Archive for April, 2017


6 Ideas for Protein-Packed, Kid-Friendly Food

Monday, April 24th, 2017

peanut butter protein sandwich

Protein is a powerful substance, responsible for building muscle, bone and tissue, as well as keeping your child’s energy levels regulated throughout the day. A regular dose of protein can even protect against infection. But if your child gets most of their protein from high-fat mac ‘n’ cheese or ice cream milkshakes, you may need to find new ways of broadening their protein palate.

Fortunately, there are plenty of easy-to-prepare, protein-rich meals your kids will love. Just open your refrigerator, grab your lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products, and keep on reading.

Here are 6 simply delicious protein ideas for the whole family:

1. Play with Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the best sources of protein, particularly for children who love the taste and the flexibility of the food. If peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a strictly lunchtime staple in your home, why not inject some creativity into your PB experiments?

Try spreading a thick layer of peanut butter onto whole-grain waffles and decorate with raisins and a banana for a smiley face breakfast. For a fun and dippable snack, serve a bowl of peanut butter with celery sticks, crackers or thin slices of whole-grain toast.

2. Choose Chocolate Milk

Besides being an incredible source of protein, phosphorus, and vitamin D, calcium can also help to regulate energy in children. Since soda is perhaps one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity, it might be a good idea to remove it from the refrigerator in favor of healthy chocolate milk.

While chocolate milk does contain some sugar, chances are your kids will reach for it more often than regular milk. That’s great when you consider that each cup contains around 8-9 grams of protein much more than soda, or even juice.

3. Try Tasty Tuna Dips

Tuna is an excellent source of protein for kids because it’s virtually-fat free and brimming with great substances like Omega-3. While you should limit their intake to remain within safe mercury guidelines, there’s still lots of opportunities for delicious tuna treats.

Mix up a can of tuna with some fat-free mayonnaise and pickle relish, then serve with sticks of celery, carrots and cucumber for a quick and healthy lunch.

4. Build Chicken Burgers

Chicken is yet another low-fat source of protein, provided you avoid fatty favorites like fried chicken and breaded nuggets.

There are a whole host of ways to use chicken for a delightful and healthy meal, though chicken burgers are generally a good place to start. All you need to do is mash up some chicken breast and shape it into a set of patties. Once they’re cooked, you can serve them with thick slices of tomato, lettuce and whole-grain buns, so your kids can assemble their burgers themselves.

5. Develop Egg-cellent Dishes

Even the finickiest children often like eggs. Whether they’re mixed with low-fat milk to create French toast, scrambled and served with whole-wheat bread, or whipped up into omelets, eggs contain plenty of iron, protein and other crucial nutrients. Besides being a great source of protein, eggs also contain lutein and vitamins A and D, which will help to protect children from eye diseases as they grow up.

Mash some hard-boiled eggs into fat-free mayonnaise or low-fat yogurt, and chill. You can then spoon this chilled creation onto bread for egg-salad sandwiches, or even use cookie-cutters to stamp out different shapes for fun.

6. Enjoy the Ease of Cheese

Finally, protein-packed cubes of cheese can keep energy levels high while helping with your children’s health. Cheese can be easily prepared and served in a range of different, yet healthy, ways. As long as you pick something made with 100% milk, you probably can’t go wrong.

For an easy lunch favorite, try shaking up the classic grilled cheese sandwich with some reduced-fat cheddar and low-sodium ham. Use only a couple of spritzes of cooking oil over huge mounds of butter to grill.

The amount of protein your child needs each day varies according to age, body weight and the quality of the protein eaten. Although requirements range from 0.35 to 0.45 grams of protein per bodyweight pound, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect protein snacks to properly nourish your child, thanks to these tips.

Start boosting their protein intake and fueling their physical health today!

3 Innovative Physical Education Teaching Techniques

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

physical education

Physical fitness among young people has now found itself at the forefront of society’s scrutiny. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity among children between the ages of 2 and 19 has more than doubled in recent years, leaving students susceptible to the development of diabetes, complex joint issues and a host of other serious health problems.

Many physical fitness educators have taken it upon themselves to drastically reduce these statistics over the course of the next decade. Although the improvements in technology have somewhat contributed to the dangerously sedentary lifestyles of many young people, it can also be harnessed to reverse these health concerns. With instant access to almost anything at any given time, technology can be used to improve fitness and potentially save lives. It’s just a question of how it’s used.

So how can today’s educators create interactive work environments for their physical education classrooms?

Here are 3 modern solutions to fight the current health concerns facing our youth:

1. Modern Wellness-Tracking Technology

One way that educators can make physical wellness more interactive is by implementing fitness monitors, like the Fitbit or the Nuband, into their classes.

These lightweight, wearable activity trackers provide a wide range of real-time data. They can be used to help students become more aware of their body’s processes as a whole, or simply to learn their peak heart rate levels to achieve maximum physical fitness. Electronic activity trackers record step counts, quality of sleep cycles and a host of other personal metrics to ensure that students stay active throughout their developmental years. The attention to detail creates a feeling of ownership, fostering a sense of responsibility to maintain that state of wellness for the future. It is said that children should remain active for at least 60 minutes a day to meet proper health standards. Fitness trackers can help make sure kids reach this simple but vital goal in their P.E. classes, and also in their daily lives.

