special activities are being held all day long at various Olde Towne Okotoks merchants; fireworks following the Dawgs game starting at 7:05pm. Join Okotoks for barbeques, multicultural fun events, and much more! Check out the website.

12pm tp 9pm; Genesis Centre Canada Day Outdoor Festival. Enjoy this free family-friendly festival at the Genesis Centre! Bouncy castles, games and slides, henna, live music, an artisan market, and much more!

10am to 7pm; Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday with Calaway Park! The first 1,000 guests will receive a Canadian birthday cupcake. Surprise giveaways, too! And Calaway Live will be performing One Five Oh Canada, a high-energy musical performance celebrating what it means to be Canadian.

10am to 5pm; Canada/Dominion Day at Heritage Park. Celebrate Canada Day the old- fashioned way! The first 2017 guests can enjoy a free pancake breakfast. Watch an old-fashioned parade, mini chuckwagon races, and visit the new exhibit and performance: A Journey of a Lifetime.

10am to 4pm; Canada Day at the Calgary Corn Maze & Fun Farm. Come out to the Farm for Canada Day celebrations! There will be face painting, marshmallow roasting, Lost Treasure Mining, train and wagon rides, petting zoo animals, and more!

9am to 5pm; Canada Day at Fort Calgary. Beginning with a free pancake breakfast in the morning, this is a day of celebration and fun. Activities include live music, traditional Indigenous games and stories, the NWMP Commemorative Association patrol camp, a food truck caravan, powwow dance workshops, plus The City’s ‘Living Flag’ event.

10am to 5pm; Canada Day Celebrations at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Be inspired by Canada’s greatest sport heroes and test your skills on 50 hands-on interactive exhibits! Family crafts, activities, and 3 special film screenings will take place throughout the day. The short films include Harry Jerome: The Fastest Man on Earth, My Brand New Life, and The Sweater.

10am to 6pm; Canada Day Celebrations in Chinatown. Join the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday and decades of Chinese contributions to this great country in Calgary’s Chinatown District. Enjoy cultural performances, family friendly activities or visit our stores and indulge your taste buds with culinary delights from Asia.

9am to 1pm; Canada Day Celebrations at Confederation Park. Come on out and enjoy a free pancake breakfast, horse-drawn wagon rides, main stage musical entertainment, a new natural play space and the opening of a 1967 time capsule. There will be lots of family friendly activities to enjoy.

10am to 5pm; Canada Day at Studio Bell. On Canada Day, celebrate at Studio Bell with live music that takes you across Canada, interactive exhibitions, and some surprises!

10am to 5pm; Canada Day at Calgary’s Central Library. As a place where the nation’s stories are discovered, shared and celebrated, the Calgary Public Library invites everyone to drop by the Central Library for family-friendly activities, including: campfire stories and songs (English, French, Indigenous); 150 acts of reconciliation; selfie station; arts and craft activities including colouring stations, storywall, and animal tracks adventure; Lego construction pit; giant chess tournament.

11am to 2pm; Celebrate Canada at Prairie Winds Park. Celebrate Canada is an initiative of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamā’at (AMJ) Calgary. Enjoy a complimentary barbecue, flag hoisting, and recreational activities.

For more details, check out our calendar online at!

Jump into Fun With our Top Tips to Make the Most of Spruce Meadows!

MES_8954by Nanica Brown

There is no doubt that Spruce Meadows is an iconic part of Calgary. While it’s best-known for the incredible summer show jumping season it’s best-kept secret is what a special place it is for families of all ages the other 365 days of the year.

Which is exactly what founders, Ron and Marg Southern wanted. “They really wanted it to be a space for the community to enjoy and it is certainly become that,” said Caroline Grant, Media Coordinator and Administrator for Spruce Meadows.

Inspired by that and in honour of Canada’s 150 Spruce Meadows has ensured that there will be family friendly events on all season. This includes Movies in the Meadow which will take place Wednesday evenings from July 19th – 23rd of August and for the first time a corn maze and pumpkin patch that will open in the fall.

