Our Children Spring 2018

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Spring 2018

K A E R B TIME to scious guide A budget-con nt entertainme d n a n fu k a March bre

Combined Classrooms How and why they work

Ten tips for flying with kids Make your flight more relaxing

plus Health & wellness by Starr Cunningham Book reviews Nutrition

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Spring 2018



Ten tips for flying with kids Easy ways to make your flight more relaxing

Break Time

A budget-conscious guide to March break fun and entertainment


Giv’er & give Giving is good for your health too


DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note March break: time to start making memories

8 First bell Events, products, trends, and more

16 Face to face Where did March break come from? A quick look back at the origins of the spring break in Canada

Saturday March 10-Sunday March 18, 2018

18 Nutrition All hands on deck for dinner prep

22 Book reviews Our Children reviews ParentSpeak, The Fox and the Fisherman, My Two Grandmothers, If You Could Wear My Sneakers, and Sea Glass Summer

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On our cover Cooking classes are just one low cost way to spend part of the March break. Check out page 10 for a full five-day itinerary.

Publisher Patty Baxter Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams Creative Director Jamie Playfair Art Director Mike Cugno

Production Coordinators Kelsey Berg Emma Brennan

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Advocate Media Managing Editor Ken Partridge Contributors Katie Ingram Starr Cunningham Kelsey Berg Chris Muise Edie Shaw-Ewald Helen Early

or f s n o i t p Prescri Living Healthy

e ge dos r a l e n Take o during t n e m ghten of enli tlantic A e h t to a visit of debut a d a n Ca . LDS RX R O W BODY


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Ken Partridge, Editor Our Children Magazine

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March Break: time to start building some memories Is it wrong to say I’m already looking forward to March break? At the point I’m writing this, many people are still returning from Christmas holidays, but I’m too busy looking ahead. March Break was always a great time of year for me. Growing up I was never envious of the kids that got to go away to Disneyland or Europe (OK, I was a little envious, but not for long), because there was always plenty to do. Sledding, snowball wars (ours were a little too big to ever be called just fights), sleepovers at friends, road trips with family, going to the movies, you name it and March break had it. Even after I grew up and had kids of my own, it was still fun to plan activities we could all enjoy. I always made sure to book the week off from work, so I could participate too. My most memorable March break? It would have to be the time my wife and I took our youngest son down to visit family in Vermont. We had a grand time exploring the Green Mountain state, visiting Stowe, seeing where the famous von Trapp family of The Sound of Music fame came to live after escaping Europe, taking in some great scenery, and doing it all without worrying about timetables or agendas. It was also the first time we made a major road trip with our

dog, Gryphon. Aside from making a break for it a time or two just to get us to chase him (he loved doing that), he was a wonderful traveler. Working on Our Children let’s me take this to a whole new level. Now I get to help other parents with ideas and suggestions of ways they too can plan and have an enjoyable March Break with their kids. If your one of the lucky families that have a big trip planned, we have some tips that might make the flights involved a little easier to manage (page 14). If your more like my family and will be going the staycation route, then check out our cover story (page 10) for a more budget conscious approach to fun and entertainment. We’ve even thrown in some suggested day trips and completely free activities to round out the experience. If you’re a bit of a history buff, we’ve gone back in time to examine the roots of March break in Canada (page 16) to see where March break came from, why was it created and what purpose it continues to serve in today’s context. Hope the issue proves useful in creating your own March break memories. Let us know if it does. We would love to share some of your stories with your fellow readers.



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Our Children | Spring 2018

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

Cotton-tales and puddle ducks Tickets are on sale now for a Beatrix Potter children’s ballet, presented by the School of Dance, Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. Beatrix Potter: Two Tales Dancing, is a narrated ballet of Potter’s famous children’s stories The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Peter Rabbit. “The dancers are having a wonderful time, honing their dance and acting skills to bring these timeless stories to life,” says Barbara Dearborn, dean of dance at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. “It’s always so amazing to see the dancers immerse themselves in the characters.” The ballet includes classical ballet performed en pointe, comedic performances, and rich narration to

Shakespeare for the young

Presented by the School of Dance Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts

Using Shakespeare’s classic text, Ken Schwartz has conceived and created a new version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Neptune Theatre’s Young Actor’s Licensed This by FrederickWarne Co. Company. unique version&of such a well-known play is Illustration © FrederickWarne & Co., 1902, 2002. set in an orphanage, where dreams and realities intertwine to create a new twist on a classic. Anyone intrigued by this approach and the presentation by some of the area’s most promising young thespians should contact Laura Caswell (902-429-7300, lcaswell@neptunetheatre.com) for information. Shows will take place on Neptune’s Scotiabank Stage on the following dates: Feb. 28, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; March 1, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; March 2, 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; March 3, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and March 4, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

guide audience members young and old through the playful worlds of Jemima Puddle-Duck and naughty Peter Rabbit. It features more than 35 dancers from the Conservatory’s School of Dance, including senior students from the Conservatory’s Professional Program. Only two performances are scheduled: March 4, 2018 at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. at the Spatz Theatre in Halifax. Tickets are $20 each. For more information, contact the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts at 902-423-6995 or admin@ maritimeconservatory.com. Get tickets at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts and through tickethalifax.com.

