Have a busy tot? Join us for six weeks of fun and discovery!

(photo credit: Claudia Agudelo Photography)

Our incredibly popular Travelling Tots program provides toddlers (from 18 months to 4 years of age*) and their caregivers with a unique opportunity to play, explore, and make new friends.

Each week, we travel as a group to a new location in the area to enjoy a different structured activity – from music to gymnastics to swimming to crafts.

All activities are led by a local business, giving you a unique opportunity to scope out and sample the activities available to you in your community.

Each session runs for six weeks, with new classes starting soon!  Here’s a list of the programs running across the country:

Grande Prairie – Mom and Tot Fall Tuesday Mornings

Lethbridge – Travelling Tots Wednesdays: September 2018

Lethbridge – Travelling Tots Fridays: September 2018

North Edmonton / St Albert – Travelling Tots (1.5 – 4 years) ~ Saturdays, September – October 2018

North Edmonton / St Albert – Travelling Tots (1.5 – 4 years) ~ Fridays, September – October 2018

Red Deer – October Travelling Tots Program

South Edmonton – Saturday Parent & Tots (Sept 22 – October 27)

South / West Edmonton – Thursday Travelling Tots (Sept 6 – October 11)

Sherwood Park – Fall Mom and Tot Class – Fridays, Starting September 28th (Fort Saskatchewan)

Saskatoon – Mom and Tot – Age 1.5 – 4 years ~ Fridays, September 7 to October 26

Regina – Mom and Tot – Age 1.5 to 4 Year ~ Friday, September 14 to October 26

Durham – FALL TRAVELLING TOTS (16 months to 3.5 yrs) – TUESDAYS, September 11 – October 30 (10am – 11am)

London – Mom & Tot Group — Sept. 13 – Oct. 11

Midtown Toronto – Travelling Tots (18mo-3.5yrs): Wednesdays (10:15 – 11:00) Sept 12th-Oct 17th (Various Locations)

Midtown Toronto – Travelling Tots (18mo-3.5yrs): Thursdays (10:15-11:00) Oct 4th – Nov 8th (Various Locations)

Ottawa & Area – Orléans Traveling Tot September – October

West Toronto – Travelling Tots (18M-4 years) Thursdays 10:30-11:30 (Sept 20 – Oct 25, 2018)

St John’s – Travelling Tots (18M-4 years) Tuesdays 10:30-11:30 (Sept 11 – Oct 16, 2018)

 

What you get

Included in your registration fee is:

Why Travelling Tots?

Here are some of our past participants’ favourite things about this one-of-a-kind program (and why we think you’ll love it too!):

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if I’m home with a toddler AND a baby? Can my newborn tag along?

A: You bet! Babies are most welcome (at no extra cost), so long as they are comfortable in a bucket seat or baby carrier. Travelling Tots is a great, supportive way to get used to being out and about with both your toddler and newborn at once.

Q: What if I have two toddlers? Can I bring both of them?

A: Absolutely. Families with more than one tot in the program will save 50% off the second registration.

Q: My child is home with a nanny/caregiver. Can they attend together?

A: Yes! Tots may attend with any type of caregiver (parent, grandparent, nanny, etc.) so long as that person can make their way to our various class locations.

Q: When/how do I find out where the classes will be taking place?

A: You will receive a schedule via email, one week prior to our first class.

Q: Can I attend just a few classes?

A: Single sessions are not available. A huge focus of our program is community building, which can only be created when a group is consistent from start to finish.

Q: How many moms are in each class?

A: We aim to keep classes at or below 12 participants to foster a cozy, community feel.

*If you have a baby younger than 18 months, check out our Mom and Baby Program (for 0 to 8 months) and Mini Movers (for 6-18 months).

Looking to meet some new friends, while getting some fresh air and exercise?

Join Mommy Connections for our weekly Stroller Social – a casual walk through the beautiful local parks.

We’ll be hosting walks in Saskatoon, Airdrie, Mississauga, Toronto, Grande Prairie, Regina, St John’s and more!  Check your local chapter to see if they are happening in your community!

Check out this photo from our latest walk in St John’s Newfoundland!

