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Halifax’s Family Magazine

May 2017

Keep on rockin’ Brock Molyneux creates a unique campaign for cardiology research

On the road again

Family-friendly trips for the summer

+ living gluten free

face to face • book reviews

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May 2017

9 Our annual poetry contest is back! Inspiring ideas for summer family road trips

14 Keep on rockin’ Brock Molyneux raises funds for the IWK with a fun craft project

18 On the road again Activities for your family this summer

24 Living gluten free Going without gluten is not for everyone. Do your research first.

26 It’s the simple things Starr Dobson talks about books, pets, and how they help our well being

departments 07 Editor’s note 09 Contest You’re a poet and you know it!

10 First bell Events, products, trends, and more

12 Student Correspondent Hayden Berry talks about his hockey team and love of the sport

22 Face to face Breton and Tyler Hayden put their Special Day Activities Project into a book for other families

28 Superintendent message Taking a new approach to Core French

30 Book reviews

Our Children | May 2017





Summer Camps

On our cover Brock Molyneux and his dog, Dougie, pose with a ladybug rock Brock painted as part of a campaign to raise funds for the IWK. See his story on page 14. Photo: Steve Smith/VisionFire

Campers will experience a variety of sports, cooperative games, outdoor, water, adventure & leadership activities, as well, as arts and crafts!

Publisher Patty Baxter

Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams

Camp Hours: 9:00am - 4:00pm Early Drop Off: 7:30am Late Pick Up: 5:30pm Pre-Order / Pay Lunch Options. Payment Plans Available.

For a complete description of our exciting Summer Camps, please visit our website or phone us at 902.869.4141!

Editor Suzanne Rent Contributing Editor Janice Hudson

Editorial Interns Erin McIntosh, Rowan Morrissy

Art Director Mike Cugno

Production Coordinators Emma Brennan, Mike Roy

Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Contributors Hayden Berry Starr Dobson Elwin LeRoux Sarah Sawler Edie Shaw-Ewald

Our Children | May 2017

Your Adventure Awaits


Featuring 26 species of mammals and 35 species of birds 40 Minutes from Halifax, Hwy 102, Exit 9, Milford

For advertising sales and editorial and subscription enquiries: Tel. 902-420-9943 Fax 902-429-9058 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3E2 No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher. Return undeliverable addresses to Metro Guide Publishing at the address above. 902.758.2040

Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.


Living life offline I joked recently that these days everyone is so connected, yet so disconnected at the same time. I posted this on social media, ironically, about 10 years after I joined Facebook. Social media has its positives. I’ve seen people use it for activism. It gives a voice to many who have traditionally been without a voice. It’s an inexpensive and effective tool for small businesses to promote their products and services. And yes, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends, sharing photos of your kids, and saving yourself those long-distance phone charges.

Suzanne Rent, Editor

On Facebook: Our Children Magazine

On Twitter: @Suzanne_Rent @OurChildrenMag

But I wondered, too, how all this online connectivity is affecting our children. Are they missing out on developing crucial social skills? The in-person, real-life kind? Do they have more friends online than they have in real life? I wonder if they know the difference between emotions and emojis. And how does social media affect discussions and even arguments with friends in real life versus friends online? Conversations on social media have a different tone and context than those had in person. My daughter isn’t much for Facebook or Twitter; she seems to like Snapchat with its entertaining filters that distort funny faces or add animals features to photos. By the time she finishes high school, or probably earlier, there will be several new social media applications people have yet to sign up for.

engaging challenging supportive Discover a world-class education located close to home.

Personally, I’ve experienced a few downsides of social media. I see my friends online more than I do in person. And I’m constantly on and thinking about what’s happening in the world. The brain never gets a break, constantly scanning through news stories, the mundane or exciting details of other people’s lives, or even what people had for dinner the night before. I recently decided to detox a bit from Facebook, limiting my own posts and checking in less frequently. I immediately noticed I slept through the night, two nights in a row. Being online seriously affects down time. And the trolls are aplenty and, even with fighting back, they seem tougher than ever. I’ve had to delete a few “friends” on Facebook and followers on Twitter whose comments left me angry and frustrated. I sound like an old fogey, but meeting in person for fun, laughs, and great conversation never goes out of style. Neither does getting outside and connecting with nature and what’s happening in the real world. We may not yet know the long-term effects of being constantly connected, but it’s not too late to reconnect with what really matters. I’d like to hear your thoughts on social media and how it affects you, your children, and your family. As always, send your feedback and story ideas to

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Our Children | May 2017




An exhibition developed by the Australian Museum and toured internationally by Flying Fish

NEW contest

Your child is a poet and you know it! We want to read your child’s original poems! Encourage your kids to write about whatever interests them: friends, summertime, life, or anything at all. Three winners (Grades Primary to 2; Grades 3 to 4, Grades 5 to 6) will each receive a prize. Submit poems to or Our Children, 2882 Gottingen St., Halifax, N.S., B3K 3E2 Deadline: Aug. 15, 2017

NEW contest

Contest blow out! This Gazillion Giant Bubble Mill brings a super-sized bubble experience like never before. Pour Giant Gazillion Bubble Solution into the reservoir, push the button, and watch as the wheel turns and blows giant bubbles into the air. The Giant Bubble Mill includes an eight-ounce bottle of non-toxic Giant Gazillion Bubble Solution. 3 AA batteries required. To enter, email your name, phone number to Suzanne Rent, editor, Our Children Magazine, by June 30, 2017. We will notify the winner by email.


