Do your kids have the shelter-in-place blues? Just because we have to stay at home doesn’t mean we have to be bored!
Here are 5 fun activities for kids you can do from your own home that help our little ones move their bodies and stimulate their brains.
Craft an art project:
Listen to a story:
Do a science experiment:
Make a snack:
You can find these activities and much more on our website at https://www.healthstartfoundation.org/snackscience.html.
2. Practice Reading Skills with a Scavenger Hunt
Ahoy Mateys! Do you want to learn vocabulary words and hunt for treasure at the same time? If you have a child who is practicing reading skills, try setting up an indoor scavenger hunt!
3. Experience the Animal Kingdom
You don’t have to go outside to learn about nature! Bring nature to your child by having them learn about different animals.
4. Take a Nature Walk
Feeling a little stir-crazy? Gather the whole family and take a walk outside to check out the area around you! This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about different landforms, plants, and animals as well as practice observation skills in order to discover and identify the unique qualities of what they see.
5. Create a Sock Puppet Theatre
This activity is fantastic because it is a combination of a crafting, writing, and dramatic play rolled into one!
Do you have a favorite stay-at-home activity for kids? Feel free to share it below in the comments for other families to see. Be sure to join our Snack Science Video Series and try out these activities so we can stay healthy and strong together, at home!
References: Richards, Mari. "7 Super Fun DIY Sock Puppets." Handmade Charlotte, March 4th, 2014. https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/7-diy-sock-puppets/
Mother’s Day has always been a special day to celebrate and give thanks to the women who have dedicated their life to making our lives the best they can be. What’s the best way to thank them you may ask? There is no gift in the world that could express how thankful we are for everything our moms have done and continue to do for us.
As said in the song “Mama, A Rainbow”,
“What do you give to the lady who has given
All her life and love to you
What do you give to the reason you are livin'
I could window shop the world
Before I'm through”
Time and time again I’m reminded that the best gift we can give is our love. In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked a couple mothers what they like most about being a mom. Here’s what they said…
“Being a mom is the most amazing thing in the world! I still can’t believe that this beautiful human came out of me. He is saying “hug me mama” every night and in the morning he wakes me up with a hug and a kiss. Sometimes he looks me in the eyes and says “you are so beautiful mama”. The fact that I am loved by my little boy is what I like the most about being a mom!” said Lena Ognyanova, Owner of Eats For Kids
“A 10-year-old boy and 8-year-old twins call me mom. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I had my first child. It’s crazy how quickly you fall in love with this tiny baby and promise to keep them safe from everything and everyone. What I love best about being a mom is watching them grow and become their own person. Their personalities start to develop, they ask millions of questions and as a mom I am responsible for teaching them to care, respect, give and love others. I also love being able to influence and teach them about health and nutrition even if they don’t always want to eat their veggies. I want them to grow up being strong and healthy and able to take care of their bodies,” said Maria Serafine, Director Of Operations at CommUnity Care and HealthStart Board member
This is a time when mothers deserve to be celebrated more than ever. Their world has been flipped upside down and sideways with the changes the world has seen over these last couple months. So, HealthStart is here to say Happy Mother’s Day to all you superheroes who are doing their best to keep their families safe, happy, and healthy during this time.
I asked those same moms what they are finding the most difficult about being a mom right now. While motherhood is a special, amazing thing, there is no question being a mom, or a parent of any sort, is harder now more than ever.
