Gardening With Kids in Portland

It’s finally spring, and for many of us, that means digging and tinkering in the garden. We’ve got some ideas to get kids in the garden, learning about how produce grows, and putting their hands in the soil -- without digging up your tomato seedlings.


Kid-Friendly Play Gardens

If you already have a keen gardener or flower-picker on your hands, consider giving them a section of garden to call their own. Choose a corner of the yard that’s been neglected, or a large container, and let them have at it. They can research the kinds of plants that they’d like, plant them, decorate the area, and then watch the magic happen. You can even spray paint a small picket fence to set off the little ones’ greenery.

Fairy gardens are whimsical miniature gardens with small structures (think mushroom houses or train tracks) as well as living plants. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what can go inside, but most will include small figurines. Fairy gardens exist just as much to play with and be tended to as they are to look at, though they are very sweet to see. Who knows? You might even lure a fairy or two to your house if you make a very inviting garden, and you’ll get a little good luck out of the deal.


A Green Place to Play

Every kid wants a private place to hide and attend to the important business of pretending and dreaming. A secret hiding place outside makes any backyard into a secret garden. Beans can be trellised into a shelter. Build a “trellis house” with a roof, and train vines over it. Whack the bottom out of a bushy area for a fort or cave. Gather any fallen branches from all those winter storms and see what the kids can build. And if you don’t have the space to promote this kind of outdoor play, there are always field trips to Westmoreland Park Nature Play for fort building.


Easy Plants for Kids to Grow

Some plants are easier than others. Set your garden up for success by choosing a few of these.

Sunflowers: They’re dramatic, kids know and love them, and you can eat the seeds when they’re done.

Peas: Peas can be started indoors and then transplanted to the garden, where they’ll need to be trellised. But once you get the trellis going, they’re easy to grow and fun to pick and eat.

Strawberries: Oregon strawberries are sweet and fragrant, and nothing’s better than spotting a red, shining fresh berry on your plants. Better plant more than you think you need, because between the birds, squirrels, and kids, you’ll want to be able to snack on a few yourself! Containers work great if you have limited space.

Radishes: Impatient kids? Radishes grow quickly. They’re also a good choice for indoor sprouting experiments for this reason.

Carrots: Not only are they easy, but they’re one fun and satisfying for kids to pull out of the ground. Get rainbow carrots for an added surprise.

Green Toys Watering Can Set

Green Toys Watering Can Set

Plant a Pizza Garden, from Creativity for Kids

Plant a Pizza Garden, from Creativity for Kids

Magical Cottage Fairy Garden

Magical Cottage Fairy Garden

The Curious Garden,  by Peter Brown

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown

Pop-up Garden, from Usborne.

Pop-up Garden, from Usborne.

Here at Kids at Heart, we love helping kids develop a love of nature and gardening. Young kids can help tend the plants with the Watering Can Set from Green Toys, or enjoy the movement in Usborne's Pop-up Garden book. Older kids can create a growing windowsill abode with My Fairy Garden's Magical Cottage, or try Creativity for Kids' Plant a Pizza Garden. And while Portland is a very green city, families will enjoy Peter Brown's classic urban gardening story, The Curious Garden.

New For Spring!

Spring is right around the corner and we're filling our shelves with new awesome stuff for all the kiddos!

For infants, we've stocked up with loads of German-made HABA clutching toys, new cactus and flamingo themed baby gear from O.R.E, and adorable plush rattles from Douglas.

Toddlers will love Hape's new Umbrella Catching bath toy, or the cutest new Spaceship top from Plan Toys.

We're excited to offer a new line from Klutz products geared toward younger kids, adding some great beginner crafts to our ever growing art section.

The 2017 Playmobil is here (well, some of it, we'll get more when it's released in summer), and it's fantastic as usual! From new pirate outposts to new figures like window washer or flamenco dancers, it does not disappoint.

For the geographically or zoologically inclined, we just received an array of new puzzles from Crocodile Creek, featuring reptiles, ocean life, various continents, and more!