So how can you make the most of your day?

There are a few simple ways to get the most out of this low cost, family friendly venue. Deciding how long you want to stay in advance, whether you will pack snacks and drinks and what you really want to see will help you ensure that everyone has a great time.

What does it cost to get in?

For events rush seating in the east and west grandstand is only $5 for teens and adults. Children and seniors are free. If you want a guaranteed spot to see all of the action you can reserve a spot in the south-west grandstand for $35. Our favourite spot is the west grandstand’s grassy space where kids can get up and move around when the mood takes them. Just remember to pack sunscreen.

When is the best time to go?

Pretty much anytime that works for you. If you are heading out to one of the Summer Series show jumping events know that the horses are jumping at the seven different competition rings all day. However, if you want to see the elite jumpers the international ring starts later in the day and goes into the evening.

My kids have a short attention span; is there anything else to do?

Don’t worry! There is enough to keep even the most restless child amused. Situated throughout the grounds are face painting, pony rides, a playground, the ever charming Prairie Dogs competing to see who will be the top dog, Sam Steele’s Scouts and a variety of local musicians showcasing their skills.

How do I get there?

Parking is a hot commodity and traffic can really back up during tournaments. Plan ahead and take one of the Red Arrow Shuttle busses. They pick you up from the Somerset-Bridlewood C-Train station and run every 30 minutes. The full schedule can be found here:

We can’t make it to an event, can we still go?

Sure, there are lots of things to do. The best part of Spruce Meadows is that it is open to the public all year round and, outside of tournaments and special events, it is free to wander the grounds. Our favourite non-event activities are having a picnic, going for a family walk to see the horses training, going fishing* or even trying to teach your little one to ride a bike in the open spaces. While in the winter we like to skate on the pond, get hot chocolate and tour the lights at night and visit the Christmas Market.

*Spruce Meadows has closed the pond to fishing this summer because of the outbreak of whirling disease. They will let the public know as soon as it reopens.

Nanica is a Calgary’s Child staff writer as well as a mother of two adorable, but fearless, turkeys (kids). A crazy cat lady, and wife to one super smart nerd, she is loving every experience this city has to offer.


5 Tips for Giving Teacher Gifts

60_ Exploring Learning Styles127Teachers are a huge influence on the children they teach. Next to their parents or caregivers, teachers spend more time with your child than any other adult in their lives! If your child’s teacher has gone above and beyond to make their year special, a “thank you” gift at the end of the year is a lovely way to make them feel appreciated.

1. Give something consumable

Teachers will love any gift that comes from the heart, but storage for years and years of trinkets can sometimes be a challenge. Many teachers move from classroom to classroom (or even school to school!) at the end of every year, and desk space is usually at a premium. Something consumable can be enjoyed right away without ending up at the back of the classroom supply closet.

Here are some of our favorite consumable teacher gifts:

  •  Some loose-leaf iced teas to enjoy during the summer
  • A box of special chocolates
  • A “home spa” set with bath bombs or body lotions and a candle
  • A batch of your favorite cookie recipe in a pretty tin

If you choose to give your child’s teacher something they can eat, drink, or apply (like lotions and body creams,) make sure to ask if they have any allergies or restrictions you should know about. It might spoil the surprise a bit, but they’ll thank you for it!

2. Consider a gift certificate

Gift certificates may seem a bit impersonal, but they are often really popular with teachers. Having the freedom to pick something for themselves that they’ll really enjoy can be nice for a year-end splurge! Teachers spend long evenings and weekends working during the school year, so gift certificates for a date night or some self care might be just what they need now that the year is almost over!

Here are some basic suggestions, but ask your child – you’ll be surprised how many good ideas they might have!

