Moving into the holiday season, take a look at “where you are” with your own healthy behaviors. Choose this time to reassess and set goals for healthy eating and physical activity.

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Use the Cigna-HKC Mix Six for Healthy Balance Toolkit that focuses on 6 key healthy behaviors to guide you. Click on the Getting Started tab of the digital magazine for the introduction.

Next, click on the right arrow to get to the Personal Healthy Habit Inventory and take time to complete it.

Move on to My Healthy Habit Goals page and think about the goals you would like to achieve from the 6 key healthy behaviors listed.

Use the rest of the toolkit to focus on specific behaviors. Each section provides simple tips and ideas for individuals and families working toward a healthier lifestyle.

clapYou know it’s coming…as Thanksgiving and winter break approach kids get fidgety and need more help focusing on school work. Below are three HEAR-SEE-DO ideas to help kids re-focus.

Help kids hear the message that an active break helps them refocus on school work.
Let them see examples of quick and easy movements they can try.
Let them do by performing active play brain breaks.

  1. Crossovers (right & left brain exercises) – Have kids move their right elbow across their body to their left knee as they are raising it. Touch and resume to standing. Do the same with the left elbow and right knee. Repeat these 2 movements back and forth continuously for 2-3 minutes.

  2. Pencil Jumps – For a quick movement break between lessons have each student place a pencil on the floor. On command kids are to jump over their pencil a designated number of times.

  3. Over, Under, In-Between – For younger elementary kids, have them hop over, crawl under or walk (skip, gallop) in-between various items in the classroom.



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Help kids – and even other adults – realize the healthy energizing effect of active play outdoors.

  1. Take a nature walk outside and along the way when kids see and learn about a new or different bird, bug, animal or plant, the group performs an active movement (hopping, running in place, arm circles).
  2. Download and use this month’s Classroom & Afterschool activity, Healthy Choices Scavenger Hunt, but take it outside to perform on the playground.
  3. Coordinate a class field trip to a local community garden during a time when they need help planting or harvesting. Let kids get involved and active! Or consider a Fruit & Veggie Field Trip. (Check out Target Field Trip Grants.)
  4. Adults can be great role models! Try these ideas, and talk to kids about why you choose to do them:
  • Ask kids to join you on your morning or evening walk or jog.
  • Park further from work, the grocery store, or shopping mall to intentionally walk a little further to your destination.
  • Use the stairs everywhere you go-indoors and outdoors!

Remember HEAR-SEE-DO:

Help kids hear the message that active play feels good.
Let them see ways to be active outside.
Let them do by walking, seeking items and doing outside chores that are fun.

HKC On the Road: Hays, MT

January 8, 2015

P1010693 After a quick breather back home following the Denver training, it was off to Hays, Montana, population approximately 800 and Lodgepole Elementary School. Just forty five minutes south of the Canadian border, on the Fort Belknap Indian reservation, and in a very remote but beautiful location, I enjoyed time with staff who serve a very diverse population with a wide range of challenges from poverty to diabetes, limited services, and need for health education.

The bitter and long winter makes travel and outdoor active play more difficult thus requiring an emphasis on keeping kids active indoors at school a fair part of the school P1010698year. They are a great PEP grant recipient! I am not sure I have spent a day with 12 more passionate staff and community partners than I did that day in Montana. They are proud of their successes and eager to improve and grow their efforts for the kids and their families.

The diabetes prevention team from the community, along with the SNAP-Ed staff member joined the training furthering the potential for wide range education and healthy changes for these families. I enjoyed lunch at the school and was delighted to see items such as fresh grapes, along with a salad bar eagerly enjoyed by students and staff!!

P1010694It was a wonderful day of laughter, learning, and sharing that ended with much enthusiasm and planning for the days ahead! Keep an eye on this team, they are making a difference!

Before the next workshop, it’s time to reflect on a wonderful 2014 and all that I have been so richly blessed with throughout the year. May we all take time to appreciate our world, and be especially grateful that there are so many working hard to help kids be their very best!

