Category Archives: Activities

Kitchen Fun: Books About Baking


Baking is a great activity for children to learn following instructions, basic math skills, and healthy eating. The Home Baking Association has produced the following “how to” videos, as well as a fun and informative book called Baking with Friends.

Here are some additional books about baking for kids:

Baking with Kids by Leah Brooks
American Girl Baking Recipes by Williams Sonoma
Baking Day at Grandma’s Anika Denise
My First Baking Book by Susan Akass

The Nine-Patch Quilt Cake

It looks so good you might not want to eat it!

View the Recipe Here

Rustic Country Fruit Tart

It tastes just like the dessert Grandma used to make!

View the Recipe Here

Cheese Tomato Pizza

Includes instructions for overnight refrigerator pizza dough and par-baked pizza crusts.

View the Recipe Here

Corn Bread

Try this recipe with your favorite chili!

View the Recipe Here

Download a free Baking Certificate from the book Baking with Friends.

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Books to Inspire Healthy Eating

For this article, we interviewed Dr. Heidi Sivers Boyce, President of the Oregon Athletic Clubs, which encourages elements of healthy lifestyle for every member of the family. Before this position, Dr. Sivers Boyce owned P. B. & Ellie’s Cafe in Southwest Portland. The restaurant offered organic, local & other healthier-choice meals especially for young diners and their parents.

Check out these books about healthy eating:

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell
The Food Parade by Elicia Castaldi
The Cultured Chef by Nicholas Beatty
The Monster Health Book by Edward Miller


1. Ensure kids have healthful foods to choose from. The first step is to fill your kitchen with good-for-you foods. Avoid the processed foods marketed directly to your children (gummy fruits, juice boxes, prepackaged lunch crackers, cheese, & meats, etc.) Even adults know that it’s easier to eat healthfully when your kitchen is loaded with fresh, whole foods.

2. Allow children to choose whether or not to eat something and how much of it to eat. If a child isn’t forced to choke down something they hate, they’re more likely to give it another try in the future.

3. For culinary inspiration, go to the library and gather a few kids’ cookbooks full of beautiful pictures. Planning your meals and snacks together with your children will help them to be more invested in eating the quality foods they have chosen. Regularly perusing cookbooks and recipes in magazines can also help your family stay away from food ruts. A great option is our newest cookbook, “Baking With Friends.”

4. Make grocery shopping a family activity. Let older kids monitor the list, read labels or practice their math skills with price comparing. Make it a fun activity!

5. Play “Find the Rainbow” at the grocery store, looking for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple foods that come from nature (no artificial colors allowed). This nearly guarantees a kitchen full of fruits and veggies, and since your child chose them, he or she will be more inclined to eat them.

6. Use all of the senses to interest kids in food variety, including their sense of humor. Let them help in food preparation. Present things in colorful, funny or enticing ways. For example, color your pancakes purple with pureed berries, shape your sand-wiches, or make silly faces with condiments on your burgers. These simple efforts create a safe way for kids to feel “adventurous in the kitchen,” a skill they can continue to build upon to battle normal picky eating instincts.

7. Sneak fruits and veggies as purees into favorite recipes is a great thing to do, and there are a lot of great cook books out there now with ideas. Just remember to put the natural form in front of your kiddo too.

8. When all else fails, try and try again Science has shown us that familiarity breeds liking. Take a long-term perspective and assume you’ll need to expose your children to a food 10 times before they will try it, 10 more times before they take a real bite, and 10 times after that before they like it. Patience and persistence will eventually pay off.

9. When eating out, choose your location wisely. More and more restaurants are realizing the importance of offering something for kids beyond fried foods and soda. Even if it’s not on the menu, most places will make sides such as grilled vegetables, carrot sticks, or milk or juice to drink.

10. The ultimate goal is to help kids believe that they are someone who loves healthy foods!

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Get outside! Nature In Children’s Books


For this article we interviewed Pamela Ellgen, a Certified Personal Trainer and cookbook author in Santa Barbara, CA. Pamela has worked with kids as young as seven and enjoys motivating them and their parents toward a healthy and active lifestyle in the gym and outdoors.

…introduce a variety of outdoor activities to your family.

