Winter boredom busters Tips for a lowwaste holiday Indoor winter gardening Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca Winter 2022/2023
Local families observe their culture: A look at Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa So much
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CANADA WILD Animals Found Nowhere Else on Earth Words by Maria Birmingham Artwork by Alex MacAskill Non-ﬁction | Ages 6-9 | Paperback BUDDY THE BLUENOSE REINDEER And the Christmas Dinner Rescue Words by Bruce Nunn Artwork by Brenda Jones Fiction/Holiday | Ages 6-9 | Paperback THIS IS IT, LARK HARNISH Laura Best Middle grade ﬁction | Ages 8-12 | Paperback HEARTBREAK HOMES Jo Tre iari Young adult ﬁction | Ages 14+ | Paperback IF YOU COULD BE ANYTHING Words by Jennifer Britton Artwork by Briana Corr Scott Picture book | Ages 0-7 | Hardcover THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS A Celebration of Nature Briana Corr Scott Poetry/Holiday| All Ages | Hardcover THE TERRIBLE HORRIBLE SMELLY BEACH Words by Jacqueline Halsey & Carrie Muller Artwork by Paul G. Hammond Picture book | Ages 3-7 | Paperback TWO CROWS Words by Susan Vande Griek Artwork by Emma FitzGerald Picture book | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
CONTENTS Winter 2022/2023 14 DEPARTMENTS Editor’s Note 7 Making memories First Bell 8 What to see and do in and around Halifax Feature 10 Winter boredom busters Cover 12 So much to celebrate Nutrition 16 Picky eaters vs. problem feeders Eco-Mom 18 A low-waste holiday A Different Rooute 25 Demo of democracy Trail Tales 28 The Bluff Trail, nature’s playground Book Reviews 30 My Name is Saajin Singh, Milo and Monty, Mi’kmaw Moons and The Land Puffin Local literary initiative empowers future leaders through reading 26 Keep the gardening interest thriving indoors Growing a green thumb Become a youth ambassador PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE PHOTO: SUBMITTED 5
On our cover
Ahana Arora, 12, celebrates her favourite holiday: Diwali Photo by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
Publisher Fred Fiander
Editor in Chief Crystal Murray Senior Editors Trevor J. Adams Lori McKay
Contributing Editors Jodi DeLong Janet Whitman
Senior Director Creative Design and Production Shawn Dalton Designers Roxanna Boers Andrezza Nascimento Zoey Zsingor Production Coordinator Nicole McNeil Production and Design Assistant Kathleen Hoang Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing
Lindsey Bunin, Jodi DeLong, Trish Joudrey, Karen Kerr, Britanie LeFait, Fawn Logan-Young, Melanie Moser, Bruce Murray, Ameeta Vohra
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Susan Giffin, Pam Hancock Stephanie Balcom, Connie Cogan
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Lori McKay, Editor
Growing up, one of my favourite things about the holidays was my family’s routine. On Christmas Eve, my brother and I were allowed to open one present before bed, so we would spend the entire day deciding which gift. My mother always had her wrapping done early, so it was fun to pick up and shake each present and try to guess what it was. On Christmas Day, we’d go to my grandparents’ place for dinner. On Boxing Day, we would do it all again at my aunt and uncle’s house.
There were, of course, variations. Such as the year of the big snowstorm when we had to walk to my grandparents’ house. It took us 30 minutes through the woods, in drifts well over my head, carrying gifts and dishes of food. There was also the year of the giant mystery present under the tree that we couldn’t figure out (it was, disappointingly, an odd-shaped lamp). Nothing much changed until I grew up. I moved to the city and eventually had a family of my own. We formed new traditions that I treasure and anticipate just as much.
I asked my daughter what her favourite Christmas memory was. She pondered, then said, “The year Santa brought the giant pirate ship playhouse.” It was giant only because she was three and could stand up inside it. Kids love to be able to go inside small spaces; especially when those spaces are their own. When I asked my son the same question, he also said the pirate ship. I told him he was too young to remember — he was only one that Christmas — but he insisted. (It’s funny how memory can play tricks!)
When I told him he needed to come up with a different favourite memory, he said the first Christmas of COVID, when we rented a cabin outside the city for the holidays (in lieu of buying
presents). It was something new for us as a family and turned out to be a great getaway. This Christmas will see our third visit to the cabin. It’s a new tradition.
The pandemic has made change normal for many during the holidays. We’ve had to adapt and try new things. Just because you’ve done something one way doesn’t mean that’s the only way. As I started thinking about Christmas, I did a little research on fun family holiday ideas. The lists included things like making a gingerbread house, going ice skating, hosting a games night, organizing a cookie exchange and learning about another culture’s holidays. This last one fits right in with the theme of this edition of Our Children magazine.
Our cover story on page 12 looks at the unique traditions of Kwanza, Hanukkah and Diwali. Twelve-year-old Ahana Arora shares how she taught her friends and classmates about the latter, her favourite holiday. She did a presentation at her school explaining that Diwali is a time when her family exchanges gifts, distributes sweets, eats traditional foods, lights firecrackers and decorates their homes. Learning about other cultures is a great way to expand your child’s experiences and understanding of others around them. And it’s fun, too!
However you celebrate the holidays, I hope it’s a magical time for you and your family.
ourchildrenmagazine.ca www www
We love our holiday traditions, and it’s always fun to discover new ones
firstname.lastname@example.org www www @OurChildrenMag www www Our Children Magazine www
Learning about other cultures is a great way to expand your child’s experiences and understanding of others around them.
