Father and son preparing food in kitchen

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), just one in 10 adults meets the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Depending on age and gender, it is recommended that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables. By age group, young adults 18-30 years old accounted for the lowest proportion of persons meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake (9.2% and 6.7%, respectively). The CDC has 10 strategies to increase intake that includes established policies to incorporate fruit and vegetable activities into schools.

In the HKC Curriculum, fruit and vegetable intake is a behavior referred to as the one of the “Healthy6.” The Healthy6 behaviors are built on best practice evidenced-based recommendations for healthy eating. This Healthy6 slogan is: “Fruits & Veggies Every Day the Tasty Way.” In other words, enjoy the taste of fruit and vegetables in a variety of colors.

This week’s WOWS Newsletter activity suggestion is based on another one of the Healthy6 behaviors, (choosing) “Smart Servings.” Resisting portion distortion and recognizing healthy serving sizes, cues for hunger and fullness are skills that can help kids make “Smart Serving” choices a habit.

For more information about the “Healthy6,” refer to the Healthy Kids Challenge website.


Kindergarten children eating lunch

The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) resource HEALTH AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT makes it clear that healthy eating and physical activity are linked to academic achievement. This means it is very much worth ensuring that we take the time to make it the most effective.

The Healthy Kids Challenge curriculum foundation has set the stage with learning theories and evidence based content for the greatest success. The content is built on the foundation of six healthy habit messages: daily physical activity and choosing breakfast, fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks, right-size portions, and healthy beverages. The curriculum meets standards recommended by the CDC HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool). Hands-on learning activities are designed to build skills for making healthy choices. The following appealing messages are repeated in different ways:

  • Active Play, Balance My Day
  • Breakfast GO Power
  • Drink Think
  • Fruits & Veggies – Every Day the Tasty Way
  • Smart Servings
  • Snack Attack

Along with building skills for making healthy choices, we help educators set kids up for success by creating settings that support healthier choices. For some time, research has supported healthier environments. The USDA Local School Wellness Policy requirements are one way healthier environments are supporting kids.

Too many applesScreen Free Week is May 5-11, 2014! Within the Balance My Day™ curriculum, you can find fun and effective Screen Free week lessons that help kids make the screen-free, active play connection. Here are just a few examples to help you plan your Screen Free Week activities with the kids you lead:

A Lesson from the Balance My Day curriculum™ (need a copy? Get one here):

  • How Media Influences Eating and Weight – Grades 6-8, Influences Lesson 1, p. 41
    • Example: Ask kids what % of the time they view some type of media while eating. Explain for the next 5 days, kids will use a log on the worksheet to track and answer questions about media-free meals.
  •  How Do Healthy Habits Stack Up? – Grades 6-8, Active Play Lesson 2, p. 177
    • Example: If activity is to compete with time for screen entertainment, physical activity choices need to be FUN. It needs to be something that is a “want to do” rather than a “have to do.” Therefore, think of physical activity as Active Play.
    • Have kids list on a piece of paper:
      • activities you can do by yourself
      • activities you can do to have fun with friends and family
      • activities you can do in 10-15 minutes
      • sports interests
    • Ask kids to choose at least 2 Active Play ideas listed, which they personally consider fun and would choose to do.
    • Have them set a goal to DO one of those 2 ideas instead of screen time during Screen Free Week.

Take the Screen Free Week Pledge
Adults and Kids:

  • Watch no TV or DVDs, play no video or mobile games, and only use the computer if it’s required for work;
  • Encourage my friends and family to go screen-free with me;
  • Explore new screen-free activities; and

Try out a Screen Free Play Plan from TRUCE
They have new seasonal play plans, including one for Gardening! The others include one for bubbles and string play. The Screen Free Play Plan: Gardening says it all: “Turn off the screens & turn on the gardening”.

Be sure to share your Screen Free Week activities in the comments here or over on our Facebook Page!

Who doesn’t love a quick, yet effective nutrition education activity? Every month our Healthy6 printables provide easy to teach, easy to learn, nutrition and active play lessons. What makes them even better, is that they even support the PEP Grant requirements, and always meet health education standards. Try one and let us know the outcomes!

Printable Classroom and PEP Grant Resources

Hear a message—See how to make a healthy choice—Do practice making the choice

This format is why our Balance My Day nutrition curriculum is so successful!