  • A manicure or pedicure from a local nail salon
  • A gift card for their favorite coffee shop
  • Movie passes
  • A gift certificate for a trendy restaurant nearby
  • Mall gift certificates

3. Keep it private

Whatever you decide is appropriate as a family, try to keep your present as private as you can. There will be kids in your child’s class who love their teacher but don’t have parents at home who are able or willing to give a gift; there will also be parents who will feel self-conscious about giving a smaller gift.

If possible, give your gift after class is finished. Consider avoiding the last day of school, since there will be a rush for the teacher’s attention. Choose a quiet day in the last week of school and let the teacher know you’re coming by to drop something special off – if there are fewer parents and kids around, there will be less of a chance of awkwardness or hurt feelings.

4. Talk to the other parents

If you’re on good terms with some other parents in your child’s class and know they’re planning on giving a gift, talk to them ahead of time about chipping in for a larger one from multiple families. This may also prevent your child’s teacher from getting 25 Tim Hortons gift certificates! (We can think of worse things, but hey!)

5. Include a card with your child’s name and picture

No matter what you give, make sure you include a card with your child’s name, the year, and a current picture. All the teachers I know keep yearbooks and scrapbooks from every grade they teach; as the years go by, a picture and a name can bring back all kinds of wonderful memories.

Camp Questions Parents Need to Consider

62_Benefits of Summer Camp_133Summer is just around the corner and many Calgarian parents are in planning mode. Whether it’s their first time away or their fifth, worrying about summer camp is never easy! What should I pack? Drama or basketball? What do I do if they get homesick? Residential or day camp?

We’ve got you covered with this round-up of our best-ever camp articles. Whatever your worries, we can help!

Still looking for the perfect camp? Don’t forget to check out our 2017 Summer Camp & Program Guide for a huge range of options for every interest, age, and budget!

Preparing for Camp

Packing for Camp – It’s About More Than Your Child’s Socks and Underwear by Sue LeBreton

10 Tips to Prepare Kids for Summer Camp by Lisa Evans

From Homesick Kid to Happy Camper – Expert Tips for Preparing Your Child (And Yourself) For Overnight Camp by Julie Steed

Homesickness and Anxiety

Drop-Off Day at Summer Camp: Are You ‘Parent-Ready’? by Ashley Talmadge

Homesick, Not Helpless: Even Confident Campers Get the Blues by Ashley Talmadge

How to Handle Homesickness (Without Bringing Kids Home) by Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D.

Tips and Advice

Summer Camp 101: An Age-by-Age Guide to Making the Most of Your Child’s Summer by Gayla Grace

10 Benefits of Summer Camp by Christa Melnyk Hines

Keep Camping Stress Free with Four Simple Tips! by Erin Hayzelden

The Sleepover Camp Handbook by Jan Udlock

The 4-1-1 For First-Time Campers by Richard Bavaria, Ph.D.

Choosing a Camp

Away-Camps: Letting Go Helps Kids Grow by Gayla Grace

Choosing the Perfect Camp for Each Child in the Family by Christa Katz

Capture the Benefits of Sports Camp by Gayla Grace

Checklist for Choosing a Summer Camp by Sara Middleton

Choosing a Summer Camp – How to Pick One They’ll Talk About all Year Long! by Eve Eifler

Happy Camper Checklist by Christa Melnyk Hines

Imaginations Are Ignited Through the Arts

By Hilary Angrove

#YYCKidsFest 2014 - Day 1 Opening Day Open Air Activities, Shows and Sponsorship Gala

In a world crowded with special effects and lots of screen time, the performing arts are as important as ever before. From May 24 –27, immerse your kids into the world of performing arts with the Calgary International Children’s Festival. Kids will use their imaginations to engage with live performances; not to mention, attending the theatre is a great way to breakaway from screen-time as an engaging activity for the whole family.

