HOOD RIVER — Hood River’s Roots School and Makery is officially kicking the “makery” part into gear. Starting this summer, the preschool and childcare center has been hosting classes that teach school age children skills like pickling, sewing and weaving.
According to Roots Director Angela Bansen, the idea behind the makery is helping teach children skills that have become somewhat lost due to the conveniences of technology.
“It’s sort of like a home-ec class with a little bit of a modern twist,” Roots Director Angela Bansen said.
Roots does childcare for children from 1-year-olds to pre-Kindergarten 5-year-olds, but the Makery is for children of elementary school age, Bansen said.
Over the summer, the makery functioned as a sort of day camp with week-long themed classes. Now that school is back in session, they have an after-school class from 2:45 to 5 p.m, Monday through Thursday. Each day of the week focuses on something different and themes also change depending on the month.
“Mondays in October are all things pumpkin,” Bansen said. “Tuesdays are all things textile and Wednesdays are all things apple.”
The goal with the rotating classes is to let the kids choose what interests them, Bansen said.
“Kids can sign up a la carte, so maybe they’d really love to learn how to make pumpkin donuts, or maybe another class isn’t enticing for them,” she said. “So they can choose one class, they could do a full week and do something different every day, if parents need care for kids for an entire week, or they can choose a smattering throughout the month.”
Going forward, Roots hopes to offer a few more makery class options, Bansen said. They’d like to have one during the day for children who are homeschooled, as well as some monthly evening classes for adults.
One thing that makes both the childcare and makery sections of Roots special is the large garden out back. When children have done flower arranging at the makery, they’ve used flowers from the garden. The pumpkin desserts will also be made with pumpkins from the garden.
Plants from the garden are extra special because the kids in childcare are involved in the entire process of growing and harvesting them. In the early spring, they help tend to the garden and pull the weeds, even using tools meant for kids.
“They’ll go out and hoe and rake and shovel, make big holes and dig in the dirt,” Bansen said. “And then things grow and they’re fascinated.”
Bansen said the kids love to check on the plants throughout the summer and see how they’re changing. It’s a great educational opportunity for them, she said, and they’re able to teach them that the flowers will turn into fruits and vegetables and essentially walk them through the process of growing food until it’s time to pick the (literal) fruits of their labor.
“Then they’re harvesting and they’ve got juicy tomatoes running all down their face, or they’ve got a huge cucumber that they’re just gnawing on like it’s a corn cob,” she said
In the end, they also save and dry the seeds, which the kids also help with. They sort them and are able to store them away for the next year when they do it all again.
The kids get to spend time in the garden almost every day, Bansen said, and they always have fun eating things right out of the garden and enjoying the produce that they grew themselves. It’s not only educational, but it also helps them feel a sense of accomplishment.
“Not only do you know where it came from, you helped grow it,” Bansen said. “So to be able to eat those and then also cook and bake with them, it’s really cool. It’s an opportunity we’re so glad we get to give them.”
Roots School and Makery is located at 800 Country Club Road in Hood River. The preschool and childcare are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with makery classes from 2:45 to 5 p.m.