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3 Easy Halloween Activities to do with Children

1. Purchase a variety of small Halloween items from the dollar store, such as small plastic spiders, pumpkin shape erasers, felt stars etc. Then with a couple small bowls or an ice cube tray you can create a sorting game. You can add a bit of friendly competition and see who can sort them faster by shape, colour and more. You can talk about why these items relate to Halloween or Fall and what the origin of them is, in regards to Halloween traditions.

2. Build a Jack O’ Lantern. Use craft foam sheets, that can be purchased at a dollar store, to cut out large orange sheets into the shape of a pumpkin. Then use other Fall coloured foam sheets and cut out other shapes like triangles, circles, diamonds etc. Depending on the child’s age you can cut the shapes or they can practice their skills, by tracing them and/or cutting them out themselves. While talking about the different shapes with your child you can make funny faces on the Jack O’ Lantern. You can turn it into a craft and glue the items on or even make a keepsake by adding a magnet to the back of it.

3. Healthy Halloween Treats to make with your Children: These are perfect for the lunch box, or to deter children from requesting candy during this time of year.


-raisins for chocolate chips for ghost faces
-clementines, oranges, or tangerines

Have fun!


Why Bike?

In Canada, an increasing number of adults and children are commuting to school or work on a bicycle while many simply ride for fun or exercise. It’s a fun and healthy activity, a low cost of transportation, and it’s good for the environment. Keep in mind that a bicycle is the smallest vehicle on the road. Cyclists need to be visible, to ride predictably, to know how traffic works and to communicate with other road users.

Bike riding can be a lot of fun, but accidents can easily happen. Before you go biking, learn some general safety rules and rules of the road. Check your city, province and general location as different cities may have different bicycle regulations. Check out the link below for London’s “Bike Rules of the Road”.

Here are just a few rules to follow:

1)  Wear an appropriate bike helmet; helmets provides some protection  for your face, head and brain.  By Ontario law every cyclist under age 18 must wear an approved helmet;
2)  For night riding, wear light coloured clothing or reflective fabric that glows in the dark and put reflectors on your bike;
3)  Wear clothing that will not catch in the wheels, chain or other moving parts of the bicycle i.e., loose pant legs, shoelaces;
4)  Wear the right shoes.  Sandals, flip-flops won’t help you grip the pedals, and never go riding bare foot;
5)  Avoid wearing headphones because the music can distract you from noises around you, such as a car blowing its horn
6)  Know and follow the road rules i.e., cross at intersections, never ride against traffic, etc.
7)  Learn hand signals

Happy biking!!!



4 Ways Giving Thanks Improves our Lives

For the last several years researchers have come to the conclusion that gratitude is a key component of helping people live happier and longer and it seems the more we give thanks, the more reasons we have for gratitude.

According to researchers, there are several scientifically supported ways gratitude helps us flourish. Here are four that are especially compelling:

1. Gratitude reduces our stress. Thankfulness redirects our attention from our difficulties to the benefits we enjoy. It’s like creating a stockpile of good thoughts for when times are tough. It also helps us reframe our losses and stay connected emotionally to friends and family.

2. Gratitude inoculates us from negative emotions. When we focus on what we don’t have or how our decisions could have turned out better, we leave room for resentment, envy, and regret to build. Gratitude can keep these feelings at bay.

3. Gratitude sustains our relationships. Ask yourself, Do you like hanging out with people that gripe and complain? And the answer is probably no. It’s gratitude that draws people together, builds trust, and strengthens ties. That’s true in the workplace, among friends, in families, and between spouses.

4. Gratitude improves our health. Grateful people visit their doctors less often and live longer than others. The research shows that thankfulness helps us sleep better, control our blood pressure, and generally reduce physical complaints.

Given these four ways gratitude can benefit us, we have some very good reasons to return thanks more than once a year. Cultivating gratitude makes each day worth living and might even give us more days.

However we do it— make lists of what we are thankful for, journal our gratitude, practice mindfulness, find a trigger to pause and express thanks, write notes to colleagues and friends— let’s just make sure we do it.

Happy Thanksgiving from your Y!

Source: http://michaelhyatt.com/


I am a Y Ambassador.

“The Y has provided me with so many opportunities. Without YMAP I would have missed out on programs, making connections and meeting new people. My home country is Colombia and since I’ve moved to Canada four years ago I was a participant in YMAP for three years and now am volunteering in the program that taught me so much. The Y gave me my first volunteer experience and it has been exciting and I have gained so much from it. I tell my friends at school about YMAP and how it can help them too! One of my best friends Camila has now joined and YMAP is helping her make connections too!”

Carolina’s Y Story

Learn more about YMAP here!


Raising Ready Readers

Did you know there are approximately 780 million people who cannot read or write? That’s about 22 times the population of Canada! The research is clear: children raised in homes that promote family literacy grow up to be better readers and do better in school than children raised in homes where literacy is not promoted. With International Literacy Day approaching (September 8, 2015), here are 3 ways you can promote literacy with your family and raise ‘ready readers’:

1. Invite books to be key members of your family.
One of the easiest ways to show your child the importance of reading is to make a special place to store your child's books. Making room on a bottom shelf of the family bookcase or placing books in a drawer within your child's reach are great ways to create a home library. Parents and family members should model how to organize books on the shelf and teach children how to handle books as a way to promote ownership of the library.

2. Listen to this story…
One of the best ways to help foster family literacy in the home is to encourage all family members to engage in storytelling. Not only is storytelling a great way to share family history, it is also a great way to engage all members of the family -- especially those who are building literacy skills regardless of their age. Start by having an older member of the family tell a story about a major family event (wedding, birthday, graduation). Afterward, ask a younger member of the family to re-tell the story in his or her own words. This activity helps build vocabulary, understand sequencing and recall information.

3. Connect with family and friends through writing notes
Learning to read and learning to write go hand in hand. It is important to practice and encourage emerging writing skills with young children and those new to learning a language. One way to encourage writing practice is to have family members leave notes for one another on a regular basis. Leaving a note in a lunch box, taping a note to the mirror in the hallway or slipping a note under a pillow are great ways to reinforce the importance of writing to communicate information. Children should be encouraged to send notes at every stage of their development -- from scribbles to sentences.


Did you know the Y supports literacy through many programs including Child Care, School Age Programs, and Community School Programs?

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