Circus at the Symphony Juggling, aerials, unicycles, acrobatics, and a full symphony orchestra. Join Symphony Nova Scotia, Halifax Circus, and conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser for a mash-up of local circus performers and merry, magical music. Featuring music from Superman, Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, and many more, this show will sell-out quickly. Register early to avoid disappointment. The whole family is encouraged to come and participate. There will be lots of activity and interaction is encouraged. Performances are on March 18 at Pier 21, with one show at 1:30 p.m. and a second at 3 p.m. The 1:30 p.m. show is “sensory friendly,” meaning it’s quieter and shorter, with less onstage discussion. It’s designed for those with autism or developmental disabilities, but all are welcome. Registration is free for families with children. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Exploring the great unknown The 7th Continent is a cooperative exploration and survival board game with mechanics inspired by the adventure books where “you are the hero.” On your own or in a team of up to four players, set off on an epic adventure and attempt to lift the curses that were placed upon you during your first expedition to the continent. Progress at your own pace

through this mysterious land, building the board piece by piece with numbered Terrain and Event cards. Unlike other board games, The 7th Continent takes players through many adventures as you explore the continent. To make this manageable, the game includes a simple yet effective save system that allows players to quickly interrupt the game at any

time and have it ready for your next session. Game play is controlled via card decks. Although the cards contain a lot of information, gamers of any experience can easily and quickly learn the basics, allowing them to get started by choosing an already created character and drawing cards. Serious Poulp (seriouspoulp.com) makes the game.


Nova Scotia Tattoo offering first-ever student matinee Nova Scotia students will be the first to see the 2018 Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, as the production plans to offer a student matinee for the first time. “We strive to make the show one that’s educational, entertaining, and accessible” says Jennie King, managing director of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. “What better way to celebrate the end of the school year than by attending the world’s largest indoor extravaganza?” This special student matinee will take place on June 26, at 11 a.m., with special discount tickets available for just $12 per seat. “We’re committed to creating the next generation Tattoo audience, and we work diligently to ensure our programming appeals to young people,” King says. “Last year alone we had one of the largest youth contingents performing in the show, with more than 400 youth performers, so we’re definitely moving in the right direction.” The 2018 Tattoo will be a tribute to heroes and legends, from the battlefield to the backyard. “From the soldiers who ended the First World War to the women in service, we’re honouring them all,” King says. “History drives our storytelling, and we’re proud to stand in the shadows of these remarkable legends. Hopefully students will too.” The 2018 Tattoo takes place from June 26 to July 2 at the Scotiabank Centre. Schools can reserve their seats now by calling 902-492-4212. Tickets are available at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, at ticketatlantic.com, or by phone at 902-451-1221.

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Our Children | Spring 2018




A budget-conscious guide to March break fun and entertainment By Katie Ingramm


or many families, an expensive trip to another country or even a weekend getaway for March break might not be financially feasible. But the week doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, kids can enjoy a variety of activities and adventures in their own backyard.Read on for a day-by-day itinerary of events your child can take part in, including places to go for a meal, and all for under $20 a day.

Day 1 A Learning Experience From seafaring history to immigration to the natural world, Halifax’s museums have something to offer everyone. Along with a courteous hello to their parrot resident, Merlin, March break visitors to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic can take in the various galleries and exhibits, including the special Halifax Explosion centennial exhibit: Collision in the Narrows. From there they can watch a film in the Robertson Warehouse Theatre and try their hand at a sailor’s rope toss. General admission is $3.10 for youth aged six to 17. If a child’s interest in history isn’t related to schooners, pirates, and the Explosion, don’t fret; Pier 21 is holding a few March Break-focused activities.

During the entire week, there will be a presentation of Interactive Theatre: In Time, which is described as a “theatre meets escape room” experience. Museum visitors will be able to either help an immigration officer with his job or a refugee navigate the gateway to their new home, while also helping the Red Cross and attempting to solve the secret a security guard is hiding, all within an hour. Groups of up to 20 people can reserve their spot by emailing groupvisits@pier21.ca. Participation in In Time is included with the Pier 21 general admission, which for children aged six to 16 is $9.25 (HST included). For those more interested in nature, the Museum of Natural history is the place to be during the break, as their newest exhibit, Body Worlds RX, is worth a visit. It showcases different parts of the human body, including organs, the nervous system and the human skeleton, and shows how these parts change when affected by diseases and ailments, such as cancer, obesity and back pain.The exhibit is included with the museum’s regular admission, which is $4.05 for children.As a day is not complete without a good meal.

