Activities

All the best classes for families in Canada

Rally the troops and get your exercise on together this spring, by enrolling in one of these bond-building programs.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Most family classes offer rates that change depending on age and the number of family members. Make sure to clarify the ages of your kids when registering. Providing the registrar with your kids’ relevant experience will help assign an instructor best suited to the group.

Read more: Are you overscheduling your child?>

National

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Kindermusik
You’ll have a blast jamming with your crew at Kindermusik’s popular, weekly family music classes. From newborns to grandparents, music lovers of all ages and stages are welcome. You’ll sing, dance and try out a range of age- and level-appropriate instruments. Kids can work on their vocal development along with their fine motor and language skills, while making melodious memories with their cool rock-star parents.Classes are usually 45 minutes, and cost around $20 per class for parent and tot, depending on your location.
Get more information at kindermusik.com

President’s Choice Cooking School
Connect while you cook, and bond while you bake at your local Loblaws or Real Canadian Superstore kitchen. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to participate, and your tots don’t need sophisticated palates to enjoy their personally made dishes and have a good time preparing them. Professional cooks teach kids (ages three to 16) and adults everything from pizza making and cooking with chocolate, to throwing a taco party and cooking with cheese. There’s even a class called Pasta-Palooza! Classes are themed, and most take a seasonal approach, like baking Easter treats or cake decorating for Mother’s Day. Courses and costs vary. Available at store locations in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Get more information at pccookingschool.ca

B.C.

Photo: Big White Ski Resort

Photo: Big White Ski Resort

The Rock Wall Climbing Gym
Your little monkeys will get a kick out of climbing rock walls while spectators and supervisors cheer them on. Everyone in your group will learn safe climbing techniques from highly experienced instructors and receive training on how to properly use the equipment. There are different walls and routes for beginner to intermediate climbers to try, and each week your coach will offer new tips and tricks for all skill levels. Equipment is provided, and there’s a ratio of two children per one adult. Visit every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adults climb free; fees are $20 for one child and $10 for the second.
6-11455 201a St., Maple Ridge. 604-460-0808
Get more information at therockwall.com

Tofino Surf Adventures
Ride the waves and hang ten at one of Tofino’s famed, beautiful beaches, where the Pacific waves are totally off the hook. Fully certified instructors teach floating, duck diving, carving and a bunch of other rad surfing techniques that the semi-experienced water babies in your brood will love to learn. Instructors monitor the water’s activity daily, and they will choose a beach best suited to having young guppies mount a surfboard for the first time. During family lessons, parents and tots spend time in shallow water to get a feel for the gentle waves. Private lessons and small groups help instructors focus on the kids. Courses are available year-round; summer sessions run from June to September, and winter sessions run from October to May. Each three-hour class costs $80 per person and includes equipment (kids must be six to 11), and you can have up to five members in your group.
450 Campbell St., Tofino. 250-725-3119
Get more information at tofinosurfadventures.ca

Mom/Dad & Me Are Skiing, Big White Ski Resort
If you’re lucky enough to live near this family-friendly mountain resort an hour from Kelowna, take advantage of your surroundings and hit the slopes with your ski bunnies for some spring skiing (the mountain closes April 13). The two-hour Mom and Me lessons are affordable, semi-private (one parent, one kid and an instructor) and designed for beginners—kids between ages three and six may still want a parent tagging along for encouragement. The energetic ski-school staff will get your little one started, plus show parents the best teaching techniques going forward (parents must be intermediate-level skiers). Big White’s cheery instructors are experts at diffusing meltdowns (juice boxes, crackers, and fruit snack breaks provided) and are full of fun ways to turn skiing into a game (playing Red Light Green Light, making turns like an airplane, and navigating around cones and foam blocks).

