Nature Sleepovers - Museum Memories for the win!

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern. She returns with a special post about the new Nature Sleepovers program offered by the Canadian Museum of Nature.

How do you spend quality time with family? Our family lives can easily become a race from one organized activity to another, a series of ticks on a list of things to do. We won’t remember the activities as much as the effort it took to get there. That’s why it’s so important to have family time to do simple ordinary things: reading together, playing a board game together, cooking, making a snowman, relaxing at home. Those are the times that will leave a lasting impression of what home feels like cozy, warm and comfortable.

We also want to create special memories that we can look back on as adventures or markers of special events. Those will be the instances we talk about as, “remember the time...” conversations.

The Canadian Museum of Nature now offers families a memorable evening that we can reminisce about with our kids: a sleepover with the dinosaurs!  

Gotta say when I suggested this activity to my family, I was surprised at the enthusiasm: WE GET TO SLEEP WITH THE DINOSAURS? And, that was just the co-parent! I was actually afraid that the program wouldn’t live up to our expectations because they were so high. However, there was nothing to worry about: the museum did not disappoint. The whole evening was so well organized everything went off without a hitch.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature

There were people welcoming us, guiding us, and even staying over in case we needed them during the night. We enjoyed a guided flashlight tour of the dinosaurs in the dark - who knew they were even more fascinating in the dark! We got to examine and hold some pretty cool insects including stick insects who walked across our hands. I drew the line at the huge cockroach, but you know, that’s just me. We also did scavenger hunts in the mammal area that got us moving around before we got a private viewing of a 3D movie about a night at the museum! So cool. By the way, when your name is Kaz, falling asleep in your sleeping bag with a view of the Kazmasaurus can’t be beat! And, when your name isn’t Kaz, it’s fun to look up and see the dinosaur watching over you as you drift off.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature - Dinosaurs

The whole experience was amazing and super well orchestrated by the friendly and informative staff. They really had everything covered - even snack time and breakfast. And, thank goodness for coffee in the morning at the museum because when the museum doors opened to the public, we had time to explore on our own.  

When I asked my family members how they enjoyed the visit, they each had a special memory to share. And, then they asked if we could do it again next month! Memorable moment success! Thanks Canadian Museum of Nature.

Nature Sleepovers at the Canadian Museum of Nature - Sleeping with Dinosaurs

Check out the Canadian Museum of Nature website for other memorable experiences including their sleepovers, themed birthdays and special events such as Butterflies in Flight and Survival of the Slowest. If you’re looking for an adult getaway activity, they have Nature Nocturne (a night of science and dancing), Nature tastes (cider and whiskey) and an Escape room. Go and create some great memories!

Giver’s 150 Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay

My daughter has watched playgrounds all over Ontario be built thanks to the Sinking Ship Entertainment show Giver, a program that regularly airs on TVO Kids. The show involves children ages 6 to 12 in the design and building of local neighbourhood playgrounds.

This spring TVO will start airing episodes about building one of the largest playgrounds in Canada located at Mooney’s Bay in Ottawa – and if you look at it from a bird’s eye view, it’s even shaped like Canada.

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

Can you guess what part of Canada this section of the playground is?

My eight year old daughter and her friends recently visited the new Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay and had the time of their lives! When asked what they enjoyed the most about the playground they said it was searching for different facts on Canada (this after discovering a fact on the bottom of a saucer swing), as well as climbing the monkey bars that symbolized an igloo in Canada’s north.

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Fact from the "Alberta" section of the playground

Among many other things, Canada’s playground at Mooney's Bay features a lighthouse slide, orca shaped monkey bars, a ship that rocks back and forth as you move, a log cabin, a canoe-shaped teeter totter as well as a multitude of play structures, each symbolizing something that kids can identify with for each area of Canada. There are also swings for younger children and older children, as well as an accessible swing seat, and a raised sandbox.

Local parent Carmela wrote in to share that it was important to the builders of this park to make it accessible to all ages and all abilities: 

There are metal slides for deaf/hard of hearing children because plastic slides may cause the processor of a cochlear implant (CI) to malfunction, which then needs to be reset at CHEO with an Audiologist. If kids with CI’s take off their implants you have to have them remember to take it off and not leave it/forget it or risk it getting broken, etc. Also, means the child is in total silence and not able to hear their friends calling them, laughing or any sounds, etc. So, with metal slides there is no static, so no risk to the processor. This request came from a mom in Ottawa who has a young child with Usher’s Syndrome. 
Also, the boats are wheelchair accessible and the mulch is accessible for wheel chairs and strollers etc. Grateful for a playground for all abilities and ages! 

The Giver Canada-themed playground will not disappoint. Not only is it right next to Mooney’s Bay Beach with a big hill perfect for rolling down, but it is also a short walk away from Hog’s Back Falls. It is a great one-stop spot to spend a nice day outside with the family to swim, play and picnic!

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

Big hill near park - ideal for rolling down.

There was some controversy surrounding the building of this park because nearby residents were not consulted prior to construction. But given how busy it was on the early spring day we visited, I think the finished project is being well received by residents. It's a beautiful park with lots to see and do for children of all ages.

Canada themed playground Ottawa

Although the landscaping immediately surrounding the playground is not complete, and the area is lacking benches, there are still plenty of raised areas where parents can sit or they can bring a picnic blanket and find some shade under one of the big trees nearby.

If our schedules had allowed, my daughter and her friends would have loved to help build the Canada-themed playground. But instead they now marvel in its size, its uniqueness and in the fact that is Canada-themed. She and her friends can hardly wait to return to Mooney’s Bay to give the Canada playground merry-go-round another spin and play hide and seek in the “wild, wild west.”

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

My daughter and her friend's favourite climbing structure at the park

Keep your eyes out on TVO for 13 episodes about the building of Ottawa’s Canada-themed park and watch for the official opening on Canada Day, July 1, 2017!

Have you been to the Giver Canada-themed playground at Mooney’s Bay yet? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!