Educational Resources Showcase the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski

Over the past few months, you’ve been cooped up at home busy trying to keep your children educated and entertained. You’ve led lessons, graded assignments, and even let your little learners outside for recess once in a while. It’s a tireless job, and we’re sure at this point you agree with Jimmy Fallon: Teachers should make a billion dollars.

The good news is that summer break is rapidly approaching, and it is the perfect time to share a few educational resources that showcase the wonders of the Willamette Valley—from regional history to native raptors to new books. Here’s a brief rundown of businesses and nonprofits—along with how they’re keeping kids entertained (and educated) through this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A tan and black spotted bird perches a top a branch

Cascades Raptor Center Videos Showcase Native Birds of Prey

Every year, the Cascades Raptor Center provides medical care to more than 300 sick, injured, and orphaned birds of prey near the southern edge of Eugene. And, at any given time, nearly 40 native raptors call the nature center and wildlife hospital home—including eagles, falcons, owls, and more.

Ordinarily, kids of all ages could catch a glimpse of those majestic birds at the center itself—but COVID-19 has closed it for the time being. In response, the Cascades Raptor Center has turned to Facebook for educational live streamings.

To date, the presentations have included chats with staff members about the importance of these birds, as well as regular appearances from the birds themselves. And if you miss the live videos, they remain on the center’s Facebook page for later viewing.

If you’d like to spy birds yourself, check out our recent blog post on backyard birdwatching. The story includes birding hotspots around the Willamette Valley, some of the species you may see, and how to identify common calls and songs.

Bookstores Offer Free Delivery, Promotions, Other Valuable Services

No matter the season, reading is always in style. And while libraries may be shuttered, plenty of efforts remain to keep kids reading through this pandemic.

The Book Bin, with locations in Salem and Corvallis, is offering free home delivery within Corvallis, Salem, and Keizer city limits; free shipping on orders over $15 anywhere else; and free curbside pickup for all orders. The Book Bin is also running the occasional giveaway and promotion on its Salem store’s Facebook page and on its Corvallis store’s Facebook page—so give them a “like” to stay updated on the latest surprises.

Meanwhile, Third Street Books in downtown McMinnville is offering curbside pick-up, free home delivery to local residents (with purchases of $25 or more), and convenient shipping ($2 per item) for all orders outside city limits.

Smith Family Bookstore is one of the oldest independent bookstores in Oregon, having bought and sold titles since 1974—and boasts a selection of more than 500,000 new, used, and out-of-print titles. To meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shop is offering books for store pick-up or mail delivery.

These are just some of the many bookstores throughout the Willamette Valley. If we didn’t mention your favorite shop here, check in to see if they’re offering curbside pick-up, gift cards for sale, or other promotions.

And if you’re missing your neighborhood library, visit its website to see which virtual services are offered while closed; many libraries host free ebook downloads, audiobooks, streaming movies, and more.

Children’s Museum Creates Community Through Facebook

For more than 30 years, the Gilbert House Children’s Museum has inspired kids through more than a dozen educational exhibits, camps, classes, and more. And while the museum can’t host in-person events for now, it’s striving to keep families connected and active through the pandemic.

It’s doing that, in large part, through the Gilbert House Children’s Museum Community Group, a Facebook group for museum members, young families, and caretakers. The goal is for these groups to come together on the platform and offer encouragement, share ideas for learning and creative play, and participate in an online community. So far, group members have done so by sharing tips for setting up indoor campgrounds and more.

As if that weren’t enough, the museum’s own Facebook page shares ideas and inspiration for children’s activities, with suggestions for exercise, reading, creativity, and more.

Curriculums Detail History of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde have crafted a variety of materials to help teachers educate students on Native Americans in Oregon—and those curriculums are available for free download. The materials are oriented toward second-grade, fourth-grade, sixth-grade, and eighth-grade students—and each includes PowerPoint presentations and other fun activities (like a virtual scavenger hunt and reading lists), along with ideas to spark research and discussions.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s YouTube channel also includes a look at the legacy of Willamette Falls, and another on the history and importance of Chinookan art.

Eugene Science Center Brings Science Home

We’ve covered a variety of subjects with our educational resources so far: zoology, reading, play, creativity, and regional history. So it’s only natural that we’d spotlight Eugene Science Center, doing its part to keep kids updated on their science studies.

Eugene Science Center has used its Facebook page to offer videos and live streams that cover a variety of topics—including how to turn household materials into backyard science activities, planetarium presentations, making slime, space exploration, and so much more.