First bell

Get playing at Dal! Dalhousie University’s Department of Athletics offers a variety of sport and recreational summer camp options featuring low instructor-to-student ratios that foster skill development and teach the importance of teamwork and fair play. Dal Tigers sport camps include hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming, and soccer. Recreational camps include indoor and outdoor climbing, Junior Leadership, and Active Kids. Summer campers receive a regular season pass to Dal Tigers home games (excluding hockey), a family day pass to Dalplex, and a camp t-shirt or jersey. A cafeteria-style lunch with healthy and nutritious options is included for full-day camps on Dalhousie’s campus.

Artech Camps at NSCC Create animations and original video games with characters that can jump, dig, mine, and craft weapons to battle scary monsters! Instead of playing games, Artech campers get to go behind the scenes and learn how to create and program their own games.

Our Children | May 2017

Unique to Artech is the infusion of art activities with STEM learning: inspiring creative problem solving and promoting digital literacy. Kids seven through teen years will benefit from the one-to-six instructor to camper ratio. Each child receives quality instruction time. or 902-579-3317


Family adventure on the South Shore Atlantica Oak Island Resort, located 45 minutes from Halifax, offers families great opportunities to explore Nova Scotia this summer. Life is an adventure and you can build memories of a lifetime as your family makes amazing discoveries, unravels the mystery of the infamous Oak Island Treasure and relives our very own Gold Rush. Enjoy a safe, fun and scenic family bike ride along our Rails to Trails system, relax and play in the calm waters of the resort or explore the cursed coves of Oak Island by stand-up paddleboard or paddleboat. Find out more about the Family Adventure Package and many other offers.

Summer experiments Mad Science camps offer a daily combination of in-class discovery and exploration, outdoor games and physical activities, and hands-on applications of the scientific principles presented. Campers create and assemble a variety of take-home projects while exploring how science affects the world around us. Children have so much fun they forget they’re learning. All camps are for children ages five to 12.
Camps take place around HRM, including Shambhala School, Woodlawn United Church in Dartmouth, and Hammonds Plains Community Centre. Camp themes include Flight Academy, Crazy Chemists, and Secret Agent Lab.

Creative camps for kids Alderney Landing Summer Camp kick off again this season with something for kids ages six all the way up to our new teen series for 11 to 15 year olds. Our popular favourites, including art, theatre, circus camps, continue for six to 10 year olds. This year our new features are horror movies, scriptwriting, and sculpture for the older crowd. It’s all happening in July.

Camp destination discovery The Discovery Centre has super smart weeklong camps that inspire, engage, and drive youth into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Now located at 1215 Lower Water St. in downtown Halifax, the new facility features four interactive themed galleries, an Innovation Lab, immersive Dome Theatre, and Featured Exhibit gallery that changes three or four times a year. It’s rumoured to be featuring dinosaurs this summer! The Discovery Centre’s summer camps provide plenty of time to enjoy centre experiences, but also explore local destinations for educational trips across the city with fully qualified staff in a 1:7 ratio. This summer, the Discovery Centre will be introducing a brand new specialized camp in partnership with the Ocean Technology Counsel of Nova Scotia (OTCNS); the Ocean Technology Camp is for youth 11 to 14 years-old. Make sure to register soon, as these camps tend to fill up fast!

New research examining SpellRead results demonstrates “significant and meaningful improvements” in both reading fluency and reading comprehension for students with reading disabilities. SpellRead is a unique approach that focuses on phonological automaticity by helping students to build their sound system and linking that system with spoken language. Results are consistent across all age groups included in the study from Dr. Jamie Metsala, PhD, Gail and Stephen Jarilowsky Chair in Learning Disabilities at MSVU. Halifax Learning offers an engaging and active summer day camp in addition to our regular afterschool classes. The camp involves building excellent reading skills, getting outdoors, and having fun. or 902-225-1861

Neptune Theatre Summer Camps offer fun theatre training in the HRM. The instructors are made up of the city’s leading up-andcoming performers, and camps take place July 3 to August 25 at Shambhala School. With five different programs for ages four to 18 years, there is something for everyone: Act like a wizard! Sing like a rock star! Create your own comedy show! Also offers two-week intensive theatre and musical training for teenagers at our Young Company Boot Camp, with open auditions running May 7 and 14 at Neptune Theatre.

Our Children | May 2017

Summer learning Take the stage


Student correspondent

For the love of the game Hayden Berry

By Hayden Berry

Hockey is more than being on the ice. It’s about teamwork, learning how to win and lose gracefully

Have you ever been in love with a sport? You know that feeling of happiness you get when you’re doing well? Do you miss that sport as soon you finish a game, so much that even though you’re tired you’re ready to play again? That is exactly the way I felt after the game where I scored four goals! We were down by two goals when suddenly I scored! Just when I thought we were getting ahead, the Vipers came back with another goal. I got a pass and I was on a breakaway and took a shot and it bounced off the goalie’s pad and went in the net! I couldn’t believe it! By the third period it was 6-5 for the Vipers. My friend was in the right corner and he passed it to me and I put it in the net with my backhand. I was so happy, not only was the game tied, but also it was my first hat trick ever.

My head coach Tom Murray, Andrew’s dad, is the best coach I’ve ever had. He was my coach for the first time in my second year playing hockey and he really helped improve my skills. Tom started coaching when Andrew got involved in hockey at age five. Andrew is 10, so he has been coaching for five years. “There are so many great things about being involved with a team dynamic,” Tom says. “You get to meet new people. You form a bond with your teammates. The game itself is a lot of fun. You have a lot of new experiences and you learn things.” Tom gives us a speech before every game. It really helps us because he tells us what to do when we break out of our zone, what to do when we break into the offensive zone, when to pass, when to shoot, and more. He teaches us lots about hockey, but he also teaches us a lot about real life, too.

