For flooding and recovery information from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, click here.
For the latest update on the YMCA of Northern Alberta’s response to COVID-19, please, click here. Because of the high volume of requests, we are unable to respond to phone inquiries at this time.
ice cube painting
This activity lets your child explore self-expression and creativity, learn about colour mixing anduse a unique medium to paint. We're painting with ice cubes!

🎨 Popsicle sticks
🎨 Food colouring
🎨 Ice cube tray
🎨 Water
🎨 Paper

🎨 Fill your ice cube tray 3/4 full of water and add food colouring to make the primary colours in each individual ice cube slot. The more food colour you add, the more vibrant the colours!
🎨 Use a popsicle stick to mix the water and food colouring, and then leave the stick in the water so it freezes into the ice cube. This will be your handle to hold the ice cube as you paint later.
🎨 Once your ice cubes are frozen, create a masterpiece! This can get messy so you might want to try it outside.

Watch how the colours come out and mix while the ice cubes melt on your paper!

“Children must be given daily opportunities to nurture self-expression and creativity through the visual arts.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Salt dough fossils
Make your own fossils with this simple recipe! Don't worry if you don't have dinosaurs — you can make fossils of any of your favourite toys. When they're finished, you can hide them and your kids can go on an expedition to find them! Or, bury them in sand and go on an archaeological dig!
Click here to learn how to make your fossils!
"In the early years, the visual arts involve picture making, printmaking, sculpting and two dimensional artwork. Producing these works of art gives children an understanding of the elements of design." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
building with recycled materials

Get ready for a fun building activity, using recyclables from your own home! Gather up the tissue boxes and toilet paper roles and let the building begin! Why not build a marble maze, ramps for cars or a miniature city. The options are endless with these materials and with your imagination. Some suggestions to make building accessible for all children are:
♻️ Infants and toddlers will want to experience the different textures and how they can manipulate your recyclable materials. Don't be surprised if they use them for pushing and pulling or filling and dumping.
♻️ To make an easy ramp, cut a paper towel or toilet paper tube in half lengthwise and attach the ends. Attach as many as you want to get to your desired length.
♻️ If at first you don't succeed - Don't worry! The joy is in the process for this activity!

"Instinctively, young children build traditional architectural forms - bridges, ramps, tunnels, towers. As children construct these structures, they are experimenting with the technology of simple machines: A ramp allows the truck to move up and down with little effort; it is easier to pull heavy objects up a ramp than up a set of stairs" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

cloud dough

Your kids can get creative and develop fine motor and sensory skills while they explore how the cloud dough reacts to their touch. Get out rolling pins and cookie cutters to expand the fun.
☁️ 1 cup hair conditioner
☁️ 2 cups corn starch
☁️ Food colouring (optional)
☁️ Glitter (optional)

☁️ Mix the conditioner with the food colouring and glitter first.
☁️ Start adding cornstarch. Mix as much as you can with a spoon and then knead it with your hands.
☁️ If the dough feels dry, add more conditioner. If it feels too sticky or slimy, add more cornstarch.
The dough will keep for a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight container!

"Children learn about the properties of objects:

  • Playfully exploring and investigating the properties of objects
  • Experimenting with action and reaction, cause and effect”
(Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework, Makovichuk, Hewes, Lirette, Thomas, 2014)

At our YMCA Child Care centres, one of the kids' and educators' favourite things to do is create something fun and tasty to eat. Once the activity of cooking is done, the educator will sit with their kids and share stories while they eat what they've created. Our YMCA Child Care team shares two easy recipes for your family to try together at home:

🍴 Cheese & Bacon Scone Pizza
🍴 Omelette Wedges

“There is a morality that emerges from the family experience. This may be first based on the embedded moral direction supplied by the child’s genetic inheritance… but it is the experience the parents (and you the educator) supply that affords the opportunity for their potential to be realized” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

Create your own lacing cards
YMCA Child Care has another fun activity for you! This one is a fun craft that your child can keep playing with while enhancing fine motor development. We're making our own lacing cards! Supplies:
✂️ Cardboard
✂️ Pencils
✂️ Scissors
✂️ Art supplies (markers, crayons, etc.)
✂️ One-hole punch (or something that will poke a hole)
✂️ Laces (shoelaces, yarn, string, etc.)

✂️ Decide on the shape of your card (it can be a star, a leaf, a dinosaur — anything you choose!) and draw it onto the cardboard
✂️ Cut out your shape
✂️ Decorate your shape
✂️ Poke holes around the edge of the shape
✂️ Start lacing!

Some tips from our YMCA Child Care team:
✂️ Trace things like cookie cutters to help create the shapes
✂️ To challenge older children, make the holes smaller, but for younger children, keep them larger
✂️ Infants and toddlers can explore the different shapes and the textures the holes make
✂️ Make this a literacy activity by creating an alphabet of lacing cards

“Gross motor skills are those of the large muscles, and fine motor skills are those of the smaller muscles. These can be confusing categories, as most movement involves both types of muscles, but we usually think of the large muscles involving the legs and mobility. The hands and fingers are most frequently the fine motor areas thought of by ECEs, but the wrists, feet, toes, mouth and other small muscles can also be included.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
create your own puzzle
Creating their own puzzle helps kids get creative, use fine motor skills, and develop an understanding of the relationship of parts to a whole.

