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The Local Guide for Active Urban Families

montessori building brighter brains

mom tigers vs. dragons westcoast

jan/feb 2012

education | visual & performing arts

January/February 2012



January/February 2012


families westcoast




top story


Building Brighter Brains on our cover...

Six-year-old Max has been a Montessori student since preschool, when he attended Reach for the Stars Montessori. He is now continuing his Montessori education in Kindergarten at Tyee Elementary Montessori where his favourite school activity is the Addition Strip Board. Photographed by Dylan Doubt |

Parenting Socially Speaking: Building Emotional Awareness

Health ctive for Life: A Developing Physical Literacy

Arts Feature Arts and Learning: The New Core Education

WCF Advertising Partners Education Listings





Education Feature Is Your Child Gifted?

Education The Parent Factor: Success in the K-3 Years

Travel San Antonio: Family Adventures

Last Look Craft Project: My Neighbourhood Fridge Magnets





31 mom westcoast

32 WCM Profile Artist Tanya Slingsby 33 WCM Feature Tigers vs. Dragons 34 WCM Events

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from the editor 8 8 10 12 13 30 35 36 37

Editor’s Note Mailbag Contests WestCoast Finds WCF Presents WCF News Reading Corner Where to Find WCF Community Calendar


family travel & adventure guide spring break fun • health


January/February 2012


editor’s note “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”

families westcoast

Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Italian educator, creator of the Montessori method


s a child, I had the unique—and sometimes confusing—pleasure of experiencing the educational systems of three vastly different countries. In the former Soviet Union, the staterun nursery/kindergarten system for one to seven-yearolds emphasized social development and play-based learning. However, by the time each child entered the first grade at the age of six or seven (depending on their individual development), they had already learned “the three R’s” and were ready for studies in geography, history, classic literature, botany and mathematics. We left for Italy when I was almost six, and I eventually, though briefly, entered an elementary school system just outside of Rome. The school was “progressive” and, in addition to my studies in Italian, English, history, etc., there were compulsory courses in music and visual arts. My brief education in Italy was a strange mixture of some learning by rote (verb forms and multiplication tables were repeated ad nauseum) and a mainly practical/ sensorial/self-directed approach reminiscent of Reggio Emilia and Montessori methods. My love for the latter method met with a tragic end when my family eventually left Italy for Canada. The public elementary school in which I first found myself was one that taught almost entirely by rote, a mass production of blindly-digested information served cold, without context, variation or regard for the individual interests of any child. My parents’ faith in a state-run system was quickly shattered, and, not having money for

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private school, they took matters into their own hands, and became my after-school tutors. We eventually found other elementary and then secondary schools that were more innovative in their approach, but it was a long and often frustrating search. Today, public schools offer as much variety as their private counterparts, and early education, once exclusively part of the private sector, is becoming more and more part of the public domain. With the floating proposals for provincially-funded preschool and “junior kindergarten” systems (in addition to Strong Start), it seems education—especially in the early years—is on everybody’s mind. And while popular programs like Montessori are increasingly in demand, fine arts, immersion and enrichment programs are also developing long wait lists and anxiously anticipated lottery systems. So where does this leave today’s parents? With more choice comes more responsibility to make the right decision for your child—but no pressure, right? The answer lies with the great Maria Montessori: “Of all things, love is the most potent.” Well, that and a well-filled out application form. Happy learning! PS. We’ve got a new look in print and online! Check it out and let us know what you think!

1215-C56 St, PO Box 18057 Delta, BC, V4L 2M4 Tel: 604.249.2866 Fax: 604.247.1331 ­Publisher Andrea Vance Managing Editor Anya Levykh Art Director & Layout Krysta Furioso Accounts Receivable & Bookkeeping Jennifer Brulé Administration / Editorial Assistant Jennifer Bruyns Advertising Inquiries 604.249.2866 For distribution inquiries, please contact: Andrea Vance Contributors: Debbie Bowman, Jennifer Bruyns, Ana Paula Calabresi, Angela Davis, Erin Davis, Dylan Doubt Photography, Brenda Jones, Shari Pratt, Gina Spanos Photography, Winnie Tam, Asa Zanatta. WestCoast Families (WCF) is an independent, regional parenting publication. As the Lower Mainland’s prime resource for happy, healthy & active families, WCF provides informative and relevant content.

mailbag I really appreciated the overall theme of Amy Fardell’s feature on how to be a “bad mommy” [WCM Feature, Nov/Dec 2011]. There is far too much pressure on moms to meet some unattainable standard of “good”, while completely neglecting their own needs. However, I was horrified that Ms. Fardell put Andrea Yates in the same category as Britney Spears. Ms. Spears has selfishly maintained her party lifestyle, seemingly making no accommodations to meet her children’s needs. On the other hand, Ms. Yates cared for her children appropriately until the end. It was only when she was in an acute psychotic state that her children were harmed. Ms. Yates has now been treated, and is quite aware that the beliefs she held at the time of her children’s drowning were not based on reality. Parenting can be a challenge for all of us at times. However, parents who have no awareness of the effect that their behaviours can have on their children are truly the “bad” parents. H. Schreiber

All contents copyrighted ©. Written permission from the publisher is required to reproduce, quote, reprint or copy any material from WestCoast Families. PUBLICATIONS MAIL 40027247 Published nine times per year in British Columbia, Canada. Total circulation: 50,000 For queries about editorial submissions, please view the contributor guidelines on our website. To submit a community calendar event or share your feedback, please email

WestCoast Families is proud to have been selected as a mom-friendly employer for the 2010 Progressive Employers of Canada List. And congratulations to our fellow inductees!

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January/February 2012



Enter to win any of these great prizes online at

WIN a Family Pack of Tickets to Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! Audiences will be whisked on a wild ride as Phineas and Ferb build their way to another over-the-top, extraordinary adventure. And, before anyone can wonder, “Hey, where’s Perry?” the beloved pet platypus shifts to his secret double life as Agent P to foil another one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plans. Musical madness abounds in an escapade so awesome that even Candace can’t help but join the hilarious hijinks. Tickets $26 to $75. $20 opening night offer. WIN four tickets to the January 28 show at Pacific Coliseum! Value over $200.

Deadline to Enter: January 16, 2012


WIN a 10-Week MAKE Class from Collage Collage! Collage Collage is dedicated to releasing and upholding children’s tremendous creative abilities. Find art supplies, story books and toys, see local works from emerging and established artists, and participate in workshops and drop-in classes for three to 12-year-olds. WIN a 10-week MAKE class for your child. Students use a variety of mixed media, painting and assemblage while learning about various artists and their styles. Value over $150.

Deadline to Enter: February 20, 2012

Help us celebrate! Join us for the relaunch of

families westcoast

We’ve freshened up our look and updated our content to be even more valuable for local families!

you’re invited!

Relaunch Party at Science World! Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 2pm-5pm

We’ll have face painting, entertainment, cake, lots of door prizes, giveaways and FUN!

PLUS enjoy all the great activities at the newly renovated Science World! Admission $5 donation to Science World.

westcoast finds

Tegu Explorer Magnetic Wooden Building Blocks Perfect for Montessori kids at home, these sustainably and ethically-made wooden blocks from Honduras have magnets embedded in each block to help children set their imaginations free! Ages 3+. Available in Jungle, Natural and Tints colour schemes. $110 for 40-piece set at Knotty Toys.

24 Carrot Diamond by Charlotte Diamond The latest CD from long-time local children’s entertainer and educator Charlotte Diamond is a celebration of Diamond’s 24 best-known songs, including Leave the World a Little Better, Four Hugs a Day, Each of Us is a Flower and many more! Ages 2 to 8. SRP $15. Find it at BC Playthings, Creative Children and Kidsbooks.

Walrooz Connectable Sleds Hit the slopes with the whole family on these colourful and connectable sleds that let Mom and Dad join in on the fun with the kids. Small sleds, $7.95; large sleds $11.95. Check website for local retailers.

Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker In the finest Montessori tradition, the three rods hold rings, octagons and rectangles that can be stacked on top of each other or lined up to compare by shape, size and colour. Ages 2+. $23.99 at Boomers and Echoes.

editor’s pick

Measure Up! Balance With this see-through bucket scale and set of hexagram weights, your child can balance fun and learning. Measure Up! Activity Guide invites your child to identify, sort, match and weigh a variety of familiar household objects. Scale and 54 colourful, plastic-coated weights come with sturdy storage case. Ages 4+. $37.50 online at Discovery Toys.


Moll Adjustable Furniture New to Canada, these German-made desks and chairs are just like your kids—they start small and grow tall. Height adjustable, with tiltable desktops, knee and lower leg protection, plus tons of built-in features like book holders, tape dispensers and pencil sharpeners. Chairs start at $465; desk at $1,110. Find online at

wcf presents

Get Reading with ABC Life Literacy Canada! January 27 In honour of Family Literacy DayŽ, happening nation-wide on January 27, 2012, ABC Life Literacy Canada is promoting a series of events and activities designed to get families reading. Start by downloading the Journey to Learning Passport from www.FamilyLiteracyDay. ca and see how easy it is to make learning part of your daily life. While you’re online, check out the numerous events happening all over Greater Vancouver between January 24 and 28.

