Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rainy Day Activities

Source: Sabeel Ahammed

Say you and your family have an outdoor activity planned for the weekend. Your schedules are cleared, you have your day all planned out, and the weather is predicted to be practically perfect.
Then you wake up on the day of and suddenly there’s nothing but dark, grey clouds and the weather report telling you that the chances of rain are 100%.

Now what do you do?

Being based in the Pacific Northwest, WeVillage knows rainy days. As the raindrops hit the windows children spend most of their time inside and they can become restless. While at WeVillage we have plenty of activities for children but we know that parents at home don’t always have the same resources. Sometimes you want to spend the day with your family but the weather doesn’t permit for it, so how do you make up those lost outdoor times?

Sometimes you just have to use your imagination or what you have at your disposal.
We’ve briefly touched on how video games can be beneficial for traditional family game nights so instead of discussing that, we’re going to go into other fun activities that are worth looking into.
Crafts, cooking, fort-building… all these classic forms of fun still interest young children, especially if you encourage them to explore their imagination.

Combining quick, fun snacks for watching a movie or two with your children is enough to take up a few hours of your afternoon. Finger food prep can go by fast but why not put a twist on it? Here are some fun and easy recipes for full meals and snacks to get you started.

Card and board games like Uno, Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Trouble, and more are all fun games that can either go by in the blink of an eye or last you a bit longer. The rain is perfect for an impromptu family game afternoon!

What else could beat a good, ol' craft session? Kids love getting creative and being able to express themselves. Not all crafts require a lot of pre-meditation, and you can often just use what you have lying around the house to make something great! If you'd like ideas, on our Pinterest page we have a board full of cool crafts that we love! Be sure to follow us so you can see what else we pin!

Forts. When I was younger, I was a notorious fort-builder. Even though it seems messy, I used to spend a lot of my time moving around couch cushions and blankets to make my own mega-fort (it sounds silly, I know!). There is something so fun about building a fort on your own but with the help of an adult the process of moving furniture around was a lot easier. Be sure to bring a flashlight, too!

All WeVillage facilities are armed and ready for bad weather. We're always making crafts, fun snacks, and playing all sorts of games so days with less than perfect weather are no match for us! Our facilities are even crafted to have indoor play areas, so if we can't go outside kids still can climb and get out energy without worrying about wet play-structures.

What do you do on days with bad weather? We'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Parents Reclaiming Time with Flexible Childcare

Time is always working against us. There’s never enough time in the day to finish tasks or we’re always being told to wait—these two extremes just don’t make life any easier when our days get busier and busier.

Today we see many services trying to beat the clock and make the most for clients out of convenience. Sometimes these things may seem small (ordering your coffee before you even get to the café, for instance), but some have a massive effect on how we can manage our time. Parents are always on the go and need a system that can work for them beyond just coffee orders, which is exactly the same reason our founder, Karen Beninati, felt that time needed to be taken charge of.

Childcare is changing and has to in order to fit with the lifestyles of the modern parent, rather than making parents work with the childcare’s schedule. We see first and foremost that a service that works with us rather than for us under certain constraints hurts our ability to use it to its full potential.

Flexible care is growing to be more and more attractive to parents who are on the go, but who also still want to take advantage of the free time they have to spend with their child. That shouldn’t just stop at normal care. Preschool should be easy—a parent isn’t always sure if their child is ready yet when deadlines to enroll appear. What if more time is needed to think about that commitment, or what if parents are wondering what is the right age to start?

Teacher Meg and our Preschoolers!
Not only does WeVillage have flexible and traditional childcare, we also have flexible Preschool and Afterschool care programs We have our four centers open to a free Preschool trial that can be started at any time during the program, giving the power back into parents’ hands to make the choice of what really works best for them and their time. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WeVillage Urban Summer Camp Recap, Weeks 6-11

Summer break has ended and school is back in session, but what better time than now to reminisce about the fun memories we made this summer at camp than now?

During our Urban Camp we made sure fun was available for all kids no matter what age! From the beginning of summer break to the end, all four of our locations had themes every week for camp. Themes included crafts, fun snacks, games, and other activities for kids to learn and focus on the theme of the week. The kids who were a little bit older got to go out and explore their neighborhoods by visiting local businesses.

So here's what we did for Weeks 6-11! (If you want to catch up on Weeks 1-5, visit here!)

Week 6 was our Little Scientists Week and WeKids were very busy with experiments! In the Pearl, kids learned the science of making pizza at Sizzle Pie, Orenco Station had fun with STEM toys at iSpark Toys, and both Happy Valley and NE Portland had fun making clouds and blasting off rockets respectively.