Here's what you'll need:
🖍️ Cardboard
🖍️ Art supplies (markers, paints, crayons)
🖍️ Pencil
🖍️ Scissors or utility knife

Here are the steps:
🖍️ Cut your cardboard to the size of your puzzle.
🖍️ Create your artistic masterpiece on one side of the cardboard.
🖍️ Draw puzzle pieces onto the blank side. These can be traditionally shaped or use your imagination to create curved and angular pieces.
🖍️ Use scissors or utility knife to cut out the pieces (help younger children with this step to stay safe).
🖍️ Put together your puzzle!

"A child who understands the relationship of the whole to part recognizes that certain objects can be broken down into parts and that these parts can, in turn, be used to recreate the whole. This perceptual ability is used in puzzles and play with blocks" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).
field trip: canadian museum of history virtual playhouse
Take a step back in time and explore toys and games from the past with the Canadian Museum of History. Your children can browse a virtual playhouse and learn about how children used to play. Compare items from your own home to what you see in the museum, and recreate or build your own toys based on the ones you find in this virtual playhouse!

Click here to go on this field trip with us.

"Between ages three and four, children generally begin to create three-dimensional structures that represent objects in the world. Over time, these structures become more ambitious in terms of the variety of materials used, showing the emergency of symbolic thought." (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

Let's build a fort!

Remember how fun it was to build a fort in your living room and curl up inside with snacks, games or books? Create some of those fun memories while you bond with your children this week. Check out the video below for ideas on how to build a magical and cozy fort — you can make it as simple or elaborate as you like! And when you're done playing with your fort, why not turn pillows, blankets and chairs into an obstacle course for some physical activity?

"Children and their family members influence one another over time. It is not only the parents who shape each child; the child shapes each parent and family member" (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015).

Sensory Activity

Let your child work on fine motor skills through sensory exploration! We're going to make our own sensory activity bags.

🔹 Ziploc bags
🔹 Clear hair gel or shaving cream
🔹 Packing tape
🔹 Food colouring
🔹 Small items such as: colourful and different-sized pom-poms, colourful and different-sized buttons, beads, alphabet beads etc.

Fill your Ziploc bag with either shaving cream or hair gel and create each sensory bag based on the items (descriptions below). Once they're filled, close the bags and use packing tape as an extra seal. Don't over-fill!
🔹 Using pom-poms, buttons or beads: draw circles on the outside of the bag and have your child separate the items by moving them into the right circles.
🔹 Using those same items, have your child separate them by size, moving them to different sides of the bag or into pre-designated circles.
🔹 Using alphabet beads, have your child look for certain letters. For an extra challenge, have them spell some words out.
🔹 Using food colouring, dye the shaving cream different colours and add two or three colours to a bag. Allow your child to squish and mix to make new colours.
🔹 Using food colouring, dye your hair gel different colours and add each colour to a separate bag. Tape the bags up on a sunny window and let your child squish the gel from one side of the bag to the other, noticing how the light sparkles through. You can even add glitter to make it extra sparkly!

“Sometimes referred to as functional play, sensory-motor play is the earliest observable play behaviour of infancy. This form or play enables the child to discover properties and characteristics of objects in the physical world through sensory exploration.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)

String art
Try this fun string art project with your kids this weekend, recommended by our YMCA Child Care team:

🔨 Tack hammer (a regular hammer works too, but a smaller hammer is easier)
🔨 3/4" nails
🔨 Coloured embroidery thread or string
🔨 Block of wood around 3/4" thick

🔨 Lightly sketch a shape (star, airplane, heart, a letter, anything!) onto the piece of wood or onto a piece of paper and use the paper as your guide
🔨 Hammer your nails in to follow the lines of the shape, about 1/2" apart
🔨 Pick a starting nail and tie the end of your string to it, leaving a couple inches extra at the end (you'll need this to tie off your string when you're done)
🔨 Zig zag the thread, wrapping it around the nails to create a unique pattern
🔨 Once you're happy with the amount of string on your board, make your way back to the starting nail and wrap the thread around it
🔨 Start to make the outline of your shape by wrapping the thread around each of the outside nails, working your way around
🔨 Once you're back at the beginning, tie your thread to the tail that you left at the start and cut your thread Your kids may need help hammering the nails in, but they can thread the string around the nails themselves!

“Art is self expression; where no two works look the same. Providing open-ended art…will encourage creativity and self esteem while developing fine motor skills.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)
Watercolour painting
Ready to start the weekend on a creative note? Our YMCA Child Care team found this link to five different watercolour painting techniques that anyone can do! Find an inspiring place in your home and spend hours creating masterpieces as a family. Click here to try it.

“The arts are a language that cuts across cultural and social barriers. The arts help children understand their own unique abilities and perspectives, and open the way to understanding others.” (YMCA Playing to Learn, Martin and Huggins, 2015)