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Blogging Around Kids

Toronto Zoo Admission Special

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The Toronto Zoo Offers $5 Admission to Say Thank You To The Community!
The Toronto Zoo is hosting a special community weekend on Saturday, November 24th and Sunday, November 25th and you and your family are invited! They are thanking the community for all their support over the past year with up to 75% savings on admissions, 20% off all purchases at the Zootique Gift Shop, special Membership offers, daily chances to win fabulous zoo prizes, up close animal encounters throughout the site, entertainment and more!
*$10 parking fee applies. Special admission offer valid only on Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25, 2012.

Learn more at www.torontozoo.com.

Students Collecting Shoes for Haiti

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Students at The Leo Baeck Day School - North Campus in Thornhill, Ontario, enthusiastically packed shoes this morning collected from the student body over the week, as part of a nine school Toronto initiative coordinated by Project Giveback. The shoes will be sent to Haiti through the Soft Moc shoe drive and Soles4Souls distribution.

Families were pleased to be able to help the people of Haiti in a more direct way, by assisting in providing the necessities so desparately needed. Over five thousand pairs of shoes were collected between the schools to be delivered to Soft Moc.

Project Give Back is a program that teaches philanthropy to elementary schools kids by allowing them to find their passion, and giving them step by step instructions to raise awareness and funds for their cause.

Explaining Project Give Back’s desire to get behind this initiative, Ellen Schwartz, founder of Project Give Back said “It is really important for the kids to understand that our lessons are not purely academic. We are teaching character and that means seizing opportunities to help others that present themselves each day.”

To further create impact from their efforts, Project Give Back secured support from sponsor Mastermind  Toys  to donate a dollar for each pair of shoes collected directly to  Free the Children and Red Cross. Jon Levy, Co-President of Mastermind Toys said, “we were blown away when we heard what these kids were doing, so we wanted to bring our resources to bear to support their efforts.”

The project is a wonderful example of how schools, communities and corporations are participating in making their own difference. Children taking part in the shoe drive at The Leo Baeck Day School - North Campus understood their role and ability to effect positive change in another part of the world.

Leo Baeck Students

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, October 12th, 2009

We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

This holiday is obviously a time for us all to reflect on the many things we can be thankful for in our lives. We appreciate your contributions to our site through your visits, insights in our Chat Zone and event submissions. You make us a thriving virtual community.

Thank you!

Lily and The Paper Man

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Written by Rebecca Upjohn
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Second Story Press © 2007
Recommended for ages 4 – 10 yrs.

How do you explain homelessness to a child? Rebecca Upjohn’s first published book, Lily and the Paper Man, is inspired by an experience she had with her four-year old son when they happened upon a man sleeping on the sidewalk in downtown Toronto. This experience left a deep impression on Upjohn’s son. His questions about, and efforts to help, the homeless man lit (in Upjohn’s words) “the spark” for this book.
This story is very moving. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy so that you can furtively wipe your teary eyes while reading this book to your child! A bottle of water might help too (for when you get all choked up). Now, admittedly, tears and tissues may not be something you look for in a book for young children, but this story’s message – and the way it is conveyed – is too important to miss out on.
The story begins when Lily and her mother walk home in the rain: “I like the rain,” says Lily to her mother as she skips through the puddles. As they walk through their neighbourhood, Lily waves to Frank, the crossing guard, and Mrs. Chan, the storekeeper – but she’s startled by a “tall man in a raggedy coat” whose hair “sticks up higgledy-piggledy.”
For a time, Lily wants to take the bus home so that she can avoid the Paper Man (he sells newspapers for a dollar), but she misses Frank and Mrs. Chan. So, this book prefaces its images of homelessness with images of community. Lily feels at home in her neighbourhood and enjoys a sense of belonging – a sense of community. She doesn’t want to speed past her neighbourhood streets; rather, she wants to participate. She has trouble reconciling the unfamiliar presence of the Paper Man in her familiar (and safe) space. She doesn’t know what to make of him, so she avoids him.
When the first snow falls, Lily cannot resist walking anymore: “I like the snow,” she says, as she “listens to the squeak and crunch of her boots in the snow.” Faced again with the presence of the Paper Man, Lily’s fleecy mitts and toasty boots are contrasted with his thin shirt, bare feet, and holey shoes and coat. She notices small details about him which make him seem less strange, more approachable. Whereas Lily gets hot cocoa at Mrs. Chan’s store and a dollar from her parents for a treat, the Paper Man has no hat and no mittens. While Lily snuggles under her favourite quilt with her doll, she “thinks and thinks” about what she can do.
The images in this book are worth special note. Benoit’s illustrations are warm, dazzling even. The first illustration is of a pigeon being sheltered in the rain by a newspaper (foreshadowing the Paper Man’s vulnerability to the elements). Through Benoit’s illustrations, we are drawn into Lily’s enjoyment of her surroundings. She splashes in puddles with her purple rain boots, she catches snowflakes on her tongue as the wind swirls around her, and she snuggles under her quilt with her doll in her comfy-cozy room. We also see Ray from Lily’s perspective: scary at first, then distracted by the cold, then warmed by Lily’s thoughtfulness.
Lily’s actions demonstrate that she can, indeed, do much to help the Paper Man stay warm for the winter. This book, however, is not simply about giving and sharing; it is also about making a connection with the people one encounters. Lily introduces herself to the Paper Man, we learn his name (Ray), and they shake hands. You will be very proud of Lily as you read this book and – accompanying the teary eyes and lump in your throat – is the stunning image of Ray’s very broad smile and watery eyes at the end of the book.
 Dr. Janna Nadler has a Ph.D. in Canadian Literature and has taught at University of Toronto, McMaster University, Trent University and York University. She is the Director of Book Clubs by Janna, a venue where she has great discussions about interesting books with a small group of very intelligent and interesting women. There’s babysitting on site and/or babies can stay with moms. She is also available as a facilitator or guest speaker for your book club. Learn more at http://www.bookclubsbyjanna.com/.

© Dr. Janna Nadler 2007