PDX Kids

PDX Kids
Online resource for fun activities, free ideas, and business resources for families in Portland and beyond

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Day = Game Day

As a teacher, I never realized I would be so excited about a snow day!  Today, we are going to play games...all day!  we have some games for the little kids, some for the big kids, and some for everyone.  Hullabaloo is a great game for the kids to play on their own.  It has small tiles the kids place on the floor then either a sound box or DVD (depending on the version) that give the kids instructions.  Some of my other favorite games for preschoolers include The Ladybug Game, Elefun, and Connect 4.  I also love giving them beads to string (larger beads work best for younger kids) or tiles that are different shapes with the boards so they can fill in pictures.  Both beads and the shape puzzles can be found at stores such as Lakeshore Learning, Learning Palace, or a toy store.

For school aged kids, chess and checkers have become really big in our house.  They are true classics, affordable, and fun.  We have also gotten into Uno which now comes in all varieties.  With a little help, our 5-year old can manage to play with us and our 3-year old will sit in our lap and be on our "team".  Some other games we've been getting into lately are some of the strategy games.  Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan (yes, I know, they are nerd games but I love them anyways!) are two that my son has really loved learning to play.  Carcassonne is easier to learn with just the basic game.  Once the basic game is learned then expansions can be added in without confusing game play and strategy too much.  Another game that falls into strategy but is a card game is Beananza.  This game has people plant bean fields, buy and sell beans, and donate.  It loses a little bit of its strategy by helping younger players but it is still pretty fun and it helps the kids learn to think a step or two ahead.

All of these games are great but my all-time favorite is still a classic game of Hand and Foot.  I've never played Canasta but most people say the two are very similar.  It is a great game and can be played in teams or individually although teams is a faster and typically more fun game.  Click here for a link to another site with rules.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

I just learned this great little-known fact that I HAVE to share! The A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village in Salem honors OMSI memberships! If you have not gone to the Discovery Village, I would recommend you pack up tomorrow and go. It is INCREDIBLE!!! There are 3 victorian-style houses available for you to explore. Each room in the houses has a different theme. These themes range from a shadow room to a room all about Oregon. There is a bubble room where you can create a bubble that surrounds you or bubbles in hula-hoops or bubbles with small bubble wands. There is a room for inventors with tubs of cardboard, cloth, paper, plastic, yard, and just about anything else you could use to create treasures.

Outside there is a ginormous wooden play structure. One section of the play structure has musical instruments. Another part of the structure has a chess board with pieces as tall as most 2-year olds. There are tables for eating and tables for playing games (there is a tile version of Chutes and Ladders on one). There is a mini deli/cafe available as well.

Mr. Gilbert was actually a pretty interesting man. In order to get through college he performed magic tricks to earn money for his tuition at Yale. He decided to start manufacturing and selling magic kits. Magic kits turned into puzzles. After a while, he began a toy company and was the inventor of the Erector sets. Mr. Gilbert also created science kits for children. One of those kits was actually a kit for children to create atomic energy. Oddly enough, after increased parental concern that kit was taken off the market!

A couple of tips for visiting:
* Don't bring a stroller if you can avoid it. There are a lot of smaller hallways and most of the houses have exhibits upstairs.

* Do bring an extra change of clothes as some of the areas can get a little goopy or sandy.

* The level of security there is not really great (there's not a staff person watching people come and go at the entrance/exits) so definitely keep on eye on your little ones.

* A camera is a must! There are some beautiful architectural aspects and some really fun playing aspects (like a giant rocking chair!). The pictures you can get here are amazing!

* When you go in you will get a hand stamp for re-entrance. This will allow you to leave snacks, diapers, etc. in the car which is pretty accessible.

* Not an OMSI member? Check out the Tualatin Library. They have a cultural pass and if you live in Washington, Multnomah, or Clackamas counties you can get a membership to the Tualatin Library. Be sure to make a reservation for the day you want, though.

The Oregon Zoo

This is one of my favorite places in Oregon.  It does help that we have a membership so it's much more affordable.  It is a great place for me to get out and walk a little and my kiddos release a little energy, too.  While I love the zoo, sometimes during the summer it can be really crowded or the animals are a little extra lethargic.  We went Saturday morning in the rain and it was FANTASTIC!  There was a variety of people visiting ranging from families in raincoats to older couples with umbrellas but there was definitely not a crowd.  The animals were out and lively.  We saw the polar bears playing with a giant barrel, the lions climbing on the rock and wandering into their den, the monkeys were playing, the chimps were all visible and active.  Even the sun bears were out chewing on logs in plain sight!!

If you are ever in need of a winter activity, I highly recommend putting on the rain boots and checking out the zoo!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rockettes Event at Washington Square Mall

This is an email just sent to us and I wanted to share it with everyone.  It seems like this could be a really fun event for any of the tiny dancers (or those of us just wanting to kick our feet in the air to tell the story later!!)  in your house.  Don't forget to read the bottom about shopping at Macy's and getting free tickets to see the Christmas show.