“For the last two months my son has been coming with me at work and at the beginning it was very challenging for both of us. Eventually we got used to it and I think we both enjoy it now! He knows that we have to cook the meals fast and deliver them because “the babies are hungry because their tummies are empty”. He now knows what work means. I am grateful for the time we spent together,” said Lena
“This pandemic has turned our lives upside down and currently the most difficult thing about being a mom is having to be a working mom by day and their teacher by night. I have a profound respect for teachers and I quickly learned that there are things I am great at and other things that are best left to the experts. There are some good days and many bad school nights, but we are trying to ensure schoolwork is complete. I know that all moms are all doing the best that we can right now and being the best moms we can be during this difficult time. I pray every day that I can continue to keep them safe and healthy,” said Maria
We know that times are difficult right now. HealthStart wants to do whatever we can to make your lives a little easier during this time. For all of you moms, dads or grandparents, out there who have unexpectedly found yourself in the role of “school teacher”, we are here to help. Our Snack Science Video Series is FREE online that can be used as part of a science curriculum, or just to keep your child engaged, healthy, and learning. These 3-4 minutes videos include science experiments, fun, healthy snack “art”, songs, fitness activities, and more that are fun for the whole family. You may even learn a little something yourself!
Watch our Snack Science Video Series at https://bit.ly/snackscience.
Looking for some ways to show yourself some love this Mother’s Day while social distancing?
If there’s any way we can help all of you wonderful moms out there, please let us know in the comments below or by contacting us directly. Happy Mother's Day!
Lots of articles and experts have recommended that you minimize your trips to the grocery store and stock up on non perishable food items. Many of you might think that means healthy eating is out the window, but prioritizing nutritious food is both possible and extremely important in helping our bodies fight off infection.
Below are 3 tips to help you stock up during quarantine and stay healthy.
See a detailed list of pantry and freezer staples plus recipe ideas at https://bit.ly/3btUNd2.
What are staples in your pantry or freezer? Let us know in the comments below.
March 22, 2020 is World Water Day, a nationwide event that celebrates water and how important it is for our environment and for our bodies. Did you know that more than 60% of the human body is made up of water? The amount of water you should drink every day varies from person to person depending on factors such as overall body size and level of activity. Although there’s no single formula for everyone, most health authorities recommend drinking 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day, for a total of 64 ounces.
If you or your child are having a hard time drinking enough water, World Water Day is the perfect day to learn about how essential water is for our bodies. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of hydration and fun ways to incorporate more water into our busy lives.
Why is water so essential for our health?
Proper hydration is crucial for a healthy mind and body, especially during childhood, when the body is growing and developing. Drinking water allows us to maintain the proper balance of body fluids. When you don’t drink enough water you can become dehydrated. This can be dangerous, especially for young children and older adults, as it may cause dizziness, nausea, and even fainting.
Water is also important for our body systems. In fact 92% of our blood is made up of water. Proper hydration allows our circulatory system to work efficiently to bring oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. Water is especially crucial to our digestive system, as it aids in nutrient absorption and waste elimination. In other words, it helps prevent constipation, which can be uncomfortable. Water is important for our brains as well. Proper hydration has been shown to benefit concentration, which helps your kids learn better at school. It even helps your skin and hair stay healthy!
Staying hydrated is extremely important for proper immune health. Water helps flush toxins out of your body and transports oxygen to your cells, keeping your body functioning optimally and helping you fight infection. If you do get sick, make sure you drink plenty of water to replenish any liquids you’ve lost.
How can I help my child drink more water?
Between school, play, and after-school activities, drinking enough water can be challenging, especially if your child doesn’t like it. Here are some ways to help your child drink more water:
Let us know in the comments if you and your child try any of these tips!
If you’d like to learn more about World Water Day, check out their website: https://www.worldwaterday.org
March is National Nutrition Month and we are joining the fun to share with you what good nutrition means to us here at HealthStart. It’s never too early to teach your child healthy food habits, as these habits will benefit them the rest of their lives. Here are three words we would use to describe good nutrition:
What does nutrition mean to you and your family? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Get more information and see how you can be involved with National Nutrition Month at https://sm.eatright.org/NNMinfo.
HealthStart has expanded to South Texas!
In January 2020 the HealthStart Foundation launched a pilot of the “What Are You Feeding?” (WAYF) Cafeteria Nutrition Education Program in 7 Kingsville area elementary schools with a generous grant from the L’Aiglon Foundation. The L’Aiglon Foundation is located in Kingsville, Texas and has supported programs in Kingsville schools and community efforts since 1982.
