Archive for the 'Outdoor play' Category

Balloon Yo-yos

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We love parades.  Is there anything more joyful than watching a bunch of fun people march by you, catching candy by the handful, and feeling the beat of a marching band invade your entire body, down to your toes?  I didn’t think so.

When we were at the Grand Floral Parade earlier this year, balloon yo-yos were everywhere, and being sold for at least three dollars a pop.  Of course, my immediate thought was a) no, you don’t need one of those, they’re too expensive, and b) I can make those for pennies!  So, when it came time for our favorite parade of the year, the Multnomah Days Parade I knew I could and would make some.

We invited a bunch of friends to join us on the bridge to watch the parade and I brought along chalk and a bag full of  balloon yo-yos to play with while we waited for the  parade to start.  To make the balloon yo-yos, I just took a bunch of water balloons, filled with about two ounces of water, blew a little air in them, and tied them.  Then, I looped a rubber band around the tied part of the balloon.  Voila!  Instant toy!

Everyone loved them, the babies included.  But, it was a little surprising to them when they suddenly would pop.  Luckily, it was a hot day and there is so little water in these that they dried out easily and were able to forget any incident quickly.
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Water Balloon Fun!

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Clara pulled another stick out of our summer fun jar yesterday. After half an hour at the kitchen sink, she had an incredible amount of fun! Who knew that an afternoon could be so fun: water balloons, Jimmy Buffet on Pandora, and a whole lot of splashing.

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Backyard Treasure Hunt!

We needed an activity to do yesterday and so Clara got to pull her first popsicle stick out of the Summer Fun Ideas jar!  She was super excited.  I was super glad that she didn’t pull out any of the water play activities as it was really cold yesterday.  But, treasure hunt I could manage.

About a year ago (make that two years ago, according to my Shutterfly account), I took close up pictures of places in our yard, printed them out, and then promptly forgot about them.  I meant to do this treasure hunt earlier.  But, when Clara pulled out the stick, I was finally motivated.  I hid the pictures as the “clues” all around the yard, leading to the barbecue at the end where I had hidden a little snack (fruit snacks, which we NEVER have) as the “treasure.”

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The pictures, since they were close ups, were just hard enough that they had to be figured out, but not so hard that they were impossible.  We had to prompt them a little bit to think, but by the third clue they were off and running on their own, pretty much.  The barbecue was actually the hardest clue for them to figure out since they are not usually allowed to touch the barbecue (for obvious reasons) and so its out of sight, out of mind.

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Grapes!

The other day, we planned and executed a wet, but fun trip to taste table grapes.  There were  thirty different varieties to pick and we brought home a bunch, which I thought would last until at least the end of the week, but half were gone before we even made it home and the other half were gone in a couple of days.  We went with Clara’s friend Maya and despite the rain, both girls had a blast running around, picking and eating grapes, and especially wielding their umbrellas.
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Prior to going, we had some free time to kill, so we made a grape art project.  I got this idea from the great blog, No Time for Flash Cards.  We used purple painted bubble wrap to stamp a “grape” pattern on white paper, backed it with green card stock, and cut it into the shape of a bunch of grapes.
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Step 1: Paint bubble wrap.
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Step 2: Stamp bubble wrap on paper.
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Step 3: Glue onto green card stock and cut.
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Most people think that fall is all about harvesting apples. But really, if you’re in the right frame of mind, its all about the grapes.

Outdoor Time: Events and Venues Edition (SW PDX)

While the backyard is a perfectly legitimate place to go for outdoor time, sometimes, no matter how fun your backyard is, you just have to get out of your house! For this reason, here is my list of our favorite places, events, and things to do outside in and around SW Portland.  Enjoy exploring them on your own!

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Playgrounds

  • Gabriel Park Playground:  Baby swings, tire swing, two slides, and a bridge.  Great picnic space nearby and a huge park overall with a great small forested area to hike through if you fancy that.
  • Holly Farm Park:  New baby swing, great grassy area to run, an awesome climbing tree, and a wonderful play structure… Also, right next door to the Capital Hill Library with incredible storytimes hosted by Miss Tasha, librarian extraordinare.
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  • Multnomah Arts Center Playground:  Right in the middle of Multnomah Village, so its close to home… so close that the stroller is practically unneccessary unless somebody gets a boo boo. Across the street from a Starbucks is sometimes a bonus, too.  Baby swings, one slide, tunnel, covered basketball courts perfect for tricycling in the rain or drawing with chalk, but beware the kitty littered sandbox.
  • Washington Park Playground: This is the sandbox that you should use!  Incredible playground for all ages and sizes.  Great swings, tons of slides (at least four), huge play structure, train to the zoo stop and rose garden nearby!
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  • Pendleton Park:  Some old school toys like teeter-totters (or seesaws?), a merry-go-round, plus great swings and slides, a huge field and BATHROOMS close by are a huge plus.
  • Custer Park: Parking can be challenging here, but this a good old school playground.  Also has nearby bathrooms and if you are there in the spring when the cherry trees are blossoming, it is a sight to behold (look on the other side of the baseball diamond).

