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Family friendly art studios in Montreal – Future Jackson Pollock?

Top Art Studios Montreal

It looks like it’s going to be another rainy weekend in Montreal. Yet another.

To make the most of the lousy weather, I’ve compiled a list of fun indoor art activities. Why not cultivate your child’s inner artist by visiting one of the following child-friendly art studios in Montreal:

4 Cats Art Studios

This is a chain (franchise) of studios around Montreal (and North America) and I’ve heard great things about their kid programs. They have tax deductible classes for children aged 2-10+. Adult participation is welcomed (sometimes mandatory depending on the age) and they have cool after-school programs, too. My son is still too young for our family to test this out but I welcome comments from other families!

Locations: 5026 Parc Plateau/Outremont, Montreal, QC H2V 4E8, (514) 508-3889

And 2748 Blvd. St-Charles, Kirkland, QC H9H 3B6, (514) 505-3727

Website: http://www.4cats.com/

 Café Ceramic

Another cool little franchise in Montreal is the Café Ceramic. I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept: paint a pre-formed pottery piece while you enjoy some coffee/food. I always liked the concept and I plan on introducing my son as soon as the paint is more inviting on the ceramic than on his face! I’ve been to some of these ceramic cafes in different parts of North America and I’ve really enjoyed the time spent relaxing while painting and chatting with friends. If your kids are old enough to understand the concept, I highly recommend these chains!

Locations: 4338, St-Denis, Montréal (Qc) H2J 2K8, 514 848-1119

565, Boulevard Saint-Martin Ouest (Qc) H7M 1Y8, 450 669-9399

3240, boul. Taschereau (Qc) J4V 2H3, 450 443-8582

Website: http://www.leccs.com/

Any other recommendations for great child/family-friendly art studios in Montreal area? Let me know!

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ZigZagZoo (Vaudreuil-Dorion, Qc) — Welcome to the Jungle

ZigZagZoo jungle gym

ZigZagZoo jungle gym

ZigZagZoo, in Vaudreuil, Qc (20 minutes west of Montreal) is an amazing combination of jungle-gym, slides, ride-on games, indoor mini soccer field and even a kid-sized climbing wall. The feedback from friends had always been positive so we decided to finally experience it this weekend.

Aimed at kids 12 years and younger, I would say the ideal age is about 5-8 years old but my toddler son (17 months) was squealing with excitement and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Whatever your child’s age, I can promise this: he/she will be exhausted! Oh, and if you get on your hands and knees and crawl through the gym with your kid, I think the whole family will be afternoon napping.

Needless to say, I was impressed. My husband lamented that nothing like this existed when we were growing up! It’s an overwhelming structure at first (especially for a younger child) but it’s hard not to join in on the excitement. The entire gym is echoing with the sounds of laughter and happiness; there is movement at every corner of the room and yet, through the chaos of excited kids, everyone is polite and patiently awaits their turn.

For parents of younger children, get ready to crawl through an entire maze of padded suspended bridges and winding plastic tubes. I loved that I could interact with my child by being inside the structure with him and sharing his excitement as we discovered new paths and found “secret” compartments (secret only because there was a few moments without other kids in the area). ZigZagZoo also has a section devoted to toddlers ages 3 and under. For those with older kids, you have the luxury of a few minutes of free time as your child explores the gym with friends or with friendly strangers. My husband and I took turns (trust me, it’s hard to crawl!) guiding our son through the jungle gym and all parents–even those who watched casually from a distance–seemed to supervise their children’s behavior.

Enjoying one of the many games at ZigZagZoo

Enjoying one of the many games at ZigZagZoo

The gym is equipped with quite a few parent-friendly additions. They have a decently priced snack bar that serves pretty good food (at least they are trying to be healthy while still appealing to kids), new moms have the privacy of a nursing room, the bathrooms are very diaper-change friendly and for those who choose to brown-bag their lunch, they have a picnic area. The whole area is carpeted so boots/shoes must be removed and they have lockers to keep purses safe. It’s also a peanut-free facility for those with allergy concerns–a nice touch.

Lastly, but importantly, the place was very clean! Everything was in excellent condition–I never feared that my life was at risk because of poorly installed or rusty equipment–and the carpet was spotless. The jungle gym looked very sturdy and the mats/pads weren’t stained and fraying.

They offer birthday packages and my husband and I are already contemplating purchasing the year-long membership for $135 (for one child and one adult)–especially for the winter months when outdoor activities are restricted. They cater to large groups (a whole classroom, for example), so make sure to check their calendar if you plan a weekday trip. Don’t you just wish your grade school had organized a trip to a place like this?!

Overall? I highly recommend ZigZagZoo!

Location: Place St-Charles, 980 St-Charles Ave, local 120, (Exit 35 Nord on Highway 40), Vaudreuil-Dorion, J7V 8P5

For hours and rates: http://www.zigzagzoo.ca/en/hours_rates.shtml

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Celebrating in style – Le Petit Gym (The Little Gym) Mont-Royal

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Having fun at Le Petit Gym (The Little Gym) in Montreal

We were invited to Le Petit Gym (The Little Gym) for a 4-year-old’s birthday party. The Little Gym is a franchise with locations around the world so I was expecting something really cool (this was our first experience). I can’t comment on the classes they offer as I have yet to experience those but the birthday party was a blast! As you can see from my son’s face above, he adored the gym time.

This specific location is difficult to find. The address is 100 Rockland Road but the entrance is on Dunbar Street and I didn’t find it particularly well-marked. After circling the area and cursing my iPhone map for 15 minutes, my husband and I finally found the (poorly marked) sign for Le Petit Gym. Clearly this is a location that you need to know is there because drive-by sightings wouldn’t spot the entrance. Also, “The Little Gym” and “Le Petit Gym” don’t list this TMR (Town of Mont Royal) location so you REALLY have to know that it’s there. I’ve driven on Rockland Road hundreds of times and never knew it was there…

Unfortunately their website doesn’t provide much information about the rates and schedules. Each franchise is individually owned and operated so you would have to call for specific rates and information. Oddly, the website for Le Petit Gym doesn’t list this specific location (even though it’s an official franchise) and it has its own (separate) website. See below for links.

The party ran for an hour and a half and that was plenty for a child’s party. It begins with gym time: the gym area is filled with gymnastic-related equipment with safety mats everywhere to prevent any major injuries. For example, they have a balance beam, a set of steady rings, plenty of floor mats and an air-inflated bouncy mat. The bouncy mat was the highlight for the older children but my toddler son wasn’t so keen on the unsteady ground. Overall, they have quite a large collection of activities for all ages and most fitness levels. I was hoping for a playground area with a slide and perhaps some swings but I assume that that doesn’t fit with their kindergym mission.

After the gym time–about 45 minutes–all the kids gather into the adjoining party room. One thing that really struck me throughout: the place was spotless! The bathroom was very clean; the gym and eating area were also well-maintained. They ask that you remove your boots/shoes and I never felt icky about having to be in my socks–even when I went to the washroom. Overall, Le Petit Gym is well-organized and the staff is chirpy and helpful.

I highly recommend this gym for children of all ages. Even if my son wasn’t able to participate in all the gym’s activities or use all the equipment, he still loved watching the other children playing and he eventually found his own style of fun. Ultimately, I think that’s what the gym seeks to promote: a fun, safe and creative environment designed to foster confidence, fitness and friendship.

A few sites to explore:

http://www.legymtmr.com/default.html

http://www.lepetitgym.ca/