Lori McKay, Editor
7 EDITOR’S NOTE
PHOTO: STUDIO UMLAH
Also coming up this winter…
Elf The Musical
Nov. 22 to Jan. 8, 2023
Based on the family favourite movie, Elf The Musical is a fun way to spread holiday cheer this winter. The modern Christmas classic follows the story of Buddy, an orphan raised by elves, as he leaves the North Pole in search of his birth father in New York. neptunetheatre.com
Symphony Nova Scotia, Rebecca Cohn Dec. 2 to 11
The Nutcracker is the story of Clara, a young girl whisked away to a magical world after her toy comes to life.
Complete with larger-than-life puppets, including the ferocious Mouse Queen, the performance includes dancing and Tchaikovsky’s hauntingly beautiful music.
Symphony Nova Scotia’s The Nutcracker celebrates its 30th anniversary this season. symphonynovascotia.ca
Glow Gardens Halifax
Halifax Exhibition Centre
Nov. 23 to Jan. 2, 2023
Check out “Santa’s Lost Presents” under the twinkle of a million lights at Glow Gardens. The event includes giant exhibits, interactive activities and glowing playgrounds, plus a winter market (featuring local artisans and shops) and a selection of food, drinks and festive music. glowgardens.com/ halifax-christmas
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Our Children | Winter 2022 FIRST BELL 8
A beautiful gift for curious kids!
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TIME Penatmuiku’s (ben-a-dim-ooh-we-goos) BIRDS
Mi’kmaw Moons introduces young readers to the 12 moon cycles of the Mi’kmaw. Lunar months such as Frog Croaking Time and Snow Blinding Time reflect the natural history of Mi’kma’ki on Canada’s East Coast. Authors Cathy LeBlanc and David Chapman share traditional knowledge in a lively contemporary style, and stunning full colour art by Loretta Gould illuminates key natural events in each lunar month. Mi’kmaw Moons By Cathy LeBlanc & David Chapman Illustrated by Loretta Gould 9 x 11 , paperback $24.95
Winter boredom busters
Too cold to go outside? Try some of these fun indoor family activities
By Lindsey Bunin
Sometimes the winter chill calls for a cozy day inside with the family. Unfortunately, that relaxing day can sometimes create shack wacky kids in the blink of an eye. Here are a few ways to keep your little ones entertained, and learning, this season.
Virtual tours of cool Nova Scotia landmarks
Did you know some of the most interesting attractions in Nova Scotia are available to explore for free through 3D virtual tours?
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, the Africville Museum and Province House are just a few local landmarks that feature free virtual tours, giving you the chance to explore from the comfort of your own home and learn as a family. artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/virtualtour nsheritage3d.ca nslegislature.ca/get-involved/visit-province-house/virtual-tour
Play power outage
Take an opportunity to completely unplug. Pull out flashlights, scrounge around for snacks that don’t require electricity and pretend all devices are obsolete. Make shadow puppets, play board games, have an extra sneaky game of hide-and-seek or read together.
Another unplugged activity is “loose parts.” Search the house for items that could be used to make any kind of creation the
Try the Lego table at the Dartmouth North Public Library.
imagination desires. Look for things like egg cartons, paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, coloured tape, old games or puzzles that might be missing pieces or odds and ends of craft supplies — anything goes!
Visit your local library virtually or in person No matter the weather, there’s always a wide range of library events.
Each branch offers something special for families and young library visitors — from toys, games and age-appropriate technology to performances and, of course, books.
Dartmouth’s Alderney Gate Public Library and Halifax North Memorial Public Library have Sparks Fly bikes in youthdesignated spaces. These are the same bikes that are in HRCE classrooms to help kids regulate their behaviour and burn off energy. Bedford Public Library, Woodlawn Public Library and Captain William Spry Public Library have new wooden play pods and soft toys. And for older kids, they offer a cooking and food literacy series to help build kitchen basics.
Many branches offer Weekend Wonders and Super Saturday programs that feature hands-on activities and free play. You can always find story times, puppet shows, arts and crafts, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programming.
Halifax Public Libraries offers many digital resources to enjoy from home. Families can explore ebooks and audiobooks on
Completely unplug by playing games or activities that don’t involve electronic devices.
PHOTO: COURTESY OF HALIFAX PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Our Children | Winter 2022 FEATURE 10
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/MICHAL PARZUCHOWSKI
Make the most of a snowstorm
Snow day at home? Try some unique activities to make playing outside in winter even more fun.
Paint the snow: Add several drops of food colouring to a squeeze or spray bottle and then fill it with cold water. Use the coloured water to create festive designs in the freshly fallen snow.
Snow cones: Collect fresh, clean snow from outside in a container and pop it in the freezer to keep it cold. Scoop it into dishes with an ice cream scoop and top with your preferred flavours, such as fresh fruit and juice or flavoured syrup.
If all else fails, hand the kids a shovel for a free and productive way to burn off some energy!
OverDrive, using the Libby App, and Hoopla gives visitors access to TV series, movies and music. Young readers can also practice their reading skills with the fun and creative Squiggle Park learning game. All E-Library resources are free with a library card.
Bake up a storm
Baking is a great activity that can involve the whole family and allow you to sneak in a little learning at the same time.