The Sizzle Pie crew were such great hosts!
iSpark Toys gave us a great hands-on experience with their learning-based toys

Our focus shifted for next week to our very own home, Oregon! Discover Oregon Week was filled with crafts and enjoying the warm weather.

Orenco Station had a small group visit the Tualitin Hills Nature Park! Here's some more photos of them exploring Oregon's beauty.

Kids in Happy Valley made bridges to learn a bit about the many bridges that Portland has!

Week 8 was filled with intrigue for Mystery Week!

Masked heroes in the Pearl!
Hide 'n' seek on Broadway!

The fun continued during our Let's Build week with with bridges, blocks, and even some snacks for construction!

Gingerbread houses at the Pearl.
 Maybe it's too early to be making gingerbread houses for winter, but that doesn't mean construction can't start early!

In NE Portland, WeVillage staff laid out the blueprints of a bridge and a building so kids could start construction on some new Portland landmarks!

Week 10 was about going beyond Earth and toward the stars with our Space Explorers week!

Happy Valley placed the stars in the sky by creating constellations!
WeKids from the Pearl visited OMSI to get a crash course on space! See more.

Our Urban Camp program concluded this summer with a week focused on going for gold during Summer Olympics week! The competitive spirit and good sportsmanship of each WeKid came out this week!

Happy Valley made their own Olympic Rings out of tissue paper!

NE Portland had a sack race to see who could hop the fastest to the finish line!

As you can see, we had a blast with all of the trips, games, and crafts during our Urban Camp. We're sad to see that the summer has come to and end but the fun doesn't stop at WeVillage! Our Urban Camp is one of many programs that we host, including monthly themed parties, holiday break camps such as Spring Break and Winter Break camps, and extending to our Preschool and Afterschool Care programs.

If you'd like to learn more about our programs, visit our website for more information!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Our Trip to iSpark Toys!

Our Little Scientists Week during the WeVillage Urban Summer Camp program was quite busy! While kids in NE Portland were bonding polymers, Happy Valley kids making clouds, and kids in the Pearl learning about the science of making pizza at Sizzle Pie, the kids in Orenco Station visited iSpark Toys!

While we were at iSpark Toys, we did a few experiments and were able to interact with some of the toys available.

iSpark Toys is a toy in Orenco Station (right near WeVillage!) providing the community with a place to shop for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) based toys. iSpark knows that in order to have children learn, they need to be given the tools that encourage them that learning is fun! They have toys in numerous categories, ranging from robotics, books, all the way to games & puzzles, so there's a little something for everyone who stops by.

With a friendly and fun staff always willing to help out, our trip to iSpark Toys was a totally fun experience! Their focus on play based learning fits perfectly with WeVillage’s mission to encourage kids to learn while having fun, and we’re proud to have them as neighbors!

If you’re interested in learning more about iSpark Toys you can visit their website where they have information on the toys they have, blog posts, and information on various events!

You can visit iSpark Toys in person near WeVillage Orenco Station at Orenco Station Loop in Hillsboro, OR, to see the fun for yourself!

Friday, August 5, 2016

WeVillage Takes a Cheesy Adventure to Sizzle Pie!

We love our neighbors at WeVillage. Our current Urban Summer Camp program allows us to create fun memories with local businesses that our WeKids can cherish. We’ve had a few trips here and there, but recently we were lucky enough to have a trip over to Sizzle Pie, a pizzeria with a location close to WeVillage in the Pearl District!

Sizzle Pie is true to the Northwest culture in keeping everything relaxed and familiar. There is great pizza for everyone available, including vegan options, and drinks for all! Their menu is really extensive, but we stuck with good ol’ cheese pizza for our trip!

While we were at Sizzle Pie, we were able to have fun with a topping session, watching the staff roll and shape the dough, and they gave us a bunch of pizza to take home! They were super generous and the kids had a great time with the Sizzle Pie crew. We couldn’t ask for more in a neighbor!
Lucky for us, Sizzle Pie gave us a ton of pizza to take back to WeVillage!

We’re very lucky that Sizzle Pie does delivery too, so who knows, we might be calling them up for an order some time!

If you want to learn more about Sizzle Pie’s menu, locations, or just anything else that you’re curious about, you can visit their website. If you want to learn more about WeVillage's Urban Summer Camp program, please visit our Camps page.

