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!

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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

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!

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