• Invite kids to read through cookbooks to choose what to make
• Kids can work on their printing by writing out a grocery list or copying the recipe to put in a recipe box
• For children who are a bit older, measuring provides great math and fractions practice You can also check out Andy’s East Coast Kitchen for some great recipes to try. Andy occasionally hosts kids’ cooking classes on Instagram live, so follow him @andyseastcoastkitchen. Make the experience extra fun by turning on some favourite tunes and dancing around the kitchen!
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So much to celebrate
Local families observe their culture: A look at Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa
By Ameeta Vohra
Holiday season is in full swing. For many families, Christmas isn’t the only celebration. With so many different cultures in our region, and many multifaith families, some even recognize more than one.
At this time of year, we see Diwali, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, which are colourful, vibrant and lively celebrations representing religion, traditions, culture and rituals. Each one has a distinctive meaning and spans over several days.
Diwali, known as the “festival of lights,” is celebrated over five days. The holiday falls
in October or November, depending on the Indian calendar. This year it was celebrated Oct. 22 to 26. It’s India’s biggest holiday, signifying the new year, the end of harvest and the battle of good vs. evil. There is typically lots of vibrant colours — lights, clothing and festive food.
For the holidays, children dress in traditional Indian clothes such as salwar kameez, dupattas, sarees and lehengas. As part of Diwali rituals, parents buy new outfits and clothing for their children.
On day one, children help their parents clean the house. They also go shopping with their parents, on the hunt for gold and silver utensils. Both these rituals aim
to bring good fortune into the home.
On day two, children bond with their parents while they decorate their home with rangolis, which are bright, colourful art decorations made of powders, rice flour or sand. They are created for entrances of homes. This ritual brings prosperity and good luck for families and friends who come to visit during the festival.
The main day of Diwali is the third day. On this day, families gather with their children and pray to the goddess Lakshmi. Afterwards, they celebrate the new year with vegetarian food and lots of sweets.
Day four is the first day of the new year, when friends, relatives and their
Our Children | Winter 2022 COVER STORY 12
children visit others bearing gifts and best wishes for the season.
The final day of Diwali celebrates the sister-brother bond.
While Kwanzaa is considered a holiday to honour American African unity, many families in Canada observe it in recognition of African heritage. Typically, Kwanzaa takes place Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
The name of the holiday means “first fruits of the harvest.”
Families light up a series of seven green, red and black candles on a kinara (candleholder), which symbolize the values of African family life: unity, selfdetermination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. They also exchange gifts after lighting the candles.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday typically observed on the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar (the 25th day of the Kislev, the darkest days of the year). This year it runs Dec. 18 to 26.
It is an observance to honour the Maccabee’s victory over King Antiochus; the king prohibited Jews to practice their religion.
Each night for eight consecutive days and nights, candles are lit in a menorah, which resembles a candlestick with branches. The eight candles represent the number of days the temple lantern blazed. On that menorah, there is an extra or helper candle, known as a shamash, which helps to light the other candles.
While the candle lighting occurs, parents and children pray and cite specific blessings. Children enjoy potato latkes (a type of potato pancake) alongside sour cream and applesauce, apple fritters, a potato or egg noodle-based casserole called kugel, and sufganiyots (jelly donuts).
Families also gather to sing songs, exchange gifts and play games with a Yiddish spinning top toy called a dreidel. Also, there is a tradition of handing out geit, which is the Yiddish word for money. Sometimes it is real currency, or other times it can be chocolate-covered coins. This represents Jewish independence.
One black candle symbolizes unity, three red candles represent the struggle of slavery and three green candles are for the future.
Symbols in Kwanzaa include kikombe cha (communal unity cup), mkeka (special placemat) made from crops including corn, a poster of the seven principles, and a flag with red, green and black colours.
Families also decorate their home with artwork made from African cloth such as kente. Traditional clothing is worn, especially a kaftan (colourful wrap) by women. Fruit is a focal part of the holiday as it symbolizes African idealism. Children play a significant role in Kwanzaa as this is their chance to give gratitude and respect to their elders. Ceremonies with music and drumming as well as readings of the African pledge take place. The culmination is the feast of Karamu.
For 12-year-old Ahana Arora, this time of year is full of excitement, colours and celebration. This fall, the Sackville Heights Junior High student celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, and made a point of educating others.
Arora came up with the idea of promoting the holiday at her school when she was helping her principal, who was working on a decorative wall board. As she was stapling things to the fabric, Arora noticed the inspirational messages such as “be you” and “believe in yourself.”
“I suggested to her that because Diwali was coming next week, could we do a Diwali board?” she says. “She was like ‘Yeah, sure no problem.’ The next day at lunchtime, I started looking for ideas and I began cutting out the basic parts.”
She contacted her mom, who came after school to help with cut-outs and glitter. The next day at lunch, she stapled everything up.
On the day of the new year, Arora went to school and gave a presentation to her classmates about the holiday and the traditions associated with observing Diwali.
“It was a slideshow with just the basic information that Diwali is the festival of lights, who we worship and why it’s celebrated,” she says, adding that she also explained they wear new clothes, exchange gifts, distribute sweets, eat traditional foods, light firecrackers and decorate their homes.
“We always celebrate Diwali as a family, so it’s really fun having all the family come together in one place.”
Arora is proud to share her culture, traditions and rituals of Diwali with classmates and friends.
“It’s important for people to be aware because they share their culture on Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.,” she says. “It’s just as important for other people to know about my culture.”