Friday, July 22, 2016

WeVillage Urban Summer Camp Recap, Weeks 1-5

 It's been a while, WeFamilies!

We are now several weeks into our Urban Summer Camp here at WeVillage and we decided it would be fun to give you a midsummer recap. It’s been pretty busy for us at each of our centers since the school year ended!

Just in case you don't know what our Urban Summer Camp is all about, I'll give you a quick, bite-size explanation. From the beginning of summer camp to the end all four of our locations are having themes every week for camp. Week themes include crafts, fun snacks, games, and other activities for kids to learn and focus on the theme of the week. The kids who are a little bit bigger get to go out and explore their neighborhoods by visiting local businesses.

So here's what we've been doing...

Our first week was focused on dinosaurs. He's got to have fun making their own fossils, reading about dinosaurs, and other fun crafts!

Orenco Station had kids line up all around the center to see just how many WeKids measured how long a T-Rex was!

Kids at the centers all were able to enjoy making their own fossils. Check out the fossils WeKids at Orenco Station made!

Our second week was Fun in the Sun, focusing on how to enjoy the outdoors in the warm weather. This week a beautiful weather for kids to enjoy making homemade bubbles, outdoor picnics, fun exploring local parks, and playing with sidewalk chalk!

So much fun was had at Orenco Station with bubbles!

WeKids in NE Portland were able to set up a garden this week! We plan on keeping you updated on the garden’s progress. Keep an eye out on this blog and our NE Portland Facebook page and check out our post about gardening with kids!

Next, we had fun learning about animals in our Wild Animals Roar week! Kids were able to enjoy not only hanging out with one another dressing up like animals and reading about them, but two of our centers were lucky enough to be able to go to the Oregon Zoo!

Here are some kids from our NE Portland and Pearl locations handing out with some giraffes...
...but NE Portland had the cutest giraffe we've ever seen!

Or 4th week was focused on creativity. Our Creative Campers week was filled with paint, imagination, and some other messy art activities. Some of our kids even got to explore music through homemade instruments.

Some beautiful music was made with homemade instruments at Happy Valley!

Our campers in NE Portland set up a tent inside so they could use their imagination.

And finally, our last week was all about Getting Back to Nature. During this week we had fun exploring some parks, having a scavenger hunt, and more!

The Pearl had a fun scavenger hunt in the city!
We had more fun with bubbles in Orenco Station.

That’s what we have gotten up to so far during our Urban Summer Camp here at WeVillage! If you would like to learn more about this program, you can visit our Camps page on our website! We also keep all our WeFamilies up to date with our activities via our Instagram, Newsletter (feel free to sign up on our website!), and the Facebook pages of each of our centers: The Pearl, NEPortland, Happy Valley, and Orenco Station.

We’ll be sure to let you know what happens in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In the Car: Audiobooks

Photo credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steven Errico, Digital Vision/ Getty Images

Maybe you’ve heard them on YouTube or maybe you’ve heard it on a podcast, but advertisements for audiobooks are quickly becoming the norm. While this does lack the physical act of turning a page, listening to audiobooks while driving is a good way to keep yourself engaged and not engrossed in a radio station.

Having kids in the car and finding a radio station that would be appropriate can be difficult for a parent. Having a car or a tablet with access to videos and movies is useful, but once it ends your child may need help putting on another. With an audiobook, you can control the selection easily and keep your child entertained.

It can feel very tiring to listen to a children’s story, with content that may not grip you, but during car trips taking some time to play an audiobook for an hour would be a fun and quick bonding session for you and your child. Even as your child gets older, maybe they have difficulty doing other activities in the car like watching videos, reading, or playing games. All they may be able to do without feeling sick is to listen to something and that can be music or even an audiobook to tide them over.

While some may say the practice of using audiobooks over printed books is bad for children, just like many other things in life it is better to use something in moderation and to balance out the usage of technology and traditional means. It’s okay to have an allotted amount of time for a child to play a video game, but it’s also okay to make sure they still get to play outside (weather permitting of course) and play with friends. As technology grows more advanced learning how to balance things out is vital and as a parent there are many more tools than there have been before.

There are many resources for finding audiobooks and many for free. iTunes itself features free stories in both podcast and audiobook form. Of course, your local library may also have audiobooks available in disc form, so if you want to just check one out for a weekend trip that is always an option! Other websites such as Storynory also have free children's audiobooks along with other stories!

Do you have any recommendations for children’s audiobooks on the go? Is there a site that you use? We'd love to recommend them to our WeVillage families. Tell us below!

WeVillage Childcare Blog