Teaching your children to take care of their bodies is probably a parent’s most desired lesson. Whether you want to focus on the food groups and eating a balanced diet, exercise and fitness, or even just focussing on the fascinating human body, this Theme Day offers a lot for your family.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
This Theme Day can be used in many ways to open many different discussions depending on the age of your children and your family’s present needs. You can talk about nutrition and healthy eating, exercise and fitness, hygiene, the importance of visiting the doctor and dentist, safety (from using helmets and seatbelts to not talking to strangers), puberty and growth, eating disorders, drugs/alcohol/smoking, etc.
Play your child’s favourite music to encourage him/her to get up and dance for this theme day, or choose some of your own favourites!
Here are two tunes to get your family moving: “I like to move it” by Reel 2 Reel and “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins.
There are many children’s songs about fruits and veggies like “Fruit Salad” by the Wiggles or “Vegetable Town” by the Barenaked Ladies, plus there are children’s songs about your body like “Head, shoulders, Knees and Toes,” and “You Brush Your Teeth.”
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Healthy Coloring Pages” or print out my Stay Healthy Coloring Page. Ask your child what he/she thinks the various pictures on the colouring page present/how they relate to staying healthy.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook or on a piece of paper to glue in your scrapbook: What do you do to stay healthy? Can you name all the food groups? How can you be more healthy? What things are unhealthy?
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or poem about staying healthy.
Print out a “Stay Healthy” Word Search:
Check here for the answer keys:
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about healthy, nutrition, exercise or the body.
Go to the library with your child to find some books on being healthy.
Go to the library on your own to find books about healthy from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “Health”, “Nutrition,” “Body,” “Exercise,” “Safety,” etc. under “Children’s Books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try to find some of these nonfiction/learning titles:
· Fit For Life, written by Alexandra Parson and illustrated by John Shackell and Stuart Harrison, Franklin Watts, 1996 – This is a good book for older children as it has more writing and more topics than some of the others listed below, plus it mentions serious subjects like anorexia, alcohol, smoking, and drugs
· Growing Strong: A Book About Taking Care of Yourself, by Christina Goodings and illustrated by Masumi Furukawa, A Lion Children’s Book, 2009 – This gives a good general overview of different things your younger child can do to be healthy.
· The Kid’s Guide to Becoming the Best You Can Be, by Jill Frankel Hauser and illustrations by Michael Kline, A Williamson Kids Can! Book, 2006 – This is a bigger book and recommended for ages 8 to 13 on the cover but it covers important subjects like confidence, resilience, initiative, perseverance, responsibility, among other topics, in short sections; it even offers different activities and articles about real people who possess these qualities.
· The Monster Health Book: a Guide to Eating Healthy, Being active & feeling Great for Monsters & Kids!, by Edward Miller, Holiday House, 2006 – This is a favourite of my kids who keep asking for me to take it out from the library. It has pictures of a green monster, a boy and a girl, as they explore the five food groups, nutrition, exercise, check-ups, self-esteem etc., in order to be healthy. This is also a good book to start a discussion about smoking, alcohol and drugs as the second to last section is entitled “Say No to Bad health.”
· Why Must I...Eat Healthy Food?, by Jackie Gaff and photography by Chris Fairclough, Cherrytree Books, 2005 – This is a goof book for younger readers as it has big print and bright photographs, plus easy to understand text emphasising the importance of healthy eating.
· You Can’t Take Your Body to a Repair Shop, by Harriet Ziefert and Fred Ehrlich, M.D. and drawings by Amanda Haley, Blue Apple Books, 2004 – An interesting but not frightening look at everyday illness.
Here are some picture books:
· Looking after Me: Exercise, by Liz Gogerly and Mike Gordon, Crabtree Publishing, 2009 – Twins Tom and Lily learn how to appreciate exercise by watching their fit and healthy grandmother.
· My Friend The Doctor, by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Maxie Chambliss, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005 – Part of being healthy is going to the doctor for check-ups; if your little one is afraid to go to his/her check-up use this gentle picture book to help.