Royal City Kids Fair! Fraser River Discovery Centre | January 21, 9am-5pm This entirely free event includes two live performances by Bobs & Lolo, more than 60 vendors, three huge indoor bouncy castles, an Artspace Creation Station for kids, crazy button-making, a whacky photo shoot (which you can get printed on your own mug), face painting, popcorn, fun food, archaeology for kids, estuary arts, headband crafts, plus thousands of dollars in giveaway prizes! Bring the whole family for a day of fun!

January/February 2012 13


Socially Speaking Building Emotional Awareness

By Alisa Bridger


s a parent and a counsellor, I have frequently heard questions such as, “My child doesn’t care when his brother is crying. Doesn’t he have any feelings?” or “My child is walking around alone at recess. Why can’t she fit in and make friends?” The answers are usually, “Yes, your child has feelings.” and “No, they probably won’t be friendless forever.” The important thing to learn as parents is the balance between not stressing over social skills your child is not yet developmentally ready to demonstrate versus teaching and helping children practice picking up on age-appropriate social cues. Children go through stages in their social development. Understanding which stage your child is at is key to best supporting your child’s social skills. Kids between the ages of two and seven years are very egocentric. Few threeyear-old children can imagine how it feels to be someone else. However, by grade one or two, most children are learning to see situations from another’s perspective. The way children master a stage and move on to the next stage is through practice. This is where our role as parents becomes that of teacher, coach and cheerleader. For example, you may have a child who is shy. I believe it is important to value a quiet observer; however, the problem with not encouraging shy children to practice engaging with their peers, is that unless children practice social interactions, they fall behind their peers in the development of social skills. So, whether your child is a preschooler just emerging into the social world, a school-aged child who is struggling with social skills, or anywhere in between, emotional awareness is a skill that can be practiced and nurtured. Here are some strategies for building social skills.

Practice Picking Up on Facial Expressions I can’t say enough about the importance of teaching your child to notice the facial expressions of others. Reading someone’s face contributes greatly to understanding the true message behind the words. Children start recognizing others’ expressions by the age of three. We can help them improve their accuracy and speed of recognition through practice. A good way to practice is at the dinner table. Everyone uses their face to show emotions, such as anger, surprise, and disappointment. For example, you might say, “Show me a sad face.” A great twist is to ask “What changes when you change that expression to another emotion?” My three-year-old loves to pull my eyebrows up to change my angry face to a happy one. You can enrich this activity by asking each family member to show you a feeling without using words, while the rest of you guess what feeling is being displayed.

Use Role Play Many preschool teachers are skilled at role-playing social interactions for their students. If you are walking home from school and your child says “No one played with me at recess,” a great way to handle it could be to say, “Who did you hope to play with? Let’s pretend I’m Katie. Could you have asked me to play?” Followed by, “What would you say if I said no? Or if I (Katie) said, I’m playing with Jenny. Then what could you say?”

Hit Pause During family movie night, hit the pause button every now and then. “Look at Donkey’s face when Shrek told him he had to sleep outside, what do you notice?” Do the same when reading a book. “What do you think Fancy Nancy is going to do because she’s sad about missing Bree’s birthday? Could she have handled her sadness in a more positive way?”

The Ministry of Education expectations for social skills development:

Build Feeling Vocabulary


Kids learn to recognize certain feelings before others. Babies light up when they see their mother’s smile. Toddlers can recognize happiness and anger in pictures before recognizing sadness. It is valuable to teach children a variety of feeling words, so they can express the full range of their emotions. An alphabet game at dinner could be played as follows: “The letter of the day is D. How many D feelings can you think of? Can you think of a time when you felt that D feeling?” Another variation is when reading, ask your child to substitute any feeling word with a synonym. “Little Bear was sad. How else could you say that?”

• Children demonstrate use of social language to interact co-cooperatively with others and solve problems • Children demonstrate an understanding of appropriate ways to express feelings


Grade 1 • Children differentiate between positive and negative behaviours in friendships (e.g. positive—sharing, listening; negative—teasing, excluding) • Children describe strategies for dealing with common interpersonal conflicts (e.g. taking turns, going to an adult or third party for help)

Grade 2 • Children describe appropriate strategies for communicating effectively with others (e.g. active listening, willingness to express feelings) • Children identify positive ways to initiate and maintain healthy friendships

Model Emotional Awareness As parents, we are human. It’s okay to say, “Do you hear the tone of Mommy’s voice? Is it angry or happy?” Extend that to asking kids. “Is this a good time to ask for a playdate?” is also a teachable moment, especially if you follow up with “What do you notice about Mommy that tells you it’s not? When might be a better time?” It’s also alright to say, “Mommy is feeling sad that I didn’t get that promotion at work. I’d like a little quiet time in the bath before I’m ready for stories.”

Feelings and the Body It is a BIG developmental step to notice our feelings cause thoughts and physiological reactions. If you have a child who has suffered from anxiety, it may have taken a while to realize the morning tummy aches were not hunger, but caused by feeling afraid. If you have a kid who has gone through a hitting or biting phase, you know that anger can have an almost instant physical reaction. Our kids have to be taught about these cues. Drawing a life-size cut-out of their body and colouring where they feel their feelings (colour code for different feelings, or just focus on one feeling), is a concrete way to start noticing this. This is also a great area for more modeling. “Have you noticed that when Mommy is really frustrated her hands turn into fists or when Daddy is nervous about a big meeting, he wears a jacket to work so people don’t notice his worry makes his body get sweaty?”

Build Skills There are things that are really frustrating for kids and that make them angry. It’s important to let kids feel their feelings. “I see when you are angry your body wants to yell. It’s not okay to yell at me, though. Let’s try yelling into your pillow and see if that gets your anger out in an appropriate way.”

Build Up to Responding to Other’s Feelings Michelle Borba (an American education guru) showed a kindergarten class a picture of a firefighter outside the twin tower site shortly after 9/11. She had brought in a pair of fireman boots to have the children stand in his shoes. She not only asked kids how they thought they would feel in his position, but what would they do to help that man. She talked of one little munchkin who said, “I’d give him my stuffy.” What a gift to raise a child with that empathetic heart. I’m a big fan of building these activities into your life preventatively, the way you do reading skills or numeracy. We are living in a quickly-evolving world of technology that both increases our accessibility to others and also decreases our interactions and intimacy with others. But we are, and will always be, social creatures. Just as math is a strength for some of us, social nuances are a strength for others. If it is a bit of a mystery for your child, the good news is it is something that can be taught. Alisa Bridger, MA, RCC, works as an elementary school counsellor and in private practice specializing in helping children and their families master their anxiety. More information and resources can be found at

Resources • Sesame Street has a whole section of clips on feelings, under Videos • A list of A to Z feeling words, with activities • Ruby’s Studio: The Feelings Show (DVD) • Have you Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

January/February 2012 15


Active for Life Developing Physical Literacy

By Jennifer Hood


anada has been experiencing an alarming rise in rates of child obesity and inactivity, and other nations are facing the same crisis. At the same time, Canada has always struggled to produce top-level athletes on a consistent basis, as our system of athlete development has been haphazard in most sports. Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) is working to make an impact on both of these problems by improving the quality of sport and physical activity in Canada. By improving the quality of everything from coaching and training to facilities and equipment, the idea is that more children will get active, stay active, and go further in sport. There’s a lot behind CS4L, but a big part of it revolves around Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD), and it begins with an important stage called Active Start.

What is Long-Term Athlete Development? LTAD is model that describes seven stages in the development of an athlete, from early childhood through all phases of adulthood and all levels of competition (i.e. both recreational and high performance). Each stage is based on principles of physical, mental and emotional maturation. There are also guidelines for coaches and athletes on how to train properly, and what kinds of competition will best support learning and development. The basic LTAD model describes seven stages: 1. Active Start (0-6 years) 2. FUNdamentals (girls 6-8, boys 6-9) 3. Learn to Train (girls 8-11, boys 9-12) 4. Train to Train (girls 11-15, boys 12-16) 5. Train to Compete (girls 15-21, boys 16-23) 6. Train to Win (girls 18+, boys 19+) 7. Active for Life (any age participant) The idea is simple: by doing the right things at each of these stages, we can systematically develop top athletes in all sports, while also promoting more lifelong participation at all ages so we have a healthier Canada.

It Begins with an Active Start Active Start is the critical first step on the LTAD pathway. During this stage, children from birth to six years need to be introduced to active, unstructured play that incorporates a variety of body movements. This is how they begin to develop the “ABCs of movement”—agility, balance, coordination and speed. The ABCs are essential for developing fundamental movement skills—and fundamental movement skills later provide the foundation for developing fundamental sport skills. Together, fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills form the basis of physical literacy. Physical literacy provides children the important ability to pursue other sports and activities as they grow up and move through the stages of LTAD.

Key Outcomes of Active Start An early start in physical activity and active play enhances each child’s development of brain function, physical coordination, gross motor skills, and posture and balance. An active start also helps children to build confidence, social skills, emotional control and imagination while reducing stress and improving sleep. From the child’s perspective, the Active Start stage should teach them to love physical activity and active play as a fun and exciting part of everyday life.