Sharing Diwali culture, traditions and rituals with classmates and
PHOTO: BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE
Become a youth ambassador
Local literary initiative empowers future leaders through reading
By Melanie Mosher
Prior to the pandemic — when everyone turned to social media to feel a sense of connection — there was an idea for a local literary initiative called Digitally Lit. It would be a program to bring Atlantic Canadian youth together through reading. The COVID lockdown gave the program a boost and allowed the group to zoom ahead.
According to its website, Digitally Lit is “A youth engagement strategy aimed at empowering youth from across Mi’kma’ki — and specifically the area currently known as Atlantic Canada — to bridge the digital realm with this region’s vibrant literary arts communities through the reading of books.”
Youth ambassador Alicia Maheux, 16, says the program has given her new opportunities and introduced her to many books and authors.
“It’s allowed me to explore myself … and this other ocean of books,” explains Maheux, who lives just outside Halifax. “What I’ve noticed from reading American books, or books from other countries, is that there will always be good books, but there’s just this certain type of feeling when the character in this fictional universe is at your doorstep ... It makes it almost more interesting when they’re in your area, and I love that Digitally Lit has allowed me to explore that.”
Darby Gibbon, 15, another youth ambassador, says she loves being part of Digitally Lit.
“I’ve had the opportunity to explore Atlantic Canadian authors’ work through books, as well as meet youth across Atlantic Canada who share the same passion for reading as me,” says Gibbon, who attends Lockview High School in Fall River. “I can’t believe this is my job, and I’m very lucky to be a part of something so special.”
Digitally Lit is a place for youth, by youth.
Ways to participate
Be a Youth Ambassador: The ambassadors are a diverse and inclusive group of youth across the Atlantic Provinces who love to read, are critical thinkers, creative souls and are digitally savvy. They read, write honest reviews, and post on social media, including Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook. They also develop ways to encourage
other youth to read Atlantic Canadian books, share their thoughts and get involved.
Be a Literacy Champion: This is a volunteer position for those who are book smart, familiar with social media, and want to connect with their peers by discussing the books they love.
Youth ambassador Darby Gibbon, 15, says she has enjoyed meeting other youth across Atlantic Canada who share her passion for reading.
Our Children | Winter 2022 READING 14
Read: Post a review, see what others are reading and have fun.
Sign up: There’s a monthly newsletter to see what’s happening across the region.
Online engagement projects: Many of the Youth Ambassadors across Atlantic Canada have developed ways for people to get involved. Two examples include the “Which Atlantic Canadian Protagonist are you?” and the “Youth Draw the Word.”
The program is making a difference, says Robin Grant, the strategy coordinator for Digitally Lit.
“Digitally Lit’s youth-inspired-and-led curriculum is currently being taught in dozens of classrooms on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. The students are loving it. We started with a pilot two years ago, and the kids went bananas for it. It’s expanded via word of mouth, through Reading Specialists in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The folks at Digitally Lit are currently navigating the education system in N.S. to expand the program here. Just think what it would be like to be assigned a book to read that’s set in a place near you?
Find them on your favourite social media platform or visit digitallylit.ca
10 award-winning books to read
In August, Digitally Lit announced the winners of its first Youth Choice Awards. The team came up with awards and cast their votes after reading Atlantic Canadian books, new and old.
“I think it’s really special for an author to see their work promoted by the audience they wrote the book for,” says Kate Watson, publicist at Nimbus Publishing. “And in my job as publicist, I’m so grateful for all the work the ambassadors put it. They’re able to reach young people in a way that I never could from my middle-age language and view of the world.”
1. Muinji’j Asks Why by Muinji’j MacEachern and Shanika Jayde MacEachern — Outstanding Children’s Book Award
2. The Elephant Talks to God by Dale Estey — It Made Me Think Award
3. The Last Time I Saw Her by Alexandra Harrington — Best Debut Novel Award
4. A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye by Melanie Mosher — It Made Me Feel Award
5. My Indian by Mi’sel Joe and Sheila O’Neill — It Belongs in Schools Award, Community and Place Award
6. The Goodbye Girls by Lisa Harrington — Favourite Book Award
7. Coquelicot sur un Rocher by Aurélie Resch — Outstanding French Award
8. The Sewing Basket by Susan White — Community and Place Award
9. Len and Cub: A Queer History by Dusty Green and Meridith J. Batt — Community and Place Award
10. Annaka by Andre Fenton — Community and Place Award
As a winning author, I was honoured. To have the very people I write for give an award for my work is the best compliment of all.” — Melanie Mosher
Youth ambassador Alicia Maheux, 16, says the program has introduced her to many new books and authors.
Picky eaters vs. problem feeders
It’s not always easy to find healthy meals everyone will enjoy
By Karen Kerr, registered holistic nutritional consultant
Ihave a picky eater in my family, so I get it. It can be frustrating. But it’s important to note that it’s typical for children to go through a phase of picky eating (generally in toddler years), and while some grow out of it quickly, others may take longer. And that’s OK.
Think of it like reading skills. Each child develops at their own pace in their own time. Wishing your child will eat everything you eat is like giving them a Harry Potter book in Grade 1. Tastes develop. And the last thing you want is to turn the dinner table into a battlefield.
Experts agree that begging, bribing or forcing kids to eat is counterproductive to creating a healthy attitude toward food. In fact, it can cause an increase in disordered thoughts, yo-yo dieting and attitudes around food in adulthood.
