Archive for the ‘SPARK PE’ Category


SPARKecademy Movie Posters – Get a glimpse of the SPARKecademy stars!

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

SPARKecademy is an online professional development resource for K-12 Physical Educators, Elementary Classroom Teachers, Early Childhood Educators, After School Program Providers, and School Health Professionals.

Click Here to learn more about SPARKecademy – coming in June!

Each week leading up to the SPARKecademy launch we will release a movie poster featuring the SPARKecademy stars! Follow SPARK on Facebook and Twitter to see the posters first!

SPARKecademy Movie Posters   Get a glimpse of the SPARKecademy stars!SPARKecademy Movie Posters   Get a glimpse of the SPARKecademy stars!SPARKecademy Movie Posters   Get a glimpse of the SPARKecademy stars!

SPARK Announces Dr. Kymm Ballard as New Executive Director

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

SPARK is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Kymm Ballard as next Executive Director of SPARK!  As the world’s most researched and field-tested physical and health education program, SPARK is a key component of School Specialty’s Physical Education offering. Kymm assumes her new role as Executive Director, following her distinguished leadership in the program as Partnership Development Specialist since 2009.  Kymm succeeds Paul Rosengard, the SPARK “Godfather”, who recently retired.

“I would like to congratulate Kymm on her well-deserved promotion and have every bit of confidence in her ability to continue to enhance SPARK programs and our overall growth in the Physical Education (PE) category,” stated Ed Carr, Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer. “Kymm has been a strong advocate for physical and health education for decades and brings tremendous operational and managerial experience that serves SPARK and School Specialty well.  I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Paul for his outstanding service to the program over the years.  We have a strong team in place and together, are committed to building upon SPARK’s leadership position in research-based physical education and advancing our wide assortment of physical education solutions.”

Dr. Ballard’s professional experiences include more than a decade as a PE teacher and athletic director, several years as an administrator and the co-developer of North Carolina’s first high school demonstration school.  She is the former PE, Athletics and Sports Medicine Consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction; and has drafted, advocated and promoted the Healthy Active Children Policy of the NC State Board of Education and the state’s Essential Standards for Physical Education. Dr. Ballard also supported the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport Management (NCAAHPERD-SM) to retool the physical education teachers with SPARK statewide training the trainer model, more currently known as “IsPod” (In School Prevention of Diabetes).

In providing guidance to schools and other national organizations to help secure resources for quality PE programs, she served as the President of the Society of State Directors for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, as well as the Chair for the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) Public Relations Committee, among other committees. In addition, Dr. Ballard currently serves as the Coordinator of Health and Physical Education at Campbell University.  In her Partnership Development role at SPARK, she has also been successful in helping to initiate and facilitate millions of dollars to schools to address obesity prevention.

Among the many awards that Dr. Ballard has received are the National P.E. 4 Life Advocate of the Year award for her work in North Carolina and Washington, D.C.; the Physical Education Teacher of the Year and Health Education Teacher of the Year Awards in North Carolina; the North Carolina Coach of the Year; the highest Honor Awards from NCAAHPERD and Society of State Directors for Health, Physical Education and Recreation; the Channing Mann, National Administrator of the Year from NASPE; and lifetime membership to the North Carolina PTA.  She continues to be recognized by her industry peers, health organizations and her SPARK colleagues for her commitment to advancing physical fitness for children.

“I am honored for this opportunity to serve the SPARK program and School Specialty in an even greater capacity and will continue my focus on advancing our physical education solutions for educators and children. With the achievements that SPARK has made over the last 25 years in motivating students to engage in a lifelong love of activity and healthy lifestyle choices, I firmly believe we are well-positioned for future success.  I look forward to working more closely with the team to drive advancements in quality research-based physical education in schools and organizations around the country and world – with the goal of keeping our children and communities strong and productive.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Kymm is following in my footsteps and becoming SPARK’s 2nd E.D.!  Placing a physical educator at the wheel demonstrates SPARK’s commitment to developing the best PE resources and doing things the right way; for kids, for teachers, and for public health. I’m excited for our worldwide SPARK family and know SPARK will be bigger and better than ever in the months and years to come,” stated Paul Rosengard.

Please join us in welcoming Kymm as the new SPARK Executive Director!  Follow Kymm on Twitter @KymmBallard and stay up to date with all of the news from SPARK @SPARK_Programs.

Kymm and Annika

Kymm Ballard and women's professional golf icon Annika Sorenstam work together to promote healthy, active lifestyles for children

SPARK Teams Up with ICAN Foundation

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

SPARK Teams Up with ICAN Foundation to Rush Past Childhood Obesity with New Orleans Saints Running Back Pierre Thomas

Partnership aims to decrease “screen-time” and increase physical activity both during school and after school with quality PE programming and community events

SPARK™, provider of the world’s most-researched physical education programs, is partnering with ICAN Foundation to make an immediate impact on the lives of students in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. SPARK and ICAN Foundation will work together to help schools and community centers raise funds or apply for and win grants in order to implement SPARK’s high-quality physical education curricula or afterschool program.

