Parents home-schooling their children may think in terms of organizing activity pods for their children. Pods are small groups to carpool and explore activities of interest. Learning pods, a new and popular concept are “small groups of students (typically three to 10 children) who learn together outside the classroom but still in person. Some pods are hiring tutors to teach a child’s school curriculum; some share teaching duties among the parents. Other families are opting out of their kids’ schools entirely and treating a pod like a home-schooling co-op with an agreed-upon curriculum. One parent interviewed suggested activities such as running or exercising, eating healthy snacks such as milk and apples, and activities to teach the value of helping.” ( Parents who join a pod may find this is one way to educate their children and still keep their jobs.

Experts of learning pods suggest keeping the pod to five or fewer students, to minimize the exposure to the virus. “Once you add in a teacher, siblings and family members, the pod could end up being linked to dozens of people.” The pod should continue to wear masks, practice good hand washing and maintain social distancing. Facebook and other neighborhood listservs are good methods for finding or creating a learning pod. “For some families, though, groups are forming the traditional way — based on networks they had before the pandemic, made up of their kids’ classmates, family friends or neighbors with similarly aged children.”

Community-based experiences for learning pods include parks, art-based experiences, community improvement activities and farmers markets.


Downtown Troutdale, a small community located along the Historic Columbia River Highway and home to the Columbia Outlet Mall has an arts and culture atmosphere with many places to taste the regional cuisine. And if your family enjoys fishing, there are eight great fishing areas within five miles of Troutdale, OR, such as the Dabney State Recreation Area just 0.9 miles from downtown Troutdale. The Troutdale Facebook page is continually updated with new information,

Parks include the Imagination Station, a city park established for the exploration and stimulating the imagination of children. This park is not sanitized for individual use, so be sure to wash hands thoroughly in the restrooms after playing.

Teddy the Troutdale Bear is coming! Teddy, a cute, fun, fuzzy bear to purchase, own and enjoy will come with a bandanna and backpack and is available with a coordinated Get to Know your Parks Tour. There is no registration for Teddy the Troutdale Bear. Learning pods will be able to buy this bear at the end of September. The Get to Know your Parks Tour will launch at the same time, but that is also a stand alone activity. Learning pods don’t have to purchase Teddy to do the park tour. Troutdale’s Fall Recreation Guide is coming out the week of Sept. 14th. Interested families (residents and non-Troutdale residents) can find all the details on Teddy and the other recreation programs at or There may be some adjustments to time frames due to the wild fires. For more information, you can reach out to Recreation Manager Mollie King at (503) 674-7206 or at

Community improvement activities:

A community improvement activity happening now is the 8th Annual Lower Sandy Floating Cleanup, hosted by City of Troutdale and Sandy River Watershed Council, on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 10 AM PDT – 3 PM PDT. Participants will gather at Dabney State Recreation Area, launch rafts and stop along the way to collect litter. Who knows what you’ll find digging things out of the riverbeds. This year, they’re introducing a Land Litter Team, where participants will help clean the areas from the comfort of their own two feet. Youth between 10-17 are very welcome on water & land teams and must be accompanied by an adult.” For more information, visit

Troutdale also currently has a Helping activity called, ‘Every “Litter” Bit Helps!’. This activity, organized by SOLVE (visit for more info.), aims to clean neighborhoods for healthier places to live. Parents can get their own DIY kit by visiting and use the code: CLEANTROUTDALE.

Art-based experiences:

Learning pods can always drop in at the Caswell Sculpture Garden on SE Jackson Park Road. This is a wonderful meditation spot for parents and older children as the bronze sculptures are life-like. Young minds will dream all night of the forest creatures they saw while visiting. After your visit, go down the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Glenn Otto Community Park and drive through Sugar Pine for ice cream. If you should visit after the COVID-19 virus ends, stop by the King of the Roads exhibit for a historical look at Troutdale.

Is your child an artist? The Red Trillium Studio in Troutdale, OR offers art classes (for small groups during the virus) led by nationally renowned artists like Anji Grainger and Linda Swindle. The Red Trillium Gallery is located at 371 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, OR 97060. For questions, email The gallery and event center specializes in hosting all types of classes and events for the community. Classes range from one day art classes to multiple day workshops, where learning pods can find enrichment. Owner Operators, Marcia Morrow and Beth Schilling realized that a much needed event center would benefit the community in many ways. Their vision has brought people together, bringing art to the community and surrounding areas and helped Historical Troutdale become an Art destination location. The Red Trillium Studio works closely with Red Trillium Gallery and a number of the gallery artists are instructors in the studio. This ensures our students that they will be learning from the best!

Currently Anji Grainger presents Elements of Nature and Texture in Watercolor where students will learn how to create dynamic and unusual textured patterns by employing nontraditional techniques. Plant materials, herbs, legumes, salt, stones and other elements react to watercolor pigments to leave beautiful patterns on paper. Anji’s workshops include a lot of creating and play-time but emphasize composition and design principles to inspire creativity.

“Silk is one of the most luxurious yet durable fabrics.” said Linda Swindle, artist and instructor of The Magic of silk painting. Her work is seen at the Red Trillium Gallery, a fine art gallery and teaching center in Troutdale, OR. Similar to watercolor techniques, Linda teaches wet on wet and wet on dry techniques, as well as the Serti method which involves creating shapes by using a resist to create a barrier and stop the flow of dye. Participants in her workshops will make four silk scarves.

Many current classes are for both youth and adults. Learning pods and individuals can visit our website at to view the schedule of events.

Farmers markets:

Farmer’s markets are a popular destination for metropolitan family learning pods. Farmer’s Markets connect farms to school by helping children learn about the sources of foods. Of the many farmers markets, learning pods may want to visit serving the Woodlawn, Piedmont and Concordia neighborhoods, or for the Montavilla neighborhood. You can also check out a year-round market for Portland proper, which hold vulnerable population shopping early in the day. If your learning pod is in Seattle, go to located in the University neighborhood. Some markets provide for a shop online and pick up at the market for a quicker market tour.

On Sept. 12, 19 & 26. the Fairview Community Outdoor Food Market distributes free food boxes to families in need every Saturday. Just drop by the Multnomah Learning Academy (MLA) parking lot at 22565 NE Halsey Street in Fairview from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. No documentation is required to participate. Food box items change week to week.

Whatever your preference, students will be sure to meet some happy farmers and view fresh foods at our cities farmers markets.

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