Before I move on to tips, I must address what could be a more serious issue. There are “picky eaters” and there are “problem feeders.” A picky eater will generally eat between 20 to 30 food selections, and they might fuss at trying a new food but will often attempt it. They also typically have no problem with sitting down at the table with the rest of the family. A problem (sometimes called “aversive”) feeder has a very limited food diet, often won’t sit at the dinner table and will refuse to try new foods. About 20 to 30 per cent of children fall into the picky eaters category, while five per cent are problem feeders.
Problem feeders will benefit from feeding interventions and therapy, so speak with your pediatrician to guide you to appropriate resources if you feel your child needs help or isn’t progressing.
Picky eating can also indicate underlying allergies, problems with oral motor skills and sensory processing issues with food that leads them to dislike certain textures and can even cause them to gag or vomit. This isn’t a straightforward issue. Trying different techniques and being patient is of the utmost importance. Also, give yourself grace; picky eating isn’t a parenting failure. It’s your individual child’s path.
Sometimes I hear a parent brag, “Oh, my child eats everything!” That’s great, but please know that doesn’t mean
they are a superior parent. Your child is just naturally drawn to different tastes (assuming they have no underlying sensitivities). Here are some of the tips and strategies that helped me:
• Lower expectations. It’s not a race to have your child love what you love
• Have set mealtimes and try not to snack before
• Serve dinner family style with some options they love but not a whole separate meal for them. When possible, give yourself a break, especially at holiday meals
• Be patient with introducing new foods but keep serving them too
Try to resist commenting on their eating habits. Think “building a bridge,” not a wall for them to hide behind
If you know your child will feel embarrassed or shamed about their eating while visiting someone else’s home, try to have a conversation with the other adult first. Often well-meaning friends, grandparents and family members will negatively comment on a child’s eating habits, which can be harmful long-term.
Lastly, while I always advocate whole foods first, supplementing with vitamins and minerals can bring you some peace of mind. Talk to your health provider about what your child might benefit from if their diet is limited.
Our Children | Winter 2022 NUTRITION 16
Healthy holiday bark
Making holiday-themed bark is an easy recipe that can be customized for everyone in the family. It’s also a great playdate activity. After you make the base, each child can decorate their own bark. After a quick chill in the fridge, they can take home the rest. I also like this for hostess and teacher gifts.
Chocolate base for bark
2 cups of dark chocolate chips (you can find vegan versions in local health food stores)
5 tbsp of coconut oil
1/2 cup of coconut milk
Melt the chips with the oil in a double boiler or in a glass bowl in the microwave. Slowly combine the milk, then pour onto a lined (with parchment) baking pan. Let each child decorate their corner of the pan and then refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes. Later, you can let the kids smash their bark with the back of a spoon. It’s the best part!
Peanut butter drizzle INGREDIENTS 1 cup peanut butter 2 tbsp coconut oil INSTRUCTIONS Melt together in saucepan POSSIBLE TOPPINGS Crushed peppermint sticks Chopped marshmallows Peanut butter drizzle Nuts
PHOTO: CAROLINE GREEN
PHOTO: BIGSTOCK/ NOMAD SOUL
A low-waste holiday
Don’t let your celebrations take a toll on the environment
By Britanie LeFait
With the holidays comes lots of needless waste. Every gift comes in a package, whether it’s wrapped in paper, topped with ribbons and bows, or in a bag surrounded with tissue paper. Although pleasing to the eye, it means a lot more is going to our landfills.
But there are ways to lower your family’s waste over the holidays. If each of us does just one, it can make a huge difference.
Much of the traditional print wrapping paper is not recyclable, contributing to the bulk of holiday waste. Paper with glitter and
shiny film goes straight to the garbage. If you like the printed papers, check the packaging for recycled options.
Or go a step further and use newspaper or brown paper as wrapping. Brown paper can be saved and used for future arts and crafts. (Just remember, when recycling wrapping paper, pick off the pieces of tape and toss those.) If you have a little artist at home or enjoy crafts yourself, you can make your own designs on brown or white paper to use as wrapping. You can also use squares of fabric. There are many fun Youtube tutorials on Furoshiki (the art of Japanese fabric wrapping).
If you are like me, you have a stash of gift bags collected from past holidays, birthdays, etc. Reusing a gift bag gives it a second life and if it remains in good condition, it can be used repeatedly.
Giving gifts in baskets is another great alternative (although not always as exciting for kids). Skip the plastic film and tie a holiday bow for an extra touch. Reusable sacks are also easy and fun. Many stores carry them with holiday prints making them an easy way to share gifts sustainably.
You can also fill a cookie tin with homemade treats. If you ask for your tins back, you can continue to reuse them year after year.
Around the Christmas tree
A real Christmas tree is your best low-waste choice. The Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia is fully sustainable, with workers planting three new trees for every one cut.
The smell of a real tree is one of the best things about the holidays, but a problem for people with allergies. In those cases, pick a good quality artificial tree that will last many years.
The gift that counts
Stockings don’t have to be just knickknacks and candy. Eco-friendly stocking stuffers include: bamboo toothbrushes, fun bars of soap, rechargeable batteries, seeds, reusable water bottles, books, homemade playdough, hats and mittens, and hot chocolate packets.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by holiday shopping. When gifting to someone who “has it all,” consider donating to a charity in their name. Or choose something they can reuse for many years. And as always, shop local whenever you can, which reduces your environmental impact.
Find more eco-mom tips from Britanie LeFait on her Instagram page raisinglittlesparks
The Christmas tree industry in Nova Scotia is fully sustainable, with workers planting three new trees for every one cut.
