Week 9: Sand Sculptures

The first time we visited PEI we found out that Parks Canada was offering different workshops at the National parks during the time we were there.  On a gorgeous sunny day we attended a sand castle building workshop and our beach days were forever changed.

Not only did the boys learn how to combine water and sand to mix different textures of sand for building but they also learned how to sculpt their creations using a simple collection of drywall tools.  

Since that workshop the boys have built hundreds of sand creations.  My eldest son is definitely the most enthusiastic sand artist in the family and creates something every time we visit a beach.  

We always make sure we have a sturdy shovel, 3-5 small plastic drywall tools, as well as 1-2 buckets for collecting water to mix with the sand.  

If you take your camera on vacation, make sure you take the time to clean it when you get home, especially if you’ve been to the beach.

Not only can sand leave behind scratches but if it gets inside your camera body, which can happen when you switch lenses, you risk damaging the interior of your camera.

Microfibre cloths and lens cleaning fluid can help remove the fine grains of sand off your camera body. You can also take your camera in and let the professionals take care of it for you! Vistek, in Ottawa, offers professional cleaning services.

children playing in the sand
young boy playing in the sand in front of the water
young boy digging in the sand
whale sand castle by a preteen

Week 10: Playmobil

When I was growing up my favourite toy was Playmobil. It quickly replaced almost every toy in my play room and was all I asked for for birthdays and Christmas.

While there was a variety of sets available the selection was nothing like it is today. There weren’t many buildings available and so much of my childhood was spent constructing cardboard buildings for my people and animals. I built homes, a school, barns, and eventually had a whole community of cardboard boxes linked up by masking tape roads.

Although Lego is the most popular toy in our house, Playmobil comes a close second. I love setting it all up with the boys and that I get to incorporate some of the Playmobil from my own childhood into their sets.

We tend to pull our cameras out to record special events but don’t forget to take photos of your kids at home enjoying their favourite toys, books, and activities. Not only is it a great way to embrace the mess as you focus your photo-taking efforts on their creations and creativity but it’s fun to look back at photos from months and years ago to see what their interests were and what they loved to play with.

young boy playing with playmobil
playmobil pieces
children playing with playmobil

Week 11: The Gallery

It’s been a long winter and as the weeks passed we found ourselves struggling to come up with weekend outings that the whole family would enjoy. Although we have memberships to all the local museums, we found the crowds a bit daunting at times and were looking for new activities to try that got us all out of the house.

After a field trip to the National Gallery we decided to check out their weekend programs and ended up getting a membership. Not only do the boys love the Altissimo activities but they could happily spend an hour in the Art Studio making messes on someone else’s floor. So far this winter we have made clay figurines and tried soap carving. The boys have also experimented with tissue paper art, pipe cleaner creations, and done several scavenger hunts.

If you’re photographing your child engaged in an activity make sure you get down low with your camera so that you can capture their facial expressions but also the details of what they’re doing. If you stand above them to take photos you can’t see their faces and their heads often block their hands and their chosen activity.

children at the national art gallery of canada
young boy at the art gallery
creating at the art gallery
crafting at the art gallery
family at the national gallery of canada
shaving soap at the gallery of canada

Week 12: Nature Trade

Despite being members of the Canadian Museum of Nature since the boys were babies, this was the first year that we discovered Nature Trade.

Given that we have enough nature items at home to start our own museum, I can’t believe we haven’t been avid traders for years! Not only do the boys love going through their collections to decide what they want to bring to the museum, every time they trade in items they learn more about their own collections. The museum staff are incredibly knowledgeable and have access to a collection of books that they will often reference to help the boys figure out exactly what they have in their collection.

One of the things I love the most is that the ‘value’ of the items traded isn’t just based on the uniqueness of the item itself but also on the information you provide to museum staff, including details about what it is, where you found it, and any other interesting facts or details.

Museum of nature
family at the museum of nature in ottawa
young boy examining items at the museum of nature
rocks at the nature museum of canada