A couple of seconds later I came up and deked a few of the Vipers, I was on another breakaway. I looked for an opening and saw that the top right corner of the net was open. I took the shot and I scored! There were only two minutes left in the game and we were up 7-6. They pulled their goalie, but didn’t score. We won the game. I got four goals. It was awesome! The first time I ever played hockey was at novice tryouts at the Centennial Arena in Fairview. I made development. That means my skills were still developing. I was now on my first hockey team, but there was a problem. We didn’t have a coach.

Our Children | May 2017

Finally, a parent of one of my teammates volunteered to be our coach, but that didn’t really help us. We didn’t even win one game. In fact, we only scored once in the whole season. On top of it all, our team was nameless. Some would say that after you lose 10 to 20 games in a row you get used to losing. This didn’t stop me; I still loved hockey and wanted to continue.


Now my team is called the Hammerheads and our home rink is Centennial Arena in Fairview. We are a good team with 16 out of 16 great players and five awesome coaches. We have played more than 30 regular games and a couple tournaments. We are ages 9, 10 and 11 and in Grade 4 and 5 at more than five different schools. Some of my teammates have been on my team for three years. Andrew has been on the team for three years. Andrew says the TASA Lightning was the hardest team we ever played. “They creamed us last year,” he says. The best game Andrew ever played was in January when we beat Cole Harbour to win the bronze medal at Middleton Mustangs Tournament.

Hayden’s team, The Hammerheads.

“A lot of life skills I’ve learned are attributed to hockey: teamwork, leadership,” Tom says. “There are so many good things about the game at this age they will learn that will help them in the future.” Tom says there are so many great things about coaching the Hammerheads. First and foremost, he loves hockey. He went through the whole minor hockey system, like we are doing now. He has always stayed involved. My goal for this season is to get 33 goals. My goal for every game is to get as many points as possible. Right now, I’m trying to work on getting better at dekeing the goalie. The greatest thing about being on the Hammerheads is that everybody is nice and easy to make friends with. The greatest thing about our coaches is that they’re all encouraging. “The coaches believe if you put in a lot of effort, good hard work, you will get rewarded,” Tom says. “It may not always be in winning the game, but as long as you’re using your own skillset, helping your teammates, that’s rewarding in itself.”




Cover story

Keep on rockin’

With inspiration from a pet ladybug, Brock’s Rocks raise funds for research and care at the cardiology department at the IWK Health Centre

Our Children | May 2017

By Suzanne Rent Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire


Brock Molyneux and his mom, Neota Tinkler, paint the ladybug rocks they hide in parks and on trails around the HRM.

“My mom bought the red and black [paint] and we just rolled with that.”

The kitchen table at Brock Molyneux’s house has been taken over by bugs. Well, rocks painted to look like ladybugs.

The idea to paint the rocks as ladybugs was inspired by a pet friend.

Brock is a nine-year-old from Bedford. He has a condition called bicuspid aortic valve. He will have to have surgery when he’s fully grown, likely in his 20s. But to help doctors find better and less invasive ways to do the surgery, Brock started a campaign to raise funds for research.

“Me and friend Peter found a ladybug at my school and I brought it home,” Brock says. “We had it for eight weeks. We still have it in the plant.” The ladybug’s gender was unknown, so Brock named it Mister Lady.

“I really had a challenging time with it,” says Neota Tinkler, Brock’s mom. In her own research, Tinkler started reading about advances in heart-valve replacement surgery. She says the surgery generally requires breaking the sternum and patients need longer recovery times. But advancements mean less invasive surgery and shorter recovery periods. Tinkler told Brock by the time he would need the surgery, the advancements would be even better. But Brock wanted to do more, including raising funds for the research into valve replacement surgery. Brock’s Rocks for the IWK has several sources of inspirations. Brock was first impressed by canvassers who came to his house, raising money for various causes and charities. He talked about lemonade stands. He asked his mom to bake cookies. She suggested he look for a project at which they could excel. Brock and his mom also love to walk and explore local trails and parks. During every trip to the beach, they bring home a rock. They had also tried geocaching, a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants use GPS to hide and find geocaches, often shortened to just caches, all over the world. “We thought, ‘What could we do with that?’” Tinkler says. And Brock’s Rocks for the IWK was born.

“My mom bought the red and black [paint] and we just rolled with that,” Brock says. Brock and his mom started painting the rocks over the winter. Painting the red layer first, then the black details, and a final coat of sealant, letting it dry to finish. The target was to get the ladybug rocks in parks and on trails during February, which is Heart Month. But the weather didn’t cooperate as planned, at least at the beginning of the month. So they put out the first 10 rocks the final weekend of February. The back of each rock includes a message that says, “Brock’s Rocks for the IWK. Please donate.” Tinkler created a Facebook page, Brock’s Rocks for the IWK, and sent a message about Brock’s campaign to hosts of local radio stations. And the message spread quickly from there. “The first day we put it on Facebook, there were a thousand views, maybe,” Brock says. The first rock found was in Point Pleasant Park. There are ladybug rocks in Shubie Park, Hemlock Ravines, along the paths of the Musquodoboit Trails and Long Lake trails, and the frog pond just past Dingle Park. They plan on putting rocks at the boardwalk in Fishermen’s Cove in Eastern Passage. They also plan on putting rocks in the Blue Mountain. A woman found one in Shubie and placed it back. Some people will re-hide the rocks and make a donation or keep them for their own gardens. Brock’s favourite part of the project is hiding the ladybug rocks.

Our Children | May 2017

Brock was diagnosed with bicuspid aortic valve in 2011. During a routine checkup, the doctor noticed Brock had a heart murmur. Brock was sent for further testing. That’s when he was diagnosed. At first, Brock was monitored yearly. Now, it’s every second year.