Our Children | Winter 2022 ECO-MOM 18
HALIFOLKS BY JACK SCRINE
BROADSIDE: THE HEBRIDEAN SECRETS BY RICK GRANT
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LOW ROAD FOREVER BY TARA THORNE
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THE FIRST ACADIAN: A CONVERSATION WITH CHARLES DE ST ETIENNE DE LA TOUR
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WHITE POINT RESORT
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Demo of democracy
How educating kids at a young age can change the future
By Fawn Logan-Young
Democracy: it’s probably not a word you would often associate with children. But maybe it should be.
Democracy is the idea that power is within the people. It’s how our society is able to govern, depending on the collective will and respect of the people. Without the participation of members within society, democracy dies.
The two main principles of democracy are equality, where everyone should have the same access to opportunities and respect, and individual autonomy, meaning we should have the right to do as we please with our lives, so long as we don’t harm others.
Democracy has long been debated, yet it is still the system that has shaped Canada and a large portion of the industrialized world today. According to Our World Data (ourworldindata. org/less-democratic), and other scholars and research hubs, democracy is in decline worldwide.
So, what does democracy have to do with your child?
Regardless of its decline, I believe we as role models — parents, guardians, teachers, neighbours, etc. — can use the fundamentals of democracy to teach children how to grow up to be active and engaged in their communities.
Eventually, these practices turn into actions, like voting and the promotion of good citizenship. This can instil awareness of their surroundings, the environment and the impact their actions have on others, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.
Lessons of equality can be applied to kids’ lives in many ways, like teaching children how to share their snacks, or limiting their time on the swings when others are waiting.
It can go even deeper by introducing equity. Unlike equality, equity relies on evaluating fairness, more so than giving everyone equivalent access to resources. For example, you are hiking with two children who have the same sized feet. One steps in a puddle and becomes soaked, while the other stays completely dry. You only have one spare pair of shoes that will fit, so realistically you would give that pair to the wet child. It would not do either child any good to give them both one shoe each.
Individual autonomy for children can be tricky, but there is a way. Although they may not have much choice about eating their
greens or going to summer camp, there are still numerous way children can gain autonomy, which includes freedom of thought and expression. For example, if your child is telling you their feelings are hurt, give them the space to express themselves.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “An educated, enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of a democracy.” Now, for the sake of the next generation, let’s get to work.
QUICK WAYS TO TEACH KIDS ABOUT DEMOCRACY
• Look for books at your local library on historical figures who have exercised their rights with respect to democratic practices.
• The next time you vote, bring your child and explain the process. Depending on their age, tell them why you support the candidate you chose.
• Encourage your child to ask questions and speak up if they don’t agree. The best way to be an ambassador of democracy to your child is to encourage open dialogue. Teach them to ask adults questions in a respectful manner. Receiving that respect back is fundamental for them to understand how democracy should function; growing past our differences make us stronger as a collective.
• Reach out to local political representatives. Email them a concern or simply say hello. Show your children how to access politicians and educate them that they are the people within government who can create levels of change. Meeting a politician may be a way for your child to materialize the inner workings of our democratic system.
25 25 Our Children | Winter 2022 A DIFFERENT ROOUTE
Growing a green thumb
Keep the gardening interest thriving indoors
By Jodi DeLong Photography by Bruce Murray/VisionFire
Do you remember the first plant you grew in a garden?
For me, it was Tancook Island Long Blue potatoes. I planted them with my grandfather’s help at his farm in Barss Corner, N.S. when I was five or six. I don’t remember if they produced a crop, but I remember the thrill of puttering in the warm soil and tucking the chunks of potatoes into the ground, then covering them with sawdust. I swear that’s when the seeds were planted for my love of gardening.
Children generally love to play in the soil, and love to watch something grow. We’re all done gardening outside now for this year, but that just means there’s time to garden in the house. With a few simple supplies, you and your child can have fun growing food or flowering plants all winter long.
The first thing you’ll need is a very sunny windowsill, such as one facing south or west. A plant grown inside isn’t going to get the same amount of light it would outdoors in a sunny location,
Our Children | Winter 2022 FAMILY 26
Sophie George, 5, and Sofia Hussain, almost 5, of Sackville, plant an indoor garden.
so the brightest spot in your house is the place to start growing. You can also buy supplemental lighting systems at reasonable prices, and that may be the way to go, depending on your windows.
You can grow plants in anything from a jar of water to any sort of container with drainage holes in the bottom — eggshells and egg cartons, clean cans or funky ideas like toys and old shoes. The main thing is to make sure there is a drainage hole or two, which you can make easily with a hand drill or even just a needle or nail, depending on the size of the container.
Buy some good potting soil at your local nursery or garden centre. Don’t dig up soil from the yard, as this can have weeds and other pests. Bagged soil is sterile and often comes with fertilizer mixed in to give your plants a good start.
What you plant indoors depends on you and your child’s interests. Many like to experiment with growing from seeds, while others like to take cuttings from house plants and start those. A popular pastime with school projects is to grow plants from bits of leftover foods, such as an avocado plant grown from a pit, or garlic or onion greens grown from bulbs, or even a pineapple plant grown from the top of a fresh pineapple.
Growing a plant from a seed or cutting takes some time, and to help keep your child interested in the process, grow a few string beans. These will germinate in just a few days and watching them come up out of the ground and unfold into a delightful plant is a satisfying pastime. Other easy-to-grow-fromseed food plants include radishes, peas — try growing a pot of these and using the shoots on sandwiches and in salads — and salad greens of all sorts.
