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!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Green Thumbs

With summer break fast approaching we find the need to spend time with one another in the warm weather to make the most of it. With the sun shining during the weekends and during the week, what’s a better time to have fun with the whole family?

Sometimes, the problem is finding out how to have bond with children when you can’t truly leave the house for the day, but still want to go outside to do something.
What can combine your home and bonding, only taking a bit out of the day when you have perhaps an important call coming?


While not everyone has the space for large gardens, it’s not necessarily the size of the garden that matters. The fun of gardening is being able to take care of something and watch the result of your hard work pay off, and children loving watching these results.

In particular, having a garden with vegetables and fruits is wonderful. Not only can a child go through the process of having grown a plant but they can then enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. If you’re feeling like you and your child have a knack for cooking, you can show them the process from starting the food from a seed or bulb to how it gets on the dinner table. This will not only allow them to learn the responsibility needed for taking care of a plant (watering it, protecting it from pests, making sure it has support if its a vine plant, etc.) but also the rewarding feeling of being able to cook with it and enjoy it. This is a bonus in terms of bonding time and helping your child learn new skills and perhaps get new interests.

For those interested in trying out planting their own garden and wondering what to start with, you can visit ufseeds for what plants thrive in what seasons. You don’t need to order online in order to purchase seeds, however. Many local stores and even chain stores have seeds in their garden section so they are an easy pickup when doing the grocery shopping.

Perhaps you don’t have the space or the time to work with a full garden, then perhaps growing your own spices and herbs indoors is the route for you! Spices aren’t always able to grow indoors but herbs are generally pretty easy to gather up. Both spices and herbs can be grown in containers, so they are easy to work with. Often there are even instructional kits to work with for indoor herbs and spices as well as many indoor resources. The ease of these arrangements is not having to worry about pests getting to them unless you have some curious pets. The main concern with these plants is being sure to not overwater them or placing them in an area with too much sun that they burn. You can also find these at local stores without having to order online and pay for shipping.

WeVillage also values the importance of having a child being well rounded and gathering skills at a young age. Our NE Portland location will be implementing an outdoor garden in a small outdoor play space. So even if parents are unable to get the time to help their children learn the magic of growing plants or don’t have the resources, WeVillage will help the children interact with their green thumbs. We’ll be sure to keep you updated about the progress of the garden on our NE Portland Facebook page and even try to document some of the work in our newsletters and here, on our blog.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ideas, Connections, Pinterest, and You

While social media can be daunting we all know it is a helpful tool that if utilized correctly, it can give anyone the information they wish to have. Facebook provides a wonderful connecting tool for families and friends, Instagram is good for sharing quick and on the go photos, Twitter is for those quips you have during the day, and then there’s one of the newer websites on the scene, Pinterest.

Pinterest has a variety of wonderful tools for a parent. WeVillage has its own Pinterest and we use it to share various kid party planning ideas, snack and meals, crafts, and more! The whole of Pinterest goes beyond just child care tips, having other wonderful DIYs, recipes, and Life Hacks, that can be used in and out of the home. For a parent who wishes to use Pinterest for ideas at home it’s easy to get lost among the pins and boards. With an estimated 54.6 million users set for 2016 it can be hard to figure out where to start.

So wouldn’t it be easy to go off a quick guide?

Whether you’re considering using Pinterest or are a dormant hibernating Pinterest user it’s easy to get started and fully immerse yourself into the content.

Of course there’s the search bar and you can search by popular topics. WeVillage uses its Pinterest for many party planning themes and we plan on being more active to share content, especially once we put out more crafts created at WeVillage for not only the kids at the centers but also for those of you at home to enjoy with them. Not only are there crafts for kids on Pinterest but there is also crafts for adults that can be easily found.

Pinterest sees a wide variety of users, from businesses (newspapers, real estate agencies, non-profits, etc.), celebrities, and the average user so it’s possible to find all sorts of topics and users to follow.

With your own Pinterest account you can follow Topics (we follow Topics regarding Early Learning all the way to Baby Gear), Pinners (Pinterest users), or Boards. The Board function of Pinterest is the focal point. Boards are what users create with content they find most useful and relevant to the Board’s topic. Boards can be both private and public, so you can pick and choose what you want to share and what you want to keep for yourself. Planning a surprise party for a friend? Well, you can keep everything you have in private board so they can’t see it.

Using the search feature and the main screen of who you are following you’ll see new content everyday about topics that interest you or the people you follow. The signing up portion of Pinterest is relatively straightforward and once you’re set up you can even connect and share content from Pinterest to other social media websites like Facebook.

Once you see a pin you like, you can repin it onto one of your own Boards for safekeeping. The Boards you create are almost like your own file folder for snippets from around the web without all the copying and pasting pictures and full articles or recipes and just like on Facebook, you can like or comment on a pin.

We hope you can find ways to utilize Pintrest for your own interests. If you’d like a starting point and are interested in topics for parents, you can find WeVillage here and follow us for fun topics and ideas!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Your Child and Bikes: How to Get Started

A bike is a wonderful way for a child to exercise and here in Portland, we see a lot of them. The environmental benefits of people picking a bike over a car are indisputable, however, just like a car, a bike is an investment. As adults we have a long term investment in bikes whether they be for competitions or leisure, but children outgrow their bikes and start to need new ones just as they grow too big for their clothing and their beds.