Cover story The Facts about Bicuspid Aortic Valve Bicuspid aortic valve affects about one of out every 85 children. The aortic valve allows blood to exit the left ventricle of the heart to supply the body with oxygenated blood. The valve has three leaflets that open to allow the blood to escape, but not return. Most people have three leaflets, but in cases of bicuspid aortic valve, two of the leaflets get fused together.

“We hid one on a trail,” he says. “We walked forward, we walked back, and my mom didn’t see it for two minutes.” “He’s really good at hiding them,” Tinkler says. The pair got a message from a woman who found two at the Musquodoboit Trail. She kept one and re-hid the other. All the money donated from those who find the ladybug rocks goes directly to the IWK Foundation. “I think this is going to be an ongoing thing like when I am actually 15,” Brock says. “You never know.” “Someone asked about our target and we said, ‘Just keep going!’” Tinkler says. Brock and his mom continue to leave the ladybug rocks in local parks, and hoping people find them and donate to the IWK. Brock’s message and campaign has already caught on. A woman in Springhill is painting ladybug rocks and hiding them in parks and on trails in her community. She has nieces in Truro who may help in that town. Still another woman in Alaska is copying Brock’s idea with the goal of raising money for the hospitals in her state. She’s keeping the name Brock’s Rocks.

Our Children | May 2017

They also often hear from other parents whose children have the condition or those whose children have benefited from care they received at the IWK Health Centre.


And while Brock won’t need his surgery for at least a decade, the technology and advancements can easily improve with the help of ladybug-painted rocks hidden on paths and trails all over the world. “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if someone doesn’t carry it on,” Tinkler says. “With 10 years, I can continue to be optimistic about this. And with Brock’s fundraising, I can be really, really optimistic about this.”

“When those fusions happen, it’s not uncommon for the valve to still function perfectly normally,” says Dr. Robert Chen, a pediatric cardiologist at the IWK Health Centre. “There are all kinds of ways you can end up with abnormalities of the valve.” Bicuspid aortic valve is usually discovered incidentally, much like with Brock, when a doctor is listening to a heart during a routine examination. Murmurs like the one Brock had aren’t an indication that a child also has bicuspid aortic valve. Ninety per cent of children have a murmur, which is the sound of the blood flow through the heart and the vessels. Chen says fewer than two percent of murmurs in children are associated with any structural abnormality of the heart. But if doctors hear something called an ejection click during an examination, that is a diagnostic sound of a bicuspid aortic valve. An ejection click is the sound of the valve’s tenting open as it tried to fully expand with only two leaflets. Chen says as children get older, they can develop problems with the valve and the aorta above it. “If you have a valve that’s ffully functional, no obstruction, no leak, the likelihood a child is going to develop an obstruction in the first two decades of life is very low,” Chen says. “It’s actually less than 50 per cent.” Most children with bicuspid aortic valve can carry on with normal activities. Some children will be restricted from competitive sports, such as those in which a coach is controlling the child’s activity and training.

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On the

road again

Summer family adventures are everywhere in Nova Scotia. We point you in the right direction By Sarah Sawler All parents look forward to summertime. After all, it’s a temporary reprieve from painful, everyday conversations such as this one: “Are you wearing your mittens?” “They’re in my backpack.” “It’s -20. Put on your mittens.” “But no one else wears mittens. I want gloves.” “PUT ON YOUR MITTENS.” But unless your children are exceptionally good at entertaining themselves, summertime can quickly start sounding like this:

Go back in time Want to see blacksmiths, weavers, and candlemakers in action and in costume? That’s not a tough task in Nova Scotia. Spend a day at Sherbrooke Village ( or Ross Farm Museum (, or make it a mini-vacation and check out the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site ( louisbourg/index.aspx).

• • • • •

“I’m bored.” “Go outside.” “But there’s no one to play with.” “When I was your age, I played outside by myself all the time. Go build a fort or something.” “Can I play on the iPad?” “NO!” Lucky for you, Our Children is here to help, with our handydandy list of kid-friendly summer activities and road trips, which you’ll enjoy, too.

Bayswater Beach, Bayswater Rainbow Haven Beach, Cow Bay Queensland Beach, Queensland Clam Harbour Beach, Clam Harbour Dollar Lake Beach, Wyse’s Corner

Visit for a list of more beaches around the province.

Our Children | May 2017

Hit the beach


There are lots of great beaches to explore and many of them have kid-friendly lifeguarded areas. For an exhaustive list of supervised beaches, check out Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service’s website nsls. But here are a few to get your started: • Martinique Beach, East Petpeswick • Rissers Beach, Crescent Beach • Lawrencetown Beach, East Lawrencetown

plenty of festivals to explore. This is far from an exhaustive list, but just to get you started: • KitchenFest, Cabot Trail • S  helburne County Lobster Festival, Barrington • A  ntigonish Highland Games, Antigonish • Halifax Jazz Festival, Halifax • Halifax Pride Festival, Halifax • H  alifax International Busker Festival, Halifax • Festival de L’Escaouette, Chéticamp • L unenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg Visit for more festivals around the province this summer.

Halifax International Busker Festival

Celebrate something Summer is festival season in Nova Scotia. Whether your family likes music, art, food—or all of the above—there are

Go rafting Looking for something different to do this year? Take the whole family rafting on the Shubenacadie River. Tidal Bore Rafting Resort offers a couple of different tours and has slightly lower rates for

Visit a National Park


If there’s a National Park you’ve been meaning to visit, this is your year. First, visit webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/parksb2c for your free 2017 Discovery Pass. Then explore the natural beauty of Kejimkujik National Park or Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Go whale watching

Tidal Bore Rafting

Valley Drive-In

children under 12. Find out more here:

Go to the drive-in

Mud Hero You’ve probably heard about Mud Hero, the muddy, swampy, obstaclecourse competition that happens at Ski Martock every summer. But did you know they have a special track just for kids? More here:

Why sit in a theatre when you can watch a movie the old-fashioned way —from the front seat of your car at the Valley Drive-in? Find out more here:

With so many different species of whales to watch, this is something every family should try and do at least once. There are plenty of tour providers, including (but not limited to) Brier Island Whale & Seabird Cruises, Murphy’s on the Cable Wharf, and Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours.