· Showdown at the Food Pyramid, by Rex Barron, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004 – The food pyramid is unbalanced when King Candy Bar and his friends Hot Dog, Donut, plus others, try to take over.
· Here are some books about the body:
· The Little Brainwaves Investigate...Human body, illustrated by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar, DK Publishing, 2010 – Illustrations of the Little Brainwaves (tiny people) are mixed with photographs in this fact-filled book about the body.
· Under Your Skin: Your Amazing Body, by Mick Manning and Brita Granström, Albert Whitman & Company, 2007 – This is a lift-the-flap book and it still offers a lot of information about the body with its playful illustrations.
If you want to cook with your children try these cookbooks:
· Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes, by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson, Tricycle Press, 1994—This is a great preschooler cookbook that both my boys have loved. My eldest especially loved it when I’d read the children’s comments out loud. The book has simple recipes with a parents section for each recipe and a two page spread of illustrated instructions for children to follow.
· Salad people and More Real Recipes, by Mollie Katzen, Tricycle Press, 2005—This is the sequel to the above cookbook and is just as good with more simple and healthy recipes for you to make with your child.
Here are two cookbooks for parents wanting to “add nutrition” to the meals of picky eaters by adding pureed vegetables:
· Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld, Collins, 2007—This is a good one to start with as the purees are all one ingredient blends making them easy to whip up and freeze. This cookbook has breakfast, dinner and dessert ideas, among others, and many have become family staples in our house like the grilled cheese (with sweet potato or butternut squash) and the macaroni and cheese (with butternut squash or cauliflower).
· The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine, Running Press, 2007—This one has coloured purees made up of blends of vegetables making it a bit more work (but nutritional worth the effort), and it also offers a healthy flour blend as well as a breading recipe, giving more nutritional boosts to favourite meals and baking treats. The Coca Chocolate Chip Pancakes (made with the flour blend plus a purple puree of blueberries and spinach) were a big hit with my boys as well as the easy “breakfast ice-cream” recipes (using frozen fruit and regular yogurt). I also liked the “quick fix” recipes included.
NOTE: You may want to review the five food groups with you children before you do this craft. These are great coloring sheets to use: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/downloads/ColoringSheet.pdf and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/downloads/ColoringSheetBlank.pdf
Materials: Old magazines that can be cut, a paper plate, child safe scissors, glue stick, damp facecloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Look through magazines with your child and help him/her to find pictures of food for each of the following food groups: Grains, Meat or Alternate Protein, Dairy Product, Vegetable, and Fruit.
Step 2: Help your child cut out the five pictures.
Step 3: Let your child glue the pictures to a paper plate using the glue stick.
Step 4: Review the choices on the plate.
Materials: White construction paper, a metal paper fastener, a pencil, markers or crayons, child safe scissors, a pin or needle (for adult use only).
Step 1: Cut out a circle (we used a cup to trace) from the white construction paper.
Step 2: Cut out a rectangle (we used a plastic lid from a deck of cards to trace) from the white construction paper.
Step 3: Show your child (illustrate on a scrap piece of paper) how to draw a sort of star shape of legs on the circle (you’ll need about five or six legs) and let him/her draw the picture of legs and feet on the circle.
Step 4: Let your child draw a person from the waist up on the rectangular piece of paper.
Step 5: Have your child colour the two pictures.
Step 6: (Parent step) Using the pin or sewing needle prick a hole in the centre of the circle picture of legs and then prick a hole near the base of the rectangular picture of a person.
Step 7: insert the paper fastener through the rectangular paper and then through the circle (through the pin pricks) and then spread the fastener tabs at the back to ensure the fastener stays attached to the two pieces of paper.
Step 8: Make the paper circle spin with your finger which will make the picture of the person appear to be running.
Step 9: Discuss how exercise is an important part of being healthy.
RED, GREEN, YELLOW, BLUE ACTION STICK:
Materials: An empty paper towel roll, red paper, green paper, yellow paper and blue paper, a pencil, a bowl to trace, child safe scissors, a glue stick, a stapler, tin foil.
Step 1: Trace around the bowl on each of the four pieces of paper to make four circles (red, green, yellow and blue).
