Splat: Ottawa's Newest Art Studio and Indoor Play Centre

Last week we had the opportunity to tour Splat - a new indoor art studio and sensory play centre located in the St. Laurent Mall.

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There are a number of indoor play places around Ottawa, but the majority are geared to physical activities and arcade-style game centres. Splat allows children to tap into their creative side, offering a wide array of arts and crafts, pretend play and sensory activities.

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The studio is generally busiest on weekends, so we snuck in at 4pm on a Monday and had the entire place to ourselves! The space is just down the way from Toys R Us, so make sure to park accordingly.

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The space is set up into different centres, which include:

- a big sand "pit"

- theatre and performance (with dress up clothes and microphones!)

- music

- play kitchen with playdough

- arts and crafts centre

- sensory table

- water tables

- painting

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There is also a weekly pre-fab craft that children can do while they're there.

When you go, be prepared to stay for a while. I wish I'd thought to do dinner at the mall so that we could have stayed longer, as I could NOT drag my kids out of there. According to both my girls, Splat gets "5 stars!!"

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In terms of ages, the studio has something for everyone. I was worried my 9yo might be bored, but she loved the craft centre where she could just sit and make her creations, and she got right into the theatre and put on a little performance. Very young children will also find things to do, although they'll need a lot more guidance from parents.

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Cost: $20 per child (adults are free); $15 per child from 7-9pm each weeknight.

Disclaimer: Misty Pratt was provided entry to Splat free of charge. All opinions are her own (and her daughter’s)

Great Graphic Novels

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some great graphic novels books with us. This month’s post is by Lise Dumas, Supervising Librarian, Children's and Teen Services at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

Ottawa Public Library (OPL) just celebrated its second annual BiblioCon on April 27, but not to worry if you missed it, it will reappear again next year, bigger and better. For all you graphic novel fans, May is the month of Free Comic Book Day and Ottawa Comiccon. Here are some of the wonderful graphic novels recommended for 9-13 year olds available at the OPL:

Newsprints by Ru Xu.

Newsprints by Ru Xu.

The story follows the adventures of Blue, an orphan girl who disguises herself as a newsboy so that she can work at the Bugle, the only paper in town that tells the truth about current issues. Blue makes some unusual friendships along the way in her effort to stop the senseless ongoing war.  The book features some cool robots and flying machines. The exciting conclusion of this series was recently published in 2019.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Thirteen-year-old Bina is looking at a boring summer ahead. Her best friend Austin is going to soccer camp, leaving Bina to find her own fun. Through trials and tribulations with her family and friends over the summer, Bina will find out a little more about who she is and what she wants in her life.

 

Be Prepared

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

This book had me hooked with its great cover art. You can just feel the anguish of a first day of camp. This is the story of 9 year old Vera who feels she is too poor, too Russian and too different to ever fit in with the other American kids. Her solution to making friends is to go to an all Russian kids’ camp. The images in black, white and olive green are wonderful and you will fall in love with this spunky heroine.

Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas in Ottawa

Sunday, May 12th 2019 is Mother’s Day! To help you plan ahead, we're listing some go-to Mother's Day brunch spots in Ottawa. We'll post more information about each as it becomes available, but in the meantime, simply click on the highlighted name to be redirected to their website and plan ahead!

If you have one you would like to add, leave a comment and let us know.

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Mother's Day Brunches at Museums

Numerous museums and historic spots in Ottawa host brunches or teas for Mother’s Day, including:

Billings Estate National Historic Site* sold out!!
The Fairfield’s Heritage House

Be sure to check out the City of Ottawa website for more details on these unique events. They usually run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mother’s Day.

Canadian Museum of Nature
For the price of Museum admission plus the cost of brunch for each guest, you can treat the special moms in your life to delectable breakfast fare, followed by a tour around the museum’s galleries. For more information and to book your spot, click here!

National Gallery of Canada
Treat your mom this Mother’s Day to a delicious buffet brunch hosted by the Gallery’s exclusive caterer, Gourmet Cuisine. Sip mimosas while enjoying live music, and enjoy the most picturesque view in Ottawa.

Local Events and Restaurants

Mother’s Day Watercolour and High Tea
Held in the transformative space of the beautiful and woodsy Misiwe Ni Relations Healing Lodge, this event is dedicated to offering a relaxing and restorative experience comprised of both an afternoon high tea, and an easy watercolour workshop designed for beginners.

Brookstreet Hotel – Kanata
Celebrate Mom with a special Mother's Day brunch at Brookstreet on Sunday, May 12, from 9:30am to 1:30pm!

Lago - Dows Lake Pavillion
Hosted upstairs in the Riviera Ballroom and the Veranda at Lago Custom Events! Mimosas and brunch!

NEXT - Stittsville
Known for their gourmet brunches, this Mother's Day brunch is not to be missed!

Le Café - National Arts Centre (NAC)
The famous brunch at the NAC gets creative for Mother’s Day with some innovative Canadian cuisine presented buffet style. There’s also a second buffet at dinner time. Details, menus and reservations available here.

The Herb Garden - Almonte
Brunch will be held Sunday, May 12th with catering is provided by the Mixing Bowl. 

Les Fougères – Chelsea, Quebec
Take a short road trip to this charming spot in Chelsea, Quebec. Order the three-or four-course special Mother’s Day table d’hote for a tour through some of Quebec’s amazing cuisine! 