You can always top a day of learning with lunch in one of Halifax’s historic areas. One such place, the Old Triangle Alehouse, has $7 kids’ meals, ranging from grilled cheese to a hamburger and chips. Total Cost: With the Maritime Museum: $10.10 With Pier 21: $16.25 With the Museum of Natural History $11.05

Day 2 Let them eat cake, or maybe chocolate lasagna Who says you can’t spend a day learning and eating at the same time? The PC Cooking Classes at the Atlantic Superstores on Braemar Drive and Portland Street in Dartmouth are having camps for ages six to 11. Along with the chocolate lasagna, which is part of the Crazy for Chocolate session, other classes focus on Mexican, Italian, and Hawaiian food, and spring-themed dishes such as Carrot Patch Cupcakes and ham and potato soup. The sessions, which are held on March 12, 13, 15, and 16, vary by location and go from either 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Cost: $20 a class.

11 Just because kids are on a break, that doesn’t mean they can’t embrace their creative sides with a visit to one of the municipality’s three Michaels’ locations and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Not only will AGNS be opened for self-guided and staff-guided tours, but it will also be hosting Sketching in Gallery. At the drop-in event, from 1:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. on March 14 and 15, artists of all skill levels can learn from a local artist. All supplies are provided. Cost is included in the museum’s general admission, which for children aged six to 17, is $5. As for lunch, during your art day you don’t have to go far. AGNS is home to Pavia Gallery, which has sandwiches for less than $10, salads that range from $6.25 to $7.95 and soup for $4.50 a cup and $6.50 for a bowl. While Michaels’ is still ironing out specific events for March Break, it will be offering Kids Club during the week, where

ALONG WITH AFFORDABLE ACTIVITIES, MANY PLACES IN HALIFAX ARE HOLDING FREE EVENTS •A  t both their Halifax waterfront and Mahone Bay locations, Amos Pewter will be giving visitors the chance to finish and personalize a pewter sand dollar that has been cast from molten pewter. •A  rgyle Fine Art is still working out a few details regarding their activities, but everything the Barrington Street gallery is hosting for March Break will be free. Confirmed activities include the annual Pun Off event and Family Days on Friday and Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. •F  or those looking to get in a skate or two before the weather warms up, the Halifax Emera Oval will be open for public skating hours. The BMO Centre in Bedford and 4 Pad in Dartmouth will also be having free public skates. Contact each location for times and days. • Chapters locations throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality will be hosting several themed events, including arts and crafts, build and discovery, and imagination and adventure from Monday to Friday at 11 a.m. •H  alifax Public Libraries will be hosting a variety of events at its branches, including a March Break dance party at the Tantallon location, a talent show at Woodlawn and a Jumanji themed activity at Keshen Goodman. More information, and other events, can be found at halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/ or by calling a specific branch.


Day 3 Embrace your inner, or outer, artist

children, aged three and up can create an art project or craft within a half-hour time span. The cost is $2, and sessions start every hour from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Total Cost (with a $7.95 salad): $14.95

FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR A DAY OR TWO AWAY FROM THE HRM, THERE ARE PLACES THAT ARE NOT ONLY AFFORDABLE, BUT WITHIN DRIVING DISTANCE • Ross Farm in New Ross will have a new theme each day, relating to life on the farm. Themes include Spring Time on the Farm, Traditional Skills, and Tasty Treats. Along with general activities there will be crafts to make and hot chocolate available throughout the day. Child admission is $3. • For those looking for an adventure that’s a bit sweeter? Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown is worth the drive. It’s open throughout the week and has a variety of public events, including sugar camp tours, hiking and snowshoeing trails, and a maple brunch. •P  erhaps, your child is more interested in animals for day away from Halifax. In that case, the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is the place to be. The will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during March break for animal viewings. Admission is $1.75 for youth aged six to 17.



