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!