Kids will love these fun Drink Think and Active Play games. It’s July 4th with a healthy twist!4th of July photo

Sponge Relay Game
Milk Mustache Learning Game
Drink Think Challenges

There’s no doubt that kids enjoy playing games, but educators are also finding that games are really good teachers. See how:

Game-Based Learning: What it Is, Why it Works, and Where it’s Going – Learn more from this New Media Institute article.
Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher – First-time gamer? Check out this Edutopia blog.

It’s easy and fun to use games for teaching healthy eating and active play concepts to the kids you lead!
Change the introduction: Turn a learning activity into a “game” with an introduction change and kids’ engagement in the activity.
Kids take interest when instead of saying, “we are going to learn about the MyPlate food groups”, you say “let’s play a game with the MyPlate food groups”.

Try this MyPlate Game:

  • Divide kids into 5 groups and assign each to one of the food groups (Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, Dairy) and a movement (marching in place, arm circles, etc.).
  • When you are discussing the different food groups, each time you say the food group name (Grains for example), the kids in that group jump up and perform their movement, then sit down.
  • For younger kids: Provide each child crayons and a MyPlate image on paper. Each time you discuss a different food group, kids draw a picture of a food representing that food group in the section on their page.

Have a safe and happy July 4th celebration with the kids!

water_1_000004417867Small(1)June is the month to “Drink Think” and keep cool with healthy eating and energizing physical activity!

Help kids practice healthy habits with our Healthy6 printables!

All of the printables connect with each other on the topic of “Drink Think”. Make the most of those connections to boost the impact of the message.

For example, use the Classroom and Afterschool activities and the WOWS newsletter ideas to teach a Healthy6 message to kids. Then have the class practice what they have heard by using a Healthy Me Challenge to set goals. Complete the circle by sending home the corresponding Parent Tip sheet to reinforce the healthy behavior.

Classroom and Afterschool Activities
Help kids keep cool and hydrated as they Drink Think their beverage choices!

WOWS Newsletter Ideas
Healthy Me Challenges
Parent Tip Sheets

“In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.” Lao Tzu


1. Download and use this month’s Classroom & Afterschool activity, How Much Do You Move in a Day?, to get kids thinking about their active play routines, or lack of. Discuss how healthy eating (energy in) and active play (energy out) 5_playground (2)equals healthy balance. It can be used for adults as well!

  • HKC Printables – use these active play challenge ideas and check out the other healthy, balanced eating tips on the web page
  • SPARK PE sample lesson plans – Fun, easy and adaptable physical activity ideas for ages K-12 to be used by PE teachers, classroom teachers and youth leaders.
  • Cigna’s Healthy Balance Toolkit – great family activities to instill healthy eating throughout the summer

2. Encourage everyone to sign up for the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge.

3. Plan family vacations that incorporate physical activity and active play!

  • When driving, allow time to stop at rest stops or local parks to get out and move.
  • Bring along balls, baseball gloves, jump ropes and other easily packed equipment to have on hand.
  • Nourish Interactive – Offer kids fun Nourish Interactive activity sheets while traveling. Discuss the sheets and set family goals.
  • Plan for physical activity events such as bicycle trips, hiking excursions, or swimming to enjoy when you reach your destination.
  • Google Maps – map how far you walk, bike or run as a motivator

4. Kids love it when parents join along and play active games with them. Set aside time on the weekend or weekday evening to play “old favorites” with your family!

  • Hopscotch
  • 4-Square
  • Hide and Seek or Tag
  • 2-Person Jump Rope
  • More ideas

5. Practice planning a week’s dinner menu with your family. Get input for their favorite foods/dishes and together build healthy family dinners using MyPlate to guide food choices.

  • Create a grocery list from the menu.
  • Go to the grocery store and get kids involved in the food purchases.
  • MyPlate
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