Our Children | Spring 2018

Day 4 Entertainment Day At least one day of the break must be a lazy one, spent watching a TV screen or, in the case of the Cineplex Family Favourites event, a large screen where each film is $2.99. While the specific titles have yet to be determined, they will be posted on the Cineplex website before the break begins. After taking in a movie and eating a snack, which might bring your moviegoing experience closer to $7 or $8, depending on the snack, head over to Bedford or Halifax’s Board Room Game Café for a game of Scrabble or Monopoly. Admission is $5 a person. As for food, the Board Room has a variety of meals, with pizza or garlic fingers costing between $6 and $8. Total cost (with a $6 pizza at the Board Room and a lower cost movie snack): $19.99

Day 5 A Day on the Farm While March isn’t the warmest month of the year, it’s still worthwhile to spend a day outside with Hatfield Farms. The Hammonds Plains attraction will be doing its March Break Round Up, which includes a two-hour sleigh or wagon ride, all-you-can eat-hotdogs, juice, pop, as well as coffee and tea. The Heated Rubber Rodeo, which has inflatable games and a petting pen, will also be open, but there’s no set time limit on how long visitors can spend there. The wagon ride and Rubber Rodeo will open all week, with wagon rides happening at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. Total Cost: $14.99 per person.

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Note: Even if it’s not mentioned, many of the places listed might release other March break activities later on, so do check in with each place before visiting.


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Our Children | Spring 2018

Combined classes: how and why they work By Elwin LeRoux

What does it mean when your child is in a combined class? A combined class is when students in more than one grade level are being taught by the same teacher, in the same classroom, usually in elementary school. However, this year combined classes may be used in junior and senior high to lower class sizes. Even though students in the same class are required to meet different outcomes, it’s not as complicated as it may sound. In fact, there are many benefits to children of different ages learning together. The most important thing to remember is that in every classroom, straight-grade or combined, learners are working at varying levels of math, reading, and writing. For example, if you take any Grade 2 class, you may have some students who are reading below grade level, others who are reading at grade level, and some who are reading above grade level. Most students fall somewhere in between. Teachers and principals spend a great deal of time determining each classroom’s composition; it’s all about balance. They look at each student’s learning style to ensure there’s a mix in every classroom; they also consider how students interact with one another, gender balance, and group dynamics. Combined classes are rich and diverse learning environments that create opportunities for students to work with a wide-range of individuals with different strengths, lived experiences, and backgrounds. The reasons for combining grades into one class are varied. Legislation requires that Primary to Grade 2 classes are capped at 20 (+2) students, and Grades 3 to 6 are capped at 25 (+2), whenever possible. New

this year are class caps for junior high and senior high schools. In Grades 7 to 9, classes are capped at 28 (+2), and for Grades 10 to 12, classes are capped at 30 (+2). Caps must be in place for all grades by Sept. 30 each year. Classes over cap will occur only in exceptional circumstances, after all other options are explored. Small schools will often have combined classes because there are too few students per grade. In larger schools, there are often too many students for one class, but too few for two classes. The reason for creating combined classes is different for every school.

What does a combined classroom look like? Combined classrooms look like any other classroom. You’ll see flexible seating, work stations, and activity centres. There are conference areas, reading spaces, and group gathering areas. It’s up to each teacher to create the space that works best for the class. In terms of daily lessons, teachers in combined classes often teach a mini-lesson to the whole group, and then assess individual students based on grade level expectations. It’s not unusual to see students up and moving about in the classroom while teachers make the rounds and engage with each student to see how they’re demonstrating their understanding. Teachers are finding the new streamlined curriculum in elementary lends itself well to combined classes; students are working on the same topic, using the same skills, but at different levels. Differentiated instruction is a key component of combined classrooms. This means teachers work to meet each student where they are on their learning journey, and help move them along in the way they learn best, regardless of their grade level. Teachers

have an amazing ability to find creative ways to teach to every level. In a combined classroom, the way students demonstrate their knowledge will look different depending on their grade level. Teachers have many assessment strategies to choose from when collecting evidence of learning. They can include observations, conferencing, and writing samples. What’s most interesting is the social and emotional skills students learn in a multi-level class. Many teachers have observed older students in a combined class often make good decisions knowing they’re role models for younger students. As a result, older students naturally develop leadership skills. Some teachers find the younger students tend to develop greater confidence simply by working with older students on a regular basis. All of this builds a strong sense of community in the classroom, in the halls, and even spills out on to the playground. Every classroom, combined or straightgrade, is comprised of brilliant students who are experimenting, exploring, discovering, and being nurtured and supported by teachers. What’s most important is they’re having fun while learning. If you have questions about combined classes, never hesitate to contact your child’s principal. Learn more about how and why combined classes work in this video: youtu.be/CqtQ_zUBPjI. Elwin LeRoux is the Superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board.

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Our Children | Spring 2018

Ten tips for flying with kids The captain announces you’ve reached a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, but nothing about this flight feels cruiselike. Your toddler is crying, reason unknown, and your 6-year-old just spilled apple juice all over the seat cushion. By Helen Earley


on’t panic. Politely ask the flight attendant for a blanket, or even a new seat cushion (they’re attached with Velcro and are extremely easy to swap out). Offer your testy toddler some play-dough and a yummy granola bar. Flying with kids isn’t easy, but having a few tricks in your hand baggage can definitely ease the stress, leaving you to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.