Explore McNab’s Island McNab’s Island is more accessible than you thought. Take the McNab’s Island Ferry across the Halifax Harbour to tour the island. They offer: • hiking, biking, history and nature tours • wildlife tours • family picnics

Take in some outdoor theatre Upper Clements Park

Visit an amusement park Rollercoasters and waterslides never get old. If you’re looking for an amusement park to visit without having to leave the province, check out Upper Clements Park ( or Atlantic Playland (

Join the Young Naturalists club Go on field trips and learn about nature with other families by joining a chapter of the Young Naturalists Club. To learn more and find a chapter near you, visit

Every year, Shakespeare by the Sea presents a hilarious play aimed directly at kids (and people who are still kids at heart). This year’s play hasn’t been announced yet, but previous years have included quirky takes on Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella.

Get your feet off the ground If climbing trees is your thing, Ontree Park has what you’re looking for—and takes it about 20 steps farther. Head to Ski Martock for a day of ziplining and Tarzan ropes.

See the spooky side of Nova Scotia Ghost tours aren’t just for Halloween. Hear Nova Scotia’s best ghost stories with the Ghost Walk of Historic Halifax (, Halifax Citadel Ghost Tour ( services/ghost-walks.html), or Valley Ghost Walks (

Go to a museum Where do we start? If you like museums, Nova Scotia has something for everyone. Stay in Halifax and visit the Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, or the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Or make

Our Children | May 2017

Shakespeare by the Sea

The Friends of Macnab’s Island Society is a volunteer, non-profit charity that promotes the preservation of the island. The society produces guidebooks and maps for families that want to explore the island.


Feature WordPlay 2017, a literary festival for kids hosted by Sheree Fitch’s Mabel Murple’s Dreamery and Book Shoppe and featuring such authors as Marie-Louise Gay and Alan Syliboy.

Check out the Western Nova Scotia Exhibition If you like ox pulls, chili cook-offs, and band battles, don’t miss the Western NS Exhibition. This year, it’s from Aug. 2 to 6. Museum of Natural History

it a day trip and visit one of these:

Go rock climbing Rock climbing can be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon. Looking for a close-to-home climbing wall? Try one of these: • Ground Zero Climbing Gym ( • Dalplex ( • Seven Bays (sevenbaysbouldering. com/en)

Go to a skate park

Discovery Centre

Grab a skateboard and spend the day at your local skatepark. To find the one closest to you, check out

Go jump in the pool A little too cold for the beach (after all, we are in Nova Scotia)? Try an indoor pool at one of these facilities instead: • C  anada Games Centre ( • C  entennial Pool ( • C  ole Harbour Place ( • D  artmouth Sportsplex ( • Sackville Sports Stadium (

Discover science The brand new Discovery Centre is the perfect way to spend a rainy day. Find out what’s new at

Our Children | May 2017



Make some art Clam Harbour Sandcastle Competition

Build a sandcastle

Giller prize winner and River John school alumnus Johann Skibsrud at Read by the Sea.

Read by the sea You don’t have to wait until Word on the Street in September to enjoy some literary fun. Just visit River John for

Of course, you could do this at any of Nova Scotia’s beautiful beaches (See #2). But if you do it at the Clam Harbour Sandcastle Competition, you might win something, and there will be plenty of other sculptures around to inspire your creativity.

There are all kind of places to do familyfriendly art workshops. Sign up for a full-day workshop at 4 CATS (, attend one of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s ( Family Sundays, or go to a class at Patch Halifax (

Go to a farmers’ market Unlimited snacking and handmade toys? If you don’t mind constantly repeating “look with your eyes, not your hands,”

Enjoy a remarkable visit to your museum! 4Cats 1/4 ad Halifax Seaport Market

farmers’ markets are the perfect family activity. Discover a new one by visiting the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia at

Visit the library Summer reading programs, puppet shows, reading clubs, crafts, movies, and video games—Halifax Public Libraries have it all. Check out current programming here:



Nova Scotia French Camp




4 C A TS . CO M / H A L I F A X /4 C AT S H A L I F A X

FRANCO-FORUM St. Pierre, France


NAUTICAL CAMP Îles-de-la-Madeleine/ Magdalen Islands, Québec

DAY CAMPS Hydrostone, Halifax

SEA KAYAKING ADVENTURE CAMP Îles-de-la-Madeleine/ Magdalen Islands, Québec

For more info on local camps, contact your local CPF chapter.

CAMP ARTISTIQUE* Barton, Digby County

Registration forms available online


*All levels of French welcome.

CPF Nova Scotia Summer Camps | 8 Flamingo Drive Halifax, N.S. B3M 4N8 T 902-453-2048 | F 902-455-2789 | TF 1-877-CPF-5233 E | W

Our Children | May 2017

Join us this summer for a week to remember!


Face to face

It’s the

little things Tyler and Breton Hayden turn their Special Day Project activities into a book for parents and their children By Suzanne Rent Tyler is a motivational keynote speaker in Lunenburg whose areas of expertise are work-life balance and teambuilding. He’s written 16 books, including a series called Coffee Talk.