While all genres of performing arts are captivating and fun, Kidsfest understands that even with tiny tots, it’s important that shows interest both kids and their parents. The range of performances at Kidsfest is just as noteworthy for the themes and style of the production as for where the artists come from and what age groups will enjoy them best – there’s something for everyone!

Tiny tots can enjoy an interactive performance from local dance and theatre group Bach Tots in Go Go Peekaboo or kick-up their heels and dance with JUNO Award winning musicians The Swinging Belles. For those still inclined towards special effects, the darkness of the black theatre in Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey will immerse the whole family in a spectacular, larger than life glow-in-the-dark world. For families looking for shows with good social messages, playful puppets tell a hilarious yet touching story of renewal in The Man Who Planted Trees and A Heart in Winter will engage and delight children with an enchanting adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Snow Queen. Or, combine the excitement of hip-hop with the magical world of childhood for one cool kids’ concert by 2017 GRAMMY Award winning artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. And that’s just the beginning!

After enjoying one of the critically acclaimed performances, bring the kids outside to spend some quality time on Olympic Plaza with a wide range of free activities and entertainment. There will be storytelling, dance workshops, roving artists, magicians, face painting, crafts, games, a Canada150 Wishing Wall and more!

When you’re still small enough that your feet don’t touch the ground while sitting in the theatre, a day at Kidsfest can be the making of a lifelong love affair with the performing arts. For now, start off by awakening imaginations and introduce children to the enchanting world of live performances with fun, affordable family entertainment at Kidsfest 2017.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit Don’t wait until its too late – May is just around the corner!



Spring has sprung, but that doesn’t always mean the weather is great for outdoor fun! Fortunately, Calgary has fantastic indoor events during April and May which can be enjoyed no matter what the weather is.

55th Calgary Youth Science Fair
Olympic Oval – 2500 University Drive NW
April 22; 55th Calgary Youth Science Fair (CYSF) – the largest youth science fair in Canada! Nearly 1,000 of Calgary’s aspiring scientists, leaders, and future thinkers from Grades 5 to 12 will showcase their latest innovations and STEM discoveries (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Nath) to 550 CYSF Judges at the 55th Calgary Youth Science Fair to compete for over 100 prizes and awards. 12 students with top science fair projects will also be given the opportunity to represent Calgary at the 2017 Canada-Wide Science Fair being held May 14 to 20 in Regina. Come explore the latest buzz around what’s trending in the world of science on Saturday, April 22. It’s free!

SUPERTRAIN: Canada’s Largest Model Train Show
Genesis Centre – 7555 Falconridge Boulevard NE
April 22 & 23; SUPERTRAIN, Canada’s Largest Model Train Show. Delight your family and train lovers of all ages with huge operating displays in all scales and sizes. There will be ride-on trains, Thomas and Friends, Lego, and more! Free for kids under 16. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

35th Annual Law Day
Calgary Courts Centre – 601, 5 Street SW
April 22; Law Day is a family-friendly, interactive event that allows people to learn more about our justice system. Activities include Court Centre Tours, including prison cells, free legal consultations, Canada Border Services with Wesson, the contraband detector dog, CSI demonstrations, mock trials including “R. vs. Batman,” and “Despicable Me.” For more information, visit the website.

MRU Conservatory Presents The Queen, the Bear, and the Bumblebee
Bella Concert Hall Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts
April 23, 2017; MRU Conservatory Presents, Family Portrait Series: The Queen, the Bear, and the Bumblebee. Proudly Sponsored by Calgary’s Child Magazine. A musical story with song and dance about discovering who you are. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

YYC’s Largest Sale of Used Kid’s Clothing, Toys and Equipment
Genesis Centre – 7555 Falconridge Blvd NE
April 29; The semi-annual TTMAC sale (Twin, Triplets & More Association of Calgary) will be held on Saturday, April 29 at the Genesis Centre (7555 Falconridge Blvd NE – Field House 1). This sale has become the place to shop for Calgarians looking for the best prices on children’s clothing, baby items, toys, and baby gear. For more information, visit the website.