How to provide an Active Start Children in the Active Start stage should be encouraged in playful activities where they run, jump, catch, throw and balance. They should also be introduced to swimming and activities on ice and snow. Parents and caregivers play a huge role in this process. They need to provide opportunities for children to play in safe, fun, stimulating environments while gradually exposing them to new skills. Children learn by doing, so they need these active play experiences to teach them. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to be positive, active role models, but it’s also important to let the child take charge at times. And while parents and caregivers need to play with children, they also need to let them play on their own at times. For more information on developing your child’s physical literacy through quality sport and physical activity, visit Active for Life at For more information on Long-Term Athlete Development, visit Canadian Sport for Life at Jennifer Hood is a mother and the owner of Jump Gymnastics in Vancouver.

January/February 2012 17

wcf feature

Arts and Learning The New Core Education

By Winnie Tam


hildren naturally explore the world by experiencing texture, pattern and colour, by making sounds with their voices and bodies, by moving, and by playing. When these ways of exploring are formalized by technique and skills, we call them visual art, music, dance and theatre—the various disciplines of the arts. The arts are often mistakenly understood as subject areas that are separate from other subjects of learning, with value only as extra-curricular activities. However, by understanding that the arts are actually powerful means of communication and discovery, particularly for children, we recognize that arts learning is an integral part of the core educational curriculum and is an effective and meaningful way to explore other subjects. Visual and performing arts are learning tools with which children investigate and understand the complexities of our world. “Drawing helps writing. Song and poetry make facts memorable. Drama makes history more vivid and real. Creative movement makes processes understandable,” states Elizabeth Murfee, an education researcher, in her publication Eloquent Evidence: Arts at the Core of Learning. Heidi Wilkinson, a Vancouver parent and award-winning theatre props and set designer, attests to how the arts enrich learning. Her daughter attends an artsbased elementary school in Burnaby where visual and performing arts are integrated into all facets of the curriculum. “My daughter’s class recently did a play about the digestive system--she got to be saliva! She was so engaged that she spouted off details for days about the inner workings of the digestive system. She absorbed more than she ever would have sitting still at a desk listening to facts spewed out of a textbook.” Studies about the social and academic benefits when children learn through the arts have established what Wilkinson observed from her daughter’s experience. In addition to strengthening academic skills such as problemsolving, spatial-temporal reasoning, and language acuity, visual and performing arts also foster social and motivational skills that are essential for success in school, work, and life. These skills include decision-making, abstract and design thinking, collaboration, acceptance of diversity, resilience, persistence, and concentration. Compelled by such evidence-based research, some school districts have made strong efforts to ensure children have opportunities for arts experiences in schools. Lisa Parsonson is the Visual and Performing Arts Program Consultant for the Burnaby School District, which has been a long-standing proponent of arts education. “The district supports comprehensive and inclusive arts


programming in all our schools. The district also offers a wide variety of arts resources for teachers so that students may all participate in our programs. Free access to quality resources is important for students to be able to be successful in the arts,” states Parsonson. The successful integration of arts learning in schools relies on opportunities for quality teacher professional development in the arts. Burnaby teachers have recently benefited from extensive in-service training on using arts practices inspired by the early learning Reggio-Emilia approach to support student learning. Among the principles that the Reggio-Emilia approach upholds is the belief in the “hundred languages of children”—that children process their learning through many symbolic languages, including drawing, sculpture, dramatic play, writing, and creative movement.

For Heidi Wilkinson, it’s encouraging to see her daughter flourishing in a learning environment enhanced by the arts. “I love the means of using arts as learning tools,” says Wilkinson. “It is amazing to see every child in that program flourishing, to see the confidence and excitement in them to learn and express themselves in a ‘different’ way. Children that may not otherwise have the means or tools to express thoughts, feelings, or ideas can do so when nurtured in an artistic environment. Likewise, they can take in the ideas and expression of others in endless possibilities of ways.” A learning environment that is rich with arts experiences can have far-reaching effects that extend to the surrounding community. As Lisa Parsonson points out, “Arts-enriched learning increases school attendance, graduation rates, student motivation, and community engagement.”

Kids’ Arts Education Now Benefits Parents, Too! Starting with the 2011 tax year, the federal government has announced that parents can now claim up to $500 per year per child for artistic, cultural, recreational and developmental activities. This is in addition to the existing $500 fitness tax credit, meaning you can now claim up to $1,000 annually for each child’s soccer, violin, dance, art, gymnastics, swimming, piano, etc., classes. Find out more at

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Arts Umbrella Vancouver | Artspace Burnaby | Collage Collage Vancouver | Visit us online at for more arts educators in your area!

Arts-infused education that encourages creative process, unique expression, and inquiry-based exploration nurtures expansive thinking, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others. As a professional artist, Wilkinson testifies to the life-long impact the arts have had on her. “Arts are not just my career. The arts have given me a unique way of taking in the world around me and have allowed me to practice looking at things from a variety of perspectives. It has made me confront my own boundaries and has given me a powerful means of expression, whether about my views on global issues or simply personal emotional responses to day-to-day happenings.” Researchers like Elizabeth Murfee have found that when the arts become central in the community, the learning environment improves and the culture of that community transforms to become more positive, creative, and supportive. Parents play a significant in role supporting their children’s creative expression. Wilkinson believes that “the heart of nurturing artistic expression starts at the home.” She encourages parents “to turn off the TV and read a book with your children. Turn up the music and dance in the kitchen with your children. Pull out some art supplies and a big roll of paper and put your blinders on to the mess that will be made and instead see the beauty that will be created. Put on plays, dress-up, sing in the bath. The important thing is to create a safe haven where your children are free to express themselves without being judged or criticized.” The arts have the power to shape a child’s life and to lay a solid foundation for their future. Visual and performing arts exploration transforms children’s lives and has intrinsic value throughout each child’s lifetime by cultivating emotional resilience, new ways of experiencing the world, and opportunities to express their individuality. In Wilkinson’s words, “Arts fire brains into action and fulfills souls... it brings magic into children’s lives. Artistic experiences are beautifully enabling and I believe that is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.” Winnie Tam is a parent, educator, and founding director of artspace children’s arts centre, a brand new facility in Burnaby.

January/February 2012 19

top story

Montessori Building Brighter Brains

By Debbie Bowman


ost of us want the best education possible for our children. We know that a solid education will serve our kids their entire lives. As a result, there’s a wide range of schooling options here in B.C, from conventional public schools to private boarding schools and everything in between. One of these options, the Montessori program, is extremely popular in B.C. Parents in Vancouver, for instance, can send their kids to a private Montessori school or they can place their child in a public school with the Montessori stream. However, either due to financial restrictions or limited spaces, many parents cannot give their child a Montessori education. Thankfully, there are steps parents can take to incorporate the Montessori method into their child’s life. The Montessori method has been around for over a century now. Operating on the principal of freedom within limits, the Montessori classroom is one where children can move about the room as they wish, from one learning station to another. It’s an environment where the child’s desires and curiosities guide them. The teaching materials, designed by Maria Montessori, the program’s founder, are self-regulating, self-correcting, and tactile. Another part of the program, called Practical Life, teaches children useful skills such as setting the table, washing their hands, getting dressed, and preparing their own snacks. Montessori advocates believe that a Montessori education guides children toward becoming self-motivated, independent and life-long learners. The Montessori program often speaks for itself through the children who have experienced it. Carolyn Loughran, from the Montessori Training Centre of British Columbia, notes that adults who work with children often observe that Montessori kids stand out from the rest. In particular, these children get along well with their peers and they excel at skills such as collaboration and problem solving. As a result, many parents are attracted to the Montessori program. Due to the increased demand for Montessori classrooms, the Vancouver School Board is increasing the number of public schools that provide the Montessori stream. In addition to the existing Montessori schools at Tyee and Maple Grove, a new Montessori school will open this year at Renfrew Elementary. Still, the number of spots available does not come close to addressing the demand. For example, in an average year there are 150 kids in line for the 25 spaces available at Tyee Elementary. Those 25 spots are filled by lottery. Other school districts, like Coquitlam, currently have eight schools offering the Montessori program, and demand is still matching supply. For those who win the Montessori lottery, it’s almost as exciting as winning the 6/49. Krysta Furioso was ecstatic when she realized her daughter won a seat in a Montessori classroom. “I feel so lucky to be able to give her this type of education,” says Furioso, explaining that since her daughter started the Montessori program, she’s been pleasantly surprised at every stage by what her daughter can accomplish; skills such as math, geography, science and biology are things she knows and discusses—and she’s only five. “Without the Montessori program, we would never have known what our daughter is capable of at such a young age.” Unfortunately, since the spaces don’t reflect the demand, many parents cannot keep their children in a Montessori classroom for as long as they’d like. For example, there are many Montessori preschools in Vancouver, and most have spaces available. The problem arises once the child enters kindergarten, as there’s a good chance that they’ll need to transition into a conventional elementary. Furthermore, since there are no Montessori high schools in Vancouver (currently, the only Montessori high school in B.C. is on Vancouver Island), most kids who have gone through a Montessori elementary must transition into a conventional


secondary school. Many parents are concerned about this fact. They wonder if the transition from one learning style to another is worth the trouble. Though the transition may be difficult for some, many parents of Montessoritrained children believe that any amount of Montessori schooling is an asset to the child. Furioso has seen the benefits in her child’s heightened confidence and an ability to adapt that makes it easier for them to be successful in any situation. “They’ll take these skills with them wherever they go,” she states.