1. Choose the right flight

Both Air Canada and WestJet allow children to collect air miles, so make sure you sign them up. Note that Aeroplan is revamping its reward program in 2020. Visit www.aeroplan.com to check out the changes.

exit since they often don’t recline. The coveted bulkhead (the first row of seats in a section) is great for infants, but on many airplanes, it has less legroom than an average seat. For a family of four, don’t automatically book four seats across the middle. Two sets of two along the side is a much better formula, because two people get a window, and no one is stuck in the middle. If you have a toddler who kicks, this is definitely the right configuration for you, since you can position the kicker behind mom or dad, rather than a stranger.

3. Seat strategically

4. Travel light

Book carefully. If the cheapest flight available includes multiple layovers or an airplane change, it may be better to spend slightly more money and fly direct. If possible, an overnight flight is always a good idea because the kids will (probably) sleep through.

2. Collect miles

Not all seats are equal. Beware of the row of seats just in front of the emergency

If you’re travelling with infants or toddlers, bring a small umbrella-style stroller

instead of a large travel system. For small babies, a sling or front-carrier is ideal since it leaves your hands free. Limit hand luggage to one small backpack each, and pack the rest in the hold. Ask children to be responsible for their own bag containing snacks, toys and a change of clothes, but don’t allow them to hold tickets and passports. There’s one important exception, and this is the award-wining Trunki, a miniature ride-on suitcase that can really take the pressure off during long security line-ups. Trunkis are available at Nurtured Products for Parenting on Agricola Street in Halifax ($69.95), or if you’re lucky, you might find one on Kijiji for a fraction of the cost (nurtured.ca)

15 5. Pre-order meals If you’re travelling internationally with Air Canada, book a free kids meal. They’re more appealing than the regular adult fare, and are served in advance of the main meal service. For flights within North America, the Air Canada Bistro has a variety of snacks at inflated prices. For example, a Kit Kat bar is $3.50 (aircanada.com). WestJet also offers pre-ordering for flights over 2.5 hours. For shorter flights there is an onboard snack menu, again at a price. A Kit Kat on Westjet is $2.99 (westjet.com).

6. Pack healthy snacks Of course, you should bring some snacks. Granola bars, fruit, banana chips or even a favourite sandwich are great for airplane journeys, and very helpful in case of a delay. It’s a courtesy not to take peanuts on a flight, due to the high number of people who have allergies.

7. Choose airplane-friendly activities Stave off boredom with new toys. Playdough, puzzle-books and word-searches make great choices, as do stick-bots, stuffies, and Rubik’s cubes. A fresh set of glitter-pens and a notepad will keep some kids busy for hours. Lego isn’t a good choice because the pieces can get lost easily.

8. Bring your medication in your carry-on Don’t forget to pack a small first aid kit with all your go-to medications. If your family is prone to ear irritations, include a decongestant, or a Vicks inhaler, both of which can relieve pressure in the Eustachian tubes before landing. Carry any prescription medication in its clearly labeled original drugstore container, and don’t give the kids any medication they haven’t tried before; 30,000 feet is a bad place to discover an adverse reaction.

9. Bring kid-friendly headphones Ear buds can be uncomfortable for little ears, so it’s good idea to invest in a pair of children’s headphones. If your airplane has seat-back televisions, check the volume and connection for your children before they start watching a show.


10. Download before you leave home Some airplanes have bid farewell to the seat-back television and instead encourage families to bring their own devices. If this is your choice, download any required apps before you depart home. Check with your airline for details. Helen Earley was a flight attendant for 11 years, before settling down to become a parent, teacher, and freelance travel writer. These are her top tips for flying with kids.

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Our Children | Spring 2018

Where did March break come from? A quick look back at the origins of the spring break in Canada By Chris Muise


s students, teachers, and families begin to prepare for March break, you might wonder, where did March break come from? What was its original purpose? Does it still serve that purpose? To find out, we spoke with Dr. Robert Berard, a professor and director of graduate education at Mount St. Vincent University. Berard’s focus is the history, philosophy, and politics of education. He spoke with us about where March break came from, and what it is today.

What is the origin of March break in Canada? What was it originally supposed to accomplish? Prior to the 1930s, schools often had breaks in the year, usually related to the local economy. Even in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, schools would close in New Brunswick during the potato harvest. Same with P.E.I. Often, schools would close, or there would be a widespread acceptance of absenteeism, in southwest Nova Scotia when lobster season [started]. In some areas, there was a practice of closing schools during the influenza season, and it was rough to estimate when that was until it was almost upon you. But the contemporary March break, as far as I can tell, seems to have been a kind of hand-me-down from colleges and universities that began having a break in the midway point between the beginning of the second term and exams. The idea of giving students a chance to catch up on their work and prep for exams emerged in the ‘30s.