Our Children | May 2017

But Tyler has one team member with whom he created a unique project. Tyler and his daughter, Breton, often spent special days together when Tyler had to do errands. They’d go out for coffee or tea. They’d ask each other questions during trips into the city. One day while riding an elevator in a building in downtown Halifax, they decided to ride other elevators in other buildings, and judge each one to find out which one was fastest, cleanest, coolest, and had the best view.


Tyler and Breton put their games and activities into a book, Coffee Talk: Special Project Day, A Parent and Child’s Activity Guide for Building Memorable Moments. The book includes three sections. • C  offee Talk includes fascinating questions parents and kids can ask each other. • W  ould You Rather focuses on a game in which kids and parents ask each other questions starting with “would you rather”.

• T  he final section is Dates on the Go, a list of activities parents and kids can do together.

Tyler, are some of the experiences in this book similar to the teambuilding experiences in your other books?

Tyler, what did you learn about Breton through the activities and writing the book?

Coffee Talk is a game we play with teams. Getting people to connect and share what they are all about, but also the idea that people being a team and building those intact partnerships and mentorships. A lot of this is about how the parent mentors a child, how do they share their experiences. Breton and I did a lot of that. It was a fantastic way to get to know one another.

I learned that Breton is an absolutely imaginative and brilliant young woman, who is an absolute and driving force for any project. She has driven this project even so far as when I was in Ottawa during the book launch. I had a keynote to do, but my plane was delayed and Breton looked at her mother and said, “No problem, Mom, I’ve got the book launch.” She had an agenda. She had a game. She had everything sorted out. She was ready to run with it. We were talking about marketing, sales, publication dates, editing. She was tooth and nail involved in the entire project. She was a bear to work with, a wonderful bear. But she really pushed the project forward. Breton, what did you learn about your Dad? Breton: I learned through a lot of questions that I didn’t know about him. I learned about how fast he is at typing.

How do these activities make people better parents? Tyler: At the end of the day, they always say quality time. Finding ways to do that in a creative and interesting ways. I think the activities do that. They are very simple, low cost, low sweat. Pick up the book and off you go. I really started to build the memories. One parent who purchased the book to play with her daughters, her daughters actually pulled the book out of her hand when they got home and she overheard her kids play the game “Would You Rather” with each other in the living room. Little did we know it was a great way to connect siblings.

Tyler: Absolutely. I think you kind of have ages five and up. It’s more of a perspective for school age kids and up. I had one client play with their adult children and they had a great time. The coffee talk questions are “Which schoolteacher would make the best zombie?” “Which schoolteacher would you dress up as for Halloween?” That kind of stuff is not really age dependent. Did both of you have favourite questions or activities? Breton: My favourite question from Coffee Talk was probably, “Who do you think could survive a zombie apocalypse?” Tyler: She picks all the good questions! I think mine was Dates on the Go. It’s not really a question, but some of the dates and the ideas of things we’ve done are fun to do. The book’s byline is creating memorable moments and that’s what I remember. Going to the parks, being on the swings, writing our names in the sand at the beach. For me, it’s not a question, but it’s about the things we’ve done. And all of those things you mentioned are low cost or free. Tyler: Yes. People try to reinvent the wheel. The kids remember the fact you were there for them when they were sick. They remember the quirkiest, weirdest things, like a song you used to sing. It could have been just the one time. It’s not the trip to Disney, although I like the trips to Disney, don’t get me wrong. It’s the little things like going to the grocery store and always getting a cookie. It’s those little things that matter at the end of the day. Breton: One of my favourite things I probably remember my dad doing with me was when we were playing cards

and we were at hockey and my dad decided to teach me to play Go Fish. I said, “OK, I will learn how to play go fish.” And what do you know? I win. Tyler: And she wins ever since, too. If parents wanted to do this themselves, how do they start? Tyler: The best way is to pick up our book and find something in the pages to do. The other way is to really follow the traits of your child. I think Breton is very linguistic, so that’s why she came up with cool questions. Making yourself available to be open to having the experience. Too often we get caught up looking at our devices and having to take that text or that call. Put them in your pocket; you don’t need those. Be open to what’s happening around you. The brilliance is Breton is the driving force behind this. She’s the one who really built the idea of Special Project Day. To be open to what they give you. You have to carve out the time and make sure you protect that and make it a regular thing. And these are activities you can do on the go. Tyler: Would You Rather was played while we were driving somewhere. They are called ambulators in the teambuilding world. Ambulators are games and activities you can play from place to place. Other games we’d play we’d start off with the alphabet and then pick a topic like fruit and go through the list of the alphabet and come up with a word that started with that letter and make it all the way to Z. Or we’d come up with counting games. What skills do you think kids get from these exercises? Tyler: I think they get a lot of creative thinking skills. I don’t think it’s the skills, but the memories they get. It’s the connection that’s so important. When kids become teenagers, when kids become parents of their own, young

adults. It’s memories of that time, that authentic experience they have with another human, that’s so important. They feel grounded, they feel safe, they feel loved. It’s the laughter, the sense of adventure. Do you think it helps keep the dialogue open between kids and parents, especially in times when more serious questions come up? Tyler: Yes, I think so. Kids go through that quirky teenage phase where they go into themselves or connect with their friends. This sets the table for communication and sets the table for being connected, and that’s the key to keep them busy. A busy kid through arts or sports helps to build wellrounded and amazing young people. What do you want people to know about the book and what you learned? Tyler: What I want to see is children and parents bonding more with the book or even just bonding without the book. Making sure that when they move off to college they still are pretty much connected and can look back on all those memories.