We will be hosting community Picnics In The Park across the country, as a way for all of our amazing families to come back and reconnect with old friends you met through our programs.  It’s also a chance for those of you who may not have experienced Mommy Connections, to come and see what we’re all about!  These events are open to everyone, so feel free to bring a friend or two along! Kids of all ages are welcome, including those still in bellies 😉

We’re thrilled to have partnered with Panago Pizza for these events. They’ll be delivering complimentary slices of their delicious pizza for the first 100 guests to rsvp. Across the board Panago uses quality ingredients you can feel good about feeding your family including 100% Canadian wheat and cheese, pork and chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, organic Italian tomato sauce and zero artificial colours or flavours ever. Truly #qualityworthsharing – and a great go-to for busy weeknights and park parties alike!

In addition to lunch, there will be plenty of surprises and complimentary treats as well as. 

The only catch is that you – and your guests – need to RSVP so we have enough food and freebies to go around.  Here’s a listing of our picnic dates and locations:

Alberta

Airdrie: Thursday, August 16 at Nose Creek Park

Calgary:  Saturday, July 21 10:30am-12:30pm at South Glenmore – Variety Park

Edmonton North & St Albert: Wednesday, August 29 at Lions Park

Grande Prairie: Saturday, July 21 11:00am-3:00pm at Country Roads RV Park

Leduc & Beaumont: Friday, August 24 at Fred John’s Park

Lethbridge: Saturday, August 18 10:30am-1:00pm at Gyro Park

Spruce Grove & Stony Plain: Friday, August 17 11:00am-2:00pm at Stony Plain Splash Park

Saskatchewan

Saskatoon: Sunday, July 29 11:00am-1:00pm at John Lake Park

Ontario

London: Friday, July 27 12:00pm-1:30pm at Westmount Public School

Midtown Toronto: Friday, August 24 10:30am-1:00pm at Oriole Park

Mississauga: Friday, August 24 10:30-12:30pm at Jack Darling Park

West Toronto:  Friday August 10, 10:30-12:30pm at Rennie Park

Durham: Friday August 24 10am at Petticoat Creek Conservation Area

We look forward to seeing you for a great day of outdoor fun!

Join us in August and November for our MomChat parties!

Let’s Chat  Back To School and the Holidays

Each MomChat week will run for 5 days.  The first day will be a Facebook party and the last day will be a Twitter party and each of the 5 days we will feature two of the MomChat sponsors on our social media pages. All sponsors will also be featured at the beginning of the week in our newsletter. Click here to learn how to become a sponsor.

Our fans and followers have 2 ways to win a prize from our sponsors; by answering one of our Facebook or Twitter party questions on the first and last day of the week!

If you haven’t been to a facebook or twitter party before, it’s easy! Just be online during the 1 hour party and answer each question as they are posted. If you are on twitter, remember to include the hashtag #MomChat18  so we can choose a winner from the responses.  We will choose each winner live during the party!

See you in August for the MomChat 2018 party!

Ready-Set-Summer Beauty

Summer is here! Besides family trips and activities with the kids, don’t forget to take some time for yourself to look and feel your best. Get ready for summer from head-to-toe with a few fresh and affordable beauty ideas from Shoppers Drug Mart.

Face refresh

For a quick face detox, try new Life Brand Detoxifying Bubbling Mud Face Mask. It contains bamboo charcoal powder and tea tree oil to remove excess oils (a common culprit with warmer weather) and deep clean pores. The mask bubbles when applied, which creates an oxygenating foam layer on the skin.

 

Quick clean

We love the convenience of rinse-free micellar cleansers, and now we’re just as obsessed with these micellar facial wipes. They gently remove makeup and cleanse skin, and are great to packing for weekend getaways, camping trips or even your beach bag (goodbye post-swim raccoon eyes)!

Also great are PC Baby Wipes – perfect for family trips, and busy moms will appreciate the flip-top lid.

Lip service

Keep your lips soft, smooth and hydrated with a lip balm & scrub from Quo Cosmetics. The scrub exfoliates dead skin, while the lip balm containing shea butter, jojoba, rose hip oil and avocado oil leaves lips moisturized and lightly tinted. Mango, watermelon and pomegranate are the deliciously perfect summer scents.