Stoneface Dolly’s – Preston Street
Named after an actual mom, Stoneface Dolly’s offers patrons a home-style brunch that perfect for families! 

Fraser Café – New Edinburgh
Fresh food at reasonable prices, this is a gem of a spot to bring mom for Mother’s Day – but don’t wait too long to book, it will book up quickly!

OCCO KItchen
With locations in Orleans and downtown, OCCO will be your mom’s new fave!

Simple Cakewalk Ideas

It’s that time of year again! It’s cakewalk season at many schools! I will admit it – when I see the cakewalk memo in my daughter’s school bag I let out a big ol’ sigh. It’s not because I am opposed to cake walks, but because I am not a talented cake decorator and I hate the idea of disappointing the hundreds of little faces who walk from cake-to-cake trying to decide where to put their tickets. 

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If you’re not familiar with a cakewalk, it’s a school fundraiser where a bunch of cakes and cupcakes (typically bought or baked by parents) are lined up on tables typically in a gymnasium. The kids walk around looking at all of the cakes and cupcakes, and then pay for tickets to deposit in the bags or boxes belonging to the cakes they hope to win. Once all of the kids have done this, tickets are drawn and kids win cakes! Usually it’s one cake/package of cupcakes per kid.

The pressure is on to get the cake with the most tickets!  

Or is it?  

I have learned over the years that most kids don’t really care what the cakes or cupcakes look like – especially the younger kids. What they do care about is the amount of chocolate, candy and sugar the cake has! The more the merrier! 

Having said this, it doesn’t alleviate the pressure as much as it should for me. I would love to be a talented cake decorator, but I am anything but! Every time I see a cake walk memo my mind spins with ideas of what I should create versus what I CAN create. I would love to be that mom who can create a life size minion cake that looks so realistic that you expect it to talk (this cake actually existed at one of my daughter’s cake walks – that mom is one heck of a cake decorator let me tell you!). 

I know some parents purchase baked goods and I believe that is great if that works for them because for me, it’s all about participating. I, however, like to bake (it’s the decorating part I loathe). So, I try and bake something “attractive” for each cake walk. The first couple of years I would bake a cake similar to what you see below from the blog of Mrs Rachel Brady. A simple chocolate cake with chocolate icing and Smarties as polka dots. Perfect.

Easy chocolate birthday cake via  Mrs Rachel Brady

Easy chocolate birthday cake via Mrs Rachel Brady

Then my daughter mentioned that many parents make cupcakes and break them into four containers with six cupcakes each or six containers with four cupcakes each. Genius! This means there are more “cakes” for the kids to win and covers off any parents who may not have contributed. So, now I make cupcakes. 

My standby, “Oh crap, I forgot the cakewalk is tomorrow!” cupcake is ‘worms and dirt.’ It’s the chocolate cupcakes and chocolate icing or crumbled up cookie topping with gummy worms. Quick and simple to make and a hit with the younger kids (so I hear anyway).

This year I wanted to venture out of my comfort zone. I asked on Twitter if anyone had thoughts and made it clear that cake decorating it not my forté. It was recommended that I check out Pinterest, but the only cakes I ever saw on there were way out of my talent-league. But then someone sent me a link to cakewalk cake ideas on Pinterest and right away I spotted something I could do! It was simple, fun and cute!

The little piggies cupcakes were so easy to make and when I dropped them off the students collecting the cakes thought they were adorable! I can see myself making these again for the next cakewalk. 

Simple Cake Walk Ideas - Little Piggie Cupcakes

Suffice to say, I have learned to accept that I will never be the minion cake-making parent. Instead I am proud of myself for contributing something to every cakewalk my daughter has been a part of and that I made something that hopefully made a kid smile. Albeit, sometimes that kid is my own because she notices there are no tickets for my contribution and chooses to put her tickets in to win it. ;)

Are you a talented cake decorator? What are your favourite cake walk ideas?

Kids Kingdom

Kids Kingdom is an indoor play place located in both the East and West end of Ottawa, and offers hours of entertainment for Ottawa kids.

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My daughter has had her birthday party there, and we regularly visit when it’s raining or the kids need to burn off steam. We usually start off with playtime in the large castle play structure. The kids can run over suspension bridges, whoosh down the slides, do a rope climb and crawl through tunnels. There is also an infant play centre for the little ones.

Next it’s off to the giant inflatable castle (with a climbing wall and slide.) When she was younger my daughter got too scared to come down, so I had to crawl up there after her. Now that she’s 6 she has no problems!

The highlight of the birthday party (other than cake) was the arcade games. I remember the same excitement as a kid - getting the tokens, playing the games, and then seeing how many tickets you won. The tickets can be traded in for sweet treats or small toys. For only $5, my daughter got to play several games and took home a ring and a candy.

Another great activity that we need to try is LASERFORCE Laser Tag. This is a 6,500 square foot laser tag facility, and kids can get their energy out playing hide-and-seek and developing tag strategies.

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For weary parents, there's plenty of seating and healthy snacks at the Kids Kafe (plus....coffee!!)

If you're looking for something to do for PD days, vacation and over the summer, Kids Kingdom can be a great place to hang out and let the kids burn off their energy (and bonus - it doesn't involve them making an absolute disaster of your house!)

Have you been to Kids Kingdom? What did your kids enjoy about it?