Category Archives: Valuable Partners

Every year, I understand more deeply the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” as we meet teachers, coaches, ministers, and others who all have an impact on my children’s development.

I have been fortunate to be impacted by some great people and organizations.

Oprah Inspired, Parents Achieved – The Building Blocks Nursery School Raffle

Today was remarkable. What I dreamed came true. Thanks to Oprah’s The Big Give reality program from a few years ago, I dreamt that we, the parents of Building Blocks Nursery School, could help make a difference. Today a community of parents and local Brampton and Caledon businesses rallied together to raise over $5500 for Building Blocks Nursery School – the awesomely nurturing school which has been in the community for 25 years and has to find a new home for the 2012/2013 school year. The money we have raised will be used towards the substantial rent increase the school has been dealt for the upcoming school year.

Thank you to everyone – all family and friends who sold and bought tickets, all businesses and parents who contributed prizes, to Miranda and Nicola who helped with ticket sales, the raffle, communication to parents and the community, to my friends at work who donated their time and materials to design and print the tickets and to my family for their support (we can now eat at the dining table again).

Most importantly THANK YOU to the teachers – all of you – who have built this amazingly special school as you give so much to our children and their education. Thank you!

Today at lunch time we conducted the raffle for the 40 prizes! We have posted a list of all of the prizes and the winners on the school’s bulletin board outside the JK classroom. If you are a winner or know a winner please will you claim your prize at the school with the teachers before the end of this week. (Canada Post isn’t helping us to deliver the prizes.)

Here is the list of prizes and winners. (I apologize for any spelling mistakes.)

LG Smart TV Upgrader: ticket #1974 Charanjit Sohal (claimed)
The Core Condition – 5 Bootcamp classes: ticket #2726 Kyle Windover
The Core Condition – 5 Bootcamp classes: ticket #0712 Helena Luis
The Core Condition – 5 pilates classes: ticket #0853 Tracey Coleman
The Core Condition – 5 pilates classes: ticket #1518 Jennifer Selvaggi
Shannon Walker art class: ticket #0282 Vito Fera
Argo tickets: ticket #1868 Sheila Leger
itrain hockey intensive training: ticket #2718 Sadru Kaba
Lollipop books and Chapters gift card: ticket #0083 Cathy Lesario
Family Passes to Cineplex – ticket #0801 Susan Bartlett (claimed)
Party at More Fun with Bounce – ticket #1478 Mike Palumbo (claimed)
Passes for Tip of the Tee – ticket #1118 Enid Hallsworth (claimed)
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0897 Angie Del Degan
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0407 Kathy Bleakly
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #0089 Liam & Eli Craig
$25 at Heartlake Drycleaning – ticket #2027 Carlyle Butchart
Tupperware prize pack – ticket #1687 Kim Chapman
Brampton Theatre School – ticket #1511 John Good
Berryview Farms – 20lbs pick your own apples – ticket #1818 Elida Rosset
Berryview Farms – Flat of strawberries – ticket #2684 Darul
8 Markus Cds – ticket #1768 Matt Brown
Yogaloft – 5 class pass – ticket #1937 Inderjit Brar
Avon Gift basket – ticket #2558 Chris Leger
$100 The Keg gift certificate – ticket #1063 John Marji
$150 Eagle Glen golf certificate – ticket #0348 Helen Clegg
$200 in services with Auto Magicians – ticket #1014 John Crawford
XM Satellite Radio – ticket #0913 Jagjit Virdee
Il Tocco Magico Salon gift certificate – ticket #0384 Kuljeet Chhineer
Dietitians of Canada cookbook – ticket #1780 Catherine Brown
$300 Auto painting with FH Collision – ticket #1390 Melanie Coschignano
$300 Auto painting with FH Collision – ticket #1180 Raj Singh
$25 Ellis Flowers gift certificate – ticket #2047 Mark O’Donnell
$25 Ellis Flowers gift certificate – ticket #1033 Rob Pelligrino
$100 The Keg gift certificate – ticket #0215 Kelly Brown
Lena’s Gifts Floral Arrangement – ticket #0721 Anthony Sciarra
Lena’s Gifts Floral Arrangement – ticket #0855 Tracey Coleman
Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush – ticket #2696 Colin Hynes (claimed)
$75 Chapters gift card – ticket #1550 Sheila Butchart
$50 Best Buy gift card – ticket #1914 Carolyn Modi
$25 Rona gift certificate – ticket #2564 Julie Burbury

The sales incentive of 2 bottles of wine – we had one winner in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Butchart family in the morning (likely many of Toronto’s finest paramedics are Building Blocks supporters). Unfortunately I don’t have the spelling for the afternoon family.

