Category Archives: Books

Camping Books for Kids 3-5

Here is a list of seven books to take along camping and outdoor adventures. Be prepared and make sure even the smallest campers stay happy campers…

Just Me and My Dad

A very cute book about a Dad and Child going camping – good for 2-5 year olds and as beginning reader for older kids. The father lets the child participate as much as possible, although things don’t always work out. The story introduces activities with just Dad and child and would be a great humorous intro for some parental bonding. The pictures are bright and have an extra cute sub-story of some little critters that follow along.

Curious George goes Camping

Our favorite monkey goes camping. George and the Man with the Yellow Hat set up a campsite and George learns about camp fires, interacting with other campers, fetching water, and SKUNKS. I had to field a lot of questions about the tomato sauce bath George gets at the end…

 Olivia goes Camping

Simple writing introduces Olivia’s friend who does not want to go camping. Olivia’s friend is worried that she will get dirty and not know what to do on her first camping trip, so this is a good introduction for younger preschoolers for their first camping trip.

Amelia Bedelia goes Camping

Amelia goes on her first camping trip. Amelia Bedelia has never been camping in the great outdoors before. She’s trying her best to do exactly as she’s told, but pitching a tent is not the same as throwing it into the bushes, and catching a fish with your bare hands isn’t easy. As usual, the mixed-up housekeeper makes this camping trip one hugely entertaining adventure.

101 Family Vacation Games

The book includes games to play at the beach, camping, in the car, on the plane, at picnics, at vacation homes, and at birthday parties. Some sample games: Word Tennis, Treasure Hunt, Pebble Pictures, Storytelling Starters.

Age level is 4 and up.

Kids Camp!: Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness

Lots of activities to get kids 5 and over interested and invested in the outdoors while camping and in the back yard.

Go Out and Play!: Favorite Outdoor Games from KaBOOM!

Comprehensive collection of all the outdoor games we played as kids – and have forgotten the rules to. Rediscover favorites and learn new games from around the world. A lot of the games are for 5+ year olds, but can be adapted to younger children in all sorts of settings.

Nature Craft Books I’m reading

A quick list of children’s craft books I am into at the moment. Alex, who turned 4 in Dec, is definitely able get something out of these. Jen still makes blobs a lot – though she surprised me by daintily painting just the wings, eyes, and feather tufts on an owl mask the other day. I’m looking forward to spring – can ya tell?


Loved this post by Michelle Borba: Raising “Can Do” Kids. Exactly what I’m trying to do, so I thought I’d share

Raising “Can Do” Kids

Posted: February 7th, 2011 by Michele Borba

Parenting advice to help nurture self-esteem and positive attitudes in our youth.

If you could give your children a quality that would enhance their chances for leading successful, meaningful and fulfilling lives, what would it be? Though answers may seem endless, many experts say one of the greatest gift would be a “Can Do Attitude.” The fact is, perhaps nothing will play a more significant role in determining the caliber of our children’s productivity, inner strength, contentment, interpersonal relationships, and competencies than the strength of their self-beliefs. And the best news is there are endless simple parenting moments to nurture positive attitudes in our children. This blog is all about how to raise “Can Do” kids!

Eight Tips to Cultivate a “Can Do” Attitude in Kids

Here are eight tips from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions that help your child recognize his or her achievements and unique strengths and cultivate a “Can Do Attitude.”

1. Discover unique strengths. There are so many fabulous opportunities to help our children discover their special talents and strengths. My Girl Scout leader from years ago was a master. Mrs. Woolley made us feel great by pointing out what we were good at. I always marveled at how she remembered our personal competencies. Then one day I discovered her secret when I found her notebook opened to a page filled with notes: “Meghan is interested in acrylics, Kelly’s soccer game, Joanne’s music recital.” It was her way of making sure no girl’s talent was ever overlooked. Years later I still admire (and use!) Mrs. Woolley’s simple but powerful way of helping kids discover their strengths! It’s a secret we parents should be using far more. The more our children recognize their strengths, the stronger their self-beliefs will be. So help your child become aware of his or her own special qualities and talents.

2. Celebrate special achievements and efforts. Nothing builds positive beliefs more than succeeding. And those achievements deserve celebrating.

One way is having your child start his own Victory Log in a small notebook or journal. Each time your child achieves a special goal–such as finally learn to ride a bike, learn those math facts, or survive her first sleepover–encourage your child to describe and date the success on a page.

The book can become a priceless keepsake of a child’s accomplishments that he can continue for years. For a non-reading child, consider taking a photo of the moment and pasting it into the log. This activity also helps your child learn to track his own successes and develop internal motivation instead of waiting for us to praise or reward those accomplishments.