 

Smooth legs

Shorts, skirt and swimsuit season means keeping legs silky and smooth. These Life Brand 3 Blade Pivoting Razors contain botanical moisture strips with aloe and shea butter, ideal for sensitive skin. This four-pack is $8, so stock up for the season!

 

For more information about Life Brand, Quo and PC Baby products at Shoppers Drug Mart, visit shoppersdrugmart.ca.

Mommy Connections is honoured to be chosen along side these amazing Top 30 Canadian Parenting Blogs.

Canada Parenting Blogs

I remember when my daughter Meaghan was born.  It was one of the most wonderful days of my life.  She arrived 3 weeks early and I was in labour close to 24 hours.  I had the drugs, but they didn’t give them to this mommy until I felt every contraction it seemed.  I was sitting outside early in the morning and my water broke about 6:00 am.  I remember knocking on the window of our bedroom to tell my husband, he said he thought it was going to be about another hummingbird I saw.  Well he got the bird story right, just not the right bird it was the arrival of the stork.  We calmly made our way to the hospital, (or maybe I was the calm one), he was pacing around.  We stopped for a visit to see my parents.  Then on the way to the hospital I felt the need to get my eyebrows waxed at the salon.   Ok enough said we all have our stories.   When Meg’s was born I called her MEAGHAN (this was spelled under a drug induced state – but I still like her beautiful name it is just a little tricky to spell for others at times.)

beautifulboymothermotherandchildbabyphoto-236cf9d257cfb35fa55196f8d36d597e_h

Does anyone ever tell you the ups & downs a new Mom feels in that first month or two?  I think there is this secret club somewhere.  They just shake their heads and nod because they know, they don’t tell you in the beginning but they just know.  I think if you knew all of the ups & downs in that first year I am not sure there would be as many babes born.  One of my saving graces was getting together with my “baby group”.  We were all in this new unknown territory together and we somehow seemed stronger together fumbling around with our new little people.

My first year was like most new Mom’s (I am talking that first baby adventure).  I have another little babe, but that is another story left for another time.  I think having that first baby just changes your whole, entire world for the better (it just might not seem like it at the time.)  Meaghan was a beautiful little baby.  My Mom said she must have sat in the barber’s chair with her Dad and had her hair cut, she looked just like him.    And those feet they were huge (her Dad has size 13 shoe).  Yep my Dad commented she had her Dad’s big “clobbers “.

Ok Mom’s to be if you are reading this and wondering what it will be like.  Yep the secret Mom’s club is shaking and nodding their heads they know.  You will be tested like no other experience.  Your body feels like an alien, your mind will be zoned out, and your emotions will be a roller coaster (just ask my family).  Well this was just my experience and maybe the Mom’s club is nodding yep…..  So if you are a new Mom hang on and get ready for the best ride of your life.  You will be OK, and you will love that little bundle like you have never loved in your life.  You will be tired, happy, tired, thrilled, tired, delighted, tired, crying, tired and “Over the moon”, maybe orbited into another world like I was.  But we call that world Motherhood!

Talk soon ~

Nancy

Guest post by:

Elora Label

Elora Labels are customized labels for children’s and adult’s clothing & personal items.  They are UV Resistant, Dishwasher, Microwave and Laundry Safe  – Durable & Long Lasting!

Nancy Ariss, the founder of the Elora Label Company began the business at her kitchen table in Elora where she lives’ with her family.  When her daughter began Kindergarten, she purchased her first set of labels.  Her daughter got off the bus and Garry her bus driver gave us her sweater, which we had thought was lost – The labels worked!  Working with a Professional Graphic Artist they collaborated and came up with unique designs, trendy colours and playful icons.

 

 

Guest Post by:

nannypro.com

When the days get longer and the mercury starts climbing, the thoughts of kids and parents alike starts turning to summer vacation. While some kids will spend the dog days listlessly flipping through television stations or playing video games through the small hours, others will attend summer camp to learn new skills, make new friends and give their harried parents a taste of freedom. Before you make your final decision about your child’s summer camp, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that both of you enjoy a fun-filled, stress-free summer vacation.

camp

What is Your Child Interested In?