Our Children | May 2017

And there is no age limit on this? You can use this with older kids and teenagers?




gluten free

Before you and your family eliminate gluten from your diets, do your research and check with your doctor

Our Children | May 2017

By Edie Shaw-Ewald


Supermarkets, cafés and even fast food outlets are carrying a vast array of gluten-free products. Millions of Canadians are avoiding gluten for reasons such as weight loss, digestive issues, and general health. But is gluten bad? What is gluten anyway? And are you wondering if going gluten free is a good idea for your family? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Obvious foods such as bread, pasta and muffins contain gluten, but it’s also in many other food products, such as sauces, soups, and seasonings. A strict gluten-free diet is absolutely critical for people with celiac disease. Approximately one per cent of Canadians have celiac disease, a hereditary autoimmune disorder of the intestinal tract. When a person with this disorder consumes even a minute amount of gluten, their immune system is activated, which can lead to damage of the intestinal tract.

Undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease can lead to serious health complications. If you have a family member with celiac disease or are experiencing digestive problems or other symptoms associated with celiac disease, consult your doctor to see if you should be tested. Don’t start a gluten-free diet before undergoing the blood test and a biopsy as you must be consuming gluten to produce an accurate result. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity was recognized as a condition in 2012, but further studies have shown the digestion issues are more likely due to a sensitivity to FODMAPs or fermentable oligosaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. Wheat and rye are among the high FODMAP foods that could be causing discomfort. The FODMAP diet is a complicated elimination diet with a gradual re-introduction of foods. It’s best to seek the assistance of a dietitian for help with this regimen.

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Let the adventure begin!


There is nothing about gluten itself that’s unhealthy. Going gluten free can actually be detrimental. Packaged gluten-free foods are usually not as healthy as their gluten-containing counterparts. They’re lower in fibre, B vitamins and iron, and higher in sugar and fat. Plus, they can be double the price. Restrictive diets can be socially isolating and difficult for children to understand. This may create anxiety around food and health and take away from the joy of eating. There’s concern about children on gluten-free diets being exposed to too much arsenic from the consumption of rice and rice products. Rice is often grown in arsenic-rich soil and the exposure to arsenic can cause health problems. So maybe going gluten-free isn’t the answer, but don’t be discouraged about improving your family’s diet. Start by eating more vegetables and fruit, trying different whole grains, such as quinoa and millet, and choosing plant proteins such as beans and lentils for some meals.

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Our Children | May 2017

It’s also thought that people with gluten sensitivity may have undiagnosed celiac disease. Before assuming you have a gluten sensitivity, consult your doctor to make sure you don’t have celiac disease. It’s of vital importance that a test for celiac disease is done before attempting a gluten-free diet.

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health and wellness

It’s the simple things Sometimes getting back to the basics of a great book and storytelling can help our mental health By Starr Dobson As I was recently pondering topics for my spring column, I found myself scrolling through photos on my phone. Within a few minutes, I came across the one featured here.

It instantly made me smile. There’s just something about the way the two little girls in the foreground are looking at each other that’s soothing to my soul. I’m sure it looks contrived, but it’s not. It’s actually just a random photo taken by a guest attending one of my book readings. It was shared with me on social media and I couldn’t help but save it to my own camera roll. I’m so glad I did! Why? Because looking at this photo is good for my mental health. It captures so many positive mental wellness messages all at once for me. It has childhood literacy at its heart, with human connections dancing all around it. The little people are engaged, not by computer screens, but by a book, a stuffed goat, and each other. Sometimes mental wellness really is just that simple.

Our Children | May 2017

As a child, some of my favourite memories revolve around my pet goat Gertrude. She was such an amazing addition to our family. She slept in our house, was best friends with our dog, and never failed to make us laugh out loud with her silly goat antics.


She was known for eating everything: the toes on socks hanging on the clothesline, elastic hair bands, and entire bags of Oreo cookies, including the bag! You name it and she’d try eating it. Our days with Gertrude were long before the days of Netflix and cell phones. As kids growing up in the country we had to make our own fun and that often meant playing outdoors with Gertrude and our dog. As an adult, I’d often share stories of Gertrude and people’s eyes would light up. Believe it or not, it seems quite a few people have had pet goats at one time or another.

It’s funny because goats are pretty trendy right now. There are bars, restaurants, and coffee shops named after them right here in the HRM. There are viral videos on YouTube with millions of views featuring the quirky little beasts. Why, you can even have a small toy goat mailed to someone you love with the tongue-in-cheek tag line “You Goat Mail.” When I wrote My Goat Gertrude” and “Gertrude at the Beach,” I was hoping she would resonate with young readers. What I discovered is she seems to resonate with readers of all ages. I think it’s because of what she represents; simpler times, curiosity, and definite animal adorableness. There’s just something funny and lovable about a goat. Beyond the two girls in the foreground of this photo, you’ll notice there’s a child in the background all snuggled into her mother’s lap. She also makes me smile because her reaction to reading a book is to get comfortable. It’s obvious she associates being read to with having quiet, down time. Now that’s good for mental wellness, too. In a world full of monitors, apps and instant messaging, it’s comforting to know our children are still interested in old school fun. Spending time cuddled in bed with a good book or interacting with new friends at a local literacy event can go a long way toward teaching mental wellness techniques.

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And, let’s face it, quiet time spent sitting close while turning the pages of a book can be just as beneficial for Mom and Dad. While some of my favourite childhood memories revolve around Gertrude, many of my favourite parenting memories revolve around story time with my kids. I started reading to both Nick and Lily from the moment they came home from the hospital. It was always a therapeutic way to wrap-up a busy day. I did it then because it felt good. Now, I realize it felt good because it was steeped in self-care.

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Starr Dobson is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s an acclaimed journalist, bestselling children’s author, and volunteer. She won the Rising Star Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nova Scotia Chapter in 2015 and the Dr. Elizabeth A. Chard Award from Special Olympics Nova Scotia in 2014.