2. Music and Dance as Motivation

When it comes to movement in physical education, there is no better motivator than music. With this universal truth in mind, educators have developed new teaching methods based on viral dance crazes, like the Cupid Shuffle and the Konami Dance Dance Revolution music game. Not only does learning choreography together create a sense of camaraderie among classmates and teachers, but it also provides a great workout. Students can improve their coordination, strengthen their social interactions with one another and reduce stress levels during exam time.

What P.E. teacher wouldn’t want a class of smiling, dancing students?

3. Active Gaming Platforms

Technology-based hobbies have become so ingrained in the lifestyles of students that we often forget that they can serve as a valuable tool.

Exergames, or active gaming programs, like Hopsports and Kinect Xbox, invite users into a comfortable and familiar environment, while offering an opportunity for moderate-intensity physical activity. The best part about this exercise source is that it can be continued outside of school. Many students have their own gaming consoles and could take their P.E. class inspiration to a whole new level at home.

It is becoming increasingly important for teachers to use every outlet at their disposal to improve the health of their students. Some physical education teachers have found the key to success is utilizing what young people love the most – and, very often, that’s the new advancements in technology. By creating interactive and entertaining lessons with activity tracking, music, dance and gaming, teachers can improve student wellness practices not only in school, but in the decades to follow.

Tips for a Successful Field Day this Spring

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Parachute

By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant

Every spring all over the world, schools are preparing to put on a Field Day for their students. When done well, Field Days can be an active and fun time for everyone. In this blog, I’ll give those in charge of Field Day some tips to make it successful.

Preparation:

  • Plan well in advance (6-8 weeks minimum). You will need to get approval, get the word out, create materials (e.g. T-shirts, etc.) communicate with staff, volunteers, parents and students about the event.
  • It takes a lot of minds and bodies to put together a successful Field Day. Call for parents and teachers to create a committee to bring ideas, additional volunteers, resources for donations, etc.
  • Invite all parents and community members for their input on making it a fun day for all. Be sure everyone who wants to be involved knows about the meetings.
  • Decide what you need volunteers to do before, during, and after the Field Day (e.g. lead activities, escort students to the bathroom, set-up, take-down, deliver water and supplies, etc.). Use a web sign-up to make it easy for them to choose the tasks they are willing to do and the time slots they can be there for. Examples of these are SignUpGenius and SignUp. Best to have two volunteers per activity so they can support one another. Have a paper version in the front office for folks who are unable to use the web options.
  • Come up with a Field Day theme to pull it all together.
  • Plan the activities with the goals of fun and activity in mind. Keep them simple and age-appropriate.
  • When considering activity ideas, be line conscious: Don’t have kids stand in line for long. A field day should be full of fun and action, not standing around watching others.
  • Listen to feedback for past Field Days. Keep the things that worked and ditch those that didn’t.
  • Consider breaking up the day with a K-2 Field Day in the morning and a 3-5 one in the afternoon.
  • Include water games (if your climate allows). Kids go nuts over these and they are typically a smash hit. Plan to have these near the hose.
  • Think of unique activities that are cooperative in nature, rather than competitive. Have a good mix of activity types.
  • Don’t focus on awards for the “winners.” Field Days are more fun when the focus is on participation, not who was 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
  • Be prepared to adapt activities where necessary to enable all students with disabilities to participate and have fun.
  • Schedule the day to include breaks, rotation, activity names, etc.
  • Create a map to show where each activity will be at the school.
  • Ask for volunteers to photograph the activities and to share photos with parents and teachers.
  • Coordinate classes to create signs for each station.
  • Provide ideas for healthy snacks to serve during Field Day. See if you can help find a donor from a local grocery store or restaurant.
  • Include the school’s nurse or health aide to create a first aid station.
  • The day before, remind children of the importance of being well-rested and fed, and to be dressed for action and fun. Them bringing a towel and change of clothes is also a great idea.

The Day of:

  • Have volunteers set up as much as possible the night before.
  • Have a final meeting with all volunteers prior to the start to cover the main goals of the day and details about safety.
  • Have a large group “Welcome” to Field Day and discuss the rotation and the goals of the Field Day. The focus is on fun and safety. Announce the location of the first aid station.
  • A lot can happen that varies from the plan. It’s OK to adapt and go with the flow, if necessary.
  • Provide enough equipment to maximize participation so lines are short or non-existent.
  • Include breaks for volunteers every 90 minutes or so.
  • For students who are physically unable to participate (injuries, etc.), provide them with a safe task to keep them involved.
  • Work to ensure all children are having a good time. You should see lots of smiles!
  • Prompt volunteers to keep their eyes and ears open (no holding cell phones!) and to catch and stop any inappropriate behavior quickly.

Post Field Day:

  • Clean and dry all equipment and store for next year’s Field Day.
  • Send out a survey for volunteers to give feedback on their experience. Which activities worked? Which didn’t? Why?
  • Send thank you notes to those who volunteered and donated their time and goods.

The keys to a fabulous and fun Field Day are preparation and a focus on fun. It should be a safe and enjoyable day for all!

Click here for more tips and a discount on Field Day equipment, and click here to view Sportime featuring SPARK’s Field Day Activity Guide.