I'd be remiss to not mention our bursting Calico Critter section, that while not entirely new, is definitely well-stocked, and definitely cute.

In the world of plush, we're obsessed with the Squishable banana, and of course all the Jellycat bunnies for Easter. Speaking of Easter: it's not far off!! We're up to our ears in plush, books, stickers, and other festive accoutrements, and it's never a bad idea to stock up for your baskets early for the best selection!

Wonder if we stock a particular item or book? Give us a call! And follow us on Instagram for frequent updates of new arrivals!

Cheers, Kids at Heart Toys

Spread the Joy - Volunteer with Your Kids

With the holiday season, we do our best to instill a love of giving into the kids in our lives. For many, that means service to our world and our community. It’s never too soon to teach little ones that other people need our help, and that it’s truly better to give than to receive. Volunteering isn’t just fun and fulfilling it can also help teach empathy and tolerance.

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Kids and Coffee: Family-Friendly Coffee Shops and Play Cafes

Ah, Portland, where we can drink coffee and entertain our kiddos at the same time. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to get out of the house with baby for a few minutes, or a wild and rocking good time for your kindergartener while you have some quality time with your laptop, we’ve got you covered with these family-friendly indoor places to play.

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Rock Out with Kids' Music in Portland!

We’re spoiled in Portland by having plenty of “kindie” artists: that’s indie kid musicians, of course. Nearly any day of the week, you and your kids can head out to a coffee shop, pizza joint, or concert venue and hear some sweet tunes written and performed with little ones in mind. Here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy local musicians doing what they do best.

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Jumping & Bouncing!

Hop hop! We love active play to engage active minds and bodies. One way to get kids up and running is by heading to one of Portland’s many places where they can jump and bounce sometimes literally off the walls. These indoor inflatable playgrounds and trampoline parks are the perfect place to get some super fun exercise, especially on those few, inevitable, stormy summer days. Don’t forget your socks!

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28 Years as Your Neighborhood Toy Store!

As we come up on Neighborhood Toy Store Day - and the store's 28th anniversary - we though we'd asked the owner of Kids at Heart, Elizabeth Campbell, to share what the toy store is all about, then and now:

"Way back in 1987, I opened my first store called Children's Corner. I was a busy new mom with a 3 month old son and a nine year old daughter. Of course I had plenty to do but I had a vision! I wanted to create a place where local families could meet each other and buy gently used toys and baby equipment.
I found out soon enough that high quality toys in good condition were hard to come by, so I soon found myself selling only new toys.
Flash forward 28 years (!), and here I am, still on Hawthorne. Wow! A lot has changed over the years. I changed the store’s name, moved locations several times, expanded my product lines, and increased my ability to give back to the community.
But a lot hasn't changed! I still believe in the same things I did way back in 1987. I still want children to have special, unique, high-quality toys & books. I still want to be a place where our families connect. And I want to do it while maintaining a fun environment, helpful and knowledgeable customer service, and a generous spirit.
Saturday, November 14th is Neighborhood Toy Store Day - which coincides nicely with my 28th anniversary – and I want to say thank you, to all of my customers past, present, and future. You are the reason I have been able to continue my mission for all these years! We are so happy and proud to be your neighborhood toy store, and look forward to many more years!"

All of us at Kids at Heart echo Elizabeth's excitement about our 28 year mark, and we're celebrating this Saturday for Neighborhood Toy Store Day!

We've got lots of giveaways ready, from Gift Certificates to our new Kids at Heart tote bag! Plus, we're doing a limited run of Holiday coupon books - full of deals on amazing items in the store. Come grab one before they run out! And last - but certainly not least - the amazing Olive & Dingo will be here from 3:00 - 5:00! With story time, music, and LOTS of laughter, you don't want to miss them! 

See you there!


Halloween at Kids at Heart Toys!

Halloween Is Just Around the Corner!

Don’t get spooked by the prospect of getting your kids ready for Halloween. Kids at Heart is celebrating sweet and spooky sides of Halloween--but especially the sweet--this October.

