Last Saturday, we went to the TBO family service, at its new time of 10:30 on Saturday morning. The service, when it was held at the "old" time of 7:30 on Friday night, ran into Sam's bedtime, and tended to be geared towards "older" (that is, 5- to 10-year-old) kids; thus, we hadn't been in a while, and weren't quite sure what to expect from the service. However, we figured that we'd give the mid-morning service a try, and see how it went.
In short, we were pleasantly surprised by the service on many levels, and really enjoyed ourselves. We were part of a small service --two other families, about eight kids in total -- which gave it a very warm, intimate feeling, as we were all able to gather around the rabbi in a small semicircle of chairs. A member of the synagogue who has done some lay-leadership in the past was on hand to provide musical leadership for the service, and had a supply of instruments (shaker eggs, rythym sticks, etc.) to hand out to the kids.
Sam was very engaged in the service, from shaking the instruments to providing some answers to the Rabbi's questions, singing along with "Shabbat Shalom", and actively reaching when we talked about prayer as a way of reaching towards God. It was especially cute when, in response to the Rabbi's request to have the kids visualize the world at peace, Sam said that he was "playing with [his friend] Olivia and his cousin Olivia"! This would indeed be quite special, as the two Olivias live 3,500 km apart (in Edmonton and Toronto). It was really cool to see him be so participatory, and to have him taking part in a service that was so clearly geared towards his level.
Finally, the prayerbook we used for the service was "Gates of Wonder", a recently-published book aimed specifically at pre-schoolers. The book used colourful artwork and simple language to convey ideas about God, being thankful, and spirituality. We liked the book so much that we ordered a copy for ourselves (via Amazon) that afternoon.