It really became a cultural phenomenon when, according to many articles, U.S. colleges and universities started holding swim meets in Florida.

It sounds like it’s a mix of agricultural, economic, health, and cultural factors. All those things played a part, but they tended to be localized.

Does March break still serve all these functions we’ve discussed? It certainly doesn’t serve the agricultural one anymore. March is neither particularly the time for sowing or reaping. That’s pretty much gone by the boards. And the health one, vaccination has taken care of that. The idea of giving the teachers… and students a break is still generally considered a good idea. But more than anything else, the travel industry would have a fit if they cancelled March break. It’s a rich time for them. In addition to parental-organized trips and activities, the school trip to London, or Paris, or Italy, and so on… there are whole companies that make their money during March break. But it no longer has any connection, I don’t think, to whatever purpose it had originally.

Educationally-speaking, is there still any value in having a March break? Much depends on what the kids and their families do with the break. Parents can

plan their own kinds of activities. There are a whole number of local institutions that organize March Break camps. Mount St. Vincent here, our athletics department runs a whole number of March Break camps.

So, there are lots of opportunities during March break for alternative education? There are lots of learning opportunities for kids. There are certainly a lot of families… that do things with their kids, which is good and educative in itself. Extrapolating from actual research done on the break over the summer, when there are kids who are not doing much of anything, the educational benefit is minimal. But I would say most kids, whose parents take an active interest in them and find something for them to do, actually do benefit. Almost all the camps are educational. Kids meet other kids from different places. There’s a lot of stimulation for them. I don’t think it holds them back. Articles written about learning loss in the summer tend to focus on memory learning (i.e. you learn certain steps in a particular order). Math and science were the two areas where kids seemed to have the biggest regression. As I read the articles, they got me thinking, “Maybe they didn’t really know them in the first place.” The students just knew them well enough to do the exam, by committing them to memory, and then they kind of forgot them over the summer, as opposed to fully integrating them into their thinking.

17 There must be something of a psychological benefit to having the occasional break?

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I think that’s absolutely true. Certainly, with a well-planned break for your children, they will not lose that much of their learning, and they’ll pick up a whole lot of other things they can then bring back to their class in the following year.

Is March still the right time for the break? Or would it be better to move it? I’m not sure there is a better time, particularly in Canada. It has the advantage of coming about halfway between the beginning of the second term and final exams. There’s a rationale for that. And it’s become so entrenched in our practices and planning, it would be disruptive to change it, And, it would produce no great benefit.

Any other thoughts on this topic? Every time we think about school, we shouldn’t make it equivalent to education. Kids get an education all the time. And school doesn’t work for every kid; it only works for most kids. But kids will learn things in all kinds of places. Only a fraction of what you learn is learned in school.

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Our Children | Spring 2018

All hands on deck for dinner prep Take the time to teach your kids to help out in the kitchen By Edie Shaw-Ewald


ne of my favourite roles as a grocery store dietitian is cooking with children, teens, and young adults. There are some teens that can handle a chef’s knife quite well, but sadly that’s not often the case. Usually, it appears they’ve rarely used a peeler or a paring knife. So, this is a call out to parents everywhere: Get your kids in the kitchen! Even small children can help. And March break is a perfect time to start. Yes, it will be messy and take patience in the short term, but the benefits are priceless. Research shows that kids who participate in meal preparation at home are healthier eaters and less picky. Helping with meal preparation gives a child a sense of contributing to the running of the household. Reading and math skills are unknowingly practiced when reading recipes, labels, and measuring and counting ingredients. Cooking is a life-long skill that will lead to a healthier life. I’m optimistic it could lead to healthier lives of grandchildren and great grandchildren, but maybe I’m getting carried away. Cooking skills can also help contribute to healthier social lives. How many people don’t host friends and family for dinner because they lack the confidence to cook?

Start them young Toddlers are eager to help and love to imitate what you’re doing. If you start them at a young age, it becomes natural to them to help with meal prep and clean up. If you wait until they’re teenagers, it’ll be more difficult to create a routine of helping in the kitchen. But it’s never too late. If you have a teenager in your home, suggest they pick a recipe and let them take charge of the meal with your help.

Make it a daily event Cooking is a part of daily life. Don’t limit their involvement to special occasions and kid-friendly recipes. Involve them in all aspects of meal preparation: meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, setting the table, and clean-up. It will be trying at first, in terms of patience, mess and imperfections, but after some perseverance, you’ll be rewarded with full-fledged kitchen helpers.