"Hello friends at PDX Kids! I just wanted to pass along this information about a very fun, family-friendly event heading to PDX in a couple weeks involving one of America's most beloved dance troupes. I thought it'd be perfect on your Adventures Blog as I'm sure this event will be an adventure and experience to remember! On Saturday, September 18, Macy's Washington Square in Portland invites kids and shoppers to Dance with the Rockettes at 2:00pm as the ladies will share free dance instruction (just how DO they synchronize all those high kicks?) as well as secrets on what it takes to be a world-famous Rockette. There also will be plenty of opportunities for photos following the Dance with the Rockettes experience and each young dancer who joins in the fun will receive an "Honorary Rockette" certificate. As an added incentive, any shopper who spends $50 at Macy's the day of the event will receive a free pair of tickets to the Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular coming to Rose Garden Arena on December 23 - 26! Additionally, there will be a drawing to win a chance for an exclusive VIP Meet and Greet with the Rockettes as well as 4 tickets to the Rose Garden Arena show at this event. If you need any more information including photos, ticket discount info and tour dates, please visit: http://pitch.pe/80627 I hope you will consider sharing this information with your readers. We'd love to share this experience of a lifetime with as many kids in Portland as possible! Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! Genna Harris Digital Coordinator - EVERYWHERE"

P.S. - Genna-Thanks for sharing!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

SCRAP as only Portland can!

Last weekend we found a great little treasure in Portland...SCRAP.  SCRAP stands for School & Community Reuse Action Project.  It is a non-profit that collects clean, reuseable materials and organizes them in their shop for resale.  You can come in and join a workshop where you work in their space or you can just shop.

The stuff they have is pretty amazing.  There are tons of fabric scraps, yarn, half-used bottles of paint, glitter, and glue, velcro pieces, magnets, greeting cards, and electronic components.  My favorite was actually a box of photos that people had taken of celebrities and athletes autographing stuff.  No joke!  You could buy a picture some random person took of a random famous person signing their name.  If you wanted more than just one, you could have a whole box full!  This is why I love Portland!!!

My kids had a great time.  I gave them each $2 and they spent 2 hours pouring over the items trying to make a great purchasing decision. They grabbed things then found other things.  They put stuff back and went back for more.  In the end, we paid about $8 and I found stuff for my entire high school class to use to make hoover crafts and my kids each ended up with about 3 "creations" worth of stuff.  We were all very satisfied and spent the rest of the afternoon inventing at the kitchen table.

SCRAP is located at the corner of MLK and Scranton in NE Portland.  Their phone number is 503-294-0769 and they are open daily from 11 am until 6 pm.  There are all sorts of events and functions offered there ranging from adult-only events to kids summer camps.  Check out SCRAP's website for more details.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Clamming in Oregon

So I have been out of commission for a little while but I'm back and itching for some good adventures with the kids!

One of the first things the kids had been asking to do was to go clamming.  We have never been and I only had talked to someone about it once.  I figured for this trip, I should bring backup.  My husband, his brother, and sister, her husband, and our neighbor all packed three kids and three dogs into three cars and headed for the beach.  Before we left there were a few things that we had to do and pack, but I'll address those later.

We found a spot that was a little south of Lincoln City.  It was a little bay so it made it much safer for the kids.  We started out and had no idea what we were doing.  At first, we were digging up clams that we thought were illegal so we threw them back.  After digging up about a dozen of them we decided maybe we should read the licensing/instruction manual a little better.  Turns out, they were keepers!  Once we figured this out, we realized that we were actually doing pretty well.

There was a technique that really helped.  We used shovels and dug about 6-12 inches down in wet sand.  The kids used little hand-held shovels.  Once we dug down just a little bit the sand was so wet we would just reach our hands down about 12-20 inches and find as many as 3-4 clams in a handful.  We would just keep moving sand out of our hole with our hands while moving the loose sand around and finding clams.  We all did this without gloves (the kids only tended to find the clams that were moved out of the hole in the pile of sand we had dug out) but we did have one person cut their hand.

We were very wet at the end but every single person said they had a great time and we all want to do it again.

So here's the packing list:

  • Bags for dirty and/or wet clothes and shoes to go into afterwards
  • A spare change of clothes for every person
  • Towels
  • Snacks
  • A bucket for each digger
  • Rainboots (if it's too cold to go barefoot)
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks & drinks
  • Either a lid for the buckets or ice chests for the clams to travel home in (you have to keep them alive in water and you son't want that spilling in your car)
  • Shovels
  • Gloves (if you want)
  • Shellfish license

We obtained the licenses from Fisherman's Marine and Outdoor but you can also purchase them online.  It is the same price anywhere you go which was $7 this year.  Anyone under 14 does not need a license.  There is a manual that is very helpful as it has pictures of the different type of clams along with a map where there are some good clam beds highlighted.  This manual is the 2010 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations manual.

Finding the low tide times was also very important.  You can use a tide prediction table from Oregon State University or the times are posted in the Oregonian's weather page two days before.  This is not specific to all areas and it is good to arrive shortly before low tide so that you have time to follow the tide out but it should give you a good idea of what time to arrive.

Tonight, my culinary-graduate neighbor will be teaching me all about how to prep the clams to cook.  I don't actually enjoy eating seafood, but learning to cook them should be fun!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Science Project Website

In the midst of doing my own homework I found a website that has some really fun information.  It's Science Toys.  There are a lot of great science projects you can make with your kids.  One that we did quite successfully was the electric motor.  This was super simple and it was a lot of fun for the kids to see the little battery working in action.