a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Mar, 2009

March Break activities for kids in Ottawa

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

I had a very nice chat with a CBC radio producer yesterday about fun, family-friendly March Break activities for Ottawa children. I gave her all ideas I had (many of which were from a recent Savvy Mom article) and she invited me to come to the studio to talk about it Monday afternoon on All in a Day. I am thrilled about this (not just because I’m a big fan of Adrian Harewood), but because I think that there is a huge shortage of good resources for Ottawa-area families and I’m glad CBC is reaching out to the idea-starved among us. :)

I think it’s really easy for parents to burn out over March Break. The trick to surviving it with our sanity intact is to find a good balance of activities – big and small, home and away, free and not-so-free – but not overdo it so we’re feeling wrung out by the end of the week.

As we all know, if mummy’s not happy, NO ONE IS HAPPY. :)

I do like planning a little something every day. Some idea of things we might do:

  • Visit daddy at work and take him out to lunch
  • Design some invites, bake some cupcakes, and host a tea party with neighboring children
  • Invite a little friend over for make-your-own-pizza and a movie
  • Host a sleepover party without the actual sleeping. (Canadian Family mag called it a “Sleepunder party” … love that term for it!) Invite kids to come over in their jammies (with teddy bears of course) eat popcorn and watch a movie, then send them home.
  • Take in a movie at Rainbow Cinema
  • Baking and crafting … OF COURSE (this will be a whole separate post)
  • Road trip … where, I don’t know yet. (ETA: maybe the sugarbush? We went to Fulton’s last year and it was a pretty goo.)

I would love to hear your thoughts about what you’re planning for March Break 2009 (or Spring Break as some call it). Are you like many working parents and sending your kids to camp for the week? Are you forgoing a holiday because of the economy? Do you do the museums or avoid them completely during this time of year? Are you an over-planner or under-planner? (i.e. do you find yourself scheduling every minute of every day or are you the type who chills at home?

Is it March Break for you, or March Breakdown? ;)

Anyway, I’m at the point where I have enough ideas to bring to the table, but if you have a stand-out idea that other Ottawa parents would appreciate … please share! (And I can try and give a shout out on the radio too!) Thank you!

21 Responses to "March Break activities for kids in Ottawa"

1 | Jennifer

March 13th, 2009 at 9:35 am


I have a FUN & FREE activity to share…With the help of a few other parents and volunteers we run a drop-in playgroup in the gym at All Saints Church in Westboro. Usually just those who have registered come, but seeing as a lot of activities & drop-in’s take a hiatus during March Break we have decided to keep running through the break and open it to everyone. There’s lots of room, we play in the gym. Infants, toddlers & kids of all ages are welcome with a parent or caregiver. We have balls, toys, nets and a big space to run around in. We play games (tag is a favorite), sing and read stories. Everyone welcome, Thursday March 19th 9:30 – 11:30, (347 Richmond Rd).

2 | Loukia

March 13th, 2009 at 9:40 am


The wave pool is always fun! And of course the museums. My boys love going to all the musuems, especially Science and Tech and Children’s Museum. Umm… Proulx Farm is great too. Hey my kids are not even in school yet and we find keeping them busy a daily challenge! (My mom, mother-in-law and grandmother do the babysitting when I am at work.)
Montreal is a great for a day trip and a lot to do there, Cosmo dome (is that what it is called?) BioDome, etc… and just walking in old MTL is fun, but that is better enjoyed when the weather is nicer.
The Mud Oven and Gotta Paint! I am going to take my oldest son to there soon.

3 | Lynn

March 13th, 2009 at 9:42 am


That is so awesome! I love All In A Day. I’ll try to remember to make the kids turn off the Wiggles and tune it to the CBC instead.

We are traveling over March Break to visit the grandparents, but before we leave we are hoping to do both the Sugar Bush (Fultons) and the Museum of Nature this weekend. The Nature Museum’s special exhibit right now is on Jane Goodall and chimpanzees, and our kids love monkeys, so we want to check that out. Many people don’t know the Museum of Nature is free on Saturday mornings.

My number one piece of advice for surviving March Break is to do things early. If you want to do a museum or the sugar bush or the KidsZone, try to plan in advance so you can up and out of the house and there when it opens. Don’t wait until midafternoon, when you’ve all got cabin fever, so try to figure out something to do — everything will be crowded and you’ll just get cranky.

