The importance of art in child development

A series of articles by our guest blogger, Janine Georgiou-Z about the importance of art and creative development in babies, toddlers and children. She will also add some ideas to do art with your toddler at home.

30 Things to do this winter

I love the lists of important stuff to do with your kids during every season. I found many kinds online and decided it would be fun to make our own! So together with Connie we compiled a fun list of activities to do this winter. Technically, the winter just begun a few days ago, so here it comes!

Guest blog: Choosing the diet that is right for you

Looking for the ideal diet? There is actually no "right answer" for everyone, and dieting has to be a very personalized matter. What works for the woman next door may not work for you and this is especially true where any dieting and weight loss are the focus.

5 minutes of beauty in 5 easy steps

I needed to figure out a way to look and feel good about myself when leaving the house with a total of about 5-7 minutes of prep time! (the amount of time I could keep Aud busy in her crib with a book or stuffed animal). I think I’ve mastered it so I thought I would share with you how I do it!

Sensory fun at home! Easy, fun, great activity for a toddler.

Santino's sensorial activities have been mostly tactile these days, with a few occasional auditory, visual, and thermic. I haven't been documenting much of these other experiments, but he has learned to discriminate by size, length, weight, loudness, color, even edibility.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Music Classes for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers: Learn to Listen

 Listening skills do not come naturally to many toddlers and pre-schoolers. Their attention span is zero, as there are too many things around to see and explore, for them to bother remembering to listen and pay attention. Attending a music class has been a great way for my 3.5 year old son to practice how to listen and follow instructions.  This was a surprise benefit, as I thought a music class would be mostly about music and singing songs and, maybe sometimes, dancing.

Monday, December 23, 2013

After the Ice Storm in GTA

As we suffered from the terrible ice storm, with frozen streets, cars and power lines which left many areas without power for several days, I think there is a positive side to this ordeal as well. I just wanted to share a couple of photos I tried to make today. Frozen trees look magical, as if made of crystal and gold.

These photos were made in Newmarket today. Please note, I am by no means a professional photographer, neither do I have a professional camera.

Here is my son "riding" a snow dinosaur, which we made a few days ago. Covered with a thick layer of ice, it became very stiff and very much ride-able!

The snowman also is covered with ice. Beautiful, and a rather sad view.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Field trip to the Toronto Christmas Market.

Toronto Christmas Market takes place in the beautiful part of the city, the Distillery District. This historic district is an awesome place as it is, with its shops, restaurants, and theaters, but every year now it also hosts a Christmas Market, European style, making it a great attraction for the Torontonians and visitors.


Yes, it was cold and the narrow streets full of people were sometimes difficult to navigate, but we enjoyed walking around, staring at the decorations, spotting various TV reporters with cameras, taking pictures here and there.

There was a big Christmas tree, of course, a gingerbread house, Santa with elves, performers every hour singing Christmas carols, or dancing folk dances of various nations, food stands, and much much more.

Read the rest of the story and more photos here.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

"Countdown to Christmas" Activities. Day 1.

As I've been told multiple times by multiple people, it is normal for the little boys not to be interested in art, creative activities, painting, gluing. I still encourage Santino to do something creative every day. Even if it is just a few strokes on the blackboard. Something!

Making wreaths or any other kind of Christmas crafts is a challenge here. Well, not the "making" per se, but the interest in such activity. Santino only wants to play with dinosaurs (anything related to dinosaurs) and silly wreaths had nothing to do with them. Now they do!
Read full article here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

All Channels Need To Be An Option.

In this world of high speed and high expectations it is ever more important that all channels of sharing ones voice be an option. Each person inner voice is expressed in different ways. If I had a desire to express through words but never learned to write I would feel the same way as if I had a need to creatively share my feelings through artwork but never learned how to use the tools to creatively express. I often hear people say "I wish I had learned to paint/draw" as if it is a missing piece of themselves, a piece that had it been accomplished might have served as an avenue of expression and success. All avenues of expression need to be an option. We know creativity inspires a person In other areas of their lives.

We know creating something that we are connected with and we feel Is beautiful, is up-lifting. We know completing anything give us a feeling of success. If you are a parent who wishes you had explored this creative channel, now is the time to explore it with your child. It is never too late. It will be a wonderful way to connect with your child as you share your excitement over new accomplishments in expression. Together you can explore the joyful splattering of paint, the emotion of colour, the delicate or intense use of line and eventually say what your heart needs to say. Allowing this freedom in yourself will open up this channel much sooner in your child, and he/she will not only enjoy this most beautiful of expressive paths, but will hold dear the fact that you sparked the beginnings of it. Enjoy the journey!!

By Janine Georgiou-Zeck
Artist Educator 

Art classes age 4 and up

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Exploring Creative Tools

Little ones want to examine everything within their reach. This time of discovery leads the to the tools for expressing their creativity. Placing some paper or whiteboard on their level and some drawing/painting tools ready for use will allow your child to discover his/her ability to leave a mark. The first time my son scratched a pencil on paper he giggled with joy. It was a powerful experience for him to see that he could make something happen from what he was doing. 