While we could tell you a handful of websites and stores where there are highly rated bikes for children there are a ton of lists online that do just that. What is more important is what to look for in a bike and for what ages since that will likely help you pick the right bike for your child.
Many bike retailers will have size charts available based on the child’s age and height and based on a “inside leg length approach” both of which let you know how large of a wheel you should consider getting for your child.

Height to wheel size chart.

Inseam to wheel size chart. This is often considered more accurate than height to wheel size.

While it is tempting to buy a slightly larger bike so you can keep the bike longer and not have to buy a new one as your child grows, if the bike does not have the right fit then it can cause complications and increases the likelihood of your child injuring themselves. While the size charts are a wonderful tool, testing out the bike and how your child feels comfortable on it as every child is different and very telling when it comes to the fit.

The best way to be able to tell if a bike is a good fit for your child is to ask a retailer, especially bike only shops. Bike-specific shops will have far more information for you and will not only be faster in answering your questions but also be able to help you and your child find the right fit specifically. These retailers tend to be well versed in cycling equipment and knowledge. It’s easier to figure out if something is the right fit by going into a shop and trying it out with your child than ordering online despite the convenience. Think of it as buying nice clothing—an investment that you want to be sure is just right when you buy it.

Chances are when buying your child’s first bike you’ll be buying training wheels as well unless you wish to teach them how to ride without training wheels if they’re slightly older. Again, it’s best to consult the retailer for advice.

While the bike buying process is daunting you can find a bike that works and fits best with your child. The right fit of the bike is the first step in safety and teaching children bike safety is very important. Head injuries are a thing to worry about but teaching a child to keep a helmet on at all times is vastly important and will help them to keep this healthy habit later in life. 10-14 year old children have been found to suffer from the most bike-related head injuries, often related to not wearing a helmet and boys are particularly more likely than girls to get injured as well.

In the United States all helmets that meet the proper safety standards have a sticker marked from the CPSC or Snell inside of it.

Example of a Snell sticker.
Examples of CPSC stickers on different Helmet brands.

While some helmets may look more attractive or be cheaper your child’s safety is more important, so try to find a helmet that meets your child’s preference and your budget for your bike spending as well as one that is built with your child’s safety in mind. Other things to look for when it comes to bike helmets are bright colors and easily adjustable straps that fit. The right fit increases safety in this case too.

Other items you can purchase for your child are knee-pads, elbow-pads, and even gloves. A child can get scared of riding a bike if they fall and hurt themselves, so having safety gear in place to avoid injuries will not only keep them safe but help them get back up again.

WeVillage's preschool program also knows how important it is to start a child's bike riding experience early and will aid in encouraging a child's growth of confidence. Including other outdoor activities, NorthWest-based WeVillage, also encourages bike riding at this age. More information about WeVillage's preschool program can be found on our website.

There are many comprehensive guides available online as you do the research needed for finding the right bike for your child so don’t feel overwhelmed! We hope this helped you get started on your journey.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

WeTech Chat #1: The Argument for Games

The scenario is all too familiar:

While a parent is trying to get some task done (whether it be shopping, talking to another adult, cooking, etc.) a child is given a phone or tablet to keep them quiet. Their eyes are normally fixated on one of three types of apps: a video app, a coloring app, or a game.

This is the age we live in and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

While we see many parents giving their children a game to distract them it is becoming more and more common to give a child an educational game to play over traditional educational toys. Video games have been shown to enhance problem solving skills in children in various studies and they are also a wonderful opportunity for bonding. Playing a game with a child and working together with them to help them in those tough spots could help them learn to work in a group and developing social skills and problem solving skills earlier on will give them an advantage when they enter school. When giving your child a game to play, sit and watch them play and perhaps play with them as if it were a board game night with the whole family so you can watch their progress. They’ll be even more excited to finish a puzzle or figure out a tough spot with you there to cheer them on.

Games are just as much for girls as they are boys despite what we see because it has been found that girls are playing games and are nearly matching the amount of boys that play games. So not only are games good for helping your child’s development they’ve also grown to be for everyone. And while it’s easy to use games as a distraction like a video, we can see that video games overall aid in development for a child’s problem solving abilities just like a hands-on activity can.

However, this does not mean it is fine to only let a child play games but use it as a supplement to their early education. WeVillage also cares about aiding in the development of a child and is planning on bringing in an interactive game by EyeClick. The system, called Beam™, will projects various games onto the floor and as a child interacts with the projection, the image reacts to it. Beam™ has a large catalog of games both for pure play and education and we’re excited to add it to our educational toolset.

If you've played educational games with your child, please let us know what your favorites are below!

This is the first in a series that will be posted about technology and children. If you enjoy this topic please let us know! We always appreciate feedback.

More about EyeClick's Beam™ technology can be found on their website.

WeVillage Childcare Blog