Halloween Costumes for Kids (and Other Fun Stuff)

Kids at Heart has tons of great gear for Halloween! We have wonderful costumes (handmade in Canada), such as princesses, pirates, dragons, superheroes, witches, and wizards! We also have professional-quality face paint and special effects makeup.

Looking for a book to suit the season? We have lots of spooky books for different reading levels, plus Halloween stickers, tattoos, stencils, and LEGO monster minifigures!

When the big day rolls around, you can trick-or-treat at Kids at Heart as well as many of our neighbors on Hawthorne.

Enlist the Switch Witch

We love candy, you love candy, and your kids love candy. Candy is awesome! But sometimes, your kids get too much for any child to handle, even if they do get a little “help” from you. Sometimes, kids aren’t able to enjoy their hard-earned stash in part or at all, due to allergies or sensitivities.

That’s where the Switch Witch comes in.

The Switch Witch is a lot like the tooth fairy, but instead of taking teeth, she protects them from sugar inundation. That’s right: She comes in the night to swap out all or part of your youngster’s sugary loot with a toy.

Kids at Heart has toys, books, and games at any budget for parents who need to help the Switch Witch with choosing just the right item. Your little monsters will barely miss the candy stomachache when they’re having hours of fun with a new game!

Halloween Giveaway

While you’re in shopping for Halloween costumes, books, or toys, don’t forget to enter to win our Halloween Giveaway Contest.  

Win a basket full of awesome, spooky, Halloween-themed toys and books. We’re getting chills just thinking about it! Goodies include face painting supplies, a special effects makeup kit, books of scary stories, stickers, and more. Come into the store to fill out your entry slip by the 22nd. Lucky runners up will receive Kids at Heart gift certificates.

What’s your favorite Halloween family tradition?

The Hawthorne Street Fair Children's Events!

Come one, come all, to the 2015 Hawthorne Street Fair!

We love our neighborhood and our customers, so we pull out all the stops for the Street Fair, throwing an over-the-top party for kids and families at Kids at Heart Toys.

On Sunday, August 16th, Hawthorne will be hopping with plenty of neighbors and visitors from all parts of the city. They’ll enjoy a music stage at SE 34th Avenue, art activities at Muse, beer gardens, and all kinds of delicious food and unique vendors. Of course, we think the best part of the Street Fair will be all the awesome activities for families we have planned at Kids at Heart.

On the Main Stage we’ll be featuring great entertainment for the whole family. Two of Portland’s most beloved children’s musicians, Mr. Ben and Lorna Miller, will invite us on their musical adventures, where all can sing and dance along. Then, Penny’s Puppet Productions will present not one, but TWO amazing puppet shows! Portland’s favorite clowns, Olive & Dingo, will take the stage with their wonderful antics, and Circus Cascadia joins us with a fantastic array of events: juggling demos, tightrope walking, balance balls, stilt lessons, and clown skits!

Besides our Stage shows, we’ll feature activities all day on SE 35th Avenue and in our back parking lot. We’ll have a refreshing misting tent and dedicated sidewalk chalk area. Our good friends from Metro Parent - PDX Kids Calendar will be set up with a prize wheel and photo booth, and face painters will be at the ready to beautify all those little faces! And perhaps most important of all, to ease all those weary feet, tables & chairs for resting and eating will be available.

Outside the store on Hawthorne is our annual Sidewalk Sale, with amazing deals on some of our favorite toys and books! Then, don’t forget to stop in the shop and fill out a ticket – we’ll have a drawing for you to win gift certificates to the store!

It’s our best Street Fair yet, and we are so excited to share it with all of you! See you then!

Tips for a successful family trip:

  • Parking might be a bit tricky, so plan on parking a few blocks away and walking.
  • Public transportation or a family bike ride will work great, too.
  • Parts of Hawthorne will be closed to traffic/buses.
  • Feel free to bring your own food and snacks, but there will be plenty to purchase from vendors and from our local restaurants and carts!