The CRLC Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show at Vivo for Healthier Generations
11950 Country Village Link NW
May 5 to 7; Come to Vivo for the 57th Annual Show of the Calgary Rock & Lapidary Club. There will be 49 vendors, demonstrations, a silent auction, and activities for kids! Admission for kids 12 and under is free when accompanied by an adult.

CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale
720, 3 Street NW
May 12 to 14; The 2017 CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale will be held at the Calgary Curling Club May 12 to 14. The CBC Calgary Reads Big Book Sale is held each year in May. Last year, through the generosity of Calgarians and amazing volunteers, Calgary Reads received, sorted, and sold over 100,000 gently-used books and raised over $300,000 in Calgary.

2017 Banff Centre Children’s Festival
May 20; The 2017 Banff Centre Children’s Festival will feature De Temps Antan, Sheldon Casavant, and the Dancers of Damelahamid. To purchase tickets, call the Banff Centre Box Office at 1-800-413-8368, 1-403-762-6301, or visit the website. Explore the beauty of traditional culture through music, magic, dance, and visual arts at Banff Centre Children’s Festival on Saturday, May 20. With free or low-cost activities and live shows, Banff Centre Children’s Festival is a continent of imagination where children of all ages can explore some of Canada’s diverse cultures through contemporary art. The free activities at the Festival include: Storytelling, creativity rooms, circus school, family dance, and more! For full details, visit the website.

2017 KidsFest (The Calgary International Children’s Festival)
May 24 to 27; check website for schedule of performances. Celebrate the Best in Performing Arts for Children with the 2017 KidsFest (The Calgary International Children’s Festival)! Explore and experience this Festival through puppetry, music, dance, theatre, author engagements, and more! There will also be free activities on Olympic Plaza adjacent to Arts Commons including storytelling, dance workshops, roving artists, magicians, face painting, creative activities and challenges, and more! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website.

Royal Canadian Family Circus SPECTAC! 2017 Coming to Spruce Meadows & CrossIron Mills
18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW and 261055 CrossIron Boulevard NE
May 26 to 28; The all-new Royal Canadian Family Circus SPECTAC!™ 2017 is coming to Spruce Meadows from May 26 to 28 and CrossIron Mills from June 1 to 4! For 2 for the Price of 1 tickets, visit the website, promo code: calgaryschild. The internationally-renowned acts include the thrilling Argentinian High Wire, Aerial Motor Cycle Cyclone, Acrobatic Strap & Silk act, the Tarzan Zerbini Liberty Horses, Hula Hoop maze, worldclass Poodles, Aerialists, TZ Motorcycle Globe of Destiny, Clowns, and much more. (There are no exotic animals in the show.) For more information and showtimes, visit the website.

Easter is Hopping into Calgary!

EasterRoundUpThere are tons of great events all around the city to celebrate Easter and the coming of spring! Here’s our top picks for spring celebrations around town.

Butterfield Acres Easter Hunt
April 8 and 9 and April 14 & 15; The Butterfield Acres Easter Hunt is specially designed for youngsters 7 and under. The Legend and Hunt run every 20 minutes starting at 10am. Tickets include: The Legendary Easter Egg Hunt; a springtime craft for each child; a visit in the farmyard with new spring farm babies; and a little something yummy for kids to take home! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website!

Photos with the Easter Bunny at Bass Pro Shop!
Customers will receive a FREE 4×6 print of their photo. Give us your email for a cute Digital Easter Card or purchase a photo package! Join them in-store and complete a fun craft with the kids! On Saturday April 15th, come in for an easter egg hunt from 2-3pm! Visit the website for times, locations and more details.

Family Easter Crafts and Cookies at Southland Leisure Centre
April 11; Two times available: 9:30 to 11:30am & 6:30 to 8:30pm. Celebrate the Easter season. Make Easter crafts for your family and friends, and enjoy some light refreshments! All ages + adult. Visit the website for more information.