For most parents, summer camp evokes mental images of campfires and canoeing, sleeping in cabins and games of Capture the Flag. While there are still plenty of summer camps that provide this very traditional and time-honored environment for their young guests, there are also a large number of specialty camps out there designed to speak specifically to your child’s individual interests. Budding thespians might be happier at a theater camp than one with a more athletic focus, while a little scientist will have a blast at space camp. Make sure that you’re looking for a camp that will cater to the interests your child holds, as it will make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

What Do You and Your Child Want Out of the Summer Camp Experience?

It’s important to know what both you and your child are looking for in his summer camp experience. If you want him to receive intensive coaching in a particular sport, you’ll be happier if you locate one with a strong emphasis in that area. Spiritual families may be more pleased with the decision to send their brood to a religiously-themed summer camp. No one knows what you and your child want to walk away from a summer at camp with better than the two of you, so make sure that you have clear expectations from the outset.

Co-Ed or Gender Exclusive?

There are all-boy camps, all-girl camps, coed camps, brother/sister summer camps and everything in between. It’s important to know what you want from a summer camp in terms of gender exclusivity or a lack thereof, and what your child would be most comfortable with. Pre-adolescent children of either gender may be more at ease when they attend gender exclusive camps, while those that don’t fit comfortably into traditional gender roles may find the whole practice tedious and restrictive. This is one area in which you’ll need to work closely with your child to determine what’s best for everyone involved.

The Financial Implications

Summer camps sponsored by community outreach programs like the YMCA may be less expensive than private camps, which could be a deciding factor for parents on a fixed budget. Six to eight weeks at a private summer camp can easily cost thousands of dollars, a figure that can be staggering for parents that have never before researched summer camps. Before you research a camp too thoroughly and both you and your child have your hearts set on it, make sure that the tuition is within your budget. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are more expenses than meet the eye when it comes to summer camps. In addition to tuition itself, you’ll probably also have to spring for supplies that can be relatively pricey. Know your budget and what falls within its limits before discussing a specific camp with your child.

Keep Special Needs in Mind

Some camps have facilities that will cater to a child with special needs, but aren’t quite built to facilitate them to the highest possible degree. In such situations, kids with special needs can feel as if they’re being singled out and set apart from the crowd to a painful degree, so you may want to consider summer camps that are designed with their very special campers in mind.

Don’t Procrastinate the Search

The scope of your search can be so daunting in the beginning that many parents put off the process of narrowing the field for months, only to find that enrollment is closed for the season by the time they make their decision. Even if you’d rather put the sometimes cumbersome search for the perfect summer camp off for a rainy day, you’re more likely to encounter stumbling blocks along the way if you procrastinate. Start looking for the perfect summer camp early, as many fill up months in advance.

Article by: OurKids.net, Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools.

It’s understandable when parents are leery of preschool. Perhaps they simply want to keep their child(ren) at home as there are many benefits to keeping preschool-aged children as close as possible to their parents. On the other hand, preschools offer children a wealth of educational benefits that carry forward much later in life.

In addition, as Canadians realize the huge learning potential of their very young children, early childhood education and care programs are in demand as never before.

“Parents and the public have realized that little kids are not a blank slate when they get to kindergarten,” says Martha Friendly, co-ordinator for the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, at the University of Toronto. An early childhood development program “is the foundation for lifelong learning,” she says.

“We cannot afford to postpone investing in children until they become adults, nor can we wait until they reach school age – a time when it may be too late to intervene,” note Dr. J. Fraser Mustard and Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain in their paper The Early Years: Three Years Later, a follow-up to a report for former Ontario premier Mike Harris on preschool education.

Across the country, just over 500,000 registered preschool spots exist for the more than 2 million children aged 5 and younger, 1.5 million with working mothers. Yet Canada has no national early learning strategy.

There is some history of recognizing the need; “infant centres” were established for needy families in the 19th century and Canadian kids first had access to kindergarten in 1870.

