Not everyone can get away for March Break. But for those who stay in town, there are 3D scanners to try, drama classes to channel your inner Cate Blanchett and safari camps to bring out the zoologist in you.
Check out the cool and fun activities in Toronto and the GTA that will make you and your child leap for joy and chase away those winter blues.
Fun at the library
The Toronto Reference Library is offering cutting-edge workshops for teens at its Digital Innovation Hub.
One class, 3D Printing 101 for Teens, teaches them how to make 3D things like jewelry, toys and phone accessories, using the library’s new 3D printers.
“Over the course of two hours, teens will learn a variety of 3D design software, and they’ll also learn how to use a 3D printer so that they can come back next time and use it themselves to print cool designs,” Ab Velasco, project leader at the Toronto Public Library, told CityNews.
The Digital Innovation Hub opened at the Toronto Reference Library – located at 789 Yonge St. – a month ago, with plans to open another hub at the Fort York branch in the spring, and a third one at the Scarborough Civic Centre at the end of this year.
“Learning comes in all its forms, so we want to provide teens with a really fun activity, and also where they can learn digital and technology skills,” Velasco said.
In terms of how a 3D printer actually works, a plastic called PLA at the back of the printer feeds through a tube and gets heated through an extruder. Velasco said “it’s actually [like] fancy hot glue, where it prints things layer by layer until it’s completed.”
With that in mind, some projects can take up to an hour to print depending on their complexity.
Teens will learn how to create their design by using 3D design software or by downloading ready-to-print designs from websites such as Thingiverse.
There are also classes for teens who want to learn DJ skills, video editing and how to use green screens.
The 3D printing, video editing and DJ-ing sessions will be held March 11-13. Click here for program details and availability.
Drama camps at Young People’s Theatre
Theatre is the perfect outlet to nurture the talents of creative and imaginative children. The Young People’s Theatre is offering a March Break Drama Camp, March 10-14, for children from junior kindergarten to Grade 6.
“Over the course of the week, all of these different groups will be meeting and will be learning all sorts of theatres skills, improvisation, vocal stuff as well, and then they’ll make a piece … that they get to show their parents, their friends and family at the end of the week,” Liz Pounsett, YPT’s drama school director, told CityNews.
“They’re learning not just about theatre but they’re learning how to express themselves and be confident and find out about the world around them through theatre, which is really fun.”
The YPT drama school has been around for 44 years, and the professional artists and educators who work there, will be bring their experience to the camps.
“They’re excellent artists but they’re moreover excellent teachers. They know how to engage kids and they know how to get kids to be engaged in their own creative process,” Pounsett said.
New this year, the Grade 5-6 camp will feature two teachers – a theatre artist and a dancer – allowing the children to “explore theatre while learning break dancing, and having that technique support their theatrical expression.”
Click here for more information on the camp and pricing details.
If your child is a budding zoologist, or is generally interested in animal welfare and conservation, the Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp is offering a March Break Safari Camp for children aged eight to 14. The program is run in conjunction with Jungle Cat World (3667 Concession Road 6, Orono) and private animal sanctuary Nova’ Ark.
Campers will spend the week taking care of various wild animals and interacting with them.
“It’s a hands-on animal camp where children will have the opportunity to interact with a variety of different animals from birds to rabbits, sugar gliders, lemurs, kangaroos, so a really wonderful opportunity for kids to explore the world of animals,” Jennifer Ego, owner of Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp, told CityNews.
“Safari camp is a great opportunity for kids to really start exploring the more wild animals — animals you can’t keep as pets.”
The camp, which will be held March 10-14, offers half-day and full-sessions and includes busing to and from the pickup spots to the zoo locations. Click here for information and pricing details.
The Royal Ontario Museum’s has plenty to offer families through its Passport to the World programs. Some of the activities include taking a walk on the moon, building a Forbidden City out of LEGO, exploring the age of dinosaurs and more. Click here for a list of programs.
Earth Rangers Wild Journey, one of the most popular shows at the ROM, also returns this year. Meet various animal ambassadors and learn about their habitats from their trainers and biologists and trainer.