Photos with the Easter Bunny at Southcentre Mall!
April 13 – 15;  Show us your best bunny ears! The Easter Bunny will be at Southcentre Mall from 11am to 4pm on Thursday April 13th, Friday April 14th, and Saturday April 15th!  Visit the Bunny Burrow, on the lower level beside Sears, and have your photo professionally taken with the Easter Bunny! One sheet of photos is $10, each additional sheet is $5. In the spirit of Easter, Southcentre Mall and Wishlist Productions will being making donations to Calgary Health Trust in support of the development of a specialized pediatric emergency unit at South Health Campus.

Easter Eggstravaganza at the Calgary Zoo
April 14 & 15, 9am to 2pm; In Partnership with Calgary’s Child Magazine. At the Calgary Zoo, jumping is strongly encouraged! Bounce around the Zoo and experience multiple event zones bound to keep your family hopping all day long. All activities are free with regular admission. For more details on this egg-stra special family-friendly event, visit the website.

National Service Dogs Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs (and Children)
April 14, 10am to 11:30am; Join for a fun-filled morning collecting dog-treat filled Easter eggs on the southwest lawn of Calaway Park! All funds raised will go to support National Service Dogs mandate of raising and training accredited service dogs for individuals with special needs. Everyone leaves with prizes, with the highest fundraisers being eligible for Big prizes! Visit the website for more information.

Easter Sunday Swims at The City of Calgary Recreation
April 16; Don’t miss out on free swimming at Acadia, Inglewood, Killarney, and Churchill Aquatic Centres! For times at specific facilities, visit the website.

Eating Out With Young Children


by Calgary’s Child Magazine

Going out for dinner is the easiest way we know to tame the “What’s for Dinner” battle cry! A night out at a restaurant can be a big treat for everyone in the family, especially if it’s a new experience for your smaller children. We’ve heard many stories from families (the good, the bad and the ugly), about their restaurant experiences.

First, identify family-friendly restaurants in your area — does it have a children’s menu, high chairs, booster seats, and children’s activities available? What’s the noise level like? Is it easy to navigate through the tables to get to the bathroom? What’s the target demographic for the restaurant?

Before you even step out of the car, outline your expectations to your children about good restaurant behavior. Keep them simple. The use of inside voices, the importance of staying seated at the table (no running through the restaurant,) and good manners are three great rules to start.

Don’t hesitate to cut your dinner short and leave if your children don’t behave. It’s a shame to waste an evening out, but most restaurants are able to quickly pack up your leftovers so you can make a rapid exit. In our experience (depending on your children’s ages) you only need to leave halfway through dinner once and kids learn that you are serious about these expectations.

Breakfast and lunch are an ideal time to introduce your children to restaurants and teach them the rules. With lower prices, and faster service, it’s often easier to enjoy a successful outing. If you want to try eating dinner somewhere a little more upscale, consider going right when the restaurant opens for the evening (4 or 5pm, usually) to reduce the stress of long lines, noisy dining rooms and slow service. Food courts and buffets offer a large selection of food, making them excellent choices for picky eaters without the formality of table service.

If your kids get tired of chicken nuggets off the kids menu and want to try what you’re having, either split a larger portion or consider ordering off the appetizer menu. It’s a great opportunity to let them experience new flavors without committing to a jumbo entree.

Hungry children are not patient. Plan to go to the restaurant half an hour your child’s regular dinner time to reduce fussing. Bring some crackers or cereal along in a small baggie just in case the wait becomes too much to bear. If your child isn’t drinking from a regular cup yet, don’t forget to bring their sippy cup; wait staff are usually more than happy to refill it with water if you ask.

When you arrive, order the children’s food immediately even if you’re not ready yet to order yours yet. If the restaurant is busy, this will ensure yours child’s order gets in early. They’ll have lots of time to linger over dessert while you finish your main course.

