Fox Den Daycare: new childcare option opens

Charlie Denison

From left, Ashley Fox, Bristol Stillens, Isis and Lucy Sharpe smile in the Fox Den playroom Thursday.

Photo by Charlie Denison

At Fox Den Daycare, children are forced to use their imagination.

“It’s a good break from TV and electronics,” said owner Ashley Fox.

Fox, who moved to Lewistown last July from Grand Forks, North Dakota, has a background in pre-K education. Instead of getting involved with a school here, she decided to stay at home and have the children come to her.

With help from Skyla Sharpe, whose daughter Lucy is a regular, the Fox Den officially opened in December, and business is booming.

The team – which sometimes includes Sharpe’s oldest daughter, Isis –stays busy, as more and more children are coming in regularly. Some days Fox almost runs out of room.

“We are licensed for 12 children,” Fox said. “We even have a small waiting list now. There are a few babies who will join us when they’re born.”

Nevertheless, the daycare is open and is still accepting more children ages 0-5

“We provide quality childcare, starting with infants up until kindergarten age,” Fox said. “We have a nursery area for babies and a main room for pre-school and play school.”

Children enjoy their visits to the Fox Den, as they stay plenty busy with a wide variety of activities, be it making Play-Doh, getting creative in the science center, reading children’s books or dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

“The kids get creative,” Sharpe said. “They pretend they’re talking to someone in Japan on the fake phones, they pretend to type on the fake typewriter and they love to feed the babies. The other day one of them was feeding a baby doll with a fake ketchup bottle.”

Although some of these activities are improvisational, there are also structured play activities.

“We do a lot of chemistry-related crafts using baking soda, vinegar, shaving cream, etc.,” Fox said.

The science station is pretty popular, but it’s just one of many stations the kids seem to enjoy. Sharpe’s daughter, Lucy, spends most of her time in the Fox Den Library.

Lucy’s favorite author is currently Dr. Seuss. That’s no surprise to the children and adults at the Fox Den, as last week Lucy read excerpts of “Hop on Pop.”

“She didn’t read before she started coming here,” Sharpe said. “Now she doesn’t want to stop.”



A good time had by all

Some of the children at Fox Den Daycare don’t seem to want to leave. When Emma Thayne’s mother, Alice, came to pick her up, Emma was not ready to go.

“I’ll bring you back tomorrow, I promise,” Alice told Emma.

These exchanges are not unusual, Fox said, which she finds both flattering and adorable. It also makes her think, “mission accomplished,” as it was her goal to make the Fox Den fun.

“A lot of the time we don’t feel like we’re working,” Fox said. “It just feels like we’re playing with kids, but we’re doing more than that. We teach a lot of self-help skills. For example, the children learn tips on meal preparation and how to effectively wipe tables down. They also learn how to resolve conflicts. They learn how to be more independent here.”

Fox also tracks the progress of the children each week.

“I take pictures and post on our Facebook page about what the children are doing and learning here,” she said. “I like to keep the parents up to date.”

Fox Den Daycare is located at 509 W Shields Street and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided. For more information, call Fox at (406) 478-0932 or check out Fox Den Daycare on Facebook.





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