SHAPE America recommends that school-aged children receive at least 60-minutes of physical activity per day. This is hard to achieve if students spend most of the eight-hour school day sitting behind desks. SPARK fights this sedentary school model by making classroom instruction, PE classes and after school programs more physically active. Similarly, the increased amount of time youth spend using electronics is impeding on physical activity after school and on the weekends. Through its community programs and initiatives, ICAN Foundation is helping create more active lifestyles to demonstrate how being active can be fun and rewarding.

“After learning about the similarities of our organizations and the fact that SPARK is the number-one research-based health organization in our country, I knew a partnership was necessary,” said Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back and founder of ICAN Foundation. “This will be a great opportunity for everyone involved, especially the students.”

“Working with ICAN Foundation is the perfect marriage of ideas for SPARK,” said Paul Rosengard, executive director of SPARK. “With the foundation’s deep community connections in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi, and SPARK’s 25 years of experience in schools nationwide, we make a great team. With a joint goal of increasing the amount of physical activity youth receive every day, we know that together we can make an impact on those communities.”

How Can You Help?
Together, ICAN and SPARK will implement research-based programing to help combat childhood obesity in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi. Your support, partnership, or donation can assist us in our efforts. Please contact us to learn more and support the effort to combat childhood obesity.

Dr. Kymm Ballard
SPARK Partnership Development Manager
(336) 263-3646
kymm.ballard@sparkpe.org

Vincent Calabrese
ICAN Foundation
(312) 285-9384
calabresevm@gmail.com

About ICAN Foundation
ICAN Foundation was founded by Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints running back, in response to the ongoing problem with childhood obesity. ICAN Foundation was established to prevent and educate the children and their parents about the seriousness of childhood obesity in the United States. www.believeican.org

About SPARK
SPARK is a collection of research-based Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs for educators serving Pre-K through 12th grade students. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum materials, teacher training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders, representing many thousands of schools, organizations, and agencies worldwide. SPARK also helps educators find physical education grants. For more information on SPARK, visit www.sparkpe.org or email spark@sparkpe.org or call 1-800-SPARK-PE.

ICAN Foundation-1

6 Sports Your Kids Should Try this Summer

Monday, July 28th, 2014

With time off of school, the summer months are a great time for kids to try something new. If you are looking for a way to get your kids excited and create an anything-but-sedentary summer, check out the 5 suggestions below.

Soccer

Perfect as a follow-up to the fun and excitement of the World Cup, sign your kids up to learn more about the world’s most popular sport. Not only does soccer improve balance and agility, but plenty of running means great cardiovascular exercise and conditioning for other sports. For parents who are nervous about the aggressive physical contact in sports like American football, soccer is a great alternative.

Tennis

Register your kids for a few tennis lessons and watch their coordination, balance, and flexibility improve, along with their determination to hit the ball. The resistance portion of playing tennis is also an exercise in strength training, leading to better bone health. Tennis has also been proven to improve tactical thinking and boost creative brain power.

Swimming

Did you know that water is 12 times denser than air? The density of water forces the body to work harder than on land, even though it feels like less work and is actually easier on the joints. For kids who struggle with asthma, swimming has been shown to help deter attacks by increasing lung volume and encouraging proper breathing.

Golf

If you think that hitting the links is just for the old and out of shape, think again. For kids who are able to walk the three to five miles of a typical 18-hole golf course, it provides a great aerobic workout, on top of improved strength (especially if kids are carrying a 30+ pound golf bag).

Surfing

If you are close enough to a coast, take advantage of summer surfing lessons. Surfing combines the resistance and cardio of swimming with the balance and agility in tennis. Surfing works every muscle in the body and provides a fun adrenaline rush too.

Outdoor Volleyball

What says summer like beach volleyball? Even if there’s no beach around, outdoor volleyball is a great way to spend summer afternoons. Kids learn hand-eye coordination, build strong muscles and bones, and burn plenty of calories while soaking in some summertime sunshine.

Take advantage of school being out for the summer and encourage your kids to try out a new sport. Even if it’s in the backyard with friends or family, finding ways to keep your kids active during the summertime months not only keeps them off the couch but enables them to truly enjoy the essence of the season—and their childhood. Enjoy!

SPARK celebrates 25! Reflection from Dr. Jim Sallis

Monday, July 21st, 2014

SPARK celebrates 25!

By Jim Sallis

It’s exhilarating to celebrate the 25th year of SPARK. In 1989 we had big ambitions for our new NIH grant. We wanted to define what health-related physical education is, comprehensively evaluate a program that we designed to meet that vision, and then encourage schools to adopt the program so kids could be healthier. I could not have imagined where those ideas have led by 2014. I am very proud to be part of the SPARK story, because SPARK has improved the physical activity, health, and quality of life for millions children and adolescents over the past 25 years.

The research teams worked hard on the SPARK and M-SPAN studies that produced the original curricula, training, and support model and materials. But there are numerous successful research programs that never have any impact in people’s lives. What makes SPARK different is the staff, led by Paul Rosengard. Paul and the staff not only share the vision of improving children’s health through physical activity, but they have built an organization that brings the joy of SPARK to about 1.5 million young people every day. I use “joy” of SPARK deliberately, because the first data we collected in a pilot study were enjoyment ratings of SPARK PE classes. We were pleased that the fifth graders chose “smiley faces” almost all the time for all the class activities. Delivering fun has been our job at SPARK ever since.