Interesting Video on Montessori YouTube: Trevor Eissler - Montessori Madness! What do you think about Montessori? Watch this video and let us know your thoughts by emailing! Click on video to watch!

Ms. Becky Evermon, known lovingly as Miss Becky by her students and peers, is a long-time teacher at Tyee Elementary. She also agrees that any amount of Montessori training is a positive experience for children. However, she also states that after attending a Montessori classroom, children may become bored in a conventional classroom setting. One way to combat this, according to Miss Becky, is to look for after-school enrichment programs such as professionallevel arts and theatre. As well, it’s helpful if the parents have a conference with their child’s new teachers, letting them know of the child’s previous schooling experiences and how it may affect his experience in the coming year. Many Montessori elementary graduates go on to specialized secondary programs like Lord Byng’s Mini Arts program or Windermere’s Athena Arts. Outside of school there are many things parents can do to enrich their children’s education using Montessori methodology. For example, Loughran states that the Montessori program is based on common sense, and as such, any parent can incorporate the teaching methods into their everyday lives. “Parents are the great educators,” says Loughran, “and the time a parent spends with the child is vitally important.” She mentions that hobbies and crafts done together are a great way to create solid relationships with your children and it also incorporates the Montessori philosophy of collaborative and tactile learning. As noted earlier, a large part of Montessori teaching is to create independence in children. Therefore, a great way to incorporate Montessori at home is purposefully and thoughtfully place items in your child’s reach to encourage their use. For example, one parent places raisin boxes, crackers and other healthy snacks on the bottom shelf of her pantry. That way, when her toddler says she’s hungry, Mom just encourages her to make her own snack—and she does. In general, parents need to raise the bar in their minds as to what their children can accomplish. Ms. Becky notes that this shift in attitude is especially important: “When the child sees that you trust they can do something, they’ll begin to know their own capabilities, which in turn builds confidence.”

When the child sees that you trust they can do something, they’ll begin to know their own capabilities, which in turn builds confidence.

Lastly, Loughran states that it’s important for parents to maintain a positive attitude about whatever school their child will enter, whether that is conventional or alternative. “Parents need to be positive about where their child is going—instilling a sense of good things to come.” She also states that parents should be sure to spend a good amount of time talking with their children and acknowledging their struggles and offering coping strategies and possible solutions. Maria Montessori noted that the child himself “steers the boat of his life, turning it toward a destination that expresses the maximum possible achievement.” Using that analogy, it’s easy to see that whatever form of education he attends, by giving him freedom to learn within safe limits, a parent will essentially give him his oars and life-jacket—and he’ll be off toward well-being and success.

Tips for Raising Kids the Montessori Way Show Respect. Children’s needs and desires change from day to day. Respect, for instance, that their appetite—like yours—is sometimes not as large. If they’re crying or acting out, stop to ask yourself why this is happening before reacting.

Montessori Resources Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach To Education From Birth To Adulthood by Paula Polk Lillard How To Raise An Amazing Child The Montessori Way by Tim Seldin Canadian distributers of Montessori materials: General info on the Montessori program in BC: Montessori programs within the Vancouver School District:

Give Freedom. Children need to feel free to explore their surroundings, especially where they live, play and study. Try to change “don’t touch that” into “look at this” instead. Allow them to follow you around from room to room when younger, and choose their favourite study/play places (within reason!) when older. Teach independence. Children are not helpless. Teaching age-appropriate independence gives children confidence and prepares them for self-directed learning. Make tasks appropriate for the age. Your two-year-old can probably put on a pair of socks or pull on a pair of stretchy pants by themselves with a little practice. Communicate. Talk to your kids in your normal voice. Give objects, body parts, places, people, their proper names instead of diminutives (e.g. bathroom rather than wee-wee room). Don’t interrupt your child and they will learn not to interrupt others. Ask their opinion on everyday events. When they mispronounce something, simply repeat the word, saying it correctly, without emphasizing that they “said it wrong.”

Montessori programs within the Richmond School District:

Teach by Example. Children learn from mistakes as much as they do from successes. Instead of applying a “right” or “wrong” label, try simply modelling the correct behaviour/action and discussing why this way might be better. Use your behaviour to show them how to treat family, friends and strangers.

Montessori programs within the Coquitlam School District:

Be Patient. Children require repetitive teaching and experiences in order to learn and adapt. One time for anything will never be enough. Expect to have to repeat things, and you won’t feel so frustrated every time it happens.

January/February 2012 21

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January/February 2012 23


Is Your Child Gifted? By Ana Paula Calabresi


s a first-time mother, Tami Bogéa was very eager about the development of her baby daughter, Isabel. At two months, she talked back to her mother during a diaper change. “I was talking to her and I said ‘pa.’ I noticed she made a huge effort, looking at me very attentively, and she voiced ‘pa’ back to me,” remembers Bogéa. At four years, Isabel got very interested in books and reading. At five, she read an entire picture book on her own, and she was the first child to read in her kindergarten class. Isabel is gifted. Gifted children possess a great intellectual ability, usually focused in a particular area. “Maybe they’re really good at mathematics and problem solving, or maybe it’s in the area of fine arts, where they can draw extremely well,” says Marielle Wiesinger, a teacher in Vancouver School Board’s Gifted Education Program. Gifted children are also often very smart, learn things quickly and enjoy complex challenges. What most people don’t know though is that gifted children often have learning disabilities and are considered to have special needs. Take Albert Einstein for example. “Einstein was dyslexic, he did very poorly in school. He was actually put in a special class for kids who were not able to learn,” explains Megan Chrostowski, who works together with Wiesinger teaching gifted kids. It’s difficult for a parent to identify if her child is gifted, especially if it’s the first one, because you can’t compare your child’s development with anyone else’s. Amy Mair, mother of an 11-year-old gifted boy, says she just noticed there was something different about her son when he started attending kindergarten. “He didn’t seem to be doing what other kids were doing. He had a very advanced vocabulary, and at the same time he could barely hold a pencil. He had trouble sitting in circle. I noticed that he was either quite ahead in certain areas or he would be behind,” Mair remembers. According to Wiesinger, most gifted children are identified at school age, by teachers. That was actually the case with Bogéa’s daughter. It was only when Isabel was assessed at school and placed in a grade one/two split class that it was suggested that she could be gifted. The principal in Isabel’s school talked to her parents about the MACC (Multi Age Cluster Class) program, offered by Vancouver School Board to gifted children in Vancouver. “Our first reaction was ‘no’, we didn’t want to exclude our kid, we didn’t want her to go to an accelerated program,” recalls Bogéa. In fact, some gifted children do very well in the regular public school system. As long as the child is happy in school and is motivated, parents don’t need to worry about their child’s needs not being met. In some cases, however, an independent school may be a better fit. For Mair’s son, public school was not a good fit. She felt he needed a different education environment and was glad to find an independent school in Richmond that caters to gifted children.

Traits of gifted children Gifted children may show a few or more of the characteristics below: • • • • • • • • • • • •

are often early and voracious readers are extremely sensitive provide quick answers to questions are able to focus on an area of interest for a long time have a strong sense of humour have good memory show strong sense of justice and fairness may enjoy difficult puzzles learn things quickly are highly creative have a high degree of energy are unusually curious


Two to seven percent of people are gifted, according to Chrostowski. However, many children go throughout their school years without ever being properly diagnosed.

Isabel started behaving like a typical gifted child in third grade. “She was bored all the time, she was not learning,” Bogéa says. Besides the lack of motivation to study, Isabel also felt alone; she would just go to the library because nobody would talk or play with her. “Gifted children are often aware that they may think, feel, perceive and respond differently from their age peers. However, many gifted children do not want to feel or stand out as different— they want to be accepted. Therefore, they often fare better when surrounded by like-minded peers, who share common interests,” says Dr. Joan Pinkus, a registered psychologist who specializes in giftedness. That’s why programs like the MACC are so helpful to this student population, as they have the chance to work together with other gifted kids. Isabel’s subtle cry for help was what made her parents get her assessed for giftedness. They went to a private clinic in Vancouver and after many interviews and tests, Isabel was diagnosed as highly gifted. “That’s when we knew for sure she was gifted, she has this huge IQ, she’s actually in the top five percent of the population,” says Bogéa. Assessment of a child’s language, cognitive and early academic skills (such as reading readiness, math aptitude)

can be conducted at young ages (prior to four years old). These results can help parents anticipate their child’s needs in school. However, most often a school will consider testing results after a child is six years old and has had some time in a regular classroom. Two to seven percent of people are gifted, according to Chrostowski. However, many children go throughout their school years without ever being properly diagnosed. This is not a problem, if the child is developing normally and doing just fine. Yet, “sometimes the assessment can help us figure out the type of learner that they are, what strategies for learning can really help. We can help classroom teachers use those strategies,” says Chrostowski. Regardless of which school a gifted child will go to, it’s important that parents provide good opportunities for their child to develop. “It can be emotionally devastating to these kids if their needs are not met,” says Dr. Pinkus. “If a kindergartener reads books above her level and the teacher is not able to provide her with books that are at her reading level, the child will most likely find the learning experiences of school to be frustrating,” she explains. Very few school systems can meet all the needs of a gifted learner, nor should they be expected to do so. It is therefore very important for the child to be involved in extra-curricular activities of her interest, such as music, arts or sports classes, for example. Stimulating and meeting the needs of a gifted learner can be done in many ways. Parents can help their children by nurturing their eagerness to learn, curiosities and interests. They should look for clues as to whether their needs are being met or not. “Children need to be happy and feel successful no matter

what their learning challenges or strengths are,” Chrostowski believes. After the diagnosis, Isabel was accepted in the VSB’s MACC program. She’s in grade five now and is enjoying her new class. “The first month she was connecting with the kids, now things are much better, she is happy,” says Isabel’s mom.

