New Ontario Tax Credit for Kids Arts Programs

May 2nd, 2012

How did I miss this? Parents of artsy kids take note: there’s a new tax credit for Ontario parents which gives a refundable tax credit for the cost of kids arts and education programs – we’re talking piano, art class, tutoring, drama and all those other great arts programs you put your kid in. You can claim up to $509 in eligible expenses and get up to $50.90 back for each child under 16 for 2011. Great news for parents who were happy enough about the federal sports tax credit – but a bit miffed that arts programming was not equally supported.

The Ontario Government Lists these eligibility requirements for the Ontario Children’s Activity Tax Credit:

The Ontario tax credit covers activities that fall into two categories: fitness and non-fitness. Eligible activities must be supervised and suitable for children. The criteria for fitness activities is the same as for the federal Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.

Eligible non-fitness activities must fall under one of the following categories:

  • Instruction in music, dramatic arts, dance and visual arts.
  • Language instruction.
  • Activities with a substantial focus on wilderness and the natural environment.
  • Structured interaction among children where supervisors teach or help children develop interpersonal skills.
  • Enrichment or tutoring in academic subjects.

You’ll find more information on the Ontario Government Website: sww.fin.gov.on.ca/en/credit/catc/index.html


         

Hugo Movie Companion

May 2nd, 2012

For the Hugo uber-fan, Scholastic has released the Hugo Movie Companion, also penned by Brian Selznick – the author of award-winning kids book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret which of course, inspired and provided the source material for the Martin Scorcese film Hugo.  This 256-page hard-cover book has everything you’d expect: behind-the-scenes photos from the filming, interviews with the actors and the director, Martin Scorsese and key members of the production team. It’s also got snippets of original scripts and story-boards and a wonderful mini-essay on the history of automatons. A worthwhile companion for those who’ve fallen in love with the story. “Hugo Movie Companion”, $21.99, Scholastic

Hugo Movie Companion

Hugo Movie Companion

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

May 2nd, 2012

Martin Scorsese’s award-winning film Hugo enchanted audiences this winter, telling the cryptic story of a young boy searching for a message from his dead-father, as he tries to survive and indeed find his place in the world…. his world being a complex labyrinth inside the walls of a Parisian train station! The marvellous film was recently released on DVD and Blu-Ray, but fans who haven’t done so should check into the source-material. Before it was a jaw-dropping film, Hugo was a ground-breaking kids’ novel by Brian Selznick. Selznick’s book shook up the kids’ publishing world with his attention to detail and his unique story-telling style, letting entire passages – scenes, really – roll out page-by-page in hand-drawn illustrations. A wonderful choice for school-aged readers and a must-read for fans of the film. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” $27.50, Scholastic

 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Stars on Ice in Hamilton, Toronto, London Ontario: May 3, 4, 6

May 2nd, 2012

Ice skating is in our bones in this country and it’s no surprise that Canada produces some of the best skaters in the world. Stars on Ice celebrates these artists and athletes in an entertaining family show that just got one better. For the first time, four-time World Champion Kurt Browning will co-direct and choreograph this year’s production. The line-up of skaters includes gold-medallists and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, six-time Canadian ladies champ and 2010 bronze medallist Joannie Rochette together with Kurt Browning and other rising stars. Expect intricate and athletic choreography, great music and stunning costumes from the 2012 tour dubbed “Stars on Ice Love ‘n’ Life”.

Stars on Ice Present Kurt Browning,  2012 - Photo by Mike Okoniewski

Stars on Ice Present Kurt Browning, 2012 - Photo by Mike Okoniewski

Thur, May 3, Hamilton, ON, Copps Coliseum
Fri, May 4, Toronto, ON, Air Canada Centre
Sun, May 6, London, ON, John Labatt Centre

Tickets available through Ticketmaster.

Mother Daughter Aprons: Mother’s Day Gift Idea

May 2nd, 2012

There is a school of thought that says women hate kitchen-ey gifts on special occasions. That school has obviously never seen these vintage-styled mom and daughter aprons from “Aprons 2 Tie 4” which I declare to be a perfect Mother’s Day gift.

Mother & daughter aprons

Mother & daughter aprons

So sweet and smart, if you wear one, the cupcakes will practically bake themselves. The handmade aprons come in a variety of vintage-inspired prints and colors – full bib style or flirty half aprons. Gorgeous. Matching mom and me sets from $33 at Etsy.com/shop/Aprons2tie4

Great Game for Kids With Trouble Reading or Using Language – Rory’s Story Cubes

May 2nd, 2012

Kids love stories. Reading them, telling them, interrupting them to read certain pages over and over and over again and… well, kids love stories. So, the idea behind Rory’s Story Cubes game is simple and appealing. Even more so – because it encourages reluctant readers to work-out their thinking/reading/language comprehension skills  by getting them to put together their own narratives, explain stories and invent scenarios.

Rorys Story Cubes Actions

Rorys Story Cubes Actions

The game is comprised of nine well-made, six-sided dice with each face showing a different image. The player rolls all six dice and then tells a story using all of the pictures that turn up. In the game’s newer “Action” edition, the dice show things like characters kicking, digging or shouting, a ball bouncing, scissors cutting, an arrow indicating a U-turn, or a kid reaching for something – in short, lots of possibilities. There is no written text, so kids of any age can play with kids of any other age. Adults too, of course. If you love the idea, look for Rory’s Story Cubes in the original format, the new Action cubes and keep your eyes peeled for the new Voyages cubes, coming to North America later this year. Good, clean fun. Rory’s Story Cubes. $9.99 at Amazon.com

Annular Solar Eclipse on May 20, 2012

May 2nd, 2012

Sky watchers: alert! The first solar eclipse of the 21st century happens on May 20 and it’s also the first annular eclipse visible in North America for over 8 years. (An annular eclipse is so-called because the moon’s diameter appears to be smaller than the sun’s, causing the sun to look like a ring while the eclipse is happening.) Our west coast cousins will have the best view of this eclipse, but eastern Canada should have at least a partial view, weather permitting. Failing that – keeping in mind that May 20 is a Sunday – if the sun’s not shining, it may be a good day to geek out at online venue like NASA.gov to see some amazing pictures and learn something stellar along the way.

Annular Eclipse May 20 2012

Annular Eclipse May 20 2012

You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown at Stratford Festival

May 2nd, 2012

The bard meets the lovable loser? Call it what you like, but your kids will call it awesome, as the Stratford Festival continues to broaden its repertoire, this year presenting “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, the first in a four-year, kid-friendly series called Shulich Children’s Plays.

Kids Plays at Stratford Festival

You're a Good Man Charlie Brown at Stratford Festival 2012

The musical is based, of course, on the beloved Peanuts comic strip penned by Charles Schulz. Festival Director Des McAnuff says the Children’s Plays series is important because “the best path to learning is through enthusiasm” and early exposure to age-appropriate theatre can help kids develop a life-long appreciation for the delights and discoveries of the live-stage. You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown opens at Stratford’s Avon Theatre May 30th, 2012 with multiple performances in months that follow.

Tickets available through the Stratford Festival Box office – visit StratfordFestival.ca