Read more: 50 essential winter activities>

Most beginner lessons take place at one of the two magic carpets in Happy Valley (the crawling-with-kids area of the resort). At sign up, the ski-school staff will help assess whether your child is a Ready Teddy (first time on skis), Eager Elephant (can ride the magic carpet and make a controlled stop) or a Speedy Squirrel (ready to try the chairlift). For siblings too young to ski, consider the convenient Tot Town Daycare right next to the ski school—it’s $41 for a half-day of care and $72 for a full day (ages 18 months to five years old). Lessons are offered on Saturdays and Sundays between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.The $69 fee includes one parent and one child (lift tickets and ski rentals not included).
5315 Big White Rd., Kelowna. 250-491-6101 or 866-491-9040
Get more information at bigwhite.com

Alberta

All the best classes for families - Today's Parent

Photo: Winsport Mountain Biking

Adult & Child Art Classes
Hopeful Pollocks and Picassos who want to develop their artistic flair and move from colouring books to ceramics can explore different media in an introductory six-week course designed for the six- to 12-year-old set. They’ll learn all about painting, drawing and sculpting. Moms and dads who join their kids can also perfect their technique while watching their petits artistes express themselves. Supplies are included in the course fee; prices include classes for one adult and one child and start at $148.It is suggested families register in person at one of the four community centres located throughout the city of Red Deer.
403-309-8411
Get more information at reddeer.ca

Winsport Mountain Biking
Parents and kids four and older can explore the beautiful trails at Canada Olympic Park’s Mountain Bike Park. (There’s a separate area for wee ones who are between four and five and looking for a little adventure.) Amateurs and pros can take the chairlift up the mountain and cycle across several different trails (depending on skill level), each with drops and bridges. The on-site skills park is a great place to safely work on those dirt jumps. Bikes and safety equipment, including knee and elbow padding and oh-so important helmets, are available to rent. Prices for families start at $55 for four hours of riding or it’s $65 for a full day. For riders who don’t have the experience required to immediately start riding, instructors will recommend learning-specific lessons before hitting the hills.
88 Canada Olympic Rd. SW, Calgary. 403-247-5452
Get more information at winsport.ca

Saskatchewan

Photo: Regina Floral Conservatory

Photo: Regina Floral Conservatory

Coldspring Paddling
Kayaking offers an awesome workout, and it’s also a good way to experience the lush beauty of flora and fauna while paddling on a clear lake. This introductory class is designed by a certified Paddle Canada instructor, and it’s geared toward kids ages nine to 15. Parents or other grown-ups can bring up to two kids each. You’ll learn how to get in and fall out of the kayak (it’s a skill!), steer it in different directions and, according to the club’s website, “how to spray your parents/ brother/sister/instructor with a kayak pump.” Sessions are two hours long and cost $30 per person (which includes kayak rental and instruction). Kids will need to bring their own personal floatation device. Locations vary depending on season and course.
306-370-3462
Get more information at coldspringpaddling.com

Lil’ Gardeners Club
Babies, toddlers and preschoolers, along with their parents or caregivers, are welcome to the Regina Floral Conservatory’s volunteer-run weekday club for budding green thumbs. There’s storytime for the wee ones, play stations are set up for kids to visit (including a water table and sandbox), plus, all kids get to enjoy planting flowers or shrubs in the greenhouse. They’ll even get to take a plant home! Cost is $25 pre-registered per semester or $8 for drop-ins (however, those spots are on a first-come, first- served basis); the club meets monthly for an hour and a half.
1450B Fourth Ave., Regina. 306-781-4769
Get more information at reginafloralconservatory.ca

Manitoba

Photo: West Wind Stables

Photo: West Wind Stables

West Wind Stables
If your kids have been begging for a ponies ever since they could speak, a lesson will surely be cheaper than promising a horse for their birthday. Lessons (which instructors tailor according to riders’ skill levels) are based on Equine Canada’s Learn to Ride curriculum, and include horse care, theory and riding techniques. A special rate of $45 for a one-and-a-half-hour class, per rider, is offered for groups of three or four, and everyone gets their own valiant steed. Age minimum of eight required.
53086 Road 4E, Oak Bluff. 204-736-3410
Get more information at westwindstables.ca

Ontario

Photo: Michael Marion

Photo: Michael Marion

Fighting Griffin Family Karate
Trips to the dojo will build self-confidence, focus and discipline; promote physical fitness and coordination; and foster leadership and independence. This martial arts centre offers karate lessons for specific age groups (tots as young as four, school-agers, teens and adults), where parents can join in with their kids. If you’re not sure karate chopping is for your brood, you can sign up for a free introductory class. The monthly fee for Kinder Kicks (kids ages four to six, one class a week) is $79, with a $125 monthly fee for those ages seven to adults. Uniform cost is included in the membership fee.
511 Edinburgh Rd. S., Guelph. 519-265-4504
Get more information at guelphfamilykarate.com