At 25, SPARK as an organization is now an adult. The staff have high level skills and are dedicated to doing a great job at customer service. We have created a national network of trainers, and the feedback from staff development sessions continues to be consistently enthusiastic. We take responsibility for updating, expanding, and improving programs and products. Like most young adults, SPARK is a sophisticated user of technology. Our video group has produced hundreds of videos that help instructors deliver great physical activity programs. All materials are now available online. I am amazed that teachers now can take all of SPARK out on the field with iPads. That is a real revolution in physical education. SPARK is even doing some traveling, growing rapidly in India and China. I’m confident SPARK will continue to evolve and innovate so we can get better at delivering great instruction to teachers and great physical activity to students.

As long as our schools want children to be active and healthier, we will keep delivering the joy of SPARK.

Jim Sallis

http://sallis.ucsd.edu

James F. Sallis, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine Chief,

Division of Behavioral Medicine. http://behavioralmedicine.ucsd.edu/

University of California, San Diego

SPARK Staff at ATM Dinner

SPARK staff celebrates 25 years at the Annual Trainers Meeting in June 2014

[INFOGRAPHIC] SPARK 25 Years of Success! Countering Childhood Obesity Since 1989

Monday, June 16th, 2014

For 25 years, SPARK has made it our commitment to reduce childhood obesity. Follow us on our journey back to where it all began. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible, so thank you for all the support you have provided to help us achieve our dreams!

SPARK PEs 25th Anniversary Infographic

Share This Infographic On Your Site

Q: How Can We Help Students Reach 60-a-day?

Monday, May 5th, 2014
A: Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program!

For National Physical Education Week, we’re taking a deeper look into a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program and resources available to help reach the goal of 60 minutes of MVPA a day.

How much activity and why?
It seems you can’t look through a magazine or watch a news program without hearing about the importance of physical activity (PA) and its role in overall health. There’s nothing better for controlling weight, reducing risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers; not to mention PA’s role in increasing muscle strength and bone density, improving attention in class, and so much more. PA is the “wonder drug” of champions (literally!).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition all recommend 60 minutes of physical activity for children ages 6-17. With that dosage kids will be healthier, happier, leaner, and have a much better chance of living longer. Sixty minutes seems to be the “magic” number and it should consist mostly of aerobic activities in the moderate to vigorous intensity level range (MVPA), such as brisk walking, running, swimming, etc., as well as 3 days/week of muscular strengthening like gymnastics and calisthenics. So, how on earth are today’s busy kids supposed to accumulate 60 minutes of MVPA most days?

Physical Education (PE) is a great start!

Let’s say your school has a fabulous, quality physical education program with daily PE for all students. They have PE for 30+ minutes (for elementary) and 45+ minutes (for MS/HS) each day and they are engaged in MVPA for 50% of class time — always! It’s an ideal program all around. Sounds great, right?  It is – yet it’s also VERY rare.

Are YOUR students reaching the magic dosage of 60 minutes on most days with PE alone? If not, they’ll need to find other physical activity opportunities throughout the day if they’re going to achieve their 60 minute goal.

How might you supplement student Physical Activity (PA)?

Viable options include before and after school programs, recess, activity during other academic classes, on-site intramurals, as well as myriad activities off campus after school. Programs such as these are components of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). They include quality PE as the foundation, as well as PA opportunities before, during, and after school, staff involvement, and family and community engagement.* The whole package helps keep our children active and fit. Like SPARK Principal Thom McKenzie likes to say, “It takes a village to raise an active child.”

Teaming up for PA!

No one person or entity is responsible for our kids’ health. When everyone does their part and students are supported with PA choices in all sorts of environments, they are much more likely to participate and achieve their 60 minutes or more. And every type of activity “counts” towards the 60 (e.g., walking to school, climbing on the jungle gym, having activity breaks during class, dancing in PE, playing tag at recess, running in a running club, playing intramurals after school).You want your kids to have so many opportunities they can’t help but find activities they love to do and to do them often!

What resources are available?

Let’s Move! Active Schools provides free and low-cost resources to help schools incorporate physical activity before, during, and after school for at least 60 minutes a day.  SPARK is an official supporting organization of Let’s Move! Active Schools and encourages schools to sign up to be an Active School.  Learn more here.  

How can SPARK help you and your students reach the 60 minute goal?

Quality Physical Education – Sadly, many PE programs are not active enough – ironic right? Yet studies show students may spend a good chunk of class time waiting their turn for a chance just to touch the equipment (as in relays) or sitting on the sidelines because they got “out” (elimination games) or simply waiting for someone to pass the ball to them (large-group games). PE classes full of these practices often engage students in MVPA for only a short amount of time. SPARK PE (K-2, 3-6, MS, and HS) offers teachers quality PE programs that in turn provide students many opportunities to participate and practice skills. Research shows SPARK PE engages students in MVPA at least 50% of class time, addresses National Standards, aligns assessment with instruction, and regularly promotes out-of-class physical activity. Students become more active and more skilled when they have SPARK PE. When taught daily, students can receive nearly half of their recommended minutes of PA with SPARK PE alone!