If you want a quick start at windowsill growing, buy a few kitchen herbs at your grocery store (popular varieties include basil, oregano, parsley and mint) and as a bonus, you can teach your child how these popular greens are used in meal-making.
Who doesn’t love beautiful flowers? We have flowering houseplants available year-round, and some of them are easy to grow with your child. Popular choices include the kalanchoes, with brightly coloured single or double flowers and fleshy leaves; Christmas and Easter cactus, with their exotic flowers in hot shades of red, orange, pink and gold; African violets, which come in a rainbow of colours; and the gorgeous and easy-to-care-for moth or Phalaenopsis orchids.
Purchased plants should come with information tags so you know how much light they require and how often to water them. You can teach your child about plant care by collecting these plant tags into an album.
A fun pastime to share with your children is creating a terrarium or fairy garden. This is where creativity really comes into play as you set up miniature landscapes accented with pretty stones, marbles or coloured sand, and small toys or ornaments. Use small succulent plants, which are slow growing and beautiful. These easy-care plants will hold their shape and often produce gorgeous flowers. You can also try growing air plants (Tillandsia species). These are fascinating plants that don’t require any soil, just misting several times a week.
As always, if you’re looking for more information and great ideas, hit up a website like Pinterest and enter “indoor gardening with children” in the search box. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.
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The Bluff Trail, nature’s playground
‘We just never know what we will discover when we go’
By Trish Joudrey
Let’s jump from root to root,” shouted eight-year-old Damian excitedly, pointing to the criss-crossing of tree roots over the path ahead.
“OK, but no touching the ground or else you lose!” replied six-year-old Zuri, running after her brother as he skipped ahead along the forest trail.
“Well, c’mon then. Follow me,” motioned Damian.
I watched them play and giggle together into the distance, forgetting how challenging our hike was.
The Kendall family had been eager to get out of the city to enjoy a morning of togetherness and breathe in some fresh air.
Located in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded and unsurrendered ancestral land of the Mi’kmaw (L’nu), the entrance to The Bluff Trail is from the BLT (Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea), just off Hwy. 103, Exit 4, an easy 15-minute drive from Halifax. It offers exciting options for every kind of hiker: four, three-hour undulating loops around lakes, scenic lookoffs, rocky outcroppings, forest canopies, river crossings and a veritable nature playground for children.
Damian and Zuri have hiked since they were two years old.
“When they couldn’t walk, we would take them in their carriers,” explained their mother, Rosa. And even now, the threehour (first) loop can be a bit long for them. “We all agree on a hiking plan that will satisfy everyone. We will walk one hour up the trail, stop for snacks and then return.”
It was an easy start over the well-maintained boardwalks crossing the marshy ground that led us to the scenic and serene Pot Lake. The morning mist was just lifting from the lake, giving it a magical look.
“My love for nature started when I was also a young child, thanks to my parents,” said Rosa. “I hope this passion carries on for my children.”
Seeing Zuri and Damian frolicking ahead, I felt certain her dream would come true.
Both kids quickly developed their own approach to nature and the hike. Damian took to climbing the boulders, the bigger the better for him. He scrambled proudly up a three-metre granite rock while Zuri was content to hunt for insects. She noticed a caterpillar inching across the path and wondered whether it will be a butterfly or a moth one day.
“Sure is better than watching TV,” Damian exclaimed as he leaped from rock to rock.
Just past Pot Lake, I saw Damian scale up a large rock where he unexpectedly stood in a yoga tree pose at the top. Zuri joined him and for a moment both children were standing strong and peacefully together on one leg with arms stretched overhead. “Exercise is an integral part of our lives,” said Rosa.
The trail ascended a rough, rocky path through a forest of red maple and oak, forcing us to slow down and watch our footing.
Just then, Rosa shouted, “A snake!” She pointed to the
Our Children | Winter 2022 TRAIL TALES 28
PHOTO: TRISH JOUDREY
Five tips to turn children into happy hikers
1. Start young. Taking babies and toddlers on hikes when they are young gets them used to hiking as a routine family activity.
2. Let them walk. Hiking requires different skills than walking. The more children walk by themselves, the easier it is for them to negotiate obstacles and feel a sense of selfaccomplishment.
3. Include kids in the planning of the hike. Show various maps and discuss where the points of interest are along each trail. Notice which trail piques their interest.
4. Have mini goals and rewards. Goals can be as simple as getting to the top of a hill or reaching a river. Kids find it fun to guess how long or the number of steps it takes to reach a destination.
5. Bring a friend along. Friends make everything more fun.
cinnamon ferns on the side of the trail. “It just slithered off here.” We all rushed over to the spot to try to catch a glimpse. We waited, but to the children’s dismay, it didn’t surface.
Damian was distracted at any rate with some red berries he found.
“Are these wintergreen berries?” He asked his mother. “The ones we can eat?”
“We will have to ask your grandpa. He’ll know for sure,” assured Rosa. She said they often go hiking together with the kids’ grandparents, who love to teach the children how to identify the flora in the woods.
The kids were hungry, so we started looking for a good spot to sit and have our snacks. We found the perfect place, with flat rocks and a high view over Cranberry Lake. After we finished eating and packing up our garbage, we started our return journey.
At first, Zuri and Damian thought the walk back would be impossible. “You mean, now we have to walk the whole way back?” he asked. Rosa promised them it would not be difficult. “It took us 75 minutes to get here, let’s see if we can beat that time going back? Do you think we can do it?” she challenged the kids.
