The Canadian Children's Museum

Krysta Veenstra recently visited the Canadian Children’s Museum inside the Canadian Museum of History and is shared her experience with Kids in the Capital!


We recently had a chance to visit the Canadian Children's Museum, located inside the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau, Quebec. It was a very short drive from Ottawa and had plenty of indoor, pay parking (which is great during winter and bad weather!)

The Canadian Children's Museum Bus

We haven’t taken the kids to this museum in years, so we were excited to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. If you’ve ever been to the Children’s Museum before, you know there are a few things that are classic, kid favourites. Luckily, the classics are still there!

My kids’ favs were the camel, the pyramids, the theatre, the bus and of course, the passports.

The Canadian Children's Museum Worlds

If you are not familiar with the passports, let me explain. As you enter, the kids are each given a passport. They take it along with them, to all the different country exhibits. At each country exhibit, there is a stamping station. I can’t say I understand the big draw of the stamps, but I can’t deny that it is taken very seriously by the kids. Trust me, you are not leaving this museum without every stamp! So keep your eyes peeled for these golden landmarks, because like it or not, you will be going back in to find any missed ones.

The Canadian Children's Museum passport signs

Another thing that has not changed, is that the Children’s Museum is very hands on. There is lots to see and do and touch. There is a craft room, a theatre with a stage and dressing room, music, blocks, a ship to climb on, stories to hear, etc. I will warn though, that most of these activities are aimed at a young crowd. My 6 year old was somewhat still interested in the activities, and my 9 year old was mostly uninterested. Except for the passports. Never too old for those apparently! If bringing small kids, there will be lots for them to do and explore. Keep a close eye on them though, because this is a popular museum and can get quite crowded.

Kaleridoscope at the Canadian Children's Museum

After the Children’s Museum, we decided to take a look around the rest of the History Museum.

The Imax is no longer an Imax, but movies are still played. They show both English and French movies. We saw one of the educational short films and loved it. They were also playing a full length Disney movie, included in the price of our admission. A great addition for families wanting to spend the whole day out, but also want to sit back and relax a bit.

We also checked out the new Medieval exhibit. My 9 year old was much more into this exhibit than the Children’s Museum. The adults quite enjoyed it too!. In this part of the museum, there is less to touch and feel, but we still managed to find one hands on activity!

History Museum Medieval Exhibit

Overall, we found something for everyone at this museum and would recommend it to anyone with young kids or families that want to spend a whole day exploring different activities all in one place.

Disclosure: Kystra and her family received passes to the Children’s Museum and the Canadian Museum of History for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are her own.

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!

The Art of the Brick at the Canada Science and Technology Museum

We all grew up with LEGO® and our kids are doing the same. Which means the both the kids and the kid in you are going to love the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s brick-buster exhibition, THE ART OF THE BRICK.   

Named one of CNN's Top Ten "Global Must-See Exhibitions", THE ART OF THE BRICK by artist Nathan Sawaya is a critically acclaimed collection of inspiring artworks made exclusively from one of the most recognizable toys in the world: the LEGO® brick.

It is literally the world’s largest display of LEGO® art, with original pieces including an immense Tyrannosaurus Rex and re-imagined versions of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. 

The exhibit features a gallery showcasing an innovative, multimedia collection of LEGO brick infused photography produced in tandem with award-winning photographer Dean West and kid-friendly, hands-on LEGO® fun at the Brick-Party.

From child's toy to sophisticated art form and beyond! ART OF THE BRICK is on now through September 3 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. For more information visit 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Canada Science and Technology Museum (one of our favourite Ottawa museums!)

10 Things to do and see in Ottawa in Fall

The kids are back to school and memories of summer vacation are slowly giving way to thoughts of what to do with the kids in Ottawa this fall. Luckily, Ottawa has many great museums, trails and nearby attractions to keep families busy regardless of the time of year. If you’re looking to fill your weekend with fun activities this fall, here our ten suggestions:

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1) Take a hike

The National Capital Region is not only close to the hiking trails in vibrant Gatineau Park, but we also have the Trans Canada Trail and many other nature trails and conservation areas to explore. Depending on your area of the city, you can enjoy feeding the chickadees along Stony Swamp or taking in the scenes along Mer Bleu boardwalk. Enjoying the vibrant foliage of fall makes this time of year a beautiful time of year for a family hike. Click here to see our list of 5 family-friendly trails in and around Ottawa.