During academic classes – Because students often sit for hours at a time during classes, activity breaks are a must! They help not only by adding minutes of PA, but they have been shown to enhance academic performance. The SPARKabc’s program provides numerous activities to be used as breaks during classroom time as well as activities which integrate academic topics to help “anchor” learning and make it more active and fun. SPARK provides sample SPARKabc’s lessons to give you a taste of what our ASAP movement breaks and academically focused activities look like. They’re easy to teach, easy to learn, fun and effective. SPARK PE (K-2 and 3-6) programs also include multiple limited space activities that classroom teachers can use as activity breaks throughout the day.

During Recess – Recess has potential to be either very active or very sedentary. Depending upon students’ preferences, they might choose to play an active soccer or basketball game or to sit and chat with a friend while eating their snacks. Even if they join what appears to be an active game, they may spend most of their time waiting in line for their turn at wall ball, tetherball, kickback, 2-touch, etc. Frankly, they may get most of their activity jumping up and down cheering for the kids who are playing! Both SPARK K-2 and 3-6 PE programs include Recess Activities sections with ideas for inclusive, enjoyable, and ACTIVE games. SPARKabc’s also provides resources for recess staff looking to improve activity opportunities for all elementary age students. Here’s a sample recess activity that can be played as is, or modified to match your students and setting. Try it and tell us what you think!

Before and After School – Students who attend before and/or after school programs can receive a large percentage of their daily MVPA during structured and/or non-structured activities. Again, as in recess, activities need to be structured in such a way to increase activity levels and to have positive effects. There are many issues to consider with running a quality program that addresses a wide range of ages, group-sizes and skill levels, commonly have a lack of equipment and limited space, as well as high staff-to-student ratios. SPARK’s After School program (which actually targets all out-of-school PA programs, not just those done after school) has been found effective in increasing PA for children and adolescents ages 5-14. It has hundreds of suggestions for addressing many of the concerns typically encountered in these types of programs.

At the end of the day, students CAN reach the goal of 60 minutes or more of MVPA. It’s a matter of structuring your environment to encourage PA. By providing safe places to play, programs that promote movement throughout the day, equipment to complement those programs, and trained staff to lead them, your students will have met or exceeded the 60 min. goal for now, as well as learned the skills to continue to do so for a lifetime!

*(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs: A Guide for Schools. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2013)

Learn More:

Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs: A Guide for Schools

Let’s Move! Active Schools

Free SPARK webinar!

Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs

Resources for Integrating Physical Activity Throughout the School Day

May 7, 2014 @ 3pm Pacific (6pm Eastern) – Register Here

Tips for Heart-Healthy Children and Families

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
February is American Heart Month, and we want to take some time to focus on how parents can promote their children’s heart health.
When it comes to raising healthy children, efforts should start at home, with parents and other immediate family members that have so much impact on kids during their formative years. The efforts extend into the community, where school officials, coaches, and so on help mold the youth into healthy, responsible adults. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and when we work together everybody wins.
Keep reading for some tips you can implement at home to help your children create heart-healthy habits.
Making Time for Healthy Habits
The first step is to make time to incorporate healthy habits. And while it seems like there already aren’t enough hours in the day, the secret is that you don’t have to find more time—you replace time spent on not-so-healthy habits with time spent on better-for-you ones. Try these ideas:
Schedule TV and Other Types of Screen Time
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two years old have no screen time and older kids have one to two hours of screen time per day with high-quality content. But children now spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of the TV, iPad, laptop, and/or gaming system.
One way to cut back is to schedule screen time. Try these:
Make a list of the family’s must-see programs—these are the ones you can watch together or separately, but do keep the list to a minimum.
Turn the TV only on a few minutes prior to the start of the shows, and turn it off immediately after. No channel surfing, no mindless watching.
Schedule a game night or award “time tickets” to allow your kids to get their video game fix without spending endless hours glued to the screen and controllers.
Track Your Meals
How often do you stop at the drive-through on your way to or from activities? You may not realize just how often you grab dinner to go or reach for processed convenience items unless you keep track for a couple of weeks.
The problem is that most of these items contain overly processed simple carbohydrates (such as sugar and flour) and oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (like sunflower, soybean, and corn oil)—huge culprits of inflammation. While the debate of whether inflammation or cholesterol is the direct cause of heart disease is still in progress, it is certainly a big cardiovascular health risk factor.
Curb fast food eating, and learn how to make better choices when hitting the drive thru window.
Making healthy meals at home is easier than you think. For example, heart-healthy meals can be slow-cooked in a crockpot so they are ready when you are, you can make homemade freezer meals that just need to be popped in the oven.
Replace certain ingredients in your pantry. Rather than all-purpose white flour, go with 100% whole wheat baking flour and flour products. Instead of butter, shortening, and margarine, try extra-virgin olive oil, which features heart-healthy fatty acids. Instead of canned or jarred fruits, choose fresh or frozen. Instead of sugary sodas and juices, try mixing 100% juice with water—even a splash makes for a refreshing treat.
Track Your Time
Being constantly on the go is stressful for you and your children. Extra-curricular activities are a good thing for children, but as they say, you can have too much of a good thing. A recent NPR story highlighted the new levels of stress children and teens are experiencing today have a negative impact on health. As too much continual stress has been identified as one of the causes of heart disease, it’s imperative that families come together and decide where to cut back on obligations and commitments.
While stress management techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, are great, healthy activities for everyone to practice, learning where to cut back and focus energy where it really counts is the first step.
Getting More Active at Home
After creating room in your lifestyle for healthy habits, fill it with fun activities at home! Why zone out or complain about boredom when there are so many valuable and fun activities you can do at home?
Become a Clean Machine
Getting everyone involved in household tasks and chores makes the work easier, faster, and healthier. And you can even make housework more fun!
Put sticky notes on everything that needs attention: Dust me, pick me up, sweep me, clean me, etc. Then race around the house to see which family member can acquire the most sticky notes and get the job done properly.
Put some tunes on the stereo and limit each household task to a certain number of tracks—3 for washing the dishes, 2 for scrubbing the bathtub, 4 for dusting the living room, etc. Get your toes tapping and the house clean all at the same time.
Go Green in the Garden
Backyard agriculture is all the rage these days, as we have rediscovered the joys and benefits of growing our own food. Gardening is also a great way to get, and stay, active. Those seeds and plants need planting, watering, weeding, and tending to. The fruits of your labor need to be harvested and prepared for storage and meals. Branching out to incorporate backyard chickens, rabbits, or other small livestock creates another dimension to your activity (and learning) time.
Besides the boost in physical activity, growing your own food is often healthier, cheaper, and more fulfilling than relying on the grocery store.
Take a hike
Or walk the dog, visit the neighborhood park or playground, play some hoops, go for a swim, set up the net and have a rousing game of volleyball in the backyard, and so on. Just get outside and get moving! Turning a lazy Saturday, Sunday, or weekday evening into a fun activity builds heart health, good habits, and memories, all of which can last a lifetime.
Doing What You Can
The easiest and most effective way to develop healthier habits as a family is by taking it one step at a time. No one said you had to do it all at once or all by the end of the month. Just start. Do what you can, when you can. Grow from there. When built upon and sustained over time, these habits will evolve into a full-blown heart-healthy lifestyle that will last you and your children a lifetime.