Both Damian and Zuri were up for the challenge, and they set off to prove it. Soon it became a game and a playful remembrance of the spots along the path where they had been before: where they climbed that rock, where they did their yoga pose, where they found the snake, where they spotted the red berries, etc.
I marvelled at how the memory game reinforced their hiking experience and added fun to the walk back. In less than an hour, we were back at the entrance to The Bluff Trail.
The hike left us with a sense of accomplishment and tired legs.
“I’m sure Damian and Zuri will sleep well tonight,” I remarked.
“Oh yes, and so will I,” said Rosa with a laugh.
Leaving the Bluff Trail in the distance, I reflected on the fun day we had together. There is no limit to a child’s imagination and when they are on a wilderness trail, it is certainly easy for them to enjoy themselves in nature’s forest playground.
“We just never know what we will discover when we go. Each time it’s something different,” said Rosa.
Two quality, well-priced, children’s books by New World Publishing for ages 7-10; grades 2-5, based on real events & popular historic places, both authored by NS public school teachers, and illustrated by Nova Scotia Art graduates . . . both books are family affairs.
‘TOGO’ to the Rescue! by Laura King; illustrator - Hannah Aubrecht. ISBN 9781989564219 8” x 10”, 36 pages - $13.95. Sensitive story of the Halifax Explosion about the resucue of a young boy, Ernie, by TOGO, a real working grocery-delivery horse and his driver, Uncle Arthur... based on real events and real people ... and on stories handed down within the family of the writer and illustrator - a mother - daughter team, both teachers.
Night at the Gardens by teacher Nicole DeLory; illustrator Janet Soley, a sister team. ISBN 9781895814826 - 7.5” x 7.5”- 32 pages$10.95 Story is based on the concept of the popular film,“Night at the Museum” and two chapters in the iconic best-seller, Three Centuries of Public Art on the Halifax Public Gardens statuary by Barbara DeLory, which ‘‘come alive” when the Gardens’ gates are closed at night. Toby, the iconic dog from the nearby Sacred Heart school, joins the now-mobile statues for a night of fun, when suddenly they are interrupted by the flight of the Jaun Swans from the Gardens with the mischievious Victorian nymphs riding on board. Includes maps of the Public Gardens and adjacent Victoria Park!
Available in local fine bookstores or contact: NEW WORLD PUBLISHING: 902-576-2055 - www. newworldpublishing. com
PHOTO: DAVID PATRIQUIN
PHOTO: TRISH JOUDRY
By Trevor J. Adams
My Name is Saajin Singh
By Kuljinder Kaur Brar Illustrated by Samrath Kaur Annick Press
Ages 4 to 7
Young Saajin loves his name, even singing it in the tub, but when he goes to school, he’s nonplussed to discover his teacher can’t pronounce it. Unsure if he should correct her, the young boy ponders his dilemma and learns an empowering lesson about the importance of being true to his identity. Vibrant and colourful, Samrath Kaur’s lively illustrations give the story a bright and bouncy vibe. A useful read for little ones who sometimes feel misunderstood.
Milo and Monty
By Roxana de Rond Child’s Play Inc.
Ages 4 to 7
Adopted together, Milo and Monty grow up to be very different dogs. Milo is a retiring introvert, while Monty is exuberant and playful. Mum, Dad, Sam and Lucy wonder about the dogs’ differences, and worry Milo is unhappy. But when quiet and reclusive cousin Henry comes to visit, Milo’s reaction shocks everyone. The family discovers that some dogs and kids are just different, and the best thing they can do is embrace them for who they are. Skillfully handling both story and illustrations, Roxana de Rond has provided a warm, little empathy booster.
Written by Cathy LeBlanc and David Chapman Illustrated by Loretta Gould Formac Publishing Ages 8 to 12
In their debut book, Cathy LeBlanc and Dave Chapman guide readers through a year in Mi’kma’ki. Explorers begin in Mate Calling Time (named for the moose’s distinctive call) and progress through the next 11 moons. They include Frogs Croaking Time, Birds Shedding Feathers Time, and Trees Fully Leafed Time. Mi’kmaw painter Loretta Gould complements the conversational text with playful and evocative art. Mi’kmaw elders shared tales with the authors to underpin the work.
The Land Puffin
Written and illustrated by Lori Doody Nimbus Publishing Ages 4 to 7
Who among us hasn’t pondered the path less travelled? When Pete the parrot yearns to escape city life, he thinks of his seafaring ancestors, and wings it to the coast, where a flock of puffins eagerly takes him in. Alas, his differences soon become unignorable. Restless in the city, unsuited to dwell among the puffins, where is Pete to build his life? Just when it seems the moral of the story is “I was happy at home all along!” there’s an unexpected twist (and you don’t get many of those in this literary genre) to a good-humoured ending. This is the latest tale from Lori Doody, the acclaimed author and illustrator of Mallard, Mallard, Moose.
Our Children | Winter 2022 BOOK REVIEWS 30
get inspired Subscribe eastcoastliving.ca | 877.885.6344 OFFER CODE: ECLAD2022-OC east coast Inspiring home life in Atlantic Canada LIVING OYSTERS: AN EAST COAST DELICACY CAMPOBELLO ISLAND DREAM COTTAGE APPLE-INFUSED COCKTAILS A NEW SPIN ON A CLASSIC LOOK modern The farmhouse with a uniquely Atlantic Canadian twist