Resources Vancouver School Board Gifted Enrichment Education Surrey Gifted & Enrichment Program North Vancouver School District Gifted Program

Testing Centres Dr. Joan Pinkus Vancouver Learning Centre

More Information Gifted Education (BC Ministry of Education) G/LD (Gifted/Learning Disability) Network BC Gifted Canada

January/February 2012 25


The Parent Factor Success in the K-3 Years

By Asa Zanatta


nce our kids start school at age five, they leave our homes for a large part of the day to learn. As parents, we see our role as primary educators move to the secondary role of supporting the teacher. For many of us, it’s a confusing time. We receive glimpses of happenings at school from our kids and we attend parent-teacher interviews for feedback on our kids. How can we as parents make sure our kids keep up with their education needs? How critical are the early elementary years for our kids? How involved do we need to be during those early years? Children’s reading and numeracy skills at the end of third grade are strong predictors of how they are likely to do in the future. Children who are not strong readers by the end of third grade are unlikely to excel at school. This is because the end of third grade marks a critical transition point in children’s learning: it’s when children shift from learning how to read to reading to learn. In fourth grade, the curriculum becomes more demanding and children who lack foundational literacy and numeracy skills find themselves at a disadvantage. So how do we as parents set up our kids to do well in school?

Parent Involvement Essential Children perform better in school if their parents are involved in their education. The time constraints and curricular pressures of busy school days often do not permit for the learning needs, often repetitive in nature, of early elementary school students. Take reading, for example. Learning to read well means dedicating lots of time to learning words, putting them together in sentences and, finally, understanding that those sentences make up a story.

Little and Often is the Recipe for Success Making learning a priority is important. After-school learning does not have to eat up lots of time, but it should be a daily activity. This will not only reinforce that learning doesn’t just take place at school, but that it’s a time where kids can focus on learning the skills they have not had a chance to repeat at school. Giving kids the opportunity to learn core reading and math skills for 20 to 30 minutes each day helps them to focus on their individual learning–this time at their own level and their own pace.

Focus on the Child’s Interests When school is out, learning is still fresh in the child’s mind. This is where parents can take over to help their kids extend their learning to grasp the concepts they are learning at school, and to practice reading, writing and


math. After school, parents and students have the opportunity to pick tasks that fit the child’s individual needs and that can be done within their own interests. Let’s say a child is interested in boats. Why not pick up a book at the library about boats for that learning-to-read activity?

Putting it into Practice Stuck for where to start? Variety is the spice of life and the same goes for learning. Surround yourselves with learning materials and give yourselves options to pick and choose from. Children learn best when they are exposed to a variety of ideas, experiences, skills and materials. They need opportunities to learn in an individually and age-appropriate manner and to be given learning experiences that are within the range of things they can do—with and without guidance. Here are some good resources: Books and magazines. Visit the library or book store, or go online. A great resource for online books is Tumblebooks (, which provides animated picture books with text, music and narration. Most public libraries, like Vancouver Public Library (, for instance, have a Tumblebooks subscription, as well as access to the International Children’s Digital Library (, a collection of over 4,000 historical and contemporary children’s books in more than 50 languages, including bilingual books. You can access both sites through your library’s site from home for free with your library card and pin number. Also check out the Canadian Children’s Book Centre ( for how to choose books for each developmental stage. Workbooks and worksheets. Your local book store will have math and reading workbooks by grade. A chat with the staff will help set you on the right path. Kumon ( offer workbooks and learning aids for kids age two and up, including math and verbal skills, fine motor control, memory, and more. They even have a cool new iPad app for teaching letters and phonics ($3.99 on iTunes). You can also find thousands of free downloadable worksheets from numerous sites by doing a simple internet search. Asa Zanatta is Chief Mom Officer of K5 Learning, an online after-school reading and math program for kids in kindergarten to grade five.

January/February 2012 27


San Antonio Family Adventures

Photos and text by Brenda Jones

Tour guides in pe

riod costume at

the Alamo

Imaq hug at SeaWorld

Zoo & Aquarium Lorikeet at San Antonio


hen I announced I was traveling to San Antonio to write about it as a family destination, friends looked at me in disbelief, each saying they’d never considered visiting Texas with their families. When I described what San Antonio has to offer, they soon understood why it might be a worthwhile destination for their next family vacation. San Antonio offers a superabundance of cultural, historical and family attractions, including the Alamo, several Spanish Colonial missions dating back nearly three centuries, the Witte Museum, a natural history museum featuring dinosaur bones and hands-on exhibits for kids, and several smaller museums devoted to local history. There are plenty of family-oriented attractions right downtown, which neighbours the historic River Walk, a walkway that winds along the San Antonio River’s edge. These attractions include the San Antonio Children’s Museum, a hands-on museum ideal for children 10 years and under, The Buckhorn and Texas Ranger museums, which hold vast collections of unusual items (and hunting trophies) collected in the region, and four Ripley’s attractions, including Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks, and Ripley’s Moving Theater 4D. Within a 20-minute drive from downtown, there are other large attractions, such as SeaWorld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas (a 200-acre amusement and waterslide park), the San Antonio Zoo, and Morgan’s Wonderland, an ultra-accessible amusement park designed for people of all ages with special needs. SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest marine park in the world. In May 2012, it will include a new water park designed as a South Seas oasis with terraced pools, vast sandy beaches, and a family raft ride that twists and turns through an underwater grotto that puts guests up close to several species of stingrays. For much of the year, San Antonio enjoys mild to very hot temperatures, making many water attractions, like waterslide parks and tubing in lazy rivers very popular–and practical. Visiting SeaWorld was a huge highlight during the trip. Having worked and/or volunteered at the Vancouver Aquarium for the last seven years, I was excited to visit Imaq, the male beluga whale who lived in Vancouver for more


Addra gazelle at San Antonio Zoo

For much of the year, San Antonio enjoys mild to very hot temperatures, making many water attractions, like waterslide parks and tubing in lazy rivers. very popular–and practical.

than 20 years before he was moved to San Antonio in April 2011. I spent an hour behind the scenes with Imaq and his trainers, and even gave him tongue rubs while eight wetsuit-clad participants (ages seven and up) in the Beluga Interaction Program got into the water with the belugas and visited with each of the animals up-close. Imaq is a star during these interactions because he is tactile and enjoys receiving rubs, and he delights visitors by wiggling his melon (forehead region) and leaping up while vocalizing and waving his pectoral fins in a behaviour dubbed “the alien.” My greatest discovery at SeaWorld was the frosted lemonade, which was the most refreshing drink I found in San Antonio. With temperatures soaring over 30 degrees Celsius in mid-October, I polished off two of these during my six-hour visit to the park. Due to my interest in animals and conservation, we also visited the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium, which is the third largest zoo in the U.S., and features interesting opportunities to interact with butterflies. Visitors can also buy nectar to feed a flock of very boisterous lorikeets. The zoo cares for a large variety of African animals, ranging from lions and elephants to okapi, which are reminiscent of zebras but most closely related to giraffes. The aquarium portion of the facility is not particularly noteworthy, as it is quite minimal.

Either before or after visiting the zoo, it’s well worth stopping for a delicious sit-down meal at Cheesy Jane’s, a kid-friendly, kitschy diner offering juicy burgers, colouring and game sheets, and crayons for kids, and old-fashioned milkshakes in regular as well as unusual flavours, such as peanut butter and jelly, and Dreamsicle. The kids’ menu offers meal choices such as a hamburger, corn dog or chicken strips and a side of fries, tater tots or fruit for just over four dollars. In terms of San Antonio’s dining options, some hotel restaurants offer kids’ meals for free with the purchase of adult entrees. This was true of Las Ramblas in the Hotel Contessa, along the RiverWalk, and at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, close to SeaWorld. Here’s one important piece of advice: pack a GPS with you. San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the U.S., and as such has a complex network of freeways weaving around it. It’s easy to find yourself headed in the wrong direction, as the signage isn’t always helpful, especially to locations like the San Antonio Zoo.

San Antonio Resources San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa Hotel Contessa Cheesy Jane’s SeaWorld San Antonio San Antonio Zoo Six Flags Fiesta Texas Morgan’s Wonderland San Antonio Children’s Museum The Buckhorn & Texas Ranger Museums Ripley’s San Antonio

January/February 2012 29

wcf news Give Your Kids the Gift of Caring Make-A-Wish® grants wishes for children ages three to 17 who have a life-threatening medical condition to enrich their lives, and their families with Hope, Strength and Joy. MakeA-Wish ensures that every wish is very personal, involves the entire family (because parents and siblings need magical moments just as much as the wish child) and is free from financial worries. All wishes are individual and based on the child’s chosen wish.