Today, early childhood education and care is in great demand with double-income families or single working parents, and large numbers of immigrants who want to integrate their little ones. As well, there is a growing acceptance that preschoolers benefit from a learning environment.

Some parents look to private preschool programs to fill the gap, and Friendly says opting for an independent school is more about the child, and less about appearances.

“Canadians are less obsessed with getting ahead, for instance having their 5-year-olds taking tests to get into the right public schools, so they can go to the proper high school, and then on to Princeton or Harvard,” Friendly says. “Canadian parents want a good quality of care and development, not the opportunity to make the “right” connection or network into the right school.”

Even the dividing line between the concepts of “education” and “care” has blurred as educators recognize and promote the development of the whole child. In some cases, kindergarten is considered early childhood education.

Booking their unborn child a spot in a respected daycare was a priority for Yogini and Altaf Walli. The couple enrolled their child in McMurrich Sprouts Day Care at McMurrich Jr. Public School in Toronto – where Altaf works as a teacher – when Yogini was seven months pregnant. “My friends have all been through this and really encouraged me to be pro-active and find a place early,” she said.

Maureen Myers, executive director at Sprouts, says she has 300 names on her waiting list for early childhood care and development that focuses on learning by play. “We don’t sit down and teach by rote or repetition but the ideas and concepts of letter recognition, language, math and sciences are learned by very hands-on activities,” Myers says.

As for her waiting list, Myers says “it’s the biggest wait list I’ve heard of. I’ve been in this field for 25 years and the demand has always exceeded what has been available. “Right now the demand is the greatest it’s ever been. The majority of families have two parents working – and it’s the norm. Governments haven’t quite recognized that.”

What to look for in a preschool

Martha Friendly of the University of Toronto says parents should take the following into account when searching for an early childhood program:

  1. Make sure the school or centre is provincially registered and adheres to all standards.
  2. Staff should be trained in early childhood education, and there should be three staff for every 10 children up to 18 months, two for every 10 toddlers, and one for every eight children in preschool classes. “Staff ratios and qualifications are one of the main factors connected to quality,” Friendly says.
  3. The environment should be inviting, with a well-maintained, safe outside play area, nutritious snacks and well-prepared meals.
  4. Check the hygiene practices for children still in diapers.
  5. Visit the school or centre and look for children involved in activities that are interesting and not too rigid. “It should not be a free-wandering but also not a too-structured curriculum,” Friendly says.
  6. Look for “play-based, developmentally appropriate programs. To find out what these are, go to a couple of really good childcare centres and watch what they do,” Friendly says.

Read more from this article on the Our Kids website here: http://www.ourkids.net/school/article.php?id=22

Give your kids the best school experience this year. Find top schools across the country at http://www.ourkids.net/school/

Article by: Michelle Eisen, OurKids.net, Canada’s trusted source for camps and schools.

You probably know that reading and writing are important skills in life. Every day adults use skills in reading to acquire new information, whether it’s instructions for putting together a shelving unit, or analyzing legal documents.

Then consider all of the times you use writing in a day. Perhaps your job requires you to write performance evaluations, proposals, memos or transcripts; or you may use writing to keep yourself organized on a daily basis with lists or schedules. Writing skills are no doubt essential.

Educators understand how important an effective literacy program is, and promote literacy skills through integration with other subjects such as Science (e.g., science reports and opportunities to follow lab instructions) and Social Studies (e.g., writing a newspaper from the Medieval Times, or researching for a presentation on tools of the Aztecs).

Although children are provided with numerous opportunities to develop their literacy skills at school, many students still struggle. There are some great ways in which parents and caregivers can help their children develop into competent readers and writers.

The Balanced Literacy Diet

In February 2012, the long-awaited Balanced Literacy Diet was released. After many years of hard work, Dr. Dale Willows from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and her team released The Balanced Literacy Diet website—making hundreds of research-based, model lessons in literacy available for educators and parents around the world. The Balanced Literacy Diet is a framework for understanding and teaching literacy, based upon 15 essential literacy “food groups.”

