Play Room December 2017

Good Deeds: Planting for the Future

For decades, the vacant lot at the corner of SE 87th Avenue and SE Malden Court was an eyesore in the Lents neighborhood, choked with invasive Himalayan blackberries, strewn with trash and a magnet for unsafe activity. Finally, in 2015, neighbors had had enough — they reclaimed the space, planting a community orchard intended to serve as a source of fresh produce for locals and an accessible green space for local schools to use for environmental education programs. These days, there are over 250 native and fruit-bearing plants there, and plenty of room for more — which is where your family comes in. Every third Saturday of the month from 9 am-noon, there’s a work party at the orchard, with tools, gardening materials, coffee and snacks provided. They take December off, but work parties are planned for January 20 and February 17. All you need is water, closed-toed shoes and a willingness to help steward the orchard, whether by harvesting, weeding, mulching or planting. Find them at— Julia Silverman


Kid to Know: The Conversation Starter

Recent Lincoln High graduate Michael Loffe knows how to get people talking. And for his efforts he was awarded $36,000 from the Helen Diller Family Foundation. When he was 15, Michael started TILE, Talks on Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that held educational conversations between students and local innovators and entrepreneurs. His first guests included Micah Camden of Blue Star Donuts and Little Big Burger fame, and former CEO of Bill Kelly. “After a successful first season of talks, I realized that the series could be expanded worldwide,” says Ioffe. “We’ve been able to create venues for conversations between students and local luminaries in 200 locations and 32 countries, everywhere from right here in Portland to a war zone in Sana’a, Yemen. We hope to reach 1 million students through 2018.” Ioffe is attending Babson College in Massachusetts, where he plans to study finance and architectural history with an eye toward tackling the problem of affordable housing. Most of the money he won will go toward his education, but he also plans to use some of it to grow TILE even further. — Denise Castañon

TOP 5 …Sledding Spots

 White River Sno-Park is a Portland classic. Everyone you know will be there too.  Go tubing at SkiBowl East — the price of the indoor kids’ playground is included in your ticket.  Little John Sno-Park is better for a year with lots of snow, since it’s at a lower elevation, but bonus points for proximity to Hood River brewpubs.  Oldman Pass Sno-Park in SW Washington is an off-the-beaten path choice.  Park for free on US 26 and head to the hill that slopes down to Trillium Lake, near Government Camp. — J.S.



Raise your hand if this has happened to you: It’s late on a Sunday after a packed weekend, and your kid looks up and reminds you that you’ve forgotten to give them their allowance … again. And it’s been six weeks, actually, so now you owe $12. Per kid. Cash only, please. But really, who carries cash these days? That’s where the handy RoosterMoney app comes in. You can set up an account for each kid, and record how much money goes into it each week. Kids lusting after a particular item? Take a picture of it and upload it to the app, along with a price tag, so kids can see exactly what they’re saving for. Or, if you’re out and about and they absolutely have to have an item, debit it from their online account. Kids can manage their account, sorting their money into “spend,” “save” and “share” categories, and creating goals for most-wanted items. Ambitious parents can even turn on the chore-tracking function, and set up the app so that grandparents and other doting relatives can contribute to the allowance fund. Free for iPad, iPhone and Android. — J.S.

Gear Guide: Hey, Sleigh!

Lucky Bums Toddler Pull Sled Kids ages 3 and under will love hitching a ride on this cheerful sled, which features a high back and sides for extra support, a sturdy seat belt, an extra-long pull-rope for you and cold-resistant plastic that won’t crack in the cold. $49.99. At REI.

L.L. Bean Kids Pull Sled and Cushion set Looking for an heirloom? L.L. Bean has it covered, with this timeless wooden pull sled and super-comfy seat. The cushion is made of water-resistant nylon and is good for hauling kids or groceries. $149.

The ESP Sno-Twin Toboggan It’s just right for older kids who are ready for some thrills on the hills. Two kids (or one adult) can ride this durable plastic number together, with a diamond-polished bottom for maximum speed. $14.99. At Dick’s Sporting Goods. — J.S.

Getaway:Orcas Island, Wash.

Why should Seattle-ites have all the fun? Yes, it takes four and a half hours in the car, plus a trip on a ferry to reach Washington State’s beyond-beautiful San Juan Islands. But a brand-new short-hop air service between PDX and Friday Harbor, Wash., cuts the journey down to just 80 minutes. (Find it at From there, rent a car and hop a breezy inter-island ferry to horseshoe-shaped Orcas Island, anchored by the homespun town of Eastsound. Spend a day beachcombing and building driftwood forts at Obstruction Pass State Park or hiking around a perfect mountain lake within Moran State Park(Don’t miss the drive up Mount Constitution within the park, for 360-degree views that stretch from Vancouver, B.C. in the north to the Olympic peninsula in the south.) Or hit the water with your family, if it’s not too breezy — guides atShearwater Kayak Company recommend a daytrip to uninhabited Sucia Island for a closer look at harbor seals and marine birds, and maybe even a whale pod or two. Don’t miss the veggie quiche at Brown Bear Baking in Eastsound for breakfast, and kids will love the sturdy garden swings and bottomless chips at Mijitas Mexican Kitchen. Plan way in advance to reserve the vacation rental within Moran State Park, a steal at $101 a night in the winter and $135 a night in summer, with beds for eight and an outdoor campfire pit. — J.S.