WHAT: Hawthorne Street Fair Children’s Events

WHEN: Sunday, August 16th, 2014 – 11am to 5pm

WHERE: Kids at Heart Toys - 3445 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214 – Stage performances and other activities will be outside on 35th Avenue (closed to traffic) and in the back parking lot.

WHY: The Hawthorne Street Fair is Portland’s longest running street fair, and offers the best of summer fun. Kids at Heart Toys saw the need for more kid-specific entertainment, and we have been presenting our children’s events alongside the rest of the street fair for eight years!

Summertime Outdoor Fun

Summer’s coming up, and in Portland, that means it’s time to head outside. Kids at Heart has a great selection of outdoor toys, and we can’t wait to show you all the fun ways your family can explore the world outside your door.

Here are are a few of our favorite places for Portland families to explore al fresco:

Hike with Honey Bees at Leach Botanical Garden

On Wednesday mornings, Portland parents of toddlers and preschoolers have a cool opportunity to get up close and personal with nature without leaving town or missing snack time. Honey Bee Hikes at Leach Botanical Gardens will take kids ages 2-5, accompanied by an adult, through the garden to visit with their fuzzy striped friends and other wildlife. Dress for the weather, and bring $3 for each explorer. Kids who don’t walk yet are free.

Splash with Ramona at Grant Park

Ramona Quimby fans, read up on your favorite adventures. Ramona, Beezus, Ribsy, and Henry Huggins. You’ll find them all here in the park, ready to splash along with you on a hot day. If the Portland weather doesn’t cooperate, or you’re ready for some dry fun, head to the playground, or bring your basketball, baseball gear, volleyball, or skateboard.

Mess with Nature at Westmoreland Park

Usually, we leave nature just as we found it. At Westmoreland Park’s new nature play area, though, you can can re-route a stream, or use pine branches to build a fort. This park made a huge splash when it opened up last summer, and for good reason. Kids clamor over the boulders and logs, creating their own games. A few shovels and other tools are available to share in the expansive sandlot. Don’t forget a change of clothes for everyone, because things are going to get wonderfully messy.

Go Fly a Kite at Peninsula Park

There’s plenty of open space at this beloved public park, between the soccer and baseball fields, and usually enough of a breeze to hold a kite aloft. No need to fret if that kite isn’t flying for you, though. There’s a playground, basketball court, splash pad, and a community center in case the weather takes a turn. Right now is a perfect time to visit, as the flowers in the historic rose garden are coming into full bloom.

Win a Gift Basket of Outdoor Toys!

Head to Kids at Heart to enter a drawing for gift baskets filled with lots of cool things your kids can play with outside, or use to explore the world around them!

We Love Our Customers!

Kids at Heart opened back in 1987, not just as a place to find specialty toys, but as a place for parents to meet and connect. We love bringing the neighborhood together and getting to know our fantastic customers. It’s you loyal customers that have kept us going the past 28 years, and we want to say thank you!

To give back, we’re beginning a brand new Loyalty Program!

Here’s how it works:

·        When you next come into the store, ask at the counter to start your loyalty program card.

·        We’ll keep it on file for you (no getting lost in your wallet, or forgetting to bring it in!).

·        Each time you make a purchase, we’ll write down the amount you spent.

·        After six purchases, we’ll take 10% of the total, and give it back to you as a gift certificate!

Plus, don’t forget about our other ways to save:

Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day isn’t just once a year at Kids at Heart. We know how special and important it is to be a grandparent, that’s why every Wednesday we offer 10% off, just for being you!

Birthday Club

Kids love getting things in the mail almost as much as they love shopping for toys. Sign your child up for our Birthday Club, and we’ll send out a $5 gift certificate during their birthday month. Just ask a member of our staff, and we’ll be happy to sign you up!

Special Giveaways

Stay tuned here to learn about upcoming contests and giveaways. We just celebrated Screen-Free Week by giving away a box full of puzzles, games, books, and activities for the whole family to enjoy – sans screen!

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, so you never miss out on any exciting events, drawings, and insider tips!