Take along a coloring book, a small quiet toy to play with or a book to read at the table.  Some inventive parents we know pack a special restaurant bag with toys and treats that only comes out at the restaurant. Keep your children entertained with simple games, like ‘I Spy’ or tic-tac-toe with the sugar packets. Our children even polished up on math skills by learning to add creamers and sugar packets.

A trip to the bathroom can be a good distracting technique for a restless child. Try going after you order and before the food arrives — it might save a trip in the middle of the meal.

We always pack a washcloth or pre-packaged wipes to help cleanup during or after the meal; nobody wants to be the parent who leaves a disaster area behind. While messes happen, don’t forget to tip generously if cleanup will be more than usual and do what you can to demonstrate good social behavior to your kids by tidying up after yourselves a little on your way out.

With a little pre-planning, eating out with the kids can be a great way to expand their palates and teach them pro-social behavior in public. Bon appetit!

Are You Sleepy?

Written by Dr. Susan Bartell; photo:

pg81-AskElizabeth[1]Are you tired? Me too! But, guess what… your child or teen is probably even more tired. In fact, 80 per cent of teens, and nearly 70 per cent of kids under 10 are sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation can be a significant problem for kids, interfering with almost every aspect of their lives.

Tiredness can make it difficult to learn and retain information in the classroom, cause distractibility and difficulties with attention, (it can be mistaken for ADHD) and may even result in a child falling asleep in school or while doing homework. Sleep deprivation may reduce a child’s motivation to participate in activities or cause kids to become cranky, impatient and badly behaved in social situations.

The first week in March (leading up to Daylight Savings Time in many areas) gives us an opportunity to consider the most common reasons that kids become deprived and then do our best to ensure that they get more sleep:

The sleep stealer: No time to sleep! Many kids and teens have schedules so busy that they simply can’t get to bed early enough to get at least eight hours of sleep.

The sleep solution: Cut down on extracurricular activities. This is the answer if your child doesn’t have time to do homework, eat, bathe and relax for 30 minutes before bed.

The sleep stealer: Too much screen time! When viewed right before bed, the TV, computer, cell phone or other electronic screens can interfere with your child’s ability to relax and dial back brain activity in preparation for sleep. In addition, too much screen time during the day wastes time, making it difficult for your child to complete all tasks and activities before bed.

The sleep solution: Turn off the screens. All ‘screens’ should be turned off at least 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime. Resist the urge to allow a TV in your child’s bedroom and ensure that, at night, the cell phone is also docked in another room. If your child can’t ‘resist’ the computer or handheld games, be sure to have strict, enforced rules to limit their use.

The sleep stealer: Wrecked routines! When your child’s bedtime is different each night, chaotic, loud or stressful, it is much more likely to result in difficulty falling and staying asleep. In addition, without a routine, your child is much less likely to get the recommended number of hours of shut-eye.

The sleep solution: Kids are much more likely to get enough sleep when they have a predictable, soothing bedtime routine. Start at the same time every night, and include bathroom activities, reading or a quiet game and then end with a short hug and kiss. Don’t get into bed with your child. Instead, teach them how to ‘self-soothe’ by encouraging them to fall asleep on their own – without your help.

The sleep stealer: As with adults, snoring can cause chronic sleep deprivation for kids because they never get a good night’s sleep, even if they seem to be getting enough hours of sleep. Some reasons that kids snore include enlarged tonsils or adenoids, being overweight, allergies and sleep apnea.
The sleep solution: Although it may seem minor, snoring is a sign that something is not quite right with your child’s health. When your child snores routinely (not just when they have a cold), it’s important to talk to their health professional about what may be causing it. Don’t quit searching for the answer until you find it! Your child may not know it now, but they will thank you later.

Dr. Susan Bartell is America’s #1 Family Psychologist. Her latest parenting book is The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask. You can learn more about her at