Chalkboard:The Stats on Screen Time


We’re officially in the age of peak mobile. For the last six years, San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media has been surveying kid media choices and consumption. During that period, the average amount of time kids spent in front of a screen each day hasn’t changed that much — about two hours — but which screen they’re glued to has. These days, about 35 percent of that time is spent in front of a phone or a tablet. (The survey shows 72 percent of families with young children have Netflix or a similar streaming subscription service; only 65 percent have cable TV). Back in 2011, only a tiny sliver of kid media usage was on a mobile device. What’s more, the survey of 1,400 families from varied backgrounds found that against universal pediatric recommendations, nearly half of children ages 8 and under “often or sometimes” play video games in the hour before bedtime, and 42 percent of families leave the TV on in the background of their homes during waking hours, whether or not anyone is watching. Why does this all matter? Well, the use of devices has both good and bad points — schools, even preschools, are using more and more technology in the classroom, finding that it can be a helpful teaching tool. But unfettered screen time, which is more easily available to kids than ever thanks to mobile devices, can increase obesity and anxiety rates, pediatricians say. — J.S.

Playlist: Something for Everyone

Music is the gift that keeps on giving. This holiday season you’ll be able to find an album of cool kids’ music for everyone on your list.

For Hip Christmukkah Tunes: Check out Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could’s Revvin’ Up the Reindeer, an album of swingin’ holiday tunes — the title track and Untangling the Christmas Lights are especially reminiscent of ’90s hitmaker Brian Setzer. And songs Holiday Jam, Hanukkah Rocks and Rainbow Candles mention winter holidays other than Christmas.

For Your Parent Friends Who Swear They Hate Kids Music: Lead Belly, Baby! by Dan Zanes and Friends brings the music of 12-string guitar master Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter to a new generation. This isn’t “kids music,” but rockin’ good folk music that littles and their grown-ups can appreciate. At

For the Goofiest Kids You Know: On his solo album Songs from the Monkey House, Recess Monkey lead singer Jack Forman offers a pack of silly tunes inspired by real-life conversations with children. Star Wars fans will get a giggle from Yodeling Yoda and and picky eaters will identify with the song Blue Cheese. At

For Kids Who Gotta Dance: Kindie queen Laurie Berkner reimagines some of her most popular tunes for the kids of club
kids with
 Laurie Berkner:
The Dance Remixes
. My kiddos especially loved Where Is the Cake? and Rocketship Run. At — D.C.

Ask Dr. Corey

Q: My baby had a fever the other night, and it spiked at 103, which seemed scary high. I called the advice nurse at our pediatrician, and it eventually went back down — but how high should a child’s fever be before we take them to the emergency room? Does it change as kids get older?

A: What a burning question you asked! Fever in children is something that can be very scary to a parent and as common as it is, it can be difficult to find good advice on what to do when fevers pop up.

One reason we are so afraid of fever stems from the days when preventive health measures like vaccines didn’t exist. Nor were germs understood as the cause of disease until the 1860s.

To further complicate matters, measures like how high a fever gets or how long it lasts as a predictor of a more serious illness have changed dramatically over the last couple decades.

As it stands today, neither the height of the fever, nor length of fever are accurate predictors that a child has a more severe illness versus a less severe one. That’s not to say that children with fever aren’t at higher risk for things like dehydration and that it doesn’t make them feel good. All in all though, as a culture, we probably overtreat fever. There is also mounting evidence that fever may actually be good for us and help us fight off illnesses faster.

As practical advice to parents, I usually start with a definition of fever. The medical community has helped spread the idea that 98.6˚ Fahrenheit is a normal temperature and that anything above this is a fever. However, this is not totally accurate. 98.6˚ Fahrenheit is an average temperature in children, meaning that a large portion of kids will normally run either higher than this number, or lower than this number.

I would define fever as 100.4˚ Fahrenheit or more.

Now that we know how fever is defined, what do we do about it? I generally do not recommend medicating fever unless your child is pretty uncomfortable or not drinking well and at risk for dehydration. Tylenol (acetaminophen) should be used for children under 6 months of age as a fever reducer and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) may be used for children 6 months of age or older. Generally, it’s not a great idea to give acetaminophen to small babies under 2-3 months of age unless you’ve checked with your doctor first.

OK, now we know what a fever is and what to do about it. So when do you call your child’s doctor? Any time you are concerned of course, especially if you feel something isn’t quite right with your child. Also any baby under 4-8 weeks of age with a fever warrants a call to your doctor or an office visit sooner rather than later and immediately for babies with fever under 4 weeks of age. It’s not that the fever is necessarily dangerous to babies that age, but we think about them a little differently than older children with fever.

Thanks for a great question!

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