Flash giveaway to see FREEZING at the Gladstone!

FREEZING is the hottest ticket in Ottawa right now. This witty, wintery family musical is just the thing to beat the blahs, and it's on until January 4 at the Gladstone! The Snow Globe Kingdom is a beautiful, wintery place. Ruled by the vivacious Queen Gerda and her two daughters, Princess Adele and Princess Hanna. The Kingdom is threatened by the evil Hans. A terrible man who wants to rid the world of winter! Come Boo the bad guy, root for the heroes and get a warm hug from the cuddly Beavertail! There will be singing, dancing and a whole lot of laughs.

Would you like to win a Family Four Pack for the December 27th show at 7:30 p.m.? It'd make a great stocking stuffer! Leave a comment below and tell us what YOU do in Ottawa when it's freezing!

We'll draw one random name at noon on December 22, so please make sure you leave a valid email address so we can get you to the show on time. Good luck!

Win tickets to the Ottawa Originals Christmas Craft Sale

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The Originals Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale is happening right now at the EY Centre. You'll find lots of gifts worth giving at Originals: jewellery, fashions & accessories, home décor, visual art, natural bath & body care and gourmet treats - unique gift items lovingly handcrafted by Canadian artisans from across the country! What's more, you can enjoy the festive atmosphere without the parking hassles and long line ups. (Yay!)

We have five pairs of tickets to to give away to five winners. Use the Rafflecopter app below to enter! Winners please note, your tickets will be held at the Originals box office for pick up. Good luck!

Top toys, part two!

By Marcia MacQuarrie, Editor for The Noise on Toys

Our list of toys was so long we had to divide in in two. Here's the first half of our "top toys" post. And here's something that's good to know: each of the toys on our list has been extensively tested by parents and kids!

Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium (6+, Creativity for Kids, $17.99)  
Mini figures and glow-in-the-dark stickers make this terrarium extra special, but our testers say the real treat is watching the seeds sprout and grow into healthy plants. You can even harvest and eat the nutritious wheat grass and chia micro-greens, then plant the extra seeds and do it all over again. Parents love that everything is included and that the instructions are easy enough for kids to put it together and create their very own little eco world, all by themselves.  

Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium

Grow ‘n Glow Terrarium

Explore the World & Explore Canada (we suggest 9+, Outset Media Corp., $29.99)
The multiple choice and true/false question formats make it possible for players to at least guess at the answers they don’t know – which kept our testers engaged and listening when the correct answers, supplemented by interesting factoids, were read aloud. There are also opportunities for more active ways to move ahead on the board – like guessing at charades, or searching the house for some garlic, or even just balancing like a flamingo. These games are a fun way to learn about the world around us, and are best enjoyed as family games where younger players are paired with adults. 

Explore the World & Explore Canada

Explore the World & Explore Canada

Gravity Maze Falling Marble Logic Game (8+, ThinkFun Inc., $34.99)  
The tower-like maze pieces can be attached together, or rotated, flipped and even laid out horizontally to connect the tunnels. At first glance, some parts may seem more decorative than functional, but rest assured that every bit of this well-designed puzzle serves a purpose. Long before the thrill of seeing your track successfully shuttle a marble to the target, there’s the interim satisfaction of using your outside-the-box thinking to discover how different aspects of the maze structures can be used to help get it there. This is an exceptional puzzle, and certainly one of our all-time favourites.

Gravity Maze Falling Marble Logic Game

Gravity Maze Falling Marble Logic Game

Last Mouse Lost (5+, Foxmind Games, $7.99)
This is a very tactile, quick-playing game. Our testers loved “popping” the mouse domes – even when they weren’t playing the game. It was like having an unending supply of bubble wrap! The game goal is to make sure you’re not left with the last mouse, so play gets quite strategic as there are fewer and fewer domes. Parents also gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, happy that this one-piece game is so ultra-durable, totally portable, and takes only minutes to play.

Last Mouse Lost 

Last Mouse Lost 

My Virtual Fashion Show and Virtual Design & Drive  (6+, Crayola, $19.99)  
Pretty awesome! Our testers were thrilled to see their paper sketches transformed into video games. No special paper or markers are needed – photocopied templates and printed downloads work as well as the original pages. Sets include ten template designs each with a shaped blank space where kids can draw whatever they want. Then the magic happens. As the drawings come to life in the app games, kids can drive their car through a stunt course, or watch models walking the runway wearing the outfits they created. This is a great blend of traditional colouring enhanced by some electronic fun.

Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game (8+, Gamewright, $11.99)  
This game is very popular – in fact, it was the top rated toy this year. Our testers loved the risky all-or-nothing scoring and the completely new way to collect sets – by selecting from passed hands, rather than picking from a central pile. As choices are made, cards are laid face up on the table where everyone can see the developing hands. It’s a simple twist, but displaying the hands face-up has a big strategic impact, both as an opportunity to block other players, as well as, for adjusting your own set-making choices. 

Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game

Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game


Top toys, part one!

We shared a long list of top toy picks in our December issue, and now we're sharing them with you here in two posts. Look for part two right here.

By Marcia MacQuarrie, Editor for The Noise on Toys

You’ve got nieces and nephews of all ages to buy for – not to mention your own kids. The last thing you have, is time for a leisurely browse through the toy aisles. Lucky for you, we’ve already done the legwork. The Noise on Toys testing families have been hard at work all year, subjecting the most promising new toys to months of all-out, honest-to-goodness play. The result is a jam-packed guide full of best bets for kids from newborn to preteen. Here are some of their favourites, all priced under $50.

Discover the World Play Mat (0m+, Tiny Love, $49.99) 
This thick, comfy, play mat has plenty of room to cuddle up while baby enjoys some tummy time. Big enough, too, that baby doesn’t roll off every time he/she moves. The mirror was a favourite feature for all our testing babies, who were also fascinated by the crinkly sounds, variety of textures and eye-catching graphics. Parents loved that this extra large (100 x 150 cm) mat also makes a good play space for older siblings, and a great spot for reading books together. 

Discover the World Play Mat

Discover the World Play Mat

Wigglefants Stacking Game (2+, Haba, $26.99)
Shaped to silhouette elephant graphics, these brightly coloured blocks are specially designed for easy stacking. Ridges on the elephant feet and top ‘corners’ of the blocks help to keep the stacked elephants stable, as well as creating additional stacking options. Our testers mostly preferred freestyle building, but parents loved that the set also includes pattern cards to further enrich learning opportunities. 

Wigglefants Stacking Game 

Wigglefants Stacking Game 

Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Activity Home (9m+, Fisher-Price, $29.99)  
Laugh & Learn is fun and engaging, with lots of great features all packed into one toy. Our testers especially loved the working light and doorbell and that the front door creaks open and shut. This is an exceptionally well-designed playhouse with cute figures, happy songs that inspire dancing, and a roof that opens for easy access or to drop in toys and whatever else fits (then to pull them all back out again). Best of all, the built-in handle makes this small, lunch-box-sized house an ideal carry-around toy.

Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Activity Home 

Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Activity Home 

Mix or Match Vehicles Magnetic Construction Toy (3+, Popular Playthings, $29.99)  
Safely encased magnets hold these free-wheeling modular three piece vehicles securely together, even during boisterous crash and bang play, but they are still super easy to take apart. Our testers had lots of fun exchanging parts from the train, plane, boat and car to make crazy new mixed-up vehicles. This is a well-designed toy that’s packed with tons of enduring play appeal. 

Mix or Match Vehicles Magnetic Construction Toy

Mix or Match Vehicles Magnetic Construction Toy

Kinetic Sand (3+, WabaFun, $14.99 and up)  
This is a truly unique tactile experience. Calming to handle and captivating to play with, this slightly gritty, sand-like substance looks like brown sugar – except that it is not at all sticky. Unlike regular sand, there’s no dust, nor does it need to be dampened to mold it. Our testers enjoyed hours of creative fun, adding their own little plastic animals, cars, and other toys to enhance play. Even adults had fun, and no one ever tired of just balancing it on a hand and letting it flow through their fingers like it’s melting in slow motion.

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand

My Little Pony POP Deluxe Style Kit (4+, Hasbro, $5.99 and up) 
This is classic pony play, enhanced by Mr. Potato Head-like creativity. Our testers loved that the mix and match manes, tails and other accessories let them make their pony look the way they want. The add-on accessories are easily switched, although they do take some finger strength to pop in place. But that didn’t bother our kid testers who were just happy they could change up the look of their pony as often as they wanted.

My Little Pony POP Deluxe Style Kit

My Little Pony POP Deluxe Style Kit


Pinterest roundup: No-bake holiday treats

It's Monday! And that means we're sharing a few of our favourite ideas from our Pinterest boards! This week we're thinking about easy no-bake treats, because sometimes, there just aren't enough hours in a day to fire up the oven. Plus, this is a great way to get kids in the kitchen.

Do you have any favourite no-bake holiday recipes to share? If so we'd love to hear about it! 

Are you following Capital Parent on Pinterest? You can find us right here. Follow us for family crafts, great kid-friendly activities, recipes and more. You can read all of our past Pinterest round-ups right here!