Green Eggs and Hamadeus: A Children's Theatre Review

Saturday February 9th was a very busy day in downtown Ottawa!  Winterlude was in full swing, the canal was hopping, and the sun was shining beautifully.  My son and I however were at the NAC for the performance of Green Eggs and Hamadeus, the second in a series of 3 performances that we purchased tickets for back in the fall.



This was a much more interactive performance (bilingual as well!) with audience participation!  The conductor of the orchestra broke down one of Mozart's pieces, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525, Allegro, Romanze: Andante, Menuetto: Alegretto, Rondo: Allegro for the audience to explain how a piece of music was put together, the difference between the melody and they accompaniment, and how it all fits together in the end.  He explained that even the instrument, in this case it was the viola, with the most basic notes to play, was very important to the entire piece because they might have one "surprise" that stands out when the orchestra plays together.  He invited two children up onto the stage to conduct the orchestra after giving a little lesson on how it was done.

Then it was onto the story of Green Eggs and Ham.  It wasn't a very long performance, but it was well done, funny, the actors were very expressive which the kids in the audience loved!  There were a few times when the operatic singing was a little bit too much for the little ears, I did notice my son and a few other children a few times covering their ears.

As usual there were activities preceding the event, they had a large train set up for the little ones to look at, they were very strict about their "no touching" policy, which I could understand since the pieces were very delicate, but not exactly conducive to a bunch of kids who naturally want to explore with both their eyes and hands.

It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon!

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

A Trip to Valleyview Little Animal Farm

by Isabelle

Last week, I had the opportunity to accompany my son's daycare on a field trip to Valleyview Little Animal Farm, located on Fallowfield Road, just off Highway 416. Our visit started with a short slide presentation meant to introduce the kids to the different animals they were about to see. The 2- to 4-year olds seemed to enjoy the presentation, although I think they were raring to go and were a little disappointed to have to sit indoors for a few minutes when they first got there (practically speaking, however, it enabled everyone to use the washroom, which was a really good thing). After the slide presentation, everyone got on a tractor-pulled "train" to tour some of the crops. Because of the time of year, we didn't see much growing yet (corn, soya beans, to name but a few), but the under-4 crowd really enjoyed the ride.

Next, we visited the goats, sheep, and chickens, all in an indoor barn. The kids especially enjoyed feeding the goats themselves:

Then, we toured the outdoor animal enclosures, which included cows, pigs, peacocks, ducks, llamas, and deer. The kids ran relatively quickly through those, because they were anxious to get to the play structures, which I think were the best part of the whole farm. I lost count of all of the different wooden vehicles they had there, but my little guy particularly loved the truck, helicopter, and locomotive.

There was also a large pirate ship playstructure as well as one made up of different indoor and outdoor tunnels - the kids played in those two for a long time.

We ate a picnic lunch while we were there - there is a nice set-up of covered picnic tables for groups, and even some coolers out front for lunch boxes. Including lunch, our visit lasted about 3.5 hours - I thought that was a bit long for the little ones, who were tired of playing (!) before the bus came to pick us up. I would recommend planning a two-hour visit, perhaps with a short snack break halfway through. There is a snackbar on location if you're in a hurry and don't have time to pack a lunch or snack before heading out.

Isabelle is the mom of 3.5 year old Jay and two-month old Rosie. You can also find her at Dr. Peach’s Blog.

The Canadian Tulip Festival - the plan

by Shawna With the early warmth this spring, we may be in danger of having an almost tulip-less Canadian Tulip Festival (which runs from May 7th - 24th). While this may put a crimp in my role as one of the "Artists in the Tulips" (this will be my second year my images can be found in the Tulip Art gallery in Commissioner's Park by Dow's lake), it in no way means I won't go to the festival with my kids.  Sure, it's nice for me to see the tulips and use them as a colourful backdrop for pictures of my nearest-and-dearest, but let's not lose sight of the main reason to go: to let the kids exhaust themselves by hopping them up on sugar at the Fudge Shack and tear around like mad things, all the better to sleep that night!

I kid.

Sort of.