The rent increase that the school has received from Heart Lake United Church is sizable. I hope we can think of other ways to help the teachers chip away at it. Please share your ideas here – it takes a community to raise a child. I believe it also takes a community to support our valued resources.

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Filed under Under The Influence, Valuable Partners

Tomorrow Is The Raffle At Building Blocks Nursery School

Last call to bring in your tickets and money raised – tomorrow at 9am is the deadline as the raffle is at tomorrow at noon at the school. Please give them to myself or Karen Sanger.
As of June 20th, we have successfully raised $3300!

We have received tremendous support from the community – with over $3000 in prizing donations. Please find below the list of prizes. A few more prizes have been added – Argonaut tickets and an XM Satellite Radio!

Prizes include:
Toronto Argonaut tickets
XM Satellite Radio
LG Smart TV Upgrader – valued at $149
a gift certificate for $150.00 for a game for 9 holes of golf and cart for 4 at Erin Heights Golf Course courtesy of Matthew Wooder’s mom
2 gift certificates each worth $300.00 towards a paint job for a vehicle courtesy of FH Collision 15 FishermanDr. Unit 3 and Fadi Haddad.
A week at Theatre Summer Camp, Starting July 4th through August 26th (excluding the week of August 1- 5th) OR a Fall, Winter or Spring session(one of) of acting classes with The Brampton Theatre School
A flat of strawberries and and 20 lb bag of pick you own apples from Berryview Farms on Heartlake Road
A Party at More Fun with Bounce (valued at $400)
Bootcamp and pilates sessions from Susan Everett who runs The Core Condition
The Adventures of Lollipop set of books from Jennifer Cuthbert, author and a $25 Chapters gift card courtesy of Kim Traplin and family
Gift certificate for intensive itrain hockey camp from Sean Walker, itrain hockey owner,
Tupperware prize package from Kyla Young,
Gift certificate to Flapjacks Restaurant from Maria Durso, owner
8 CD set of children’s songs from Markus our favourite entertainer from Building Blocks parent holiday interactive day
5 class yoga pass to the Yogaloft from Laura Natale, owner
1 3 hour art class with Shannon Walker, adult and children’s art instructor
4 $25 gift certificates for dry cleaning services from Heart Lake Cleaners (164 Sandalwood Parkway East)
$100 gift certificate to Il Tocco Magico Salon at Heart Lake Plaza
An Avon gift basket from Farah
$100 The Keg gift certificate from Kathy Skale, Remax agent servicing Brampton and Caledon
$200 in car care services from Chris Beattie at Auto Magicians
$25 Rona gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
$25 Bon Appetit gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
2 Ellis Flowers gift certificates
Cineplex movie passes for 2 adults and 2 children courtesy of Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd.
$75 Chapters Gift Card from Ross Vignale, Sales Representative with Remax
$50 Best Buy gift card from Deborah Camacho, Spectrum Realty Services Inc.
2 $50 The Keg gift certificates courtesy of Cheltenham Water Supply
1 children’s electric toothbrush courtesy of Carmen Santos
Family of 4 mini golf or driving range courtesy of Tip of the Tee

Sales incentive: To the person who sells the most raffle tickets – two bottles of wine from a local winery courtesy of friends of the Freer Family!

Thank you so much for your support!

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Filed under Under The Influence, Valuable Partners

Over $2000 in Prizing Contributions For Building Blocks Nursery School Raffle

Thank you to all of the wonderful local businesses for your contributions to date!
Prizes include:
A week at Theatre Summer Camp, Starting July 4th through August 26th (excluding the week of August 1- 5th) OR a Fall, Winter or Spring session(one of) of acting classes with The Brampton Theatre School
A flat of strawberries and and 20 lb bag of pick you own apples from Berryview Farms on Heartlake Road
A Free Party at More Fun with Bounce (valued at $400)
Bootcamp and pilates sessions from Susan Everett who runs The Core Condition
The Adventures of Lollipop set of books from Jennifer Cuthbert, author
Gift certificate for intensive itrain hockey camp from Sean Walker, itrain hockey owner,
Tupperware prize package from Kyla Young,
Gift certificate to Flapjacks Restaurant from Maria Durso, owner
8 CD set of children’s songs from Markus our favourite entertainer from Building Blocks parent holiday interactive day
5 class yoga pass to the Yogaloft from Laura Natale, owner
1 3 hour art class with Shannon Walker, adult and children’s art instructor
4 $25 gift certificates for dry cleaning services from Heart Lake Cleaners (164 Sandalwood Parkway East)
$100 gift certificate to Il Tocco Magico Salon at Heart Lake Plaza
An Avon gift basket from Farah
$100 The Keg gift certificate from Kathy Skale, Remax agent servicing Brampton and Caledon
$200 in car care services from Chris Beattie at Auto Magicians
$25 Rona gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
$25 Bon Appetit gift certificate courtesy of Property Image Maintenance
2 Ellis Flowers gift certificates
Cineplex movie passes for 2 adults and 2 children courtesy of Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd.
$75 Chapters Gift Card from Ross Vignale, Sales Representative with Remax