Step 2: Help your child cut out the four circles.
Step 3: Wrap the paper towel roll in tin foil.
Step 4: Apply glue to half of the red circle and attach the blue circle.
Step 5: Apply glue to half of the yellow circle and attach the green circle.
Step 6: Open the two attached (red and blue) circles gently (remember half is glued) and insert one end of the paper towel roll. Then press the circles together to squish the paper towel roll at the end and staple into place.
Step 7: Open the two attached (yellow and green) circles gently (remember half is glued) and insert the other end of the paper towel roll. Then press the circles together to squish the paper towel roll at the end and staple into place.
Step 8: Use this craft for the game listed below under FOR FUN!
POP STICK FRAME:
NOTE: A positive self-esteem is an important part of health that is sometimes forgotten. Remember if you love yourself you will make good choices for your body!
Materials: Four popsicle or craft sticks, white glue, markers, waxed paper, stickers (optional), paper.
Step 1: Have your child decorate the popsticks using markers.
Step 2: Glue the four popsicle sticks together with the white glue to form a square, leaving them to dry on top of waxed paper.
Step 3: When the wooden frame is dried your child may decorate it some more with stickers if desired.
Step 4: While the frame is drying, cut out some paper to the size of the frame.
Step 5: Have your child draw a self-portrait on the paper.
Step 6: Apple glue to the back of the frame and press the self-portrait onto it so the decorated side frames the drawing.
Step 7: Allow to dry and then display proudly!
BEING HEALTHY COLLAGE:
Materials: a sheet of coloured paper, old magazines that can be cut up, child safe scissors, a glue stick, a damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Look through old magazines with your child and find examples of healthy things (food, activities, etc.) to cut out.
Step 2: After the pictures are cut out have your child glue them to a piece of coloured paper.
Step 3: Display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
You could also have a Top Food Challenge in conjunction with this Theme Day! Check here to learn how to make a Top Food Challenge for your kids: http://familythemedays.ca/Themes/TopFood.htm
For a special start to the day serve some whole wheat pancakes with berries on top; search your favourite cookbook or online for a recipe.
For a quicker healthy breakfast serve homemade muesli topped with banana and yogurt. You can search for a recipe or just mix oats, bran flakes and other healthy cereals with dried fruits, shredded coconut and chopped nuts (if there are no allergies in your family).
For a healthy snack today offer veggies and dip (you can make your own with low-fat sour cream or yogurt and a package of dried salad dressing or onion soup mix).
For something sweeter make some fruit kabobs (better for older kids who won’t use the skewers as weapons) or a fruit salad.
A family favourite of ours is sliced apple spread with peanut butter. My one son likes them squished together as a sandwich, while my other son prefers them open faced.
Another healthy energy-packed snack is a homemade trail mix: mix favourite dried fruits, nuts (if there are no allergies in your family), Cheerios and pretzels.
For a healthy lunch serve some vegetable soup and make a food group sandwich by
Another healthy choices is to make some baked whole wheat macaroni and cheese.
Make a Five Food Groups Pizza: Make some homemade whole wheat dough (use your favourite recipe or search online). While the dough is rising make some homemade pizza sauce (use a simple can of tomato sauce and add fresh or dried herbs and garlic, then heat on the stove top). Roll out the dough on a floured surface and move to a pre-heated pizza stone or a lightly oiled baking sheet. Add some red bell pepper (for the vegetable food group) and some fresh pineapple (for the fruit food group) on top of dough.
Pomegranate Smoothie: Blend 1 cup of pomegranate juice, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1 frozen banana, and a hand full of frozen fruit like mango, strawberries or raspberries in a blender.
Make a Yogurt Parfait: Layer flovroued yogurt, granola (or cereal), and fresh berries (or other fruit) in a glass and serve with a spoon.
Check on these sites to see the daily food requirements for each member of your family:
For the USDA’s recommendations check here: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
For Canada’s Food Guide check here: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
Print out a copy of my Weekly Food Chart for each member of the family and keep track of your food choices for the week. At the end of the week go through the chart and see if your child can name the food areas he/she needs to focus on more.