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2) Pick your own apples

Apple picking is an annual tradition in my house. Whether you go to Mountain Orchards, Log Cabin Orchards or elsewhere, Ottawa has bountiful orchards to pick many varieties of apples. Many of the orchards also have family-friendly activities such as wagon rides, corn mazes, small petting zoos, and more!

3) Visit a pumpkin patch

Many of the local apple orchards also have pumpkin patches. Cannamore Orchard, Log Cabin Orchard, Maple Hill Urban Farm, and Proulx Farm are just a few of the local farms offering pumpkins (as well as many other fun fall family activities).

4) Go to a fall fair

Fall Fairs in Ottawa

While some of the seasonal fairs have come and gone, Ottawa still has the Carp Fair and Metcalfe Fair left! A great opportunity to take in some fair rides, games and agricultural activities as a family; and eat cotton candy – I am all about the cotton candy. ;)

5) Conquer a corn maze

While Saunders Farm offers incredible mazes all summer long, Maple Hill Urban Farm, located in Ottawa’s West End, offers a 10-acre corn maze that makes for a fun and memorable fall weekend activity (the maze is closed Monday through Thursday).

6) Engage with Hot Wheels – Race to Win

If you’re looking for something to fill in those rainy or cooler fall days, the Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of History is presenting a special exhibition from Hot Wheels that is all about speed and power! Hot Wheels – Race to Win runs until January 7, 2018. It involves playing with Hot Wheels die-cast cars as well as interactive displays that will have kids experimenting with power, performance and learning intriguing facts a long the way.

7) Celebrate Halloween

If you love celebrating Halloween and love being scared then fall is your time of year! Saunders Farm is infamous for their Haunting Season and even have a new attraction this year to scare visitors even more than years previous. If you go – make sure you take the haunted hayride. It’s guaranteed to make you scream, but if you have young children you may only want to go during the day when the characters and exhibits are not quite as frightening.

There is also Pumpkin Inferno at Upper Canada Village (a less scarier way to celebrate Halloween as a family), as well as many other Halloween Activities. For a full listing of 2017 Halloween Activities, click here.

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8) Feed wildlife at Parc Omega

Located approximately one hour from Ottawa, Parc Omega is a great way to spend a fall day (or weekend!) with animals native to America, incluging bears, wolves, and elk – that will walk right up to your car. Bring a bag of carrots and get ready to get up close and personal with Canada’s wildlife. There are also picnic areas and hiking trails onsite.

9)  Visit the Canada Goose Arctic Gallery

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature, fall is a great opportunity to do so. It’s a permanent exhibition with many hands on activities and games. It’s a fun way for kids to learn about the impacts of climate chance and about Arctic culture and ecosystems.

The Royal Canadian Mint

10) Tour the Royal Canadian Mint

Another fascinating indoor activity is a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint. Children will not only learn about how coins are made, but will also get to see the world’s biggest coin and gold bars on display, as well as get to see an Olympic medal. The behind-the-scenes tour of this facility is fascinating for all ages – my daughter still talks about holding a gold bar!

Arctic Alive! Giant Arctic Floor Map at the Museum of Nature

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There is a giant map of the Arctic at the Museum of Nature. You can go check it out over the holidays and let me tell you: it's really cool. I got to see first hand the impact this map had on students' awareness and perception of the Arctic. It was impressive.

When we think of the Arctic we think cold, snowy, and quiet. Those are some of the exact words students from a grade 5/6 class used in the beginning. After spending 20 minutes walking over the map and learning about the plants, animals, fossils and minerals found in the Arctic, you know how they described it? Vibrant, colourful, and alive. Just how the plant scientist who collected specimens there did. Their understanding of the great white North had completely changed.

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From December 26th to January 4th anyone visiting the Museum of Nature can take a stroll through the Arctic. Five copies of this 8mx11m map and real specimens will spend 2015 traveling across Canada to schools where students will learn about the Arctic. In fact, there are lesson plans available from kindergarten through grade 12.

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While you're at the museum I strongly encourage you to check out the special exhibit called Arctic Voices. There were lots of great hands-on things for kids, beautiful images, and interesting info.

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Arctic Alive! is a joint venture between the Canadian Museum of Nature and Canadian Geographic Education. The map and specimens will be available to the general public from December 26th to January 4th as part of the holiday programming at the museum.

Arctic Voices is a fascinating new exhibit at the museum that runs from December 5th, 2014 until May 3rd, 2015

Disclaimer: I was able to check out Arctic Alive! and Arctic Voices free of charge. All opinions are my own.