Welcome to GTAParent: Parent Education, News, Views and Things to Do Together in Toronto and the GTA!

Learning with Adventure Delivered to Your Doorstep - ImaginaryFriends @IFBooks #readandexplore



As a mom of two boys I can share with you my struggles to keep learning exciting for my boys. Adventure is everything to my guys but their growing up in a technology abundant world has made good old fashion play a challenge.

Stop the Power Struggles and Focus on Win Win.

There have been tears shed over homework, practicing letters and of course the fidgeting and focusing. I have felt guilt and frustration over trying to make my boys fit into the education mold that so often doesn’t work for active learners. I have endured parent meetings where teachers have expressed concern over lack of focus in the classroom, I have worried endlessly if I was doing all I could do.

After years of this I decided it was time to relax. It did happen to coincide over this school year when both my boys had incredible teachers who really seemed to embrace my children for who they were and they have flourished ever since. My oldest is regularly bringing home A’s in grade 5 and my youngest is started to embrace learning in SK because the teachers have played to their strengths. No more power struggles.


Finding Education Solutions through Play and Adventure


So when I was asked to demo an educational product currently part of a Kickstarter campaign, I decided it was a whole hearted yes for me. I didn’t matter that I was busy trying to finish up work projects before the kids got out of school next week. I was going to take on this adventure with my children and I can tell you that it has been worth the time.


Playing with the online starter kit for Imaginary Friends - you can download it too!


As Evan Jones, Founder of Imaginary Friends and Stitch Media said: "I've always been making up stories with my kids," says Evan "And I wanted to build an adventure kit we could work through together." The story of filling a house with play and imagination led to a wonderful creation.

I feel confident that Imaginary Friends will make a lot of reluctant learners shed less tears as we all focus on a mission of making learning an adventure.






Each book is a family adventure and arrives at your home with printed chapters and an activity kit that includes puzzles, secret notes and other ideas to bring the story to life. It's easy to use and starts when parents log on and trigger interactive and real-life activities that coincide with the narrative and make your children a key part of the action.

 My 10 year old, not easily impressed loved the scavenger hunt with the personalized computer driven clues that sent him off looking for clues to a puzzle. The combination of active adventure coupled with the fun personalized computerized action is a hit for boys who are easily hooked to the ipad but also crave good old fashion fun. The comic style covers draw the boys to the books.

Benefits to Children From My Perspective:
  • Opportunities to be creative and spontaneous
  • Active play reduces stress and helps children focus 
  • Amazing opportunity for reluctant readers to enjoy fun reading based activities 
  • Children can learn about entrepreneurship and be part of the development of a product going to market! 

You can help to bring this to Market

Imagine the excitement of telling your children you helped to bring this project to market! How cool would your kids think you were?

Please consider supporting Imaginary Friends Kickstarter project by Friday, June 26th.

Each ‘pledge’ is a pre-order for a ‘reward’. Choose the reward you’d like and enter your credit card – you won’t be charged unless they hit the goal and ship the reward! What could be safer than that? 

Catch the entrepreneurial bug - become a member of the advisor community, feedback will influence the future of Imaginary friends and you can help them choose the next story!

Currently the Kickstarter campaign is $11,000 short of its goal. The Kickstarter campaign site explains what you get when you contribute to the program. Some rewards include free books and a year of free Imaginary Friends adventures.

Try out a FREE sample of Imaginary Friends today! (2 chapters and a scavenger hunt you can print at home.) . Make sure you visit the Imaginary Friends website to get your free downloadable Father’s day cards as well!


Follow them along on social media
: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Happy playing ... @LeighMitchell, Founder of GtaParent

Ps - Our highlight was howling with laughter at my husbands clues as he hid the scavenger hunt pieces.


Reader's note: This is a sponsored post but I endorse it with love or would choose not to write about it.


@LemonadeForLove 2015 - Teaching your children to be Involved and Engaged through Community Events





Lemonade for Love is a simple home-spun lemonade stand with a super sweet twist. The lemonade stand is a child-driven, parent-supported event. The organizers are children, aged 4-11, that live in the Etobicoke community.
The goal of Lemonade for Love is simple – to build community and raise money. The only requirement placed on the event is that it is about kids helping kids.
This is our second year. In 2014 the kids raised $1300 for the Bravery Bead Program at SickKids.
It’s being run by kids?images
You betcha! Not only is the Lemonade for Love an opportunity to build our community and 
raise funds to support children in need,  it is also a learning opportunity for children! The kids learn about project planning, communication, sponsorship  and philanthropy. They learn how to make decisions, prioritize, and enjoy the act of brainstorming fun and creative ideas!
Our group is diverse – some of the children have volunteered to write articles about the event, and some are getting their super-duper colouring skills on to create beautiful event invitations. No matter what the role, they are working as a community.
Our primary goal is to build our community and our secondary goal is to raise money.