February is American Heart Month, and we want to take some time to focus on how parents can promote their children’s heart health.

When it comes to raising healthy children, efforts should start at home, with parents and other immediate family members that have so much impact on kids during their formative years. The efforts extend into the community, where school officials, coaches, and so on help mold the youth into healthy, responsible adults. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and when we work together everybody wins.

Keep reading for some tips you can implement at home to help your children create heart-healthy habits.=

Making Time for Healthy Habits

The first step is to make time to incorporate healthy habits. And while it seems like there already aren’t enough hours in the day, the secret is that you don’t have to find more time—you replace time spent on not-so-healthy habits with time spent on better-for-you ones. Try these ideas:

Schedule TV and Other Types of Screen Time

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two years old have no screen time and older kids have one to two hours of screen time per day with high-quality content. But children now spend an average of 7 hours per day in front of the TV, iPad, laptop, and/or gaming system.

One way to cut back is to schedule screen time. Try these:

  • Make a list of the family’s must-see programs—these are the ones you can watch together or separately, but do keep the list to a minimum.
  • Turn the TV only on a few minutes prior to the start of the shows, and turn it off immediately after. No channel surfing, no mindless watching.
  • Schedule a game night or award “time tickets” to allow your kids to get their video game fix without spending endless hours glued to the screen and controllers.

Track Your Meals

How often do you stop at the drive-through on your way to or from activities? You may not realize just how often you grab dinner to go or reach for processed convenience items unless you keep track for a couple of weeks.

The problem is that most of these items contain overly processed simple carbohydrates (such as sugar and flour) and oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (like sunflower, soybean, and corn oil)—huge culprits of inflammation. While the debate of whether inflammation or cholesterol is the direct cause of heart disease is still in progress, it is certainly a big cardiovascular health risk factor.

  • Curb fast food eating, and learn how to make better choices when hitting the drive thru window.
  • Making healthy meals at home is easier than you think. For example, heart-healthy meals can be slow-cooked in a crockpot so they are ready when you are, you can make homemade freezer meals that just need to be popped in the oven.
  • Replace certain ingredients in your pantry. Rather than all-purpose white flour, go with 100% whole wheat baking flour and flour products. Instead of butter, shortening, and margarine, try extra-virgin olive oil, which features heart-healthy fatty acids. Instead of canned or jarred fruits, choose fresh or frozen. Instead of sugary sodas and juices, try mixing 100% juice with water—even a splash makes for a refreshing treat.

Track Your Time

Being constantly on the go is stressful for you and your children. Extra-curricular activities are a good thing for children, but as they say, you can have too much of a good thing. A recent NPR story highlighted the new levels of stress children and teens are experiencing today have a negative impact on health. As too much continual stress has been identified as one of the causes of heart disease, it’s imperative that families come together and decide where to cut back on obligations and commitments.

While stress management techniques, such as yoga, deep breathing, and meditation, are great, healthy activities for everyone to practice, learning where to cut back and focus energy where it really counts is the first step.

Getting More Active at Home

After creating room in your lifestyle for healthy habits, fill it with fun activities at home! Why zone out or complain about boredom when there are so many valuable and fun activities you can do at home?

Become a Clean Machine

Getting everyone involved in household tasks and chores makes the work easier, faster, and healthier. And you can even make housework more fun!

  • Put sticky notes on everything that needs attention: Dust me, pick me up, sweep me, clean me, etc. Then race around the house to see which family member can acquire the most sticky notes and get the job done properly.
  • Put some tunes on the stereo and limit each household task to a certain number of tracks—3 for washing the dishes, 2 for scrubbing the bathtub, 4 for dusting the living room, etc. Get your toes tapping and the house clean all at the same time.