3. Focus on actions not appearance. Recent studies show that too many of our girls base their self-esteem on how they look instead of what they can do. The effect on self-confidence is disastrous. So help your daughter focus more on her actions and less on appearance. Gently turn conversations about looks, dates, and dress sizes into topics about plans and goals. Be a role model by discussing your goals and share your pride over any new accomplishments. By talking more about personal achievements and less about appearance, you will help your daughter develop personal beliefs formed on her accomplishments. In the process she will feel better about herself.

4. Use specific praise to cultivate positive internal beliefs. Everyone loves praise, and kids are no exception. But keep in mind that not every little accolade you say will boost self-esteem.

Praise that builds “Can Do” beliefs has these three characteristics: It must be deserved, specific; and repeated.

Here’s how to use those secrets to help a child recognize a special ability. The simple tip actually helps the child develop a new and positive image about himself.

* Start by tuning into your child. Look for a special talent, trait, skill or passion in your child that deserves acknowledgement. Maybe you notice your child displays an artistic skill.

* Next, find a moment when he really demonstrates the talent. This is when you can acknowledge the skill.

* Word your message so your child knows exactly what he did to deserve your praise: “Kevin, you are so  artistic because you use such wonderful colors and details in your drawings.” And always use the same word to describe the talent (”artistic” or “musical” or “kind-hearted.”)

Using the word “because” in your comment instantly makes your praise more specific.

* Then, praise the same skill or talent several more times over the next few weeks.That way your child will then be more likely to believe the message, and adopt it to form a new belief about himself.

Keep in mind that new behavior habits take a minimum of 21 days of repetition. The lower the self-esteem of the child the more frequently you’ll have to repeat the praise. That way your child will then be more likely to believe the message, and adopt it to form a new belief about himself. You might also take a photo of your child that displays his talent (such as his best painting) or the moment he is engaged in doing his talent (he’s at the table drawing). Then display the photo somewhere so your child can be reminded of the talent.

5. Accentuate the positive to eliminate the negative. A powerful way to help a child develop firmer self-beliefs is to teach positive self-talk. One of the easiest teaching strategies is to model the strategy. Just be on the alert for some positive action you are proud of and then deliberately acknowledge your deed out loud so your child overhears. “I love how my recipe turned out.” Or: “I’m really glad I stuck to my exercise program. I lost five pounds!” At first you might feel a bit strange, but when you notice your child praising his own strengths a little more, you’ll quickly overcome any hesitancy.

6. Develop a “Can Do” family slogan. Negativity can quickly become a habit that is deadly for developing “Can Do” attitudes. So squelch any Stinkin’ Thinkin’ before it starts to breed in your kids! A mother told me she stopped put down comments with a slogan. Whenever any of her kids said, “I can’t”, other family members learned to say, “Success comes in cans, not in cannots.” It was a simple but effective way of encouraging her kids to think more positively about themselves. Is there a slogan you might want to start up in your home?

7. Don’t be a safety net. No parent wants their child to suffer disappointments, and often our first adult instinct is to try and solve their dilemmas for them. But watch out: Doing so robs them of the opportunity to find their own solutions. That’s exactly the skill they’ll need when they’re on their own. So avoid that temptation of rescuing your kid and solving his problems. Instead, step in only when really needed them you are nearby. Children need to build self-beliefs that say, “I can figure things out for myself.” Then do let your child know you believe he can.

8. Help them learn from mistakes. I watched a teacher give a small wrapped present to each student on the first day of school. The children were amazed to find small erasers inside the boxes. The teacher said, “You’ll be needing these this year, because you’ll be making lots of mistakes. That’s how you learn.” Her simple gift helped “erase” the idea that mistakes mean failure, and can be a chance to start again. And it’s an essential lesson for developing “Can Do” attitudes.

When your child makes a mistake, stay nonjudgmental and help her focus on what she’s trying to achieve. You might ask, “How did you want this to turn out?” or calmly say, “What will you do differently next time?” Above all, help her believe she can succeed in her efforts: “I know you can do it. Hang in there.”

Final Thoughts

As a parent, you have countless opportunities to reinforce your child’s self-beliefs. Your expectations, your reactions and your words can give your children votes of confidence or chip away at their attitudes about themselves. Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask yourself at the end of each day is this: “If my child’s self-beliefs were based only on my words and actions today, what would she believe about herself?” Your answer should guide how you interact with your child each time you are together.

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

I am an educational psychologist, parenting expert, TODAY show contributor and author of 22 books including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

You can also refer to my daily blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check for ongoing parenting solutions and late-breaking news and research about child development.

Book-raiser for the Pajama Program

I’m so pleased that Negin from Usborne Books has agreed to do another fundraiser with Playground Hunt. We had one a few months ago and managed to get over $60 worth of books to the Pajama Program.  It’s awesome to buy books and have all the proceeds go to an awesome charity. If you are thinking of gifting any books this holiday season, check out the fundraiser site and get some new books to some needy kids.  This is how it works (from Negin’s website):

Host an online eShow to earn some free Usborne books.  That means that you will get your friends to visit this site and purchase books so that you qualify for free books.  The orders are totaled up for all the people that placed an order for your eShow and your allowance of free books is calculated from that total.  The allowance is based on this chart.