Field trip Concert - A whole Lotta Hipster Family Fun






As close to perfect as festivals get.” - Toronto Star
Toronto’s coolest music festival.” - Flare“It’s a family affair, and the audience and Toronto in general is a part of it.” - Exclaim!“The closest thing Toronto has to Coachella.” - Toronto Life“What is celebrated is the city’s thriving music scene and the city itself.” - Globe & Mail
We’ve already unveiled a 2015 lineup packed with surefire amazing performances from world class artists including Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket, The War On Drugs, Arkells, Father John Misty, De La Soul, Purity Ring and so many more. Sure, those alone are worth the price of admission, but anyone who’s attended Field Trip knows the event is an extension of the artistic community at large with a family vibe that’s solidified it as Toronto’s essential downtown community music and arts event.
Our annual love letter to Toronto recognizes music as the great passion play, but we aim to celebrate artistry, creativity and community in many forms. Here are a few of the ways Field Trip 2015 will create a unique, lasting impression for all music lovers and families that take part. Take a look at the insane amount of fun we’re going to have below or over on our official site. And get your tickets here, now.
THE FOOD
Few things are better than great food… and Toronto’s thriving culinary community will seriously shine at Field Trip 2015.
Our selection of vendors includes an amazing cross section of the city’s food pioneers, showcasing original creations that range artisanal sausages to maple beef-bacon donuts. There will truly be something for everyone’s taste - we’ll feature select kid-focused stations and numerous vegetarian and vegan options. We’ll have some kitchen celebs in the mix too, like Anthony Rose dishing out the finest in the VIP to Zane Caplansky’s Thunderin’ Thelma rolling on site. Bottom line: if the list here (and below) doesn’t get you salivating, something is wrong.
ART & DESIGN
In the warmth of early June, Historic Fort York & Garrison Common will come alive, transformed into a diverse and colourful retreat in the heart of the city thanks to installations from Heather Goodchild, Young Offenders, Golden Age Botanicals and several other emergent Toronto visual creators. Fans and families can explore the amazing green space and be immersed within Fort York like never before. We’ve also got a few surprises, it’s going to be amazing.
DAY CAMP
2015 means a bigger and better ‘Day Camp’, where we’ll present kids (who can come to the fest for free if they’re under 12) with an embarrassment of activity riches. We’re doubling down with intimate mini sets from Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp and children’s sets from other Field Trip performers, all within ear shot of the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more. Day Camp is a huge element of what sets Field Trip apart… the only problem might be pulling the kids away to go and hear some music.
OCULUS RIFT VIRTUAL REALITY
This is a big one! Soar high above Fort York and defy your very reality inside this mind-blowing virtual experience. We’re thrilled to be able to offer Field Trippers a custom festival experience created just for our weekend and never before presented to the Canadian public.
LAUGH BARRACKS PRESENTED BY MAILCHIMP
Step inside this hilarious new addition to Field Trip and enjoy daily performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co. In between be sure to take in an annual favourite, the acclaimed Analogue Gallery Sound Image exhibition, showcasing this year’s best in Canadian music photography.
DISCOVERY ARTISTS 
It’s one of our pillars - sure we love bringing international favourites to TO, but introducing our patrons to new artists is also a huge part of our promise. As we did in 2014, we welcome four discovery artists - new additions to the lineup carefully picked and and ready to be revelations for the open-minded listener. These include Mali guitar mania of Songhoy Blues, the lofty folk of Andy Shauf, Vancouver shimmering pop quartet The Belle Game and Toronto R&B / jazz newcomers The Wayo. We’re also partnering with ManifestoRed Bull Sound Select and local all ages promoter Johnnyland to make sure the Toronto music community is represented at several levels. Prepare to find a new favourite.
SHOP IN STYLE 
We’re deeply committed to improving the Field Trip experience each year, and we’ve been listening. This year we’ll be opening up the first full Field Trip store on site (with Fort York Stage satellite), working with our artists and designers to create a hub where fans can browse an amazing selection of exclusive and premium Field Trip, A&C and performing artist merchandise as well as rare wares from close friends and collaborators across the grounds. There will also probably be a few artists dropping by…
UBER
Uber the app that connects you with a driver at the tap of a button, will be offering new users their first ride free, up to $20 to or from Fort York and Garrison Common. 
Follow these steps to create your Uber account and request the most affordable ride in town with uberX. 
1. Sign up here using the code FieldTripTO or go to uber.com/go/FieldTripTO
2. Download the free app for iPhoneAndroid or Windows
3. Sign into your account, and request your ride when you’re ready to go!