My second piece of advice is to make sure you get the kids out of the house to do something physical each day. The weather is starting to warm up, so take a walk outside, break out the bikes, or even go to the mall on an inclement weather day to run freely in the hallways (but GO EARLY).

4 | Chantal

March 13th, 2009 at 9:48 am


I decided to take the week off and stay home with the kids. We all needed a break from day care/work. I appreciate all the advice. I think I just may plan my week (like you did) otherwise it will just fly by and I it when that happens.

5 | porter

March 13th, 2009 at 11:12 am


I’m really looking forward to March break. We are going to rest and rejuvenate at the cottage but also spend some time at home…we haven’t got any major plans.

I think it takes very little to make kids happy (especially little ones), just spending time together seems to please kids. I don’t like crowds so we won’t be doing any of the typical attractions, there will be time spent outdoors exploring and time indoors chillin!

6 | Carrie

March 13th, 2009 at 1:30 pm


I will be home with the kids for 4 days (Gramma and Grampa are taking over on the 5th day). We’re going to spend 2 days on the road visiting cousins in Toronto, and 2 days at home. I am planning a few activities for the days at home – meeting daddy for lunch, baking some spring cut-out cookies and a picnic on the living room floor are among them – but really, I am just hoping the weather is nice so we can spend lots of time going out for walks and feeding the ducks. Some sunshine and fresh air in the company of my kids is all it would take to make me happy.

7 | Laura

March 13th, 2009 at 3:57 pm


We are planning to go the aviation museum, as our son is into airplanes and helicopters right now. Also on the agenda – a swim at the wave pool and a matinee. It’s also the week to see everyone we normally don’t seem to fit into our schedule, even though we would really like to see them. We also plan to design our deck this week, so that when the weather warms up we will already have a good idea of what we want to build and can get started right away. I wasn’t planning on getting sick, but it happened yesterday – boo:(

8 | Cana

March 13th, 2009 at 7:49 pm


Great post! Great ideas! I also share some of my ideas on Preschoolers’ Physical Activities at http://www.parents-and-kids.com/blog/en/2009/02/preschoolers-physical-activity/

9 | Trea

March 13th, 2009 at 9:28 pm


I’m going to be continuing my home renovation … it’s already been 8 months! Maybe the Vancouver Aquarium if it’s not too busy.

10 | LO

March 13th, 2009 at 10:15 pm


We are going to have a scavenger hunt around the property/outside and another one inside. We will also do a picnic -inside and one outside. We will also stay in our pj’s for an entire day and do non electronic things with lots of family time ie board games, charades and such and we will eat breakfast for dinner-kind of a theme. We will also bake a huge load of cookies and give half to the Mission

11 | lizzy

March 14th, 2009 at 7:08 am


There is this great site called Kids Ottawa which list events happening in Ottawa all year long. Click link below

My kids are 7 and almost 9. Some ideas I have come up with for them during March break are:

The St. Patricks day parade which takes place today from downtown Ottawa.
Play dates with friends
planting seeds
going to the library
taking them to gotta paint to paint a ceramic piece
going to the sugar bush
Getting the bikes out, since the weather is nice

I wish everyone a fun March break. Rest up, relax and have fun.

12 | Heather

March 14th, 2009 at 1:14 pm


Another great site for finding March Break ideas is Day Trips Canada – http://www.day-trips.ca/ – The site has hundreds of attractions all over Canada for parents to use to plan their week with the kids!

13 | Shannon

March 14th, 2009 at 10:15 pm


Adrian is no Brent Bambury but I still like his show ;-) I will be sure to listen on Monday, it is usually on all afternoon here anyway!!

We are fortunate enough to have my husband at home this week, he has been off work for a while and doesn’t start his new job until April first.

Our children are 5, 3 and 1 and we are planning:
– one full day at the sugar bush (we usually do Fultons)
– library
– one out of town day trip to Kemptville – for lunch, visiting friends and playing
– museum trip if weather is not great – likely Science and Tech b/c we have been to all the others recently.
– simple crafts, making some new play dough.
– swimming (something we have sadly not done this winter).
– hopefully one kids’ movie for the 3 and 5 year olds – maybe an afternoon outing just with dad!