The WAYF pilot program will take place in four Kingsville area Independent School Districts: Driscoll ISD, Kingsville ISD, Ricardo ISD, and Santa Gertrudis ISD.The pilot program will reach over 2680 elementary school students. The goal is to help students make good choices about what they eat.
The WAYF program uses colorful stickers of each body system placed on the cafeteria food line to illustrate how different foods take care of different parts of the body. These visual cues help students make the connection between the food they eat and their health.
In addition to the stickers, HealthStart has added two new elements to help reinforce the concepts and ideas of the program. Each day during morning announcements, the principal will highlight which cafeteria offerings are particularly good for the students’ brain, bones, circulatory system, muscles and digestive systems using a customized menu template.
Also, children in 2nd - 4th Grades will be given a “scorecard” to keep track of which parts of their bodies they have fed for one week every month from February through May. The goal is for students to meet ⅓ of their nutritional needs during lunch by feeding each body system every day.
"The kids are already talking about it in the cafeteria and had a lot of fun filling out their scorecards. They get excited to find out what body system each food feeds." said Marci Braswell, Principal, Ricardo ISD
Why is this important?
During the 2 ½ year pilot program a team of evaluators from the University of Texas will be measuring changes in the students eating habits over time. Research has shown that when children eat better, they do better in school, behave better in the classroom, and are absent less. A study from the National Institute of Health concluded that children who consume higher quality nutrient diets made higher grades and missed fewer days of school compared with children whose diets were of poor quality. This link shows the importance of adequate nutrient-dense foods in a child’s diet.
“We have a wonderful opportunity at Driscoll ISD to help our students learn how to make healthy food choices through the What Are You Feeding campaign. Driscoll students will be learning how to nourish their bodies through the food choices they make on a daily basis at school. It is our hope that this new knowledge will affect their food choices at home and help our students build lifelong healthy eating habits.” said Lynn Landenberger, Principal, Driscoll ISD
We could not be more excited for our partnership with Kingsville area schools and look forward to helping students build healthier futures!
HealthStart trained Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown (BGCG) staff this past fall so that they could integrate HealthStart’s Snack Science Children’s Health Education Workshop Series (CHEWS) into their after school programming. The first Snack Science series was implemented with 6-7 year old students.
The kids who participated in the first Snack Science workshops liked it so much that they asked to do it again in Spring. Their teacher told us that she found the program easy to implement and the activities to be fun and engaging for her students.
BGCG staff led 5 workshops, 1 for each body system: brain, bones, circulatory system, muscles, and digestion. During each workshop, students prepared a snack to feed the part of the body they had learned about. HealthStart staff helped BGCG throw a party at the end of the series to celebrate the student’s “graduation.” Party goers played “Brainfood Bingo” and competed for prizes and made Brain Burritos.
We thoroughly enjoyed working with both the kids and the staff of the BGCG and found that together we were able to make a meaningful impact on the children participating.
The children tried a variety of fresh and healthy foods. The 6 snacks they made contained 24 different foods. Over ¾ of the students tried at least 1 new food and ALL of them tried foods prepared in new ways during their Snack Science adventure.
Often when the students tried a familiar food that was prepared in a new or novel way, they like it. On average, 85% of children liked the snack they prepared.
We were thrilled to hear from BGCG staff that the kids who participated in the workshops last semester are still asking about them months later.
The BGCG staff recently kicked off the second series of CHEWS workshops, letting a whole new group of kiddos in on the fun!
If your organization is interested in learning more about implementing Snack Science in your after school or summer program, please contact Sharon Burley at email@example.com.
Dear HealthStart supporter,
Spring is around the corner. It is a time of renewal and growth. In a garden this means clearing unwanted plants, enhancing your soil, and determining what will do well given the resources you have to work with. It takes work, but seeing the fruits of your labor makes it worth it.