The raffle tickets are being printed and will start being sold next week. 1 ticket for $5, 3 tickets for $10 with all money raised being given directly to the school. Money and tickets will need to be given to Susan Hallsworth by the morning of June 21st The draw will be Tuesday June 21st.

This year marks Building Blocks 25th anniversary of providing outstanding preschool, junior and senior kindergarten programming to our children with such love and warmth. To help the school mark this anniversary, a group of Building Blocks parents are leading a fundraising raffle with the proceeds being given to the school to help with their upcoming move. As we are all aware this upcoming move came as a great shock to Mrs. Sanger, Mrs. Freer and their staff. Each day these teachers care for our “little ones” in a warm and loving way, they guide them, encourage them, cuddle and play with them. The teachers are always there for both our children and us, whenever we need them. We would like to show them our support as they take on the challenging tasks ahead of them.
We are hoping to secure the prizing by the first week of June, sell tickets to the raffle in June and have the raffle draw the week of June 20th in time for the end of school when we can announce the amount of money everyone has helped to raise for the school.
At this time, for the raffle we are seeking prizing contributors. Every business who contributes a prize will receive their logo/ business name on raffle materials as well as a write up about their business in communications to the Building Blocks community.
We would love to hear from you, if you
• Run a business and are interested in contributing a prize of $25 or more in value
• Are interested in helping to secure prizing
• Are able to help sell raffle tickets
Please contact Susan Hallsworth at susan_hallsworth@hotmail.com if you or any one you know in the community is interested and would like to participate. Please feel free to pass this information on to friends and families as who would like to help out.
Please help Building Blocks continue to give children a great start to their education.

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Sugaring Off!

There is no better way to relax than being outdoors under a bright blue sky. This is how I spent my morning today. In a truly Canadian manner, I was in Ontario hiking through snow covered trails with about 25 children under the age of 7 (no coffee, alcohol or beach in sight). I was on a field trip with my son’s school, Building Blocks Nursery school, at the Kortright Centre, http://www.kortright.org/ Ontario’s premier environmental and renewable energy education and demonstration centre, learning about how maple syrup is made.

I had never been to the centre and found myself learning a lot as well as having fun. We started with a pretty basic movie about how maple trees might feel during the changing of the seasons. We then went for a great guided walk through the trees to see how the process of collecting sap to making syrup works. Sandra, our guide was wonderful at gearing her presentation and questions and answers to the children in the group. She asked them lots of questions – What is the symbol of Canada? Where do Canadians use a maple leaf? (on our flag, on our penny, our national hockey team, and the Toronto Maple Leafs to name a few), when a tree is too old for tapping is it still useful? She led us around the trail stopping at specific locations to teach the children how to tap a maple tree, the types of spouts they have used, how sap is caught from the tree and turned into maple sugar and maple syrup. We could see the pails hanging from the trees to catch the sap – or so we thought. As we walked closer to the sugar shack we could see blue and green pipes running through the forest. The sap now runs through these tubes downhill into the valley directly into the sugar shack.

A few little facts that I picked up:
A maple tree needs to be 40 years old before it can be tapped with 1 hole for collecting sap.
A maple tree can have a maximum of 4 spouts tapped into it (meaning it is at least 160 years old).
Maple syrup is mostly water with a little bit of sugar.
No one really knows how maple syrup was first discovered.

The Kortright Centre is hosting their Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival from March 5th to April 10th. There are lots of activities for parents and children to learn more about our truly Canadian gift from nature – maple syrup.

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Students Make Great Teachers

Students teaching students is an awesome combination

Within the last year, my family has been blessed to find two students who have incredible musical and artistic talent and are open to sharing these talents with us.