14 | XUP

March 16th, 2009 at 4:55 pm


There was an interesting program on W5 or one of those newy shows the other day about how structured our kids’ lives are these days and how they rarely have time for free play. Vacations like March Break is an excellent example. When I was a kid we looked forward to vacations so we could run off and amuse ourselves without any supervision or guidance or suggestions from adults. It was the best part of childhood. I know it’s not practical or even advisable these days to just let your kids run loose, but maybe just let them have time to be creative and entertain themselves and the friends they choose to be with??

15 | ian

March 16th, 2009 at 6:39 pm


I’ll be at home with the kids this week – thinking about the sugarbush, pool, friends and with the nice weather – lots of time outside.

16 | andrea

March 16th, 2009 at 8:28 pm


XUP – I agree with you, and I wish I had mentioned that in my CBC segment today.

BUT I also consider March Break as my opportunity to do things with the kids too. It’s great family time – not just their time! I love hanging out with my kids and I love finding things we all love to do..

It is smart to balance a few fun and easy activities and general loafing… don’t you think? :)

17 | DaniGirl

March 17th, 2009 at 7:53 am


Oh rats, I totally wish I’d seen this before yesterday!! Crazy family visit weekend with no time online – sigh. But how cool are you?

We visited the Kanata Wave Pool yesterday morning, and had a blast. It was surprisingly not too busy, mostly full of kids in the under-10 set, I’d say. I put up a few crafty ideas over at my blog yesterday, too, if people are still looking for inspiration.

I’m at work today, but still looking for ideas to entertain five kids tomorrow. Hope this gorgeous weather holds, and maybe we’ll do Jack Pine Trail or even Hogsback Falls to feed the chickadees.

Oh, and as for sugar bushes — we did Stanley’s Old Time Maple Lane in Edwards on Sunday, and were very impressed. Two sticky, maple-covered thumbs up!

18 | plastikgyrl

March 19th, 2009 at 7:38 pm


I took the week off from work, and we’ve been doing bits and bobs all week. Monday, we went east to meet my mom for lunch at Gloucester Centre. For the first time EVER, my almost 9-year-old son was excited about trying on and modeling clothes. Tuesday, we headed out super early to Rainbow to see “Bedtime Stories.” Instead of taking the bus the full way home, we got off at Rideau and walked to the Elgin Street Diner for a late lunch, then walked the rest of the way home, LOVING the sun. Yesterday, we lazed about in jammies until about noon, eventually made our way to the library for a bit, then went to the park behind Paroisse St.-Francois, where the kids pretended to be monkeys. Today was Parliament, the Cat Sanctuary, and Beavertails in the Market. Tomorrow? I guess we’ll see. Possibly a museum, first thing in the morning. Not looking forward to weather that “feels like” -19, though.

19 | Sonya

March 14th, 2010 at 3:05 pm


Monday: Shopping, lunch, matinee
Tuesday: Sugarbush
Wednesday: Wave pool
Thursday: Chucky Cheese
Friday: Arts and Crafts and Baking
Saturday: Horse and Carriage

20 | Jenna

July 8th, 2014 at 1:21 am


This is a great list for parents who want something fun to do with their kids. Nice work.

21 | buy diet plans

June 7th, 2016 at 8:23 am


This design is wicked! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained.
Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Too cool!

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Sam Mangrum: Hi Andrea, I just finished reading your article "Reno post #25: Tile city" and I wanted to say thanks. I found so much value in what you had to say
  • Nora B.: So nice to see photos of J&D's beautiful cottage. A wonderful place to get away for a little while from our crazy world!
  • Luis: Never buy a Maytag appliance I have had mine for two years now and the washer and dry suck. Washer leaves soap on clothing and dry doesn’t dry.
  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Wedding anniversaries and pandemics - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] This is what we did for our anniversary last year, by the […]
  • andrea tomkins: Thank you Sally! It was so peaceful... very restorative. I look forward to our camping trips every year!
  • andrea tomkins: Hmmm. Perhaps I didn't use the right term in my post? They're inflatable pool floats, but they are a mattress shape, if you know what I mean! I amende
  • Brien Marshall: This post has transported me back to camping on Lake Opinicon in the 70s. Air mattresses were the classic blue-on-one-side/red-on-the-other-side canv

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter