by Courtaney Morton – mom to two-year-old Marcus and avid PDX Kids Calendar reader
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since my son, Marcus, was born two and a half years ago. Only recently have I felt the urge to have some time for myself – either to go back to work a few hours a week or to have a cup of tea and read the paper or run errands or have lunch with friends.
While researching daycare options around town I quickly realized that I do not fit the typical model for childcare. I am not willing or able to commit to a three day a week minimum (or any minimum for that matter) and, even if I could, it most likely would not be the same time window each week. Enter Brooke Facteau and The Art Cubby, Portland’s best kept secret for drop-in childcare.
I learned about The Art Cubby from a PDX Kids Calendar post and, one impulsive morning about a month ago, I gave Brooke a call to see if Marcus and I could come check the place out. When we arrived we had the place to ourselves. This was perfect – for Marcus, a tentative boy, to explore the room on his own and for me, an inquisitive mom who was new to daycare, to ask questions and learn about Brooke’s vision for The Art Cubby.
The Art Cubby is housed in a one-room ActivSpace suite in Northwest Portland. Brooke has done a wonderful job of maximizing the small space. There are arts and crafts stations set up around the room. Some of the options I saw were: easels with paint and brushes ready for small Picassos; a basket of musical instruments beckoning young maestros; a puppet theater awaiting impromptu performances; tables with paper, crayons, markers, stamps, glue sticks and collage materials for little hands to create their next work of art; and, the coup de gras, in the back corner there is an area where the kids can PAINT ON THE WALLS!
In the half hour that we were there checking out The Art Cubby, Marcus moved through most of the stations at his own pace. And that’s the plan! The space is designed for the kids to create what they want, while Brooke (or one of her hand-picked teachers) is there to assist them, when needed. Being a bit music- and instrument-obsessed, Marcus did gravitate toward the basket of instruments. When she learned that he loved guitars, Brooke told him that she would help him make a guitar the next time he came to play at The Art Cubby. That small, personal gesture meant a lot to me and, what’s more, it made Marcus excited to come back.
And come back we have… a few times! Marcus has been to The Art Cubby once a week for the past three weeks and he’ll be back again this week. Brook has helped him make some things that he loves and plays with at home: a guitar (out of an empty Kleenex box and rubber bands), a drum (out of an old yogurt container) and a cord for this guitar (using yarn, a couple pen caps and tape).
Brooke said that The Art Cubby is set up to accommodate a maximum of 15 kids, but the most she’s comfortable with right now is 12. Since it’s so new, the most kids she’s had at any given time so far is 5 or 6. Usually there’s one or two other kids around when Marcus is there. The cost is $12/hour (with a 4 hour limit per day). But you can get the price down a bit by buying in bulk — a 10-hour punchcard is $120 (it’s like getting one hour free). And, though a reservation isn’t required, I have been emailing Brooke to let her know when to expect Marcus — it’s very easy to send her a note via the website: kidsartcubby.com/contact-us.
I’ll end this review with a word to the wise: dress your kiddo in clothes you wouldn’t mind seeing paint on, having fun at The Art Cubby can get messy!
You can see a little glimpse into what The Art Cubby is all about – and why they do it – in this video clip.
Courtaney wrote this review independently on behalf of PDX Kids Calendar and was not compensated in any way for her opinions.