Go Green in the Garden

Backyard agriculture is all the rage these days, as we have rediscovered the joys and benefits of growing our own food. Gardening is also a great way to get, and stay, active. Those seeds and plants need planting, watering, weeding, and tending to. The fruits of your labor need to be harvested and prepared for storage and meals. Branching out to incorporate backyard chickens, rabbits, or other small livestock creates another dimension to your activity (and learning) time.

Besides the boost in physical activity, growing your own food is often healthier, cheaper, and more fulfilling than relying on the grocery store.

Take a hike

Or walk the dog, visit the neighborhood park or playground, play some hoops, go for a swim, set up the net and have a rousing game of volleyball in the backyard, and so on. Just get outside and get moving! Turning a lazy Saturday, Sunday, or weekday evening into a fun activity builds heart health, good habits, and memories, all of which can last a lifetime.

Doing What You Can

The easiest and most effective way to develop healthier habits as a family is by taking it one step at a time. No one said you had to do it all at once or all by the end of the month. Just start. Do what you can, when you can. Grow from there. When built upon and sustained over time, these habits will evolve into a full-blown heart-healthy lifestyle that will last you and your children a lifetime.

Teaching Children Good Sporting Behavior

Friday, February 21st, 2014
Sports teach kids many important lessons. One of those lessons is how to play hard and fair, while also being a good sport. Good sporting behavior not only teaches children how to compete without losing their composure, but it also helps them understand the importance of positive social skills. By teaching and reinforcing these values at a young age, children are prepared for the greater competitive opportunities they’ll face during their teenage years.
Defining Good Sporting Behavior
By definition, good sporting behavior means playing a game by the rules, respecting those rules, and being courteous to teammates, the referee, and the other team. A good sport may be unhappy about losing a game or match, but they won’t take out their unhappiness on the other team. Good sports remain calm and respectful, and think about how they can improve their performance the next time. On the other hand, the good sport who is ahead on points when the game ends also remains respectful and does not gloat or brag. Keeping score does infuse some level of competition, yet respecting others and the game itself should be the highest priority.
The Importance of Being a Good Sport
There are three major lifelong lessons children can learn from being a good sport:
1.  The score is less important than playing the game the right way, being respectful of yourself and others, and enjoying the process. During and after a game, being humble and thankful for the experience is a goal to strive for. Assessing one’s performance and trying to improve it next time—regardless of the outcome of any sporting event—is the ultimate objective.
2. Good sporting behavior teaches kids to accept losing gracefully and respectfully. Losing isn’t very fun, but it’s a necessary part of life. Good sporting behavior teaches children that there are times we all need to swallow our pride, respect those who won, accept our losses, then move on.
3. Finally, good sporting behavior teaches children to be humble and respectful after winning or succeeding. Respect goes both ways. Winning is certainly something to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean we forget about the kids or adults on the other side of the field who are disappointed. Next week, it could be our team on the losing side. That should be respected, along with the fact that that all players and people are equal—winning doesn’t make you better, losing doesn’t make you worse.
Tips for Encouraging Good Sporting Behavior
Encouraging children to be good sports is often more difficult than it seems. Each child is different, after all, and just as it’s important to teach kids that winning and losing are both natural parts of life, it’s also important to remember that emotional tensions often run high during periods of high energy—such as while playing sports. Remember to always approach any arguments or fights calmly and objectively.
Here are three more tips to keep in mind when encouraging kids to play hard, play fair, and be a good sport:
Strive to Be a Role Model
Always remember you’re going to be the one the children look up to when coaching, supervising, or pairing up with kids for sports and competitive activities. You never want to start an argument or lose your cool in front of them. Cheer your children on from the sidelines and never talk meanly about the other team. This should even be remembered while watching other sporting events.
Establish Rules Early
Make it a point to explain the rules of the game early on and follow those rules at all times. If you ever see anyone breaking the rules, call the child out and remedy the rule breaking as quickly as you can. Point out the rules and examples of the rules in action while watching other teams play. Explain the rules so they make sense. Stress the importance of listening to and respecting the decisions of referees and coaches.
Also, make sure your kids know how to behave while on the field and off. Set ground rules for what to do when winning or losing a match and hold the children to those rules. Try to end each match or game—no matter who won or lost—with a series of handshakes between both teams and heads held high.
Emphasize Performance and Progress
Instead of emphasizing winning and losing, emphasize goals like having fun, learning how to work together as a team, or accomplishing personal performance goals. Keep tabs on the progress of the team and compliment each member when significant progress is made. Whenever possible, concentrate on positive aspects instead of negative ones.
This goes for the opposing team as well. When you compare the opposing team to the players of your own team, make sure to positively point out things the other team may be doing differently and explain how your team can do the same. Use these moments to teach instead of criticize.
If your children lose a game or match, instead of criticizing each member, talk about how they performed positively. Stress the importance of improvement while providing examples of how they can work on improving. Set new goals if need be. Criticism can be hard to take, especially at a young age, but mixing it with new goals to work on and praise for other things helps children reflect on the conversation and all of the points that were made.
Teaching children to be good sports begins at home, during practice, and in those crucial moments during the big game. By encouraging kids to play fair and take wins and losses with a head held high and a humble heart, you help them ease into a world where they can confidently tackle challenges head-on and succeed with flying colors.