If you would like to host an online eShow, then fill out the following form and an id number will be provided for your eShow.  Also, if you would like to host a show in your home, contact your consultant at  With a show in your home, you receive additional allowance benefits plus a knowledgeable person that can show you and your guests our wonderful books and also assist you and your guests in selecting the best books to meet the desires of your children.

Alex loves the books we bought from Negin, and we’ve been having lots of fun making the witches’ brew from The Usborne Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do as well as the Trains (Lift and Look) and the Dinosaurs: Lift-The -Flap (Usborne Lift-the-Flap) books Alex carries around.

I chose the Pajama Program as recipients of this book fundraiser because I think giving children in need a new book and some new pajamas, sounds so very reassuring. Here is the very touching press release from the Pajama Program website.

Press Contact: Diane Blackman

BR Public Relations / 212.249.5125


Providing Sleepwear, Books and Comfort to Children in Need Nationwide

September 30, 2010 New York, NY  Ten years ago, one New York woman noticed children in shelters and group homes sleeping in their clothes because they didn’t own even one pair of pajamas. She filled a shopping bag with new sleepwear and books and began to hand them out to the youngsters, many of whom were abused, abandoned or neglected. Her non-profit Pajama Program marks its first decade of service in 2011.  The celebration kicks off this fall with a series of events beginning October 1, 2010.

Since its inception, the organization has provided 880,000 new pajamas and new books to children across the country, operating 79 chapters in 42 states throughout the U.S. The program serves children in need living in group homes and shelters. Most have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a story.

Pajama Program’s mission becomes more urgent during the period it identifies as “Danger Seasonwhen the thermostat dips and the harsh winter months settle in. Starting October 1, Pajama Program works hard to heighten the public’s awareness of the need to keep these at risk children in warm, clean nighttime clothing and with a bedtime book to allay their fears.

“For so many needy and abused children, winter means endless cold and scary nights,” explains Pajama Program founder Genevieve Piturro. “The winter season is a particularly critical time when these children are most vulnerable to serious colds and illnesses. Warm, clean pajamas help to protect them against night chills and harmful conditions. Emotionally pajamas are a hug for children who feel lost and alone.”

The books the children read at bedtime go a long way in improving their reading level as well. Most have been removed from school for long periods of time and do not have access to books and their grade reading level is far lower than their peers.

Chapter Presidents across the U.S. identify “Receiving Organizations” in their communities where children in need are living. Together with volunteers, they organize drives and events to provide these youngsters with new pajamas and new books.

The need is great. There are more than 513,000 children in the foster care system in the U.S. and more than one million children who are not living with their natural parents. These children have been through great upheaval and trauma, without exception.

The Pajama Program meets the Better Business Bureau’s 20 charity standards, the highest ranking for non-profits. For more information visit the website:

Explosive Cleaning

MWA HA HAAAA! (that’s my evil scientist laugh) 😀

I’ve been trying out “The Usborne Big book of Science things to make and do” Turns out the Bubbling Wizards’ Brew is a huge hit with Josh and myself. And Alex thinks the whole thing is just hilarious.

Lot’s of people will know that baking soda and vinegar make lots of bubbles.  Healthy Child Healthy World recommends this combination as a green, eco alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners in their awesome book (Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home). For this use, sprinkle one cup of baking soda into the sink, slowly pour in one cup of white vinegar, wait for the bubbles to peter out and chase with lots of hot water.

I’ve been adding food coloring to the vinegar, so that we’ve been having lots of green, red, or blue volcanoes erupting in our sinks. The Usborne book takes it further with added glitter and a good squeeze of dishwashing liquid. And Josh took it even further by making the bubbles shoot out through a straw. This is what happened:

And while we didn’t do much sink cleaning that time, it’s done a great job unclogging our sinks.

Share and Win

Remember Negin from Usborne Books? She helped us raise lots of books for the Pajama Program a while ago. Together we think we have a pretty good combo: encouraging kids to get outdoors, be active and play, and encouraging kids to read.

Negin is going to give one lucky child $15 worth of high quality, educational books. But yes, there’s a little (painless) catch. You have to: “Like” both our fan pages on facebook AND share this post on your wall.

Playground Hunt Fan Page

Usborne Books and More Fan Page

Thanks! Winners will be drawn randomly at on Oct 1.

Library Trip

Alex really enjoyed going to the bookstore on the weekend. He mostly played with those books with wheels – he had them all lined up on the floor. There was a reading/singing session at the Stoneham Library today which we joined and then Alex picked a whole bunch of books to read. His favorites are: