We spend a lot of our summers up at our parents' cottages and something both sets of grandparents invested in (I know - we're really lucky to have access to TWO cottages) are kayaks for the kids.
My kids took to it in no time flat and the most common comment I get from friends when they come to the cottage and try out the kayaks is, "Wow! I can't believe they can do that!"
So my message to you is:
Your kids can kayak!
My kids started using the kid sized kayaks around the age of 4 or 5 and while not all of them were proficient at 4, at 5 they could definitely get the boat going where they wanted it to go.
At 8, my older son could handle a full sized kayak if all the kid sized ones were being used by younger children because he'd had enough practice with the little ones.
What about SUPs?
Stand up paddle boards (SUPs) have gotten really popular in the last few years. We have a kid sized one of those too and while all the kids can manage it, most of them seem to feel about it the way I do about the adult sized one - it's fine, but they prefer the kayak. My daughter however really enjoys the SUP and has such incredible balance on it she can practically do acrobatics on the water without falling off!
What if I don't have a cottage?
There are lots of great places to kayak in the Ottawa area and kayaks are pretty easy to transport thanks to roof racks and hatchback trunks (especially the kid sized ones). You can also bring kayaks with you camping! Bon Echo and Bonnechere Provincial Parks are great spots. So, pack some snacks, your kayaks and your lifejackets and head out to:
Dow's Lake Pavilion (you can rent kayaks here too)
Ottawa Valley - there are a bunch of great spots and this guide has all the details you need for your paddling adventure.
Petrie Island - You can launch your kayak at the free boat launch at the west end of the main parking lot in Crappie Bay.
Shirley's Bay - a popular spot and a great place to teach kids how to launch without getting in and out from a dock.
How much do they cost?
Ours all came from Costco and we know a lot of others who got them there. I've also seen them at Canadian tire, and for a basic sit on top kids' kayak you're looking at about $100. They've been a great investment for our family!