The Kids for Wish Kids school program is for middle and secondary school students across B.C. Students decide on a fundraising project, which can be a single project or a series of events throughout the year. Make-A-Wish offers support materials (balloons, banners, etc.) and may be able to arrange for a speaker to visit the school. It’s a great way to give back to the community in which you live (all donations go to local kids) and make community service tangible for kids. To learn more, visit To participate in the Kids for Wish Kids program, email

Kumon Introduces Junior Kumon Program Specifically designed for ages three to five, the Junior Kumon program helps preschool and kindergarten students foster a desire to learn, and improves concentration and study habits while preparing children for their first challenges in math and reading. For more information, visit

A New Type of Learning Comes to Kitsilano

James Dyson Engineering Lab at Science World Now Open! James Dyson believes that creativity and innovation are related to discovery and exploring the world in a hands-on way. That’s why the James Dyson Foundation has teamed up with Science World to create a North American first: the Engineering Lab by the James Dyson Foundation. “Inventing and creating must be encouraged and Canada has a wonderful legacy of engineering and innovative research and development. From the creation of the epic Trans-Canada railway and highway; to the invention of insulin, IMAX films, revolutionizing air and public transit through Bombardier, technology advances and the list goes on,” explains Dyson. The Engineering Lab by the James Dyson Foundation that’s on-site at Science World features an irresistible tangle of tall tubes and valves that encourage experimentation with air flow, while teaching about cause, effect and engineering principles. The Engineering Lab also features an Interactive Classroom where children learn about velocity, gravity and other important engineering principles. Activities include building spaghetti bridges, marble runs and even constructing their very own geodesic dome. Learn more at

Pear Tree Education, a new after-school learning centre, uses what they call

Have you applied for an Earth Day Scholarship?

an “Education 3.0” approach to teach kids how language arts, math, science and technology are all part of a collective whole. Using the assumption that kids are natural “digital learners,” Pear Tree also incorporates the digital devices that kids use every day—but not for playing games—and teaches them to apply their new-found knowledge to real-life events in a collaborative environment. The centre offers programs for grades two to five, and six to nine. Courses are based around thematic groups, and spring break day camps are also available. For more info, visit

Earth Day Canada has launched the Toyota Earth Day Scholarship Program ( to recognize and cultivate tomorrow’s environmental leaders. This year, the program will reward 20 graduating high school students across Canada for their efforts and leadership in responding to environmental issues through school and community initiatives with $5,000 scholarships towards their university or college education. Deadline for applications is January 31, 2012. Visit for detailed program information and application material.


mom westcoast

local artist

Tanya Slingsby Photographed by Gina Spanos AG Photography |

wcm feature

tigers vs. dragons

January/February 2012 31

wcm profile

Tanya Slingsby

Tanya Slingsby is a respected local artist who is also the owner of Little Sprout Studios. Here, in her own words, she tells us about her passions, pursuits and peccadilloes. Tell us a little about yourself. For the past 11 years I have been a visual artist. Primarily, I am a painter and sculptor, but I also teach painting to adults and teens, and art exploration to infants and toddlers. I’m happily married with one child, Gabriel, who is now 15 months old. Where were you born? I was born on Saltspring Island in the Gulf Islands. I have lived abroad on and off, but mostly in Vancouver since 1997. Any post-secondary education? B.A. in Art History and Liberal Arts at University of Victoria, Asia Pacific Studies at SFU, and Master of Arts in Art History and Philosophy of Art from the University of Sussex, UK.

Book(s) you’re reading? I just read Room, a novel by Emma Donoghue and am now reading Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. What are you most proud of? My son and husband, family and friends. Favourite thing to do when by yourself? It used to be traveling, but I do still love to exercise, listen to music and window shop.

What drew you to visual art as a profession? I’ve been painting since I was seven and have loved the arts since childhood. When I was younger, I never thought I could paint for a living, so I majored in art history and criticism instead of painting. It was after my mother died of ovarian cancer at 49 years of age that I chose to pursue my dream and planned out my first independent painting exhibition, despite my fears.

Favourite thing to do with your family? Be at the beach, or on a boat in the sunshine.

How do you come up with your ideas for subjects? Most of my inspiration comes from human and spiritual emotions—often as they interact with or react to nature and the passage of time.

What do you love most about being a mom? Mornings together in bed.

How did your current business come about? I began painting full time in 2003. I started doing commission work for interior designers and my work was carried by Liberty (Vancouver) and Artforte Gallery (Seattle). Since then I’ve been fortunate to be represented by several local and international galleries, and art consultants. In 2011, I began teaching group classes in beginner and intermediate painting. I also partnered with Christine Deckert, an artist and art educator, to create Little Sprout Studios. As mothers, we found a need for fun, safe, participatory art discovery classes for new parents and their little ones. We now offer classes for children six months to three years near downtown Vancouver. What’s your favourite thing about living in Vancouver? Vancouver is pretty safe, beautiful and trying to be more sustainable. We also have wonderful friends here who deeply enrich our lives. What’s your favourite thing about living in your neighbourhood? East Vancouver’s community is family-oriented and central to everywhere. How has becoming a mother changed your professional/personal goals? Time management, being more efficient with my work time and planning out logistics. It can be a delicate balance and it requires a lot more patience now. Are you an animal person? If so, what type? I love animals, all types. We have two cats and they are part of our family.


The one thing you wish you could change/improve about yourself? Learn more—more languages, more skills—sailing, fencing or riding a motorbike…

What do you like least about being a mom? Lack of sleep. Favourite local hangout? I have two: Marche St. George on East 28th and The Outpost Cafe on Fraser. How would you describe your mothering style? I try to be a Zen mom as much as I can, peaceful and patient—though it doesn’t work all the time! I’m pretty sure I would also be considered a Social mom—we love entertaining and Gabriel is a big part of our social lives. The thing(s) you absolutely must have with you at all times. I hate to say it, but my phone—I never felt it was a necessity until after we had our son. It is reassuring for me to know I can call someone if we are ever in distress. If I could have sunshine with me all the time, that would be pretty fabulous! Favourite meal to eat with your family? (Or the one you make most often?) We don’t have a particular favourite meal, but we love Moroccan and Indian food. Anything else we should know about you? I’m a co-founder of Mom is the Word, an annual charity event that raises funds for various cancer organizations. For more info on Tanya’s painting, visit For more info on Little Sprout Studios, visit

Tigers vs. Dragons The New Mothering Movements

wcm feature

By Angela Davidson


my Chua catapulted to celebrity status this past year with the publishing—and attendant publicity—of her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In the book and her many interviews, Chua, a self-described “tiger mom,” talks about how she has raised her children “the Chinese way.” What does that mean? According to Chua, it means telling her kids they were “garbage,” that a grade of an A- was shameful, that the only activities worth pursuing were ones in which you could win a medal—and it had better be gold—and the only artistic paths worth exploring were piano or violin—and then only if it led straight to Carnegie Hall. Despite the many cries of parental abuse and tyranny levelled at Chua, one can’t deny her results. Her oldest daughter is a piano prodigy who debuted—at Carnegie Hall—at the tender age of 14. The second daughter, naturally, is a gifted violinist. And, yes, they both achieve excellent grades in school. The concept of loving parents who inflict pain in their child’s best interests is not new in Chinese culture. Up until the early twentieth century, most Chinese mothers forced their daughters to go through the prolonged— and horrific—process of foot-binding to ensure their success in marriage. (Girls whose feet were not bound were often relegated to the servant class and were considered unmarriageable.) However, such concepts are not exclusive to Chinese culture. The Soviet system of education institutionalized the concept of “loving pain” by forcing children to study and practice arduously in order to achieve near-perfect results, which, in turn, would yield satisfaction to the child and the whole family, what Chua calls “the virtuous circle.” According to Chua, “tiger moms” can be met with in every culture—wanting success for your children is a mindset that translates cultural boundaries. While Chua and her ilk are an extreme example of mothering gone wild, it’s not a far cry from many parents who demand excellent grades and high achievement in competitive activities in a desperate bid to make sure their children are “marketable” in an increasingly competitive world. In contrast, parents like Emily Rapp, the mother of a child with Tay-Sachs and a self-described “dragon mom” who was recently profiled in The New York Times, takes the opposite approach to parenting. Rapp’s philosophy is, necessarily, a product of her circumstances. Her child will never grow up to achieve brilliance in any field, for the devastatingly simple reason that he will never grow up. Tay-Sachs is a rare genetic degenerative disorder that strikes hard and fast, and most children diagnosed don’t live to see their third birthday.

As a dragon mom, Rapp is permissive to a degree that most, under ordinary circumstances, would deem faulty. But hers are not ordinary circumstances. Beyond keeping her child safe, clean, fed, comfortable and, hopefully, happy, what else can be expected? The term she has coined, however, has now become the standard behind which the “anti-tiger” movement is rallying. These are parents who have decided not to ask anything of their child other than to “be themselves.” This has created an interesting question: Where is the tipping point between too much expectation and not enough? Is the new “dragon mom” movement one of excess permissiveness doomed to create a generation of underachievers who will never know the satisfaction of success gained through hard work and sacrifice? For most of us, parenting is a future-oriented activity, one filled with plans, activities and hopes, all designed to create that “bright future” for our child that every parent, no matter how permissive, dreams of. The lesson that most of us can—and should—take away from Rapp is to enjoy and love our children in the here-and-now, to relish the loud, noisy, messy, unorganized, delightful and perfect thing that is childhood. As for Chua and her “tiger” mentality, perhaps there is a lesson there as well, having to do with the benefits of persistence of hard work. For me, this will never translate into seeing my child perform at Carnegie Hall, but, perhaps—someday—I might get to see him act at the Playhouse. In a leading role. Okay, I’m good now.

