Healthy body healthy mind

The “secrets” of healthy eating include variety, moderation and balance. A consistent, repeated message is one key to learning. A daily, or even weekly, message targeted not just to knowledge, but also attitude and healthy behavior, is the aim. In the classroom, plan 5-10 minute nutrition education or physical activity brain breaks. It doesn’t have to be complex:

Nutrition Ed

  • Discuss how MyPlate shows us how to choose a variety of foods from different food groups.
  • Talk about moderation. What is it and how do we choose it? Point out how MyPlate gives us serving sizes for the foods we eat and also recommends the number of servings we should eat for our age, gender and how active we are.
  • Talk about how eating a healthy breakfast can make school easier. Breakfast provides morning “Go Power.”

Brain Breaks

  • Talk about how moving more balances “energy in” from the foods we eat with “energy out” for a healthy heart and weight. While moving, ask kids to call out their favorite choices for active play.
  • Between lessons, have kids do jumping jacks, jog in place or act out sports like swimming, tennis or basketball.
  • Play five minutes of “musical desks.”

If time is limited to implement a full comprehensive nutrition education curriculum, do something else. There are many “One-a-Day” ideas to help fill a gap. Contact Healthy Kids Challenge for more ideas. The Healthy Kids Challenge Balance My Day™ curriculum is full of discussion points, hands-on activities and worksheets.

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Active Play Their Way

June 23, 2017

Multiracial group of friends walking at the beach

Help families recognize that if they are not getting minimum levels of physical activity each day, it is time to do something different. Kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

Youth leaders and educators can send healthy messages and lead by example:

  • Include fun summertime ideas in newsletters and on websites. Include information on opportunities in your community such as water splash parks, playgrounds and nature trails.
  • Create bulletin boards and talk about different activity ideas.
  • In summer programs, plan “brain breaks” during which kids “act out” different suggestions that help them “move more.” For example, make the motions and pretend to play badminton, volleyball, tennis, swimming (all the different strokes) and baseball.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt that keeps kids moving. This week’s WOWS Newsletter has several fun ideas.

Funny group of children are lying in the snow.

In spite of all the possible benefits of physical activity, including the potential for improving students’ concentration and attentiveness in the classroom leading to greater academic performance, students are falling short of recommendations. A 2013 CDC survey shows that only 29 percent of high school students had participated in at least the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the seven days before the survey.

This time of the year it can be a great win/win to calm the fidget by incorporating movement in class lessons for “brain breaks,” or as rewards!

In the classroom, try out the following, or other ideas of your choosing, to help kids move and learn.

Incorporate movement in class lessons.

  • Move and Spell:
    • Practice spelling out loud.
    • Tell kids to stand on consonants and sit on vowels.
    • Practice with holiday words in addition to the usual spelling list.
  • Move and Practice Math:
    Use the following example for multiplication or a variation for other math functions:
    • Hop the number of times for the multiplier.
    • Reach for the sky the number of times for the multiplicand.
    • Call out the product.

Children building a snow man and having a snowball fight

Whether at home or at school, as winter vacation approaches and excitement builds, it is hard to keep kids focused. Fitting in fun “brain break” activities during this time not only helps reduce the “fidgets,” they add healthier balance to this season of ooey, gooey desserts and sweet treats!

In the classroom, or at home, this is a great time to use “brain breaks” and Active Play as a reward! This month’s WOWS Newsletters suggest “brain break” ideas that can be used anywhere.

Sports Charades

  1. Have kids develop a list of 8-10 ideas for getting more Active Play and less TV and screen time. Examples: bicycling – dancing – hitting baseballs – jumping rope – juggling/kicking a soccer ball – running/walking – serving a tennis balls – shooting hoops – skating – swimming – disc golf – hopscotch.
  2. Act out each of the ideas on the list.
  3. Record the list for future discussion about potential barriers to physical activity and achieving goals for at least an hour of Active Play most or all days.
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