Set up your kitchen Have plastic knives, butter knives and crinkle cutters for little ones to chop safely. Make sure to have two or three cutting boards and peelers. Kid-sized aprons are fun to have too.

Make it safe Ensure sharp knives, hot surfaces, pot handles, etc. are out of reach of young children and talk to them about being safe in the kitchen. Give them age and ability appropriate tasks and tools, and always keep an eye on them as they develop new skills. • Toddlers can chop and slice soft items such as bananas, strawberries, mushrooms, avocados, hard boiled eggs, and cheese with a butter knife. They can also help to tear lettuce and add ingredients to a bowl. • When you feel that your school-aged child is ready, they can progress to paring knives to cut foods such as peppers, apples, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. They might also be able to measure ingredients, stir them together, mash vegetables, use a blender, and cook at the stove with your help. • Depending on their experience, tweens and teens might be able to graduate to a chef’s knife at the kitchen counter to cut harder foods, such as potatoes, carrots, and meats. They may also start to use appliances, such as the food processor, stove, and oven.


Cut with care Knife skills are essential to cooking. Make sure you know how to use a knife safely and properly, so you can teach your child. Check out a safe knife skills video online. Keep your paring and chef’s knives sharp, and put a slightly damp paper towel or dishtowel under cutting boards so they don’t slip. Teach children to never put a knife in the sink to be cleaned, as someone might reach in and cut their hands.

Keep it clean Teach your child to wash their hands before they start preparing food, and to clean their hands and kitchen tools after being in contact with raw meat.

Talk it out While you’re doing meal prep or baking, explain what you’re doing. Kids will pick up information about the cooking tools, terms, measurements, and cooking techniques you’re using. Show them the raw ingredients and explain how they’re evolving into your meal.

Be OK with mess and imperfection Resist the urge to jump in and “fix” imperfectly peeled potatoes.

M A R C H B R E A K F U N • M A R C H 9 -1 7, 2 0 1 8

Expand your skills together Crack open a cookbook and try a new recipe, follow a cooking video online, or attend a cooking class at a local grocery store. Atlantic Superstores offer monthly family cooking classes. Our children are young adults now (20 and 23!). They have helped in the kitchen from a young age, and although there were many messy days, I know it was all worth it. They’re expert peelers, choppers, and salad spinners. They don’t live at home full-time anymore, but they text me photos of the meals they make and, when we gather for family dinners, I have two full-fledged kitchen helpers. Edie Shaw-Ewald is a Registered Dietitian at Tantallon Atlantic Superstore. If you have nutrition questions, health concerns, or nutrition goals, book an appointment with a Superstore dietitian at bookadietitian.ca, or contact Edie at edie.shawewald@loblaw.ca, 902 240-6918.

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Our Children | Spring 2018

Giv’er and give Taking it one step further. That’s what more than 3,000 youngsters participating in the upcoming Doctors Nova Scotia Youth Run have the opportunity to do. By Starr Cunningham


here’s little doubt you’ve heard of the annual Blue Nose Marathon. In fact, chances are you’ve participated in one way or another throughout the event’s successful 15-year history. I remember running the youth run alongside my daughter, Lily, who is now 15-years-old. At the time, she was so little I worried about her



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making it to the finish line on her own. She proved me wrong quite quickly though, leaving me in the dust once she got the sense she was close to the cheering crowd. While the Blue Nose will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this spring, the Charity Challenge portion is turning 10. This fundraising component of race weekend is a great way to teach your child two important lessons at once. First, physical activity is fun. Second, giving is good for your health too. We don’t need statistics to tell us volunteer work and philanthropy are positive undertakings. Anyone who has ever volunteered or made a donation already knows that. It simply feels good to give. So why wouldn’t we encourage our children to give, while they giv’er? The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is one of several official charities for May’s Blue Nose Marathon. We join a diverse group of organizations including Brigadoon Village, the IWK Foundation, Symphony Nova Scotia, and The Club Inclusion (just to name a few). Runners who wish to join our team simply opt-in to the Charity Challenge during registration and select the Mental Health Foundation in the drop-down menu. It’s never too late to join. Even those who have already signed-up to run can go back and select a cause to support. Our youngest runner last year was just four-years-old. Small, but mighty, preschooler Henry raised more than $600 by engaging his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and close family friends. It provided Henry with something else to feel proud about, and gave the people close to him an opportunity to join in his success. Henry’s tally was high, but any amount can make a difference. The idea is to get our youth thinking about others, while motivating themselves. Generosity is good for self-esteem, creating positive attitudes, and generating a feeling of community. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is also a proud supporter of a successful running initiative within the mental health and addictions program. Our Running to Recovery grant gives inpatients at the Nova Scotia Hospital an opportunity to lace-up




Supporting students with ADHD and other learning disabilities.