I say their level for  little ones because you can sit comfortably with them while they move with their work and explore. Big chairs and tables can hinder the free flowing experience. Any option that brings the tools to their level will work. Little ones (I mean two and under ) seem to like putting their whole body into it.  As children develop an understanding of the use of cause and effect tools and refine their motor skills they will tell us stories using these tools. They can show us their joy and imagination. They can draw from their hearts and mind things they might not yet be able to fully express in words.

The prompting of this gift and supporting your child in the creative process is in my mind as valuable as teaching them to read and write. They are opening a channel of expression that allows them to share more of their heart with others.   Describing their artwork to you opens up a new world of discussion. Listening to their sweet little descriptions of their artworks is very uplifting Enjoy!

By Janine Georgiou-Zeck
Artist Educator 
Art classes age 4 and up

Sent from my iPod

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dealing with rejection.

I have been posting a lot of "ranting" and "venting" posts, and if anybody is interested, here is another one. I'm not going to whine, but I do have a question: do you, moms and dads, teach your kids to include other kids in their game?

Now, its understandable, that not everybody can be instant friends, but I think everybody deserves a chance. We already discussed the question of "including others" in our Facebook group, but I want to bring it up again. I was re-introduced to this issue today, when we stopped at a busy park on the way back from a fun Dino-riffic playdate.

This is a great park, with a jungle gym, swings, all sorts of climbing areas, and a big sand pit, with a pretend dinosaur fossil, a couple built-in excavators. Santino walked into the park, stood for a few moments, saw two boys of approximately his age playing with trucks, and went to play with them. He sat down near those boys, looking straight at them, and was "welcomed" with a scream "Go away! This is ours!" So he got up and left.

Thanks to his easy attitude, Santino didn't get upset, but I did. These types of things really bother me, and I feel that I have to learn from him on how take these "unfair" sides of life easier.

Within the next 30 minutes, he tried approaching those kids a few times more, and was rejected every time. It seemed, that in the end he did get frustrated, as I saw him kicking a pile of sand in their direction. Which was understandable. I immediately intervened, reminding him "no kicking" and he went to play with a built-in excavator.

I can't remember whether he was rejected like that before. I don't think he ever was; and definitely not 3 times in a row. He dealt with this rejection rather easy, he just left and found something else to do. I do worry though, that he might pick up this nasty habit, so I tried having a talk with him later. I told him that what those boys were doing was not nice, and he should never tell anybody "go away", at least not from the get go when the other kid did nothing wrong.

It is kinda foreseeable, that these angry possessive kids will most probably grow up bullies (if nobody steps in to teach them otherwise, that is). While I'm thankful to them, that they taught my kid a life lesson, that not everybody is nice, and you have to be careful and aware with who you are dealing with, I still don't appreciate somebody telling my son "go away". I didn't interfere, as I wanted to see what he was going to do, and how he was going to take this blatant rudeness. I think it was those boys' mom who should have stepped in and told them "you need to share" instead of just watching them.

I also would like to reach out to all moms, who watch their kids rejecting somebody: teach your kids to share, include and be nice to others. When it becomes a habit, there will be less anger in the world, less envy and more fun! 

Do you teach your child to share and be inclusive? What do you think, should I have interfered and forced those boys to share? (I didn't want him to play with them anyways, I didn't think he would learn anything good from them.)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Play date: Mixing Colors

Well, this is a play group blog, so I think posting a report on a play date would be a great idea!

It was my turn to host, only the 4th time in the past 2 years (the group has grown!). I already hosted a Natural Remedies and Therapeutic Massage playdate, a movie watching playdate, a scavenger hunt playdate (didn't happen due to weather), and now this one!

I stumbled upon this blog post earlier this year, and when the time came to submit my idea for the playdate, I decided to give it a try. This color mixing activity fits the age group and my ability to organize something like that (gotta be simple, in other words).

So, the play date finally took place! I had to cap the event, as I was doing it on my backyard patio, and I wasn't sure how well I could manage a group of toddlers on our unfinished backyard. Both myself and Santino were very excited and couldn't wait for the guests to come and to start mixing colors and playing.

We had 2 boys and 1 girl attending our play date. All 3 boys pretty soon moved to our big sand box of the backyard (unfinished after taking down our pool) to play with diggers, and Kate, Santino's favorite girl, was the only one actually enjoying the activity to the full.

In a few words, the color mixing playdate went well. I did take the idea from the blog post I mentioned before, but I didn't follow it step-by-step.

I set up a "board" with words to use while explaining the activities to the kids. Then I pre-mixed 3 base colors, and set them up in the plastic containers on the floor of the deck. 

I prepped the color refills in advance. I know how impatient toddlers can get, so I wasn't going to let them wait in case the needed more.

I then separated the cornstarch in the bowls and set aside for later. Cornstarch was just an additional substance, which made a pretty cool goop with all the colored water kids created.


To refill the water, I filled up a small pool. I also prepared the towels, in case the kids get too wet and dirty.


For a party feel, I brought the radio with some kiddie music. They loved it! All and all, we had fun. Moms socialized and kids got messy. And that's what's it all about, isn't it?

Photo by Christine Burton-Boyce

Photo by Christine Burton-Boyce