Over the past three days Baby Alice has had a chance to take in three very different baby-friendly activities. Here’s what she thought of them. Okay, here’s what I think she thought of them.
Henderson Brewery Co.’s Sterling Road Block Party
While this was less of a block party and more of a parking lot party, it was still a lot of fun and hopefully something that Henderson does regularly next year. It was held at the brewery, which is located at 128 Sterling Road, and was hosted along with neighbouring business House of Anansi Press and the slightly further afield Drake Hotel. The latter provided food while the former had a couple of its authors appear, including one who illustrates children books. There was also ice cream, prints for sale from Pixel & Bristle and a lamb roast though that was wrapped up by the time we showed up.
I was pleased to find this event busy but not packed. It was also very kid-friendly, with the majority of attendees being families. The kids played on the bouncy castles, made chalk drawings and got their faces painted while the adults enjoyed the beer garden (though indoor seating was also available), which also offered wine and a very tasty paloma.
Baby Alice couldn’t take advantage of the bouncy castles but she did enjoy playing with her other baby friends out in the sun. And I, her mother, really liked being able to enjoy what was essential a patio with her friends without having to worry about getting a babysitter. My only real complaint is that the whole thing shut down too early, at 6pm (and maybe a few other cocktail options would have been nice). Maybe when this event returns (*fingers crossed*) it’ll stay open a bit later.
The Art Gallery of Ontario’s Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre
Located in the Weston Family Learning Centre, this room is filled with ways for kids to play and be creative. There are crafting supplies, stuffed animals, an elaborate dress-up closet, even a mock Pearson International Airport. If your child is two and up, both you and them will love this place. If your child is younger than that, results might be more mixed.
I do think Baby Alice had a lot of fun during her weekend visit to the Centre but it was a bit of a stressful place for me. Because the room is aimed at kids who can do things like hold a crayon, smaller objects abound along with items that aren’t exactly baby-friendly (like a wall filled with easily accessibly and easily damageable children’s artwork right). As well, part of the room is a raised platform that has a hole in the middle. Alice really wanted to throw herself off that platform.
Children have to be supervised in the room but there is at least one employee present. The young woman who was working while we were there was really helpful at suggesting age-appropriate activities for Alice. Some of them she was interested and some of them, not so much.
The Hands-On Centre’s open hours can be found here. Access is included with a general admission ticket to the AGO and no, you can’t pay to just access the Centre. We likely won’t be back any time soon but that’s simply because Alice is still a bit young for the space, even though she found lots of ways to stay occupied. But when she’s a bit older, I can see us getting an annual pass so that we can fully take advantage of all the many kid-friendly activities that the AGO offers.
ABC Academy Of Music Demo Class
This morning Baby Alice and I checked out one of ABC Academy of Music’s demo classes. It was held at Jill and the Beanstalk (814 College St), which will be hosting the Academy’s 10-week-long music class starting next Monday (classes are also offered in a couple of other locations). The free class we attended was meant to give us a taste of what the program will be like.
Interestingly, the program is recommended for babies eight months and older. Alice is just shy of 10 months so she should be the perfect for the class but it wasn’t the best fit for us. While the class was very interactive and did transition between a number of songs and activities, including dancing and playing with everything from shaker eggs to wooden sticks to a variety of baby-friendly instruments, it wasn’t action-packed enough for Alice, who frequently left the circle to crawl and explore.
The very friendly class instructors were completely fine with my busy baby but I just felt like she wasn’t getting as much out of it as some of the other babies. Additionally, Alice likes to throw things and those shaker eggs made perfect projectiles.
If your baby has a more mellow temperament than mine, or isn’t as mobile (while Alice mostly crawls she does like to walk every now and then), she might really enjoy these classes. While they aren’t for us, I am glad that I checked out the demo class and saw first-hand that maybe we’re not yet ready for music class.