Activities with kids: Touring the Mint

by Lara We've been so excited by the giveaways we've been having for Mint Tours I decided to go on a tour myself* and brought Kiernan and my friend's son Joel along with me.

We headed over to the Mint (located at 320 Sussex Drive) on an afternoon of  PD day this past Friday (I booked my tour ahead of time (you don't have to, but I'm told it's better)  by calling (613) 993-8990.) and parked at the National Gallery (the Mint has no parking but the Gallery and ByWard Market are both right next door.)

You can only enter the production area on a guided tour and no photos are allowed when on the tour. You check in at the front gate with the security guard - which feels very official and very important.

We were escorted to the gift shop where we waited for our tour guide to begin the tour.  Once we began we walked through all the different areas of coin production, learning many interesting facts like:

- the Mint in Ottawa only produces investment and collector coins, all circulation coins are produced in their other plant in Winnipeg

- Collector coins often have a face value significantly lower than their actual worth, to prevent them from being used as circulation coins.

- Mint condition means a coin has never been touched by human hands. If a coin gets touched by human hands, they have to melt the coin down and start over.

- The Canadian Mint produces coins for a ton of other countries because our system is one of the most cost effective/best in the world.

I took two five year olds with me. They were definitely on the lower end of the age range that would be appropriate for this tour but also both really enjoyed finding out more about the production of coins and had a ton of questions for our tour guide.

When asked by our guide what they would do with a 100kg solid gold coin my son responded "buy a REALLY big piggy bank for it". ha! :)

When the tour was completed the three of us sat down to peruse the Mint's coin catalogue.  Unfortunately many of the coins in the catalogue were sold out but both boys were thrilled to start a new coin collection with a sasquatch coin*.

We then all tried to lift gold bar - I barely got it in the air (under the watchful eye of the security guard and the chain attached to it)

As we headed out of the building we found a few more photo opportunities.

Overall, the mint was a really interesting and fun time and I highly recommend it for kids 5 and older. (To give you a sense on time commitment : the tour lasted about 45 minutes and the boys kept me occupied in the gift shop for about a half hour after the tour was done)

Inspiring kids to learn about history and coins seems like a win win to me!  Have you ever been to the Mint?

*Full disclosure. I did not have to pay to take the tour. All gift shop purchases were paid for in full ;)

BONUS GIVEAWAY: Two more passes to tour the mint.  Tell us if you ever had a coin collection as a kid and you'll be entered to win. Contest closes December 28 at 5pm. One entry per family.

Other option to enter. Tweet:

I’d love to win a family pass to the @canadianmint from #kidsinthecapital this holiday season!

Good luck!

Winter Wandering Adventures

by Ezmy It’s crazy difficult to find things to do with a baby in the winter months. Most activities are geared towards toddlers and big kids, and for good reason. Still, I thought, there must be something that my eight month old, Budsie, and I can enjoy doing together at this time of year. So one day last week, I packed up Budsie in his carrier, tossed some gear into a purse and hit the road. I wasn’t sure what adventures we would get up to, but I figured anything would be better than another day spent sitting on the floor with blocks and stacking cups.

First, we hit up Winterlude. My husband and I had taken Budsie to Winterlude on the previous weekend, but he had slept the whole way through. Since he was up and cheerful on this day, I figured why not try again. We wandered around looking at the ice sculptures, me explaining to him what each one was, and Budsie pointing and laughing at the sculptures and passers-by. Good fun!

For lunch, we had sandwiches and soup at Bridgehead. I used to love coming here for lunch before I had kids but wasn’t sure if Budsie would find it as fun. Boy was I wrong! I had packed a few toys in my purse, but I needn’t have bothered; between shoveling tasty sandwich into his mouth and smiling at all the people, my boy was pretty happy.

Next, we strolled up Sussex Drive to do some window shopping. Budsie was particularly fond of Zone, a housewares store full of sparkling chandeliers, silvery knickknacks, and of course the ever-popular mirror! Hundreds of Budsies smiled back at my boy as we walked around the shop. He was most pleased. Afterwards, we took a gander around the Byward Market. Heaps of people for the boy to smile at! We went to Tea Store, where Budsie chuckled every time I sniffed a tea (he simply loves the sound of someone sniffing). We also checked out Frou Frou, where the shiny beads were a super huge hit.

We ended our fun-filled day with a stop off at Chapters. Here, Budsie was able to mess around in the kid’s section, making friends with other babies and staring in awe at walking toddlers. We read a few books, picked out one to take home, and enjoyed a snack. Then we hopped on the bus home, where my boy passed out on the front of me, completely tuckered out by a day of people watching.

I am really looking forward to future winters, when Budsie and I will be able to go sledding or skate on the canal. But this winter has been a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. For instance, on this day I discovered what Budsie and I have in common while he’s in this stage of life: a love of shiny things and people watching! So as long as it’s sunny out, you’ll find my boy and I going on people-watching adventures all around Ottawa this winter.

Ezmy is a new mum to son Ewan (aka Budsie). When she isn't working on her master's thesis, or playing games with her boy, she's blogging furiously about life as a stay-at-home mum in our nation's capital. Follow Ezmy on Twitter (@ezmytweets) where she posts daily resolutions and updates on life with an active and very vocal baby.

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