Every artifact, skeleton and fossil has a story, and you can discover what it is as you “Scopify the ROM.” Use the ScopifyROM app to bring these objects to life through a series of “scopes.” For instance, you can add skin to skeletons to learn what they looked like when they were alive, or find out what an object looked like in its original state. Click here for details.
Click here for ticket information and hours of operation.
Want an easy way to turn your child’s frown into a smile? Visit the Toronto Zoo’s adorable baby polar bear cub and giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao. You can also get a temporary tattoo of the polar bear at the activity centre. Click here for a list of events.
During March 8-12, the zoo – located at 2000 Meadowvale Rd. — will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here for ticket prices.
Dr. Seuss-themed party
“Kid, you’ll move mountains,” Dr. Seuss says in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Join the Grinch at Casa Loma’s March Break-a-Palooza, which runs March 8-15.
Families can enjoy a host of activities including a scavenger hunt, live performances, storytelling and performance art.
Click here for more details and ticket information.
If your child is obsessed with comic books and gaming, then the Toronto Comicon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (222 Bremner Blvd.) is the place to be. The event runs from March 7-9. Click here for more information and ticket prices.
Do you have an aspiring young chef in your home? Harbourfront Centre’s Emerging Chef Challenge camp offers children cooking and nutrition lessons from the Liaison College of Culinary Arts, and allows them to create their own dishes from start to finish.
The Harbourfront Centre is also offering other camps in architecture, digital photography, dance, junior circus, and more, for children aged three to 12. Click here for a list of camps and pricing details.
New this year is the Urban Explorers camp, where children can learn about the history of Toronto while having fun. They will head to different neighbourhoods each day, such as Kensington Market and the Distillery District, and then take part in creative projects about them.
Wizard World Fun Park
Although outdoor amusement parks are not open yet, children and their families can still get the amusement park experience indoors. Wizard World Fun Park — now in its 11th year — features over 20 rides, magic shows, arts and crafts, and other activities for children.
The event runs March 9-16, and is located at Exhibition Place, 200 Princes’ Blvd. Click here for more information and ticket details.
Sparking creativity in children is at the forefront of TIFF Kids award-winning digiPlaySpace, in which children and their families can take part in virtual adventures, robotics, educational video games, multi-player installations, to name a few, from Canadian and international artists.
One of the installations is called Water Light Graffiti, which lets children create their new media creation with LED lights that shine when “painted” with water. Another installation, PaperDude VR, allows the user to ride a bike equipped with a virtual headset along an imaginative paper route. Click here for more details.
The TIFF Bell Lightbox, located at 350 King St. W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Click here for ticket details.
The Shops at the Don Mills, located at 25 Karl Fraser Rd., is offering free yoga classes to children between five to 12 years old on March 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and March 14, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Call 416-447-6087 (ext. 243) to reserve a spot.
City of Toronto programs
The City of Toronto is hosting free and low-cost programs for children and families at its recreation centres, parks facilities and museums.
Several historic sites and museums will be running camps and family drop-ins, including at Gibson House Museum, Fort York, Scarborough Museum and Todmorden Mills Heritage Site. Click here for more details.
Skiing and snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding facilities at Centennial Arena (56 Centennial Park Rd.) and Earl Bales Park (4169 Bathurst St.) will be open from March 10-14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more details.
The city’s 28 outdoor ice rinks will be open until the end of day on March 16, weather permitting. Also, families can take part in free skating lessons at Ricoh Coliseum (100 Princes’ Blvd.) from March 10-14, from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
The lessons are first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 311.
Click here for more details.
Spring flower shows
For those who want to escape the cold and get a taste of spring, flower shows will be sprouting up at Centennial Park Conservatory (151 Elmcrest Rd.) and Allan Gardens Conservatory (19 Horticultural Ave.). The conservatories are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day and admission is free. For more information, call Centennial at (416) 394-8543 and Allan Gardens at (416) 392-7288.