Henry and his father, Clark, after last year’s Youth Run.

and enjoy the beauty of our abundant parks, outdoor and indoor tracks, and local trails. The project provides patients with different skills and techniques to build healthy relationships, increase selfconfidence, and improve their own mental and physical health and quality of life. Some of our grant recipients have even completed the Blue Nose. As for this year, Lily and I aren’t planning to run, but we will most certainly be donating to Henry and the Mental Health Foundation team, proving you’re never too young to inspire friends and family to make a difference in the lives of others. The Blue Nose Marathon takes place in Halifax from May 18 to 20. You can register and find a complete listing of all the official Blue Nose charities on the marathon’s website at bluenosemarathon.com.

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Starr Cunningham is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s an acclaimed journalist, best-selling children’s author, and volunteer. She was recently recognized as a Canadian Difference Maker—150 Leading Canadians for Mental Health, and is a winner of the Northwood Foundation 2017 Live More Advocacy Award.

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Our Children | Spring 2018

Kelsey Berg By ErinBy McIntosh & Rowan Morrissy

ParentSpeak By Jennifer Lehr Workman Publishing “Good job!” “Give Grandma a kiss!” “Can you say, ‘Thank You’?” These are some of the most common, seemingly innocuous phrases we say to our children each day to encourage good behaviour. Although we have the best intentions at heart, what if the reflexive language we use contradicts the message we’re trying to send? In ParentSpeak, author Jennifer Lehr deconstructs 14 classic phrases parents use to determine if they’re constructive or destructive. (Spoiler alert: they’re destructive!) Lehr explores how parents speak, citing the work of top psychologists, pediatricians, educators, and child-abuse experts, to demonstrate how these sayings manipulate, objectify, micro-manage, distress, invalidate, and threaten children. Lehr argues, “[language] doesn’t just affect them as children and our relationships with them, but also who they become as adults and how they relate to others and the world.” Intertwined with this psychological perspective, Lehr provides real-life examples and personal anecdotes, along with recommendations for alternative language parents should use. The key is to validate children’s emotional responses in these situations, rather than revert to the dismissive and condescending language of Parentspeak. Perhaps the biggest take away from this book is the way we talk to children becomes their inner voice. Therefore, it’s important we learn to speak consciously, communicating with compassion and respect no matter the age. After reading this book, you’ll understand more about the language you use, and learn to communicate better with your child.

The Fox and the Fisherman

My Two Grandmothers

Story and illustrations by Marianne Dumas Nimbus Publishing Ages 4–8

Story by Diane Carmel Léger Illustrations by Jean-Luc Trudel Nimbus Publishing Ages 4–8

This heartwarming story follows the mundane life of a lonely fisher named Barnaby. Each day he does the same thing, goes out in his small fishing boat to catch one measly fish. When all seems hopeless, he sparks an unlikely friendship with a fox and begins to look forward to each encounter. With dreamy watercolour imagery accompanied by flowy text, Dumas perfectly illustrates how even small encounters can cure loneliness.

No two grandmothers are alike, except when it comes to their love for their grandchildren. This story follows six grandchildren in the 1960s as they compare and contrast their visits with their grandmothers Mémére and Nannie. They are as different as can be, from the type of dog they own to what form of transportation they take. Overall, this is a thoughtful story that teaches kids to respect and celebrate the differences between family members.

If You Could Wear My Sneakers Poems by Sheree Fitch Illustrations by Darcia Labrosse Nimbus Publishing Ages 3–7 Originally commissioned by UNICEF Canada, this 20th anniversary edition contains whimsical, tongue-twister poems by acclaimed children’s poet and author Sheree Fitch. In her signature style, she creatively explores 15 of the 54 articles from the 1989 United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. With stanzas like “If you knew / the me I am / or I could know / the you you be,” kids will find this wacky book an enjoyable read.

Sea Glass Summer Story and illustrations by Heidi Jardine Stoddart Nimbus Publishing Ages 4–8 Molly’s favourite place is her Gram’s cottage by the sea. They enjoy spending time together collecting sea glass and breathing in the salty ocean air. Then one day a moving truck appears, and Molly moves away from her Gram. Accompanied by vibrant illustrations, this story explores two things every Maritimer can relate to: the lure of the ocean and separation from loved ones.

Crunch a Cortland, grab a Gala, snack on a Sonya. There’s a Nova Scotia apple for every taste. Local finds, recipes and more at selectnovascotia.ca



- Children should be seen by an Orthodontist by age 8* - We offer free consultations (for all ages) - No referral needed *As recommended by the Canadian Association of Orthodontists