HEALTHY vs JUNK CHART:
Print out a copy of my Healthy vs. Junk Food Chart. Together as a family either write words under each column or find stickers or magazine pictures to fit under each category: either healthy or a “sometimes” food.
Take out some cereal boxes and other food products and read the labels together as a family.
My children ended up making this into a fun activity. My eldest grabbed some play money from a board game and my youngest set up the chairs to be a car. They then went to “the store” where I’d offer two or three choices (boxes). We’d read the labels together and then they’d have to choose what to “buy.” We examined cereals, crackers, pastas, soups, lunch snacks, sandwich spreads, among others.
MENU PLAN AND WRITE A SHOPPING LIST :
Based on your family’s knowledge learned throughout this Theme Day, together come up with a healthy weekly menu and write out the shopping list. You can look through cookbook together for inspiration if desired.
FAMILY FITNESS CHALLENGE:
Print out my Family Fitness Challenge Chart and as a family keep track of your fitness activities for the week. Add up the hours at the end of the week and then do it again for a second week to see if you can beat your first time!
Print out my Safety Brainstorm Worksheet and together as a family brainstorm ways to be safe (wearing a helmet, wear a seat belt, looking both ways, don’t do dangerous dares, no drugs, no smoking) and write them on the worksheet.
NOTE: As a further craft, you could also encourage your children to make a safety poster based on one item from the brainstorm.
For Games, Activity Sheets, Songs, Recipes and more just for kids check out this page: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/index.html
There’s a lot of info on this site for kids, parents and teens: http://kidshealth.org/kid/index.jsp
This one has recipes and games among other things: http://nutritionexplorations.org/kids/
This one is a teen site: http://thecoolspot.gov/
Thank you to Meghan from Washington, D.C. for recommending this guide covering preschool child nutrition, snack foods for preschoolers, food safety tips, as well as a healthy balanced diet, various food groups, physical activity, nutritional needs during pregnancy and breast feeding, nutrition for the preschool child, and more.: http://krilloil.com/blog/nutrition-pyramid/ She also recommended this page which covers preschool child nutrition: http://krilloil.com/blog/nutrition-pyramid/#NutritionPreschoolYears and this one entitled “Serve Up Good Nutrition for Preschool children” - http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/serve-up-good-nutrition-for-preschool-children
Many games get your body moving and hence are good for you. Hopscotch and jump rope are just two examples.
You could brainstorm games/ and types of exercise as a family and keep it as a list of healthy activities.
RED, GREEN, YELLOW and BLUE:
Use the craft from above and play “Red, Green, Yellow and Blue.” Make up different actions for each colour. We had red as stop, green as run, yellow as slow, and blue as spin. One person is the caller and they show the colour from the wand (craft) while everyone else must move as commanded.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows focusing on health.
Try to find these titles:
· The Magic School Bus: The Human Body, Scholastic, 2005 – Teacher, Ms. Frizzle takes her students on three different journeys, each exploring the human body.
· Sid the Science Kid: Feeling Good Inside and Out, The Jim Henson Company, 2009 – This has four health related episodes examining brushing one’s teeth, eating healthy foods, being active instead of watching T.V all weekend long, and washing one’s hands. Plus there is a bonus episode about vaccinations.
This is a movie that would fit this Theme Day:
· Osmosis Jones – a movie where a white blood cell is the hero, it features both animation and live action (be warned some parts are gross!!!)
Family Walk: soak up some vitamin D which will help absorb calcium and help your immune system. Be sure to wear sunscreen though. Go for a family walk around your neighbourhood or through a park.
Visit a community fitness facility and see what activities you can do together as a family to get active: skating, swimming, running, climbing...
Grab your running shoes and get moving!
Healthy Plates Craft
Spinning Feet Craft
Red, Green, Yellow, Blue Action Stick
Popsicle Stick Frame for Self-Portraits
Apple and Peanut Butter Snack
5 Food Groups Pizza
Being Healthy Collage
Photo: C Wright
Healthy vs. Junk Food Chart