The Balanced Literacy Diet website devotes a page to parents, providing insight as to how children learn to read and write. Along with links to sites aimed at supporting your child’s literacy learning such as Starfall and Reading Rockets, the Balanced Literacy Diet identifies the importance of reading with your child on a daily basis.

Literacy Through Music

A study by Cunningham and Allington (2011), shows that when we see or hear words in a new context, our brain creates new synapses (connections) to those words, making it so crucial that children are exposed to vocabulary and other literacy skills in different and meaningful ways. Music has been one of the most effective tools in bringing meaning to new material including skills in literacy—tapping into the Balanced Literacy Diet’s component, Motivation for Literacy.

Many parents without musical training feel overwhelmed using music as a tool for learning. Do not fear, there are a number of ways YOU can enhance your child’s learning experience through music.

Here are five easy ways parents and caregivers can implement music education to improve literacy and learning:

  1. Sing along with recordings of literacy-based songs with your child—Songs such as, Down by the Bay, and Willoughby Wallaby Woo by Raffi are fun and effective songs for teaching rhyming. The Jolly Phonics program also offers a CD with interactive songs to teach each sound in the alphabet.
  2.  Take advantage of how your school’s music program lends itself to literacy instruction—Music programs running under the Orff Approach are great for enhancing literacy; using syllables, rhyming, music, movement, dance, drama and language are part of the foundation of this approach to teaching and learning music. The use of Orff instruments are included: These are pitched, and non-pitched percussion instruments, such as bongos (non-pitched), triangles (non-pitched), glockenspiels (pitched), xylophones (pitched), etc. If your school’s music program runs off of the Kodály approach, the use of syllables to represent various note values as well as call and response activities will enhance letter-sound correspondence and phonemic awareness. (Call and response activities involve the teacher, or a group of students speaking or singing a phrase, while the other students repeat a response, which could be the same phrase or a phrase differing in its words, sound, or in its entirety.) The Kodaly method of teaching music originated in Hungary with a focus on sight singing and playing instruments from memory. Children learn to read music through interval training, using what is referred to as the “movable do.” Ask your school’s music teacher for some extension activities (those which extend the child’s knowledge deeper, or to new contexts or applications) you can follow up with at home. (Read more about music approaches used in the classroom.)
  3. Ask your school if they participate in Learning Through the Arts—The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) began the Learning Through the Arts (LTTA) initiative in 1994 to help students reach their full academic potential through the arts. The LTTA program has since delivered programs to hundreds of public and private schools in Canada, and to 12 schools internationally. A study conducted by Queen’s University (2002) showed that LTTA students performed better in both math and literacy skills than non-LTTA students.
  4. Encourage your child to take part in extra-curricular school music ensembles—Some private schools such as Appleby College, Branksome Hall, and Sterling Hall, place an emphasis on composition and performance, encouraging students’ creativity, thus fostering the students’ abilities to express themselves through literacy. Greenwood College allows students opportunities such as coffee houses to perform their own works, encouraging personal expression through music. The York School encourages composition through the Orff program, and even provides students in the Upper School a MIDI lab. If you are looking for a program for your toddler, consider the Smart Start Program from the RCM. This research-based program has pulled the most effective practices from every method of musical training, including the Orff Approach, Kodály, Suzuki, etc., to provide children with early learning opportunities; promoting vocabulary development and phonemic awareness.
  5. Use song books to teach concepts of print and vocabulary—Song books allow children to sing their favourite songs while using their finger to follow along in the book. This is an activity you can do with your child, using the hand over hand technique to follow along. Eventually your child will be able to follow along in the book on his/her own. As words are often repeated in songs, here, they are repeated in print, allowing children to familiarize themselves with new vocabulary. Two excellent books I have used with my students are Over the Rainbow and Puff the Magic Dragon, both beautifully illustrated by Eric Puybaret.

Allowing children to feel competent in their reading and writing skills results in confident and happy students in the classroom. The more ways in which children are able to practice reading and writing in everyday contexts, the more confident they will become in using these skills in their everyday lives. Provide your children with opportunities to have fun and be creative with language, and they will flourish.

Give your kids the best school experience this year. Find top schools across the country at http://www.ourkids.net/school/

 

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