MESS HALL & MIXOLOGY WITH IVY KNIGHT 
Join us as we welcome back Mess Hall with host Ivy Knight! Mess Hall combines the fun of Summer Camp with an interactive culinary food program. Ivy Knight, a kitchen babe, food writer and cookbook author has been mixing up amazing ways for people to play with food for years. This year’s Mess Hall activities include corn on the cob and watermelon eating contests, mixology mischief and cake decorating with celebrity pastry chef David Chow. Bring your imagination and your appetite.
And join us April 27 at The Drake Hotel for our official Mixology Competition - sponsored by Corby. Judge submissions from the city’s best behind the bar and help select the official Field Trip punch.
FOOD FOR EVERYONE
Busters Seacove Ensenada-Style Fish Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, Maine Style Lobster Roll, Crab Roll
Food Dudes Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls, Mac & Cheese BallsThunderin’ Thelma [Caplansky’s] Smoked Meat Sandwich, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, BBQ Brisket Sliders, Smoked Meat Poutine, Maple Beef-Bacon DonutsGourmet Gringos Baja Fish Tacos, Burritos, QuesadillasFidel Gastro Sandwiches with a variety of ingredients (Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken, BBQ Brisket, Tempura Tilapia), Pad Thai friesPortobello Portobello Burger, Veggie Ciabatta, Eggplant Marinara, Veggie & Tofu wraps, Kale, Quinoa and Barley saladsSummertime LemonadeFreshly squeezed lemonadeDeava’s Feed Your Soul BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table)Blue Donkey Chicken Gyros sliders, Calamari pita, souvlaki pita, lamb tacos, greek goddess (veg)Pappas Greek Gyros, Chicken Strips, Greek FriesRancho Relaxo Fish Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, Kale & Yams, Guac and ChipsFit To Grill Seared five spice pork belly sandwich, crispy smoked chicken wingsThe Poutine Machine Fresh cut fries and poutinePenny Lou Lou Sweets Bubble cakes with fresh fruit and ice creamKung Fu Dawg Hot dogs and corn dogs with all the toppingsSteel Cut Coffee Hot Espresso BeveragesStation Cold Brew Coffee Cold Brewed Coffee on tapUltimate Concession Fries, Poutine, Burgers, Hotdogs, Polish Sausages, Peameal on a bun, Philly cheese on a bunHeirloom Artisanal homemade sausages (chorizo, italian) Brazed lamb shank sandwich, Duck confit sandwichJP’s BBQ Pulled pork, Beef Brisket, ribs, Fries, Poutine, Perch Tacos
DAY CAMP Boreal Gelato Hand made, artisanal gelato and sorbetBread Heads Wood Fired Pizza- organic dough, vegan options, and child friendly optionsChimney Stax Sweet Stax, Ice Cream Stax, Garlic Cheesy Stax, Cheesy HotDog Stax
VIP RESTAURANT ROWAnthony Rose Salatim Platter, Fat Pasha Hummus Platter, Shrimp Tacos, Fruit Salad, Watermelon Chunks416 Snack Bar General Tso-Fu (vegetarian), Korean Fried Chicken, Spicy Tuna HandrollRodney’s Oyster House Oysters on the half shell

FIELD TRIP 2015 LINEUP
SATURDAY JUNE 6
ALABAMA SHAKES
ARKELLS
THE WAR ON DRUGS
PURITY RING
DE LA SOUL
JACQUES GREENE LIVE
YOUNG EMPIRES
SHARON & BRAM
FROM JAMAICA TO TORONTO
APOSTLE OF HUSTLE plays Folkloric Feel
CALVIN LOVE
ANDY SHAUF
THE BELLE GAME
THE WAYO
SUNDAY JUNE 7
MY MORNING JACKET
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS
FATHER JOHN MISTY
DAN MANGAN + BLACKSMITH
RHYE
LEE FIELDS & THE EXPRESSIONS
KEVIN DREW & ANDY KIM
HAYDEN
TEMPLES
ABSOLUTELY FREE
SONGHOY BLUES
KEITA JUMA & BRENDAN PHILIP presented by Manifesto and Red Bull Sound Select