In truth, there are tons of kid-friendly activities at the Tulip Festival and they almost all come with the bonus of getting out in the fresh air and maybe even learning a little history along the way.  To kick off the festival, there's an open air Liberation Street Party planned this year on Sparks St., which is being held in celebration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands and Canada's role in it.  Throughout the festival there will be children's activities at Major's Hill Park, and a lot of the area's museums are planning programming that links in with the festival.  The tulip festival website has details on all of this and more.

The fact is, there's a dizzying variety of programming and there's no way it would be fun to dash from activity to activity, trying to cram it all in; what we do is take a look at the schedule and try to earmark just a couple of things that sound fun on a day or two I'm not officially scheduled to be there.  We keep things loose and watch the weather, and if we can go at those times, so much the better.  And if things don't align so that we hit all our "planned" events, we try to keep in mind that what the kids really like best is the chance to ride the tulip shuttle bus (a novelty for my suburban children), see the ducks on Dow's Lake, and yes, eat fudge and Beavertails and tear around like mad things.

The better sleep that night is just a fringe benefit.

Shawna is mom to 4 year old Sage and almost-2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She feels a defensive need to let you know that she herself rides the bus almost every day.

The Ottawa Public Library: The Ruth E. Dickinson Branch

by Shawna For those of you that use it, this will be a “no duh” kind of post, but for those of you who haven’t discovered it yet, your library is waiting for you! The Ottawa Public Library is a fantastic resource for parents, no matter what age your kids are!

Almost every Thursday I take my 4 year old daughter to Evening Story Time at our local branch, Ruth E. Dickinson (and pretty soon my son will be old enough to push back his bedtime to allow him to go too).  There, starting at 6:30, they read story books to groups of youngsters - half of which are usually in their adorable pyjamas - for half an hour, and when that's done they do a craft.

The library has regular events for all ages, including Babytime for the youngest set, on up to Homework Club for older kids.  Sprinkled into this mix are special and themed events, as well as some regular features such as conversation groups for various different languages.

Even if there's nothing scheduled, the library is a great place to go on a rainy or cold day to get out of the house and pick through the bins and shelves of brightly-coloured books for some free entertainment for you and your kids. They even have DVDs, and you can reserve most material.

I often like to log on from the comfort of my home computer and browse through the kid movies and books (and maybe some grown-up ones too) and add the ones that pique my interest to my "hold" list.  When it comes in I get an email letting me know that I've got a week to pick it up (which I do when we go to Storytime).  How easy is that?  I can even do this to secure passes to the museums of Nature, Science and Technology, and Civilization, though the waiting list for them is hugely long, so you have to be patient.  And as soon as I've used one of the passes and returned it, I go right back onto that list.

The best part of all this?  It's free!  Free!  Free!  I am always amazed to arrive at Storytime and not find every kid in Barrhaven there!

Shawna is mom to 4 year old Sage and almost-2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  Like many parents, she has a computer stuffed with thousands of pics of her kids.

The Children's Museum

We are really lucky to live in a city with so many fabulous places to take the kids - indoor and outdoor. There are still many that we want to explore, but there are a few that are tried and true favourites that we make visits to at least once a year.

The Children's Museum over at The History Museum is one of them. We've been going at least once a year since Kiernan turned one. The museum is great because there is so much hands-on stuff for the kids to do, and they can enjoy it at so many ages.

I also love that by going to the same museums over the years, you get to see how much your children have grown in size and development.

Here is a peek at the Children's Museum from Kiernan's perspective over the last 3 years.

Kiernan and Daddy put on fabulous puppet shows.

Miss Carmelina went to the spa this past year and buffed up a bit it looks like.

Our budding musician. This has always been a highlight of the museum for K.

As the kids get older they have more and more intricate things for them to do and work on. Here the kids were actually embroidering.

These photos give only a small snippet of the stuff to do at the museum. The kids can get dressed up in costumes, serve their parents lunch at the kids' cafe, swab the deck and load and unload freight onto the cargo ship, do arts and crafts and when there are special exhibits there's even more to do. I highly recommend the museum as something fun to do with the kids. And the family pass (2 adults and up to 3 kids) for $30 is a pretty good deal!

Lara is the mom to 3.5 year old Kiernan and 10 month old twins Quinn and Juliette. You can find her at her blog Gliding Through Motherhood.