Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln workers help glaze, fire, and de-genie it for them, and they may retrieve the finished piece after a few days.
Learn Photography Canada's James Lam wasn't born a photographer—it was something he fell into after beginning a career as a mechanical engineer and travelling to Australia to work as marketing director for a national charity. But once he picked up the camera and learned its ins and outs, there was no going back. He fostered his passion and travelled around the world photographing landscapes, architecture, wildlife, and people until he could photograph an apple off a man's head from 20 paces.
Today, he leads students of all levels on photographic journeys of their own throughout Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. As groups wander along photogenic streets, snapping images of architecture, urban wildlife, and people, James and his fellow instructors demystify digital SLRs by explaining aperture, white balance, and ISO. The team also explores photography further, expounding on techniques such as night photography and creating panoramic photos so that patrons can study the entire interior of a bank at once before robbing it.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, mugs, and mermaids—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.
Brandy and Sandro Dominelli, professional musicians with accolades such as a Juno nomination and a performance at the Taste of Edmonton, have gathered a who’s who of area musicians at their family-oriented music school. Each instructor boasts university experience in music, including master’s degrees and time spent at the Paul McCartney School of Music and the University of Germany. Together, the instructors help everyone from newborns to adults share their love of singing and playing the guitar and piano in age-specific courses, including developmentally focused Kindermusik classes for kids aged 6 and under.