Sports teach kids many important lessons. One of those lessons is how to play hard and fair, while also being a good sport. Good sporting behavior not only teaches children how to compete without losing their composure, but it also helps them understand the importance of positive social skills. By teaching and reinforcing these values at a young age, children are prepared for the greater competitive opportunities they’ll face during their teenage years.

Defining Good Sporting Behavior

By definition, good sporting behavior means playing a game by the rules, respecting those rules, and being courteous to teammates, the referee, and the other team. A good sport may be unhappy about losing a game or match, but they won’t take out their unhappiness on the other team. Good sports remain calm and respectful, and think about how they can improve their performance the next time. On the other hand, the good sport who is ahead on points when the game ends also remains respectful and does not gloat or brag. Keeping score does infuse some level of competition, yet respecting others and the game itself should be the highest priority.

The Importance of Being a Good Sport

There are three major lifelong lessons children can learn from being a good sport:

1. The score is less important than playing the game the right way, being respectful of yourself and others, and enjoying the process. During and after a game, being humble and thankful for the experience is a goal to strive for. Assessing one’s performance and trying to improve it next time—regardless of the outcome of any sporting event—is the ultimate objective.

2. Good sporting behavior teaches kids to accept losing gracefully and respectfully. Losing isn’t very fun, but it’s a necessary part of life. Good sporting behavior teaches children that there are times we all need to swallow our pride, respect those who won, accept our losses, then move on.

3. Finally, good sporting behavior teaches children to be humble and respectful after winning or succeeding. Respect goes both ways. Winning is certainly something to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean we forget about the kids or adults on the other side of the field who are disappointed. Next week, it could be our team on the losing side. That should be respected, along with the fact that that all players and people are equal—winning doesn’t make you better, losing doesn’t make you worse.

Tips for Encouraging Good Sporting Behavior

Encouraging children to be good sports is often more difficult than it seems. Each child is different, after all, and just as it’s important to teach kids that winning and losing are both natural parts of life, it’s also important to remember that emotional tensions often run high during periods of high energy—such as while playing sports. Remember to always approach any arguments or fights calmly and objectively.

Here are three more tips to keep in mind when encouraging kids to play hard, play fair, and be a good sport:

Strive to Be a Role Model

Always remember you’re going to be the one the children look up to when coaching, supervising, or pairing up with kids for sports and competitive activities. You never want to start an argument or lose your cool in front of them. Cheer your children on from the sidelines and never talk meanly about the other team. This should even be remembered while watching other sporting events.

Establish Rules Early

Make it a point to explain the rules of the game early on and follow those rules at all times. If you ever see anyone breaking the rules, call the child out and remedy the rule breaking as quickly as you can. Point out the rules and examples of the rules in action while watching other teams play. Explain the rules so they make sense. Stress the importance of listening to and respecting the decisions of referees and coaches.

Also, make sure your kids know how to behave while on the field and off. Set ground rules for what to do when winning or losing a match and hold the children to those rules. Try to end each match or game—no matter who won or lost—with a series of handshakes between both teams and heads held high.

Emphasize Performance and Progress

Instead of emphasizing winning and losing, emphasize goals like having fun, learning how to work together as a team, or accomplishing personal performance goals. Keep tabs on the progress of the team and compliment each member when significant progress is made. Whenever possible, concentrate on positive aspects instead of negative ones.

This goes for the opposing team as well. When you compare the opposing team to the players of your own team, make sure to positively point out things the other team may be doing differently and explain how your team can do the same. Use these moments to teach instead of criticize.

If your children lose a game or match, instead of criticizing each member, talk about how they performed positively. Stress the importance of improvement while providing examples of how they can work on improving. Set new goals if need be. Criticism can be hard to take, especially at a young age, but mixing it with new goals to work on and praise for other things helps children reflect on the conversation and all of the points that were made.

Teaching children to be good sports begins at home, during practice, and in those crucial moments during the big game. By encouraging kids to play fair and take wins and losses with a head held high and a humble heart, you help them ease into a world where they can confidently tackle challenges head-on and succeed with flying colors.

How to Use SPARK Integrations

Friday, February 7th, 2014

If you are a SPARK physical activity or physical education program user, you’ve most likely heard about our fabulous, but not-yet-famous SPARK Integrations on the back side of each activity plan. Found next to the Extensions and just above the Tips and Pointers, these little nuggets are a not-so-hidden gem that can be used to help integrate other subject areas into your PA/PE program, or to infuse some wellness messages or physical activity elsewhere throughout the day. Each program has their own unique topics appropriate for the participants of that program.

  • Early Childhood integrations are all of the Academic persuasion and include Art, Literacy, Mathematics, Music, Nutrition, and Science.
  • After School integrations reinforce learning from the activity, increase MVPA (Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity) at home, and coincide with the Think Abouts used at the end of the activity. They are all Home Plays, meaning they give information to kids to use in their home life and include Move More, Character Matters, Fitness Focus, and Food Facts integrations.
  • K-2 Physical Education features Academic, Home, and Wellness integrations.
  • 3-6 Physical Education includes Academic, Home, Wellness, and Fun Fact integrations.
  • Middle School Physical Education has Home, Wellness, Global, and Multicultural integrations.
  • High Schools Physical Education includes Home, Wellness, Global/Multicultural, and Sport Literacy integrations.