1. It Starts With You A recent study by The Outdoor Foundation finds that most youth are introduced to outdoor activities through their families; however, participation in outdoor recreation has dropped by 17 percent in the last three years. So parents, it’s up to you. Do your part to instill a love for outdoor recreation in your children. Try reading these books with your kids to help instill a love of nature:

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Botanicum by Kathy Willis
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
A Walk in the Forest by Maria Dek

2. Make Time for a Green Hour The National Wildlife Federation encourages children and parents to engage in one hour each day of unstructured play outdoors. Visit the federation’s website for additional tips:

3. Get Online and check out resources offered by your local parks and recreation department. Even in small cities, you’ll find activities offered nearly every day of the week, especially as the weather turns warmer.

4. Plan a trip to state park for a day or even an overnight camping trip. Early, positive experiences such as these will go a long way toward building an appreciation for the outdoors in your children.

5. Climb Trees Believe it or not, tree climbing is an actual sport with classes and safety precautions. Check out the website to find out how you can encourage this age-old favorite among children and keep them safe at the same time.

6. Dig in the Dirt and learn a little about geology in the process. Encourage kids to catalog types of soil and rocks that they find.

7. Volunteer to clean up a local park or hiking trail. Not only will this bring your family together outdoors, but also you will model the importance of environmental stewardship and conservation.

8. Play it Safe by educating your self and your children with respect to dangerous plants and insects. Also, ensure your children have access to and use safety equipment, such as helmets and protective padding for outdoor sports.

9. Become a Member of Outdoor Nation: and connect with other children and families who are heading outside this spring.

10. Read “Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids – A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors” by author Eugene Buchanan. It will provide everything you need to know to introduce a variety of outdoor activities to your family including: paddling, hiking, climbing, swimming and many others.

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Riding the Bus for Fun: Safe, Economical, Socially Conscious and Enjoyable


Make riding the bus a fun experience with your kids! But first, check out these great books that will inspire your kids to learn more.

School Bus by Donald Crews
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willem
The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole
The Wheels on the Bus by Annie Kubler
Pete the Cat: The Wheels on the Bus by James Dean

I live in a city where the buses and light rail are very clean so riding the bus is a pleasant experience. However, since I moved here 18 years ago, riding the bus usually meant something was wrong like my car was broken or my husband accidentally took my car keys to work. (true story)

So, a couple of months ago I had to meet a friend in downtown Vancouver for lunch and my husband had the car. Thinking nothing of it, I walked a mile to the bus stop while listening to my favorite podcast and waited for the bus. It was mid-day and the bus was warm and empty. Halfway through my trip I realized I was enjoying the trip for once and wasn’t stressed or worried.

I looked forward to going back and exploring an area I’ve lived in for 18 years…

A couple of weeks later I was taking a class on one side of Portland and my husband was on the other. He won the coin toss on who got the car and I had to find my way across town to meet him. On the bus ride to downtown Portland I found myself in a part of town I had only driven through a few times. It was a rainy day and I looked out the window and took in my surroundings. Everything was plush and green and I noticed stores I had only read about and parks I wanted to explore. The line “I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly.” from Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451 came to mind because I never had the chance to notice the trees and flowers along this route.

The bus made its way through two more neighborhoods and lumbered into downtown Portland. I passed by works of art I had never seen, restaurants I kept meaning to go to, and funky stores I was making mental notes to visit again. It was an exciting day for me and I looked forward to going back and exploring an area I’ve lived in for 13 years but never truly stopped and looked at. I also learned that riding the bus isn’t always fun (especially when someone with a very wet cough is sitting next to you) but it can be.

Here’s how:

#1 There are always interesting characters on the bus, make a list of the people you see every day and write short stories about them.

#2 Sit next to the window on the bus or train and take pictures from you vantage point and make a photo series you can share with your friends.

#3 Have you ever wondered about a particular part of town? Take a bus ride through that area and write down your observations. Start a travel guide on what you can see if you take the bus.

#4 Whenever certain friends of mine travel to new cities they hop on a bus and take a tour of the city. They get to see the real people and places and not the ones the travel guides want you to see. If you do this, make sure you’re getting on a safe route that won’t take you to dangerous areas.

#5 Think about other tasks you do every day that stress you out and how you can make them fun. I don’t like going the Laundromat because I have a tendency to go when I have little money and no clean clothes. Maybe I need to find a funky Laundromat in a new neighborhood and see if I can get some enjoyment from the experience.

Anna Alexander
Staff Writer

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