January/February 2012 33

momevents westcoast

Adult Events for the Hip Mom Around Town! The Shop-a-thon for Moms

Firefighters’ Club, 6515 Bonsor St, Burnaby January 8, 10am-4pm The Shop-a-thon for Moms is a marathon day of deals bringing your favourite brands, online retailers and more under one roof for a full day of deals, deals and more deals. From clearance items, samples and as-is items, everything will be up to 80 percent off! Register today and be entered for a chance to win fabulous prizes from the vendors and sponsors! 604.803.1657 |

It’s My Wedding

Tradex, Abbotsford January 14 & 15 This fun and innovative wedding show includes amazing vendors, door prizes, a $75,000 ultimate wedding contest and fashion shows. Partial proceeds benefit Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley. Check online for ticket prices and times.

Retro Design & Antiques Fair

Croatian Cultural Centre, Vancouver January 15, 10am-3pm 175 tables of bargains on 20th century junque! Retro furnishings, books, antiques, dolls and toys, jewellery, china and glass, records, linens and lace, garden accessories, lamps and shades, sports items, silverware, art, collectibles and much more. Drop-in appraisals available all day. Admission is $5 at the door. 604.980.3159 |

Kundalini Yoga

West End Community Centre January 17, 6-7:30pm Kundalini yoga offers a technique that can help you be the best that you can be. It brings health and balance to body, mind and being. Through awareness you become the master of your mind and learn to control your own energy. Drop-in $11, space permitting. 604.257.8333 |

Style & Strut

The Sutton Place Hotel January 22, 11am-7pm Vancouver’s first bridal fashion event geared specifically to inspire the Bride in creating and assembling her perfect personal wedding style! This event will focus on fashion and beauty for the modern and elegant metropolitan bride and promises to excite and indulge every one of its attendees. Come enjoy a day filled with everything beauty, health and style! 604.537.3575 |

Taste B.C. 2012

Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver January 24, 4:30-7:30pm Guests will taste, sip and experience B.C.’s finest wine, beer and spirits accompanied by tasty fare from the best local restaurants. Along with excellent food and drink, attractions include live music, door prizes, and a silent auction. Help support the Oak Tree Clinic (at B.C. Children’s Hospital) while enjoying the finest B.C. has to offer. Tickets are $49.99 and available at Liberty Wine Merchant stores. 604.739.7801


Community Flea Market

King George Secondary School 1755 Barclay St, Vancouver January 29 & February 26, 10am-3pm Funds raised from all flea markets go to the WECC Youth Programs and the 2012 King George Secondary School Grad Committee. There are 78 tables available for $18, and go on sale at 9am. Admission is $1. 604.257.8333 |

Secrets of Honeymoons Revealed

West Vancouver Memorial Library 1950 Marine Dr February 14, 7pm It’s Valentine’s Day, and wife and husband, Drs. Kris and Richard Bulcroft, are here to provide you with a sociological look at the custom of honeymooning. Come see how the honeymoon has changed over time, and how its form and function follow changes in contemporary marriage and relationships. Dr. Kris Bulcroft is the current President and Vice Chancellor of Capilano University, while Dr. Richard Bulcroft is a sociologist specializing in youth and family at the Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Seating is limited, so please arrive early. Free event.

The Silicone Diaries

Historic Theatre at the Cultch February 14-19 & 21-25, 8pm The Silicone Diaries is a full, frank and fierce exploration of the contradictions associated with the quest for beauty, balanced by an intimate and spiritual account of Nina Arsenault’s adventures in plastic surgery, and her transition from an awkward man into a silicone bombshell. Tickets from $21. 604.251.1363 |

Cloth Diaper 101 Workshop

Jillian Kirby Photography Studio, Langley February 19, 2:30-3:30pm At this workshop, hosted by the Little Monkey Cloth Diaper Store, you will learn about the different types of cloth diapers—what works best for newborn, infant, toddler— right through to potty training, and how to wash them. It’s $10/person or $15/couple. Preregistration required. 778.886.2522 |

Moonlight Snowshoe for Take a Hike Program

Mount Seymour February 23, 6-9pm Enjoy a guided moonlit snowshoe trek with great people and delectable treats amongst snow-capped trees to raise money to support youth at risk in Vancouver. Register early to be entered into a draw to win fantastic prizes! 604-638-3385 |

International Women’s Day Open House

Historic Stewart Farm March 3, noon-4pm Tour the 1894 farmhouse and rediscover the home from a woman’s perspective. You will learn about inventions, recipes, healing, fashion and how women have been trailblazers for centuries. By donation, suitable for all ages. 604.592.6956 |

Discover Dance! Strathcona Chinese Dance Company

Scotiabank Dance Centre | 677 Davie St, Vancouver | February 23, noon This popular noon-hour series presents the distinguished Strathcona Chinese Dance Company, a local dance company now in its 38th season. Explore the art of Chinese dance art at during this exciting performance. Tickets $10/$8 students. 604.684.2787 |

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Call 604.249.2866 or email to receive free delivery of our magazines to your family event!

reading corner The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. In this practical guide for parents of young children, Siegel and Bryson demystify meltdowns, explain aggravating incidents, and explain the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. Raise calmer, happier children using the 12 key strategies while cultivating healthy emotional and intellectual development. $27.00.

The Big Book of Primary Physical Science: Motion, Magnets and More by Adrienne Mason, illustrated by Claudia Dávila Developed in coordination with a science education consultant, this book covers materials, mass, matter, structures, systems, shapes, liquids, gases, motion, forces, friction, gravity and much more! Ages 4+. $19.95.

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years by Elizabeth G. Hainstock and Lee Davis Learn how to apply the dynamic principles of Montessori education in your homethrough techniques, exercises and easy-to-make Montessori materials. Create and foster a sense of discovery and awareness in your child. Covering ages two to five, and including lessons focusing on mathematics, reading and writing, sensory awareness and practical life. $14.50.

BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon This weird, wacky, winsome and wild collection of poems gives voices to the magic found on bookshelves—the books themselves! Characters long for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and readers get a sneak peek at the raucous parties the books throw after the bookstore lights go out! Ages 4+. $19.99.

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World by Susan Hughes Did you know there are schools in caves, and on boats and train platforms? There are green schools and mobile schools and even schools that unschool. Meet students from around the world and think about school—and the world—in a whole new way. Ages 8+. $13.95.

The Boy from the Dragon’s Palace retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa A poor flower seller receives a gift from the Dragon King for past kindnesses—a little boy who brings good fortune every time he blow his nose! But the flower seller gets greedy, and one day, he goes to far. In this classic Japanese folk tale, humour and caution come together to teach the importance of always saying “thank you!” Ages 4+. $18.99.

I Will Not Read This Book by Cece Meng, illustrated by Joy Ang Like all of us, the little boy in this book has a lot of excuses, because if there’s one thing he doesn’t want to do, it’s read this book. And guess what? You. Can’t. Make. Him. Really. Perfect story for reluctant readers. Ages 4+.

Let’s Count to 100! by Masayuki Sebe This riot of brightly-coloured cartoon characters and action-packed scenes all explore that magical milestone of a number—100! Kids will spot links connecting one detailed scene to another, all forming the magic number while teaching numeracy, visual acuity and more. Ages 3+. $16.95.

January/February 2012 35


Where to pick up your copy of

families westcoast

Vancouver – East Admiral Seymour Elementary Brainbridge Bilingual Education Collage Collage Oral Centre for the Deaf Pomme d’Api Preschool Sir Charles Kinsford-Smith Elementary

Children’s Kingdom Montessori Centre Preschool & Kindergarten Register Now! September and January Enrollment Mandarin, Art & Music classes are included 4720 Elgin St. Vancouver (near Knight & 31st Ave.)

Tel : (604) 872-8898

Vancouver – West Arts Club Theatre Arts Umbrella Dunbar Public Library Family Montessori School Kidsbooks Lifelong School Marpole Montessori Vancouver Academy of Music Vancouver – Downtown Canadian Geological Society Dorothy Lam Children’s Centre Joe Fortes Public Library Jump Gymnastics Science World Vancouver Art Gallery North Shore Capilano University Cafeteria Capilano Public Library Highlands Preschool North Vancouver City Public Library Richmond Arts Connection Blue Spruce Montessori Blundell Elementary Gateway Theatre Kumon Burnaby/New Westminster BC Hydro Children’s Centre CEFA Edmond Elementary Electronic Arts Hanna Court Children’s Centre New Westminster Home Learners Program Pedagogy Toys Shadbolt Centre for the Arts Coquitlam/Port Coquitlam/Port Moody Denise Richardson-Roy Stibbs Elementary Evergreen Cultural Centre Gymboree Place des Arts Port Moody Arts Centre Precious Minds Preschool

The 2012 Baby Guide is coming soon! westcoast



Book your ad today to reach over 100,000 new and expectant parents!

