Build Off attracts over 200 children & their caregivers to build tall and learn through play

Families throughout Thurston and Mason County came to beat the heat and the smoky air at the 2018 Build Off event held at Lacey Community Center on August 22, 10am – 1pm. Children made up most of the 200 people in attendance and filled their time with fun educational activities, without even knowing they were learning.

The Build Off Challenge was one of the most popular stations at the event; where children and their families or friends had 12 minutes to build the tallest structure out of 500 wooden Keva planks with a chance to win the grand prize of a night stay at Great Wolf Lodge. The Build Off Challenge came down to the last build flight, where two teams ended up at a tie with their structures reaching nine-feet tall!

While children were not building, they enjoyed a wide range of early learning activities; fun games, arts & crafts, reading fun, and safety activities. Each activity was specially designed for kids and their families to challenge imaginations and also provide learning opportunities based on three main categories: Health & Safety, Reading, and Arts & Crafts.

“They were so absorbed in what they were doing,” said Max Crabapple, parent attending the event. This was a similar response heard over and over again from parents attending with their children.

Kids flocked to the Molina Healthcare Smoothie Bike station, where children peddled furiously for a couple minutes to run the blender attached to the stationary bike. The result was a delicious, healthy smoothie and many faces sporting smoothie mustaches.

There were multiple safety stations throughout the event. Kids learned safety skills at the Washington Boating Program and loved the challenge of throwing a rescue throw bag for water rescues. South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity had an interactive construction safety table, while also having children decorate colorful plastic hard hats. Kids competed in the giant Sidewalk Safety Chutes and Ladders game by Safe Kids Thurston County while learning basics of pedestrian safety. They also had a chance to pick up the book, “Clifford Takes a Walk” and have it signed by Sprocket Hero. Meeting the firefighters from Lacey Fire District 3 as well as climbing inside the fire truck was also a highlight; as well as meeting Marshall the Courthouse dog.

Reading activities took up another huge portion of the event. Child Care Action Council’s Raising a Reader program featured the book “When I build with blocks” by Niki Alling and paired the book with a vertical sensory block building experience. Younger children not only worked on gross motor skills by placing blocks on the sensory wall but also worked on learning shapes and colors. Timberland Regional Library featured the book “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood and children made story sticks that told a visual story of the book. A huge selection of books were also distributed by South Sound Reading Foundation.

Multiple Arts and Crafts stations rounded out the rest of the activity stations. Child Care Action Council’s Kaleidoscope Play & Learn program hosted a Sun Catcher making station where kids made stain glass-like artwork out of tissue paper cut out of different shapes. The Hands On Children’s Museum provided a make and race Rumble Bots MakeSpace station where kids made googly-eyed bots out of cups with plastic straw legs. The bots then  teetered down the moveable ramp that the children hand cranked. The Washington State University Master Gardeners program attracted kids to sort seeds, learn the plant lifecycle, and best times to plant.

This free community event was made possible by the event sponsors Molina HealthcareWSECUMcSwain & CompanyPort BlakelyVan Dorm Realty, Thurston Talk, Great Wolf Lodge, Meconi’s, Earth Friendly Products, and Harbor Wholesale.

We also would like to thank the many volunteers who made this event super fun and run smoothly. Thank you to our registration and information table volunteers: Judi and Neil Woody, and Nicole Hinchcliffe. Our judges, Henry Maldonado and Pua. Annie Cubberly for doing an amazing job on face painting. Melissa Sampson for event promotions and video during the event. And general event support from Ashley Woody.

The Build Off event and the Child Care Action Council’s many programs all help to accomplish the goals in their mission statement, which is to promote and nurture early learning communities where families and children thrive.