Last summer, my boys expressed an interest to learn to play the piano. Knowing that this could be a battle if they didn’t like it and therefore the idea of fighting to bundle the boys up and deliver them on time to someone’s home for their lessons had no appeal, we set out to look for someone who could come to our home. I searched for a number of months to find someone in the neighborhood who might be able to do this. No luck – until I saw an advertisement posted on the community bulletin board at our local grocery store – music high school graduate interested in teaching students in your home for $15 for half an hour!! The answer to my prayers!

We invited Jennifer to come to our house one afternoon in the summer to meet our boys and have a trial run. Our eldest son fell in love with his almost 6 foot tall, long blond hair, beautiful piano teacher right away. While getting him to practice can be a bit of a challenge, he loves to sit down and get to work when Jennifer arrives. He seems to be quite comfortable learning to play. Our youngest who is five is learning to play as well. While he isn’t the most studious in the world, he does enjoy the lessons. After 5 months – there has hardly ever been a compliant about it being piano night! I attribute this to finding a young, friendly student who interacts well with children teaching in our home – a comfortable, stress-free environment.

Our youngest son we call The Artist. He LOVES to do art – drawing, painting – overall creating. I thought perhaps I could duplicate the successful formula we had discovered for piano but with an arts student. So I called the local high school – Mayfield – which has a highly regarded arts program to find out if they had a student they could recommend that might be interested in teaching after school – kind of like an art buddy. But no reply from anyone at the school. (I realize that this isn’t necessarily part of their top ten things to do but I was hopeful that community relations would be stronger – I guess not). I then turned to my network of moms. One of my eldest son’s friends’ moms told me about a great student teacher who taught out of her home. She sent me her website – http://www.shannonwalker.ca. I knew from our first email exchange that I had found a kindred spirit. Shannon provided great detail and tremendous exuberance in her emails. I was hopeful that my little artist would bond with her as well.

Today my Little Artist had his first class with Shannon in her basement studio. I knew he was nervous as he had said earlier in the week – what if I can’t do it? But within the first 10 minutes of his class, he whispered in my ear “This is awesome” and his grin continued for the next 90 minutes of class. While Shannon had 2 other students in her studio working on painting projects she gave her new student warm attention. Her teaching style is completely in tune with him. She had him choose a picture that he wanted to draw (Maxxor from Chaotic), printed it for him and set him up at the drawing table with a blank paper of his own, one for her and a print out of the picture he had chosen. On her piece of paper, she drew Maxxor’s facial outline in a few simple lines. Little Artist did the same on his piece of paper. Shannon broke down the picture of Maxxor in stages – talking him all the way through it. It didn’t take him long to try to be a perfectionist – erasing lines that he wasn’t happy with, trying different approaches to see what he thought looked right. While he became tired after an hour, Little Artist wanted to keep going and finish the picture – which he did after 90 minutes. He is so proud of it.

As we walked out of Shannon’s studio, Little Artist turned to me and said – I want to combine two words together to describe what that was like – Fun and Fantastic. It was Funtastic, mommy. I can’t wait to go back.
Music to my ears that my Little Artist is happy and we have found a teacher he likes.

We are so impressed with these students, their artistic skills and their great ability to share with others. Their teaching styles are so friendly and warming that the students embrace them right away. We encourage other students to share their gifts and parents to accept students as teachers.

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Inspiring Children’s Imaginations

Encouraging children to imagine

Last year at about this time, I met Jen Schlumberger, Owner of Hollywood Birthdays http://www.hollywood-birthdays.com/ and incredible lady with a great deal of passion for education and drama. Putting together her Bachelor of Education and Television Production degree, she encourages children to think creatively while having a ton of fun. I enlisted Jen’s creative services as I feel that children aren’t encouraged to actively develop their imaginations. Many schools do not include drama in their curriculum or in their extra-curricular activities. Sadly, creative writing is becoming a lost art that isn’t developed or encouraged. Jen came to our house with her huge suitcase of dress up costumes and her incredible imagination to help a group of 12 children create their own movie. Dreamed up by the children and filmed by Jen, the toys from Toy Story challenged the grinch to save Christmas. The children were the actors all dressed up in their costumes as well as the authors of the story. Jen simply guided them through the story. She filmed and then edited the creation. A few weeks after the activity, Jen sent copies of the finished movie for the children to screen over and over again. They were the stars of the show.

The children often talk about their experience with Jen – how much they enjoyed being in the movie. The experience left them feeling empowered to dream, create and bring to life what they are thinking.

