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.

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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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!