This applies pretty well to nonprofits and to families too. This spring finds HealthStart renewing our commitment to measuring our impact and embracing our expansion beyond Austin to Georgetown and Kingsville, Texas. This has meant some staff and board member changes for us. Changes that have been both challenging and invigorating.
Our work is already paying off with a measurable impact on the children and families we serve. Take a look at our stories below to see how we’re doing.
Do you have a story of personal or professional growth or renewal you’d be willing to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.
Yours in Health,
Are your kids getting enough free play time? Childcare experts from pediatricians to psychologists to Harvard University agree: free play is something that kids often don't get enough of. This is especially true in an overly regimented, screen-and-schedule-driven world. So we think it can be handy to step back and remind ourselves of the many ways in which free play is vital for healthy childhood development.
Free play is good for kids in multiple areas of growth, including mental, physical, and social. This month we’re focusing on the mental health and brain development benefits children receive from free play. Play time encourages positive growth in skills like problem-solving, decision-making, and creativity, plus so much more!
When we say "free play," of course, we don't necessarily mean undirected free time. Adults can still participate, offer ideas, and provide toys to suggest possible games. What makes free play free is the emphasis on children's choices. For once, they get to be the ones in charge. They can set their goals (and change them!), and they can make the rules. But it also means not shielding them from the consequences of their choices, although adults can still provide support and advice when asked for. Giving kids this sort of independence has numerous benefits and naturally complement and build on the skills that kids learn during more structured activities.
Take a look at the infographic below showing the many evidence-based benefits increased play time has on your child’s growing brain. Need some brain boosting activities for free play time? Click the link below for a full list of activities for kids of all ages. https://flintobox.com/blog/child-development/12-brain-games-for-kids
Stay tuned next month as we continue this conversation and discuss the many social and emotional benefits of free play time!
9 Cognitive Benefits of Play
About the Author
Arthur Grant is a child play theorist, educator, and father. As chief editor for Muddy Smiles, he advocates for (loads) more play within education and at home.
When flu season comes around it can be a scary time, especially for your little ones. It seems like everyone around you is getting sick in some way and it feels almost impossible to avoid, but there are simple precautions you can take to keep your family healthy and avoid the spread of nasty germs.
Below are 4 tips to boost your immune system and fight off any virus or infection that comes your way!
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is extremely important for proper immune health. Water helps flush toxins out of your body and transports oxygen to your cells, keeping your body functioning optimally. If you do get sick, make sure you drink plenty of water to replenish any liquids you’ve lost. Make sure to avoid dehydrating beverages like colas and coffee. Try adding lemon juice to your water for an extra dose of immune boosting Vitamin C.
Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods
Our bodies need lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to fight off the threat of infection. Make sure to eat a well balanced diet including a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to get the nutrients you need. Vitamin C and antioxidants are especially important when it comes to keeping your immune system strong. Some foods high in Vitamin C and antioxidants include bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, oranges, and tomatoes.
Get Lots of Sleep
Sleep is essential for good immune health. It is our body's chance to repair, restore, and recover. Without enough sleep your body does not have enough time to do all it needs to do to keep us healthy. In addition, while you’re sleeping, your immune system releases a type of small proteins called cytokines that help your body fight inflammation and infection. It is recommended that adults get around 8 hours of sleep each night and that kids get 9-12 hours. Nap time anyone?
Keep Germs to Yourself
Germs are everywhere so they are hard to avoid but you can take small steps to help prevent the spread of germs. Make sure you wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. In addition, try not to touch germ ridden surfaces like handrails and don’t share things like utensils, toys, or chapstick. It is also important to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crease of your elbow to avoid spreading germs to others.
What are some things you do when you feel like you or your family might be getting sick? We would love to know!
"7 Amazing Things that Happen to Your Body While You Sleep." Queensland Health. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/7-amazing-things-that-happen-to-your-body-while-you-sleep
"Germs: Prevent Their Spread." Washington State Department of Health.