Surrey/Delta/White Rock Centre for Child Development Fleetwood Public Library Martha Currie Elementary Pinewood Elementary Strawberry Hill Elementary Sylvan Learning Centre Langley/Abbotsford/Aldergrove CEFA Fort Langley Public Library Oxford Learning St. Joseph’s Church Preschool Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge Maple Ridge Public Library Pitt Meadows Public Library Sylvan Learning Centre Vancouver International School

community calendar Polar Bear Swim Boundary Bay Regional Park, Tsawwassen January 1, 11:45am-1:15pm Start the year with a “refreshing” dip with 300 or more other “polar bears.” Registration for swimmers starts at noon. Save time by registering in advance online. Swimmers head in to the water at 1pm sharp. Prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place swimmers. Be a Part of a Live Studio Audience! Mr. Young Sound Stage, Burnaby January 6 & 13, 3:30-10pm Have you ever wondered what happens behind the cameras and lights of a television show? Now is your chance to see and be a part of it. This is a fun, familyfriendly, educational, free event for all interested! Ages 10+. Call now to book your time! 604.433.0779 North Vancouver City Firefighters Christmas Tree Chip-Up Rona Parking Lot at Park & Tilford 1160 East 3rd St., North Vancouver January 7, 8:30am-4:30pm Wondering what to do with your Christmas tree after the holidays? Recycle it! Drop by with your tree and enjoy free hotdogs, coffee and hot chocolate. This charity event is by donation with all proceeds going to the NVCF Scholarship Fund. The recycled trees are used in the many parks, paths and gardens throughout the city. Hatchery and Nature Trail Tours Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club Little Campbell Hatchery January 8, 22 & February 12, 26, 1-3pm Come and meet the volunteers at the Little Campbell Hatchery for an afternoon tour to see how the hatchery operates. Enjoy a guided tour along the nature trail to view salmon spawning grounds and wildlife along the Little Campbell River. Rain or Shine. 604.535.8366 | Crown Parent Participation Preschool Open House 3737 West 27 Ave, Vancouver January 14, 9-11am Bring your family to this play-based open house and learn how parents can make a differences. Programs for two, three and four-year-olds. Register for September 2012. Some spaces available for January 2012. University Hill Preschool Open House 5210 University Blvd, UBC January 14, 10am-2pm Come out and meet the Montessori-trained teachers at this play-based and Reggio Emilia-influenced preschool for three and four-year-olds. Spaces available for January 2012. At the back of St. Anselm’s Church. Bring your questions and your family! 604.288.8610 | Family Day at PdA! Place des Arts January 15, 1:30-3:30pm Gather up the family and tour exhibitions in clay and multi-media. Then participate in a variety of all-ages, drop-in style workshops based on these exhibits. Don’t be intimidated by art, get engaged in it! Admission is by donation. Reserve your spot by calling. 604.664.1636 |

Changing Climate Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre, North Vancouver January 15, 1pm Ice ages and melting glaciers? Learn about the history of Earth’s climate and what it might look like in the future. For kids ages 5-8. $8.25/child. 604.990.3755 |

The Backyardigans: Quest for Extra Ordinary Aliens Abbotsford Arts Centre January 29, 1pm Start off the New Year with The Backyardigans Live on stage! Appropriate for all ages. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.

Royal City Kids Fair Fraser River Discovery Centre January 21, 9am-5pm Come visit over 60 exhibitors and vendors catering to new parents, toddlers, and older kids. Enjoy two performances by Bobs & Lolo and plenty more activities for the kids!

Family Montessori Preschool Open House Jericho Hill Centre 4196 West 4 Ave, Vancouver January 31, 5-6:30pm This Open House is an opportunity to learn about the programs offered at both locations, meet the highly qualified, AMI-trained and B.C.-certified teachers, explore the Montessori environment, sign up for an observation, and drop off your application. The Open House is also an educational event, with a focus on literacy and how the Montessori curriculum approaches learning to read and write. This is a family event so you are encouraged to attend with your preschool-aged children.

Early Years Childcare Fair John Braithwaite Community Centre, North Vancouver January 21, 10am-1pm Attention all parents of preschoolers! Attend this free event to enjoy refreshments, activities, guest speakers and your chance to win prizes! 604.982.8313 | Chinese New Year West End Community Centre Auditorium January 21, 11am-1pm Celebrate the Year of the Dragon by joining the community family for this free event with music, performances and good luck crafts. All ages welcome. 604.257.8333 | WestCoast Families Re-Launch Party! Science World January 24, 2-5pm We’ve got a new look and a new website, and we’re celebrating! Join us for an afternoon of activities, face painting, treats, and all the fun that Science World has to offer! Door prizes, a grand prize, live entertainment and more! Admission $5 donation to Science World. For more info, see ad in this issue. Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! Pacific Coliseum January 27-29, multiple times Catch Phineas and Ferb live! This interactive stage show brings the exciting Disney Channel characters to the entire family through great stories and music! Tickets start at $29. Family Literacy Day Multiple locations & times January 27, 2012 Get your family reading during this national event and support literacy across Canada! Multiple events across the Lower Mainland. See website for details.

Valentine’s Day Craft Time Lobby of West End Community Centre February 8, 3:30-4:30pm Your child will go home with unique themed crafts that they have made. Parent participation required for this free event. 604.257.8333 | 12th Annual Chutzpah! Festival Norman Rothstein Theatre, Vancouver February 11-March 4 The Chutzpah! Festival celebrates the performing arts with electrifying music, riveting theatre and breath-taking dance. Experience outstanding theatrical performances! Tickets start at $16. 604.257.5145 | Valentine’s Day Family Drop-in Surrey Museum February 11, 2-4pm Get ready for Valentine’s Day by making heart bookmarks with a vintage look, woven hearts, Chinese lucky stars and more to give to your sweethearts. By donation all ages. 604.592.6956 Symbols of Love Historic Stewart Farm February 12-13, noon-4pm Celebrate the start of Heritage Week with a visit to the 1894 farmhouse to learn about the history of Valentine’s Day and Victorian social etiquette. Make a Valentine card and decorate a cookie for a loved one. By donation, all ages. 604.592.6956 |

Huge Kids Swap Meet Cloverdale Fairgrounds January 28, 9am-1pm Come out for this well-established kids swap meet to find new and gently used items from individuals and small businesses. Vendor spaces still available. 604.588.9919

Project Soul Hip Hop Roundhouse Community Centre February 19, 2pm Project Soul previews their developing full-length show presenting popping, locking, hip hop, and b-boxing in a dynamic and colourful way. Get your tickets online for $5 or pay what you can at the door.

Vive les voyageurs French-Canadian Festival Fort Langley National Historic Site January 28-29, 10am-5pm Experience the rich French-Canadian culture that made Fort Langley so vibrant. Taste French-Canadian food, try your hand at finger weaving, and participate in other cultural activities. Children will love the crafts and kids’ entertainer, Vazzy. 604.513.4777 |

Riding the Rails Surrey Museum February 25, 1-4pm Visit the museum for an afternoon of old-time railway fun. Join collectors, see model trains, enjoy displays and make crafts to take home. Participation by donation, appropriate for all ages. 604.592.6956 |

January/February 2012 37

last look

Suitable for ages 5-12

My Neighbourhood Fridge Magnet

By Shari Pratt

supply list

frame preparation

• • • • • • •

1. Layout seven popsicle sticks vertically

14 large popsicle sticks per child Liquid tempera paint Small brushes, palette Chalk White liquid glue Magnetic tape Optional: photographs or books about architecture

2. Glue seven popsicle sticks horizontally on top, like so:

instructions 1. Talk about how different neighbourhoods can be. Show pictures or read a book about architecture. 2. Glue frame together. Allow to dry 3. Paint frame black and allow to dry. 4. Using chalk, draw out your neighbourhood. Include roads, pathways, mountains, clouds, buildings.... Let your imagination go crazy! (HINT: Don’t put in too many intricate details unless you are capable of painting them.) 5. Now it’s just like painting in a colouring book. Paint between the chalk lines but NOT on them. 6. Allow to dry. 7. Once dry, take a soft damp cloth and carefully wipe away all of the chalk lines to reveal the fine black lines. 8. Attach magnetic tape to the back of the frame.

artistic influence

Maud Lewis (March 7, 1903 – July 30, 1970) Maud Lewis was a Canadian folk artist from Nova Scotia. She remains one of Canada’s best known and most loved folk artists. Between 1945 and 1950 people began to stop at Maud’s home and buy her paintings for two or three dollars. Lewis began to be quite well known around Digby and far beyond. In 1965 she was featured on CBC-TV’s “Telescope” program. << Title: Schoolhouse, oil, 1960 Shari Pratt is a local artist and teacher and owner of Creative Kaos School of Art and Imagineering.


Introducing McCafé

! y a d o t e n o y r T


A delicious blend of real fruit and low fat yogurt – goodness made refreshing.



Strawberry Banana Mango Pineapple

At participating McDonald’s® restaurants in British Columbia. ©2012 McDonald’s.

January/February 2012 39

January/February 2012 40


WestCoast Families January/February 2012


WestCoast Families January/February 2012