I asked  Jen for her thoughts on why children’s imaginations need to be developed.

Owner of Hollywood Birthdays, Dreamer and Imagineer

“I have always had an active imagination, and growing up as an only child – I was constantly relying on my creativity to battle boredom. I remember spending endless hours playing with my toys as they climbed mountains (aka the stones around our fireplace) or riding in a space shuttle (our sectional sofa). Although I had many toys (yes, only children stereotypes are true) my favourite things to play with were things I made or created. Cardboard boxes are every child’s best friend! Who doesn’t love cutting out windows and doors, and using tissue paper to make homemade curtains?!? Or what about forts in the back yard? Sure you can go to Canadian Tire and buy a plastic toy-house ready to go, but what fun is that?
It’s all about getting your hands dirty and your imagination fired up. “What would be a good roof? Surely this leftover piece of plywood from Dad’s garage would do! And if we tie these branches together with twine, they’d make great walls.” And after hours upon hours of hard work, you can stand back and look at your masterpiece: a homemade fortress, right in your backyard. It’s crooked, yes – but loaded with character, and will definitely be the future home of many imaginary adventures.

I came across a quote recently that I really like:

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” -Gloria Steinem

This quote summarizes how I feel about imagining and daydreaming, because for me – it is a form of planning. Whenever I get an idea to do anything, I research it and imagine the possibilites. My imagination is so strong, that in many instances I feel like I’ve truly experienced the situation. It’s a great tool that helps me make big life decisions, and often gives me the courage to try new things.

This is why I feel it is so important for children to be encouraged to use their imaginations and to daydream. Sometimes, you need to have your head in the clouds, so you can see what’s beyond and discover possibilites.

As a kid – you envision yourself as a superhero with magical powers and you fly (run quickly with a cape) around the world (your backyard) saving people (your friends who are tied up with a skipping rope screaming “help me, help me”)

As an adult – you are going for a promotion at work (where you’ll have a lot of responsibilities) and you’re nervous, but you envision yourself in the role. You see yourself taking charge and being good at your job. You go into the interview, and you nail it. You get the job. And the strange thing? You saw it happen.

Ultimately: To imagine is to see, and to see is to believe. So to believe in yourself, you need to imagine.”

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Encouraging The Art of Storytelling with Technology

I used to love going to camp and learning new things. I was really excited when my boys went to The Amazing Rainforest – I wish I could have gone too. So I decided to organize a day of camp at our house – for my boys, of course.

My husband had seen an ad in the boys’ magazine – The Magazine for The Director’s Cut http://www.thedirectorscut.ca/ . When we looked it up online, their programs sounded outstanding – making movies and watching movies over spring break inconjunction with Cineplex, learning how to make cartoons, stop action movies and others. Unfortunately they didn’t offer a week long camp near us – otherwise my day of camp would have turned into a week for my 8 year old. I contacted the organizers to find out if we could do a one day program at the house. No problem, Linda Perry, Key Contact for the Simcoe/ Peel Region for The Director’s Cut, tells me –  we can divide the children into groups and each group can make their own movie and then the children can take home a copy of all of the movies that they make that day. Perfect! 

From 10 to 2:30,  8 children (2 5 year olds, 1 10 year old and 5 8 year olds) made their imaginations come to life with Tiff – the facilitator and made Live Action Comic Books! . First, they practiced using digital cameras – taking pictures of different items and people in different poses and from different angles so they became very comfortable working with a digital camera. They mapped out their storylines by working out what was going to happen in each scene. Then the real fun began – they dressed up and became their characters  and took pictures of themselves making their stories come to life. Once done, they uploaded their pictures into the mac books and started to manipulate them using imovie software – adding captions and sound effects and voices. This was their favourite part by far – everyone felt they were artists making their masterpieces just like Shrek. 

Creating Stories

Each of the stories was so different and creative. I understand that by grade 5 some of the media development is taught in the schools. As my eldest son starts grade 3 this week, I do hope to see more emphasis placed on storytelling – specifically writing stories that have a clear beginning, middle and end. I hope I am wrong- but my observation is that our children’s ability to write stories and express themselves through storytelling is not being developed in schools. I love The Director’s Cut programs as they not only teach storytelling but enable children to bring their stories to life.

Teachers and Principals – please look into having the folks from The Director’s Cut come to your school this year to give your students an opportunity to be storytellers in our technologically driven world.

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Filed under Creativity, Organized Fun, Technology, Uncategorized, Valuable Partners