Hear-See-Do Success

October 31, 2013

iStock_000009330809XSmall Why Hear-See-Do? It’s success in our work is undeniable. I’m sure you’re familiar with the quote: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” — Confucious.

You’re likely to also have heard the research that people remember more of what they hear, see, and do, than what they hear and see, or just only hear. The combined experience of physically doing and/or saying what you’re learning is so effective–and yes, more fun than simply listening to a lecture.

Not only do all of our resources and assistance center around the Hear-See-Do approach, we incorporate it into every workshop and training we offer for leaders of kids everywhere. Check out this progression:

Leaders and kids HEAR a healthy message.
They SEE how to make the healthy choice.
Then they DO by practicing the healthy choice.

At an HKC interactive training, teachers and youth leaders:

HEAR– a healthy message: A focus for the training will be customized just for the participants, but let’s use fruits and veggies for an example today.

  • “Help kids enjoy choosing more fruits and veggies”.

SEE– how to enjoy fruits and veggies: The HKC trainer shows the teachers/youth leaders easy, fun, and effective ways to help kids make healthy choices. This can range from breakfast ideas on the go to brain break ideas to a cooking skills lesson.

  • Show the Apple-Almond Salad ingredients and recipe, demonstrate how it all fits into MyPlate guidelines, and how it can also be used as a tasting lesson with kids

DO- They practice doing exactly what they’ve just been shown. From creating their own breakfast menus, to developing an activity that will work in their own classroom, to leading that cooking lesson for the rest of the group.

  • Youth leaders create menus using MyPlate and the Apple-Almond Salad recipe, and they actually prepare and serve it for lunch during the training.

They go home that day, and can confidently implement what they just learned, and teach their classes or youth groups utilizing the exact same Hear-See-Do method, because every lesson in the HKC Balance My Day™ (BMD) curriculum is designed that way.

iStock_000002341709XSmallAt home, teachers and youth leaders can help kids meet the challenge:

HEAR– a healthy message

  • “MyPlate guidelines recommend filling half of your plate with fruits and veggies.”

SEE– show kids how to make a healthy choice

  • Use the Taste and Learn Apple-Almond Salad Lesson (page 76 of the BMD grades 6-8 book). Show kids the salad filling half of a plate, and explain it represents the fruits and veggies of the MyPlate symbol.

DO- Have kids practice hand-on learning of the healthy habit.

  • Lead kids through the lesson and the activity, including creating a menu and a grocery list.

Do you use the Hear-See-Do approach? Tell us about your success!

Receiving a PEP grant is quite an achievement! For one thing, it requires a great commitment to training staff so they are providing quality nutrition education and physical activity programs for the youth they serve. The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth, Texas, is stepping into their third and final year of their PEP grant. I just returned from two days of providing nutrition education training for their new Y staff. It was fun to listen to what is going on within the program since the first time I came as a trainer almost three years ago.

One thing that I loved hearing about was the teachable moment this program has found for nutrition education called Snack Talk. The staff use the afterschool program snack break as a time to deliver a simple nutrition message from the HKC Balance My Day nutrition curriculum, and then engage the kids in a nutrition activity while they enjoy a healthy snack. This idea grew out of our distance assistance program with the Y, where I worked with site managers to problem solve time barriers of how and when to teach nutrition education. Hearing the success stories of this resolved problem made me come full circle to why I travel the country training…our Healthy Kids Challenge team, starting with me, care deeply about kids and their KidLink adults; KidLinks who help kids build skills that make it easier to eat healthy and move more!  – VJ 09-23-13

Finding the Speed of Light with Marshmallows – Link Nutrition with Math and ScienceHealthy Kids Challenge helps kids eat, move, and enjoy healthy balance

6th-8th grade kids learn about physics through food science

  1. Open the marshmallow bag and place the marshmallows in the casserole dish, completely covering the dish with a layer one marshmallow thick.
  2. Next, put the dish of marshmallows in the microwave oven and cook on low heat. Microwaves do not cook evenly and the marshmallows will begin to melt at the hottest spots in the microwave. Heat the marshmallows until they begin to melt in four or five different spots.
  3. Remove the dish from the microwave and observe the melted spots
  4. Take the ruler and measure the distance between the melted spots..

For complete instructions, click here:

Enjoy this month’s free printable – Savory Seasonal Summer Fruits and Veggies

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