Hiking (for the very small)

  • Gabriel Park:  See above.  Great small forested area for little ones to run through, and by no means a huge commitment of time or energy.
  • Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close: Beautiful manicured gardens, open grassy spaces, views of the river, and a toddler size maze!  Spend an incredible morning here, but know that there are no restrooms and officially, no picnics.
  • Tryon Creek State Park:  For some reason, Adam dislikes this park, but I love it.  Streams, forest, wide, mostly easy-ish trails.  Close to home. You can go for as long or short a hike as you want and easily make it back to the car.
  • Waterfront Park:  Not so much a hike, but a great walk with a stroller.  Good people watching (ALWAYS!) and the river.  We took my nephew and brothers-in-law here are they commented that it was like, “Being in a Richard Scarry book,” because of all of the trains, busses, boats, ships, bikes, Max trains, etc. Plus, there are new fountains in the new Saturday Market area that are really cool!

Not to miss events

  • Multnomah Days Parade:  Our favorite little parade, ever!  Small, hometown feel that keeps getting bigger and bigger.  Tons of candy and fun.  We like to sit on the bridge about two blocks from our house.  Wouldn’t miss it for the world! One Saturday in August, every year.
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  • Portland Rose Festival:  Okay, so we may have missed almost all the events this year due to leaving town at the wrong time, but we did make it down to the waterfront during fleet week.  The big ships are awesome!  Also, we love the Grand Floral Parade and as soon as our kids can stay up past 7:30 pm, we will be all about the opening fireworks.  Not to mention that both of our girls will be queens of Rosaria!  First two weeks of June!
  • Hillsdale Farmer’s Market: Great market, just the right size with many great produce venders and great food for eating lunch.  Sundays, weekly in spring and summer and twice a month fall and winter.

Other Must Do Things

  • Jamison Fountain:  Like a beach in the city.  Always a great time in this zero depth fountain that all can enjoy.  Bring a picnic or enjoy the cafes and ice cream shops all around.  There is no bathroom, however…
  • Wilson High School Pool:  Awesome outdoor pool, only open during summer break, but so great.  Big kid slide, little kid slide, lazy river, fountains, and zero depth area.  Something for all swimming abilities!

I know that there are other things that should be on this list that I am not thinking of right now, so I will update this as I can.  Also, if there is a place that you love, add a comment and a link!  I would love to have this as a great resource!

Outdoor time: Collecting!

Hey!  Look to the right side of your screen right now!  Yes, that’s right!  I finally figured out how to put a subscribe button on my blog, so now you can get an email update when I write a new blog!  Sign up right now!  Woo hoo!

One of the things that I would love to see Clara do more of is just exploring on her own outdoors.  She always wants my help and comments about everything she sees.  I know that some of that is just age related, but I also feel like she is a little less aware of what’s around her than some other preschoolers.  She just doesn’t notice the little things around her very much.  To try to help, I invented a “collecting” game like Don in Dinosaur Train likes (“La, la, loooo!”).  Anyway, it involves an egg carton and our backyard.  The game?  Collect items to place in the carton.  That’s it.  Away she went.
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Meanwhile, little sister sat in the Bumbo very suspicious of the whole activity (and drooling):
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Then decided to get in on the game and collect some grass of her own:
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Here’s what the big girl collected in our time outside: sticks, pinecones (Douglas Fir, as we learned playing scavenger hunt), chicken feathers, leaves, and (I just learned the name for these) Maple keys.  I have plans for later for the sticks and Maple keys.  Stay tuned!  Also, I think we may have to start a separate egg carton for all the rocks that Clara brings home in her pockets!
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Outdoor time: Patio Painting!

Today during outdoor time, we were exploring a friend’s yard, pulling up rocks to look for bugs (we found a ton of beetles), and we found a newt!  It was a really calm newt and let the girls hold it and walked up their arms for about half an hour before we decided that he would not be much longer for this world if we didn’t put him back.  It was a really amazing experience to have had.  Only spending time outdoors will give you that!  That’s one unstructured outdoor time story.  Its really just as important as the structured stuff that I show here.

But, this post is actually about painting our patio with my nephew, the girls’ cousin, Drew.  This was a really fun activity and would have been an even bigger hit if it hadn’t been 95 degrees out and all the places for painting in the sun.  We may have to do it again soon.  I got this idea from Pink and Green Mama (love that blog!) and we had a blast with it.

First we made two paint palettes in cupcake tins with food coloring (two or three drops in each), a heaping spoon full of corn starch, and enough water to make a slightly runny paint.
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Then I set the kiddos loose with brushes, their own palettes (because sharing is just sometimes too hard!), and a bucket of water to rinse in. They painted the bricks on the patio, then started to experiment with mixing colors, and then painting with their hands (yes, even Drew who hates to get his hands dirty). I think that we’ll try this again soon, but maybe in the driveway in the morning when there’s shade and on the blacktop where the paint might show up even better. I didn’t really get any pictures of the finished product, but it ends up in really nice bright pastel colors when it is dry.
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