Cirque-Ability
Ever refer to your home as a three-ring circus? (We sure have.) The coaches at Cirque-Ability teach acrobatics and aerial movements to kids of all ages, as well as to moms and dads. (No experience required.) Mothers of infants can get a great postnatal workout with MommyCirque by learning to strengthen their core. Families can try the Family AcroBalance (for kids older than eight or younger children who are extremely focused for their age) or FamilyAerial (for kids older than eight), while using silks, hoops and the trapeze. There are four sessions a year. Classes run for eight to 16 weeks, and are offered in 45-minute to two-hour-long sessions each week, depending on age. Cost for a family class, per person, ranges from $5 to $25 and depends on the class and number of people participating.
106-213 Sterling Rd., Toronto. 647-238-0868
Get more information at cirque-ability.com

Boot Camp
There’s enough training, lifting, stretching and running in this class to tucker out your whole clan. From push-ups and burpees to squats and light yoga, families can support each other while getting in shape. There are usually eight classes in each session; classes are an hour each week. Kids older than six can sweat it out with their parents (cost is $46 for kids six to 14). Pre-registration is required.
Old Town Hall Community Centre, 61 Main St., Ottawa. 613-564-1078
Get more information at ottawa.ca

Sew Be It Studio
If you’re looking for a refresher course (or didn’t take the sewing class in Family Studies back in high school), needlework not only enhances concentration and creativity, but it’s an activity that can be enjoyed with your school-agers, tweens and teens. Blossoming fashion designers, ages eight and up, will learn how to use a sewing machine to make cool accessories like hair bands, tote bags, wallets and scarves, along with other DIY projects. Private lessons for two are $45 per hour per student and include the cost of the materials.
2711 Yonge St., Toronto. 416-488-1607
Get more information at sewbeitstudio.com

Quebec

Photo: Melanie Perks

Photo: Melanie Perks

Little Lotus Yoga
You’d be surprised at how well kids can focus and sit still, given the right environment. Parents or caregivers can participate with kids (from babies to teens) in a variety of tranquil yoga programs on offer. Parent-and- tot classes introduce kids, ages one to three, to yoga movements and meditations through song and play—watch them wag their wee tails while in downward dog! Family yoga classes, for kids ages three to eight, use individual and partner poses to relax the mind and body.
6 rue des Rapides, Gatineau. 613-858-7063
Get more information at littlelotusyoga.ca

Cameron School of Dance
Established in 1938, this school offers more than a dozen types of dance classes for kids and adults from toddler-age and up. There’s Mom & Me Ballet for mamas and their ballerinas (three and younger); high- energy hip-hop (for the super-trendy older-than-eight set who are ready to dance without mom and dad); kids-only tap (six and up) and even Irish and highland dancing, where participants (six and up) learn everything from jigs to flings. Class sessions run anywhere from seven to 15 weeks and are priced according to the length of the program.
834 boulevard Provencher, Brossard. 450-671-3470
Get more information at camerondance.com

Nova Scotia

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design
Creative types will learn a handful of techniques and use unique objects, like keys, cookie cutters and seashells, to make cool clay masterpieces like wind chimes, pendants, bowls and mugs. Recommended age minimum is seven years old. There are four to eight classes in each session; classes run for two-and-a-half hours per week. Price starts at $75 per student.
322 Charlotte St., Sydney. 902-539-7491
Get more information at capebretoncraft.com

PEI

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Canadian Golf Academy
PEI is home to the state-of-the- art Canadian Golf Academy, which runs out of Fox Meadow Golf Course and overlooks the Charlottetown Harbour. Lessons are taught by PGA professionals—they’ll work with everyone from novices to aspiring green-jacket winners on chipping, putting and swinging. Groups of two to four can take semi-private classes on the putting green, starting at $40 per golfer. Daylong golf school at the Fox Golf Academy Junior Camp is also available, and includes instruction for young golfers between the ages of six and 16. Important to note: Mini-sized clubs are not available for rent on site, but they are sold starting from about $80. However, if you already have some at home, bring those!
167 Kinlock Rd., Stratford. 902-569-4653
Get more information at foxmeadow.pe.ca

 A version of this article appeared in our April 2014 issue with the headline “All the best family classes,” pp. 91-96.