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Our Children | May 2017

Every day here at the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia we remind people to do things that promote mental wellness. That includes healthy eating, physical activity, and achieving adequate amounts of sleep. But it can also mean sharing a quiet story with your little one in a calm and peaceful environment before bed. Sometimes, just like Gertrude and her quirkiness, it’s the simplest things that surprise us by providing the most joy.


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A new approach to teaching and learning Core French By Elwin LeRoux


Lessons in languages The approach to Core French in schools is changing and has students engaged in more conversations.

Learning the French language has never been more fun or natural for students. That’s because teachers are now using a brain-based model for French language learning; one that’s highly interactive, relevant to students’ lives and interests, and anchored in active speaking and listening. It’s called the Neurolinguistic Approach. Canadians Dr. Claude Germain, a professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal, and Dr. Joan Netten, honorary research professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, are behind its development.

Our Children | May 2017

The Neurolinguistic Approach encourages students to learn French by speaking French from the very start. The theory behind this approach is rooted in the natural order of language learning. As toddlers, we learned our first language by speaking, listening and modelling others. Therefore, it’s only natural to acquire an additional language by doing the same. Rather than teaching vocabulary, the Neurolinguistic Approach teaches conversation. Essentially, it’s a student-centered model that encourages learning by doing.


This approach was originally designed and used for Intensive French, but the strategies have been adopted for the Core French program in Nova Scotia. The model was piloted extensively throughout the province in Grades 4 to 12 and it’s now the basis for the new Grades 4 to 6 Core French provincial curriculum. It’s also being introduced at all grade levels across the province. If you walk into any Core French classroom today, you’ll see students engaged in conversation with one another. You’ll hear them talking about what interests them. You’ll watch them participate in class discussions using full sentences. You’ll notice they’re taking risks in their language learning. In classrooms where the Neurolinguistic Approach is being fully implemented, you’ll also notice they aren’t doing vocabulary or grammar worksheets.

Traditionally, students learning French as an additional language would learn grammar and vocabulary before actively listening and then modelling the language. This approach assumed knowledge about the language was required before learners could speak the language. We now know this isn’t the case. It’s important to recognize that vocabulary and grammar are absolutely important; they’re simply being taught through conversation. The Neurolinguistic Approach is flexible and encourages teachers to get to know their students and develop units that are truly reflective of their interests, prior knowledge, lived experiences, and culture. As an example, if students are interested in sports, teachers could develop lessons about the different kinds of sports, what seasons those sports are generally played in and what one might wear while playing those sports. If students are interested in music, they might talk about the various types of music, what part of the world particular music genres comes from, and the instruments students play or might like to play someday. The details around a particular topic are where vocabulary and grammar are learned. This new model gives students the opportunity during each lesson to practice what they just learned through reinforcement activities, affectionately known as games. Essentially, they have fun practicing their newfound knowledge in new and different situations. So far, teachers using the Neurolinguistic Approach are noticing an increase in student participation and engagement. They’re also noticing that students’ confidence around language learning is growing and they’re walking away at the end of a year with something substantial to carry forward.

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Our Children | May 2017

Nancy Comeau is Core French Literacy Coach with the Halifax Regional School Board and Gilles Belliveau teaches Core French at East St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary. Please take a few minutes to watch this video, where they explain the Neurolinguistic Approach and what it looks like in action in a class of Grades 4, 5, and 6 students:


book reviews By Erin McIntosh & Rowan Morrissy

Be a Pond Detective Text & Art: Peggy Kochanoff Nimbus Publishing What’s the difference between a frog and a toad? Solve the mystery with Peggy Kochanoff’s book on pond ecosystems! Informative and engaging, this book is perfect for the ever-curious adventurer. Kochanoff helps explorers solve the mysteries of lakes, swamps, pools, and ponds with engaging facts that will inspire kids to get outside. Paired with colourful watercolour illustrations, this book makes learning about nature fun and hands-on. Bring it along on your next adventure—you might even spot a tadpole!

How to Amaze your Daughter Text, Photos & Art: Raphaële Vidaling Firefly Books Ltd. Vidaling’s book of crafts and recipes is sure to incite the imagination of parents and children alike. With 50 engaging magic tricks, crafts, and recipes, these activities will challenge and inspire the imagination of young girls who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Take a walk through the forest and create a fairy house, or stay home on a rainy day and discover how to create marbled designs with shaving cream. With easy step-by-step instructions and beautiful photography, this book caters to all skill levels and ages.

How to Amaze Your Son By Raphaële Vidaling Firefly Books Ltd.

Our Children | May 2017

Dinosaurs frozen in time, mummy contortionists, jungle caves, edible campfires and drum kits for your desk–find it all in How to Amaze Your Son. Vidaling has compiled a book of inventive crafts, recipes and games that are meant to spark the artistic side in both you and your son. This book is packed with step-by-step instructions and large, colourful, and inspirational photographs. Activities range in difficulty level, allowing both a hands on, and off, experience for child and parent. This book is meant to inspire and excite. You’ll never look at a sprouted onion the same way again.


A Harbour Seal in Halifax By Doretta Groenendyk Nimbus Publishing Imagine you were a seal, lost on land in an unknown city. What would you do? Would you swim in the puddles or climb the snow banks? Based on a true story, this charming tale of a harbour seal getting lost in Halifax, will surely put a smile on your face. Groenendyk brings this story to life with a comic book-style page-turner. The illustrations are colourful and playful; the text is simple and chock-full of adjectives. This family favourite should be read out loud. It is the perfect bedtime story.

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Our Children Summer 2017  
Our Children Summer 2017