TIFF KIDS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL LIGHTS UP SCREENS WITH THE BEST OF CHILDREN’S CINEMA FROM AROUND THE WORLD





The TIFF Kids International Film Festival™, one of the world’s premier film festivals for children aged 3-13, returns for its 18th year with a full slate of films from around the globe that will inspire and delight children and parents alike. The TIFF Kids Festival kicks off on Opening Night with the Canadian premiere of Shaun the Sheep: The Movie, the latest claymation feature from Aardman Studios, the creators of Wallace & Gromit, and Elevation Pictures Corp. The festival wraps with its Closing Night Film, the Canadian premiere of When Marnie Was There, Studio Ghibli’s fantastical adaptation of the novel by Joan G. Robinson. All screenings and events take place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto from April 7 to 19, 2015.

We are thrilled to be opening the 2015 TIFF Kids Festival with the Canadian premiere of the highly anticipated Shaun the Sheep: The Movie. The film – which is dialogue-free – is full of Chaplinesque physical comedy and clever pop-culture references. It’s a movie that kids and parents will love equally," said Elizabeth Muskala, Director of TIFF Kids.

“Other highlights from this year’s programme include the award-winning Rainbow, straight from the Berlin Film Festival; Disneynature’s latest film Monkey Kingdom from the filmmakers that brought us Bears and Chimpanzee; and the inspirational documentary Landfill Harmonic, which follows a youth group in Paraguay who turn the trash from the massive landfill site they live on into instruments and become the famed Recycled Orchestra.”

Special guests will introduce films and be available for question-and-answer sessions following select screenings throughout the TIFF Kids Festival, with guests to be announced on tiff.net in the coming weeks. The 2015 TIFF Kids Festival features a total of 126 films, comprising 25 features and 101 shorts hailing from 36 countries, including Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, France, India, Russia, and many more. The TIFF Kids International Film Festival takes place at TIFF Bell Lightbox from April 7 through April 19. Tickets for the TIFF Kids Festival are on sale now for TIFF Members, and are available to the general public beginning March 11. Prices are Adult $13, Student/Senior $10.50 and Children (13 and under) $9. Premium Screenings (Opening Night Film and Party, Closing Night Film, and the Pancakes, Waffles and Bugs Bunny! event) $25 per person. Some activities are free. Tickets for digiPlaySpace are on sale now for educators, TIFF Members and the general public. Entry to digiPlaySpace is $10, TIFF Members see it free and have access to a preview day on Friday, March 6. Tickets to digiPlaySpace can also be purchased in a combo package with a ticket for a TIFF Kids International Film Festival, Walt Disney Classics or Good Friday screening for $15 for children, $20 for adults. For more information on screenings and activities, or to purchase tickets, please visit tiff.net/kids call 416-599-TIFF (8433) or 1-800-599-TIFF, or visit the Steve and Rashmi Gupta Box Office at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

TIFF Pocket Fund provides free and discounted tickets that allow young people in underserved communities to experience the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, learning programmes, camps, and family-friendly screenings. TIFF Pocket Fund works to ensure that no child or youth is turned away from TIFF's educational and cultural programming due to financial circumstance.

GTA's Best Deal for a Waterslide Hotel - @SandmanHotels Mississauga

Sandman Signature Hotels and Resorts - Mississauga Dixie 401 Location

This is an awesome hotel if your family is looking for a quick and economical getaway for the family. It is also a popular hotel for sporting tournaments and business travelers.  The area is close to the airport and major highways with many restaurants close by.

The kids loved the water slide, hot tub area and the in-room jacuzzi where they could enjoy watching TV from the bath! Our boys felt like kings in our hotel room!

We (the parents) loved the modern brand new decor and thought the sliding door to the bedroom was quite fancy! It felt good to have space for us to all to co-exist peacefully. Quite dreamy in fact!

This was a perfect opportunity for a quick getaway for March Break, as the water slide was open during the week (normally it is closed week days).

checking out the Jacuzzi in our room
Overview: 
224 suites • Suites with kitchenettes available • Complimentary 24-hour airport shuttle (YYZ) • High speed • Internet Fitness • facilities • Indoor pool, whirlpool & 3-storey waterslide • Meeting & banquet facilities • Business centre • StarPlus Lounge • Covered parking • Pet friendly • 24-hour marketplace

How much we paid: under $100 with tax.

A fantastic deal in our opinion!