Please explain these!

Academic integrations link PE to the classroom and back. These range in subject matter from literacy to math to science. These are one of the many ways SPARK helps to address the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics (Examples: 3-6 Flying Disc: Corner to Corner Give and Go and EC Super Stunts: Animal Movements 1)

Home and Move More integrations promote physical activity at home with friends or family members. (Example: AS Cool Cooperatives: Kin-Ball Cooperative Golf)

Wellness integrations provide tips on nutrition, safety, health, etc. (Example: K-2 Catching and Throwing: Switcheroo)

Fun Facts are only found in the 3-6, but these are some doozies! They include an interesting short story or tall tale that you and your students will get a kick out of and share with others. They are connected to the activity by name or theme, but not necessarily by a straight line. (Example: 3-6 Soccer: Soccer Golf)

Multicultural connect activities to diverse cultures found locally and regionally. (Example: MS Dance: Create a Poco Loco)

Global connect activities and/or units to history, customs, and practices of countries around the world. (Example: MS Golf: Bocce Golf)

Sport Literacy integrations provide useful skill, strategy, or game regulation specifics that pertain to each unit. (Example: HS Badminton: Win the Point)

Character Matters help develop social skills and positive character traits like fair play, initiative, trust, etc. (Example: AS Cool Cooperatives: Hog Call)

Fitness Focus and Food Facts: I don’t think I need to describe these other than to let you know they are great! (Examples: link to AS Great Games: Builders/Bulldozers and AS Super Sports: Mini-Basketball

 

Sounds cool, but how am I going to use them?

Teachers of physical education and physical activity (PE Specialists, Classroom Teachers, Activity Leaders, Early Childhood Leaders, etc.) use the integrations in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:

Read during Warm-ups: As students/participants are warming up (e.g. during Perimeter Move) read the Integration aloud to set the stage for the activity to follow. This works best with the types of integrations that give information about that activity, like the Wellness, Multicultural and Global, Fun Fact, and Character Matters integrations.

As an Extension of the Activity: Many of the integrations are actually hidden extensions in that they change the way the activity is played and the focus has now been placed on something math, literacy, or science-related. These Academic Integrations (found in EC, K-2, and 3-6) can be used during the middle of the lesson as an extension to integrate these academic subjects INTO Physical Education. These vary from a quick science fact about aerobic capacity to a math extension that changes the focus of the game to utilize mathematical skills. (E.g. 3-6 Jump Rope: Jumping Color Tag)  When using any of these, it’s wise to check with the classroom teacher to see if the level of academics is appropriate for his/her class and to prepare for teaching the extension instead of the activity as written on the front page.

Read during Cool-down:  While students are cooling down (e.g. stretching) read the integration and discuss using pair/share. For example, after playing Durango Boot (AS Flying Disc) read the Character Matters integration and ask students to discuss the how competition motivated them in the game with a partner. Call upon 3 pairs to share what was discussed. This tends to work best with Home Plays, Move Mores (in AS), Character Matters (as a reflection on behavior during class) and Sport Literacy (to review rules/concepts learned during the lesson.)

Put on Bulletin Boards: Print copies of the integrations. (For MS they can be found on SPARKfamily.org under each unit’s instructional media in the Planning section, just below Unit Plans but all other programs they are on each activity’s backside.) Post the integrations for each week’s lessons so students can read throughout the week as they pass by. This use works best with all types of integrations except those providing an extension to the activity by changing the focus to something academic. Ask students questions about them during roll-call or warm-up to assess their learning. Reinforce students who respond appropriately.

Share with Classroom Teachers: It’s all great to integrate other topics into PE to help address Common Core State Standards, but what about a little reciprocity? To help integrate PE concepts into academic classes, share integrations with your classroom teachers. If you are a classroom teacher, they could be used as short physical activity breaks and an infusion of wellness facts throughout the day. The types of integrations that work best here are those pertaining to Wellness and any Home Play activities.

Use with the Little Ones: If you are a leader of a pre-school/early childhood program, there are a variety of ways you can use the integrations. They serve as academic enrichment tools for before, during and after a SPARK lesson. Use the Music integrations during circle time and the Art integrations during center time. E.g. “We made an umbrella with our parachute today. Can you draw an umbrella?”  (Example: EC Parachute Play: Umbrella)

An example of a Science integration is a discussion about baby animals in a SPARK activity called Guppies. Math integrations may include the concepts of shapes, counting, and grouping. Many of the Literacy integrations suggested in SPARK can be easily added to circle time because they prompt children to act out a story using a skill learned during movement time. All of the books suggested in the Literacy Integrations coordinate with the lessons and relate to one or more of the following themes: colors, language arts, mathematics, movement skills and knowledge, nutrition, personal development, science, self-image, and social development. (Example: EC Building Blocks: Creative Words and Movements)

The Early Childhood program also includes Family Fun activities (in the bottom left corner on the backside of activity plans) which serve as a type of Home Play to promote physical activity at home with their families.

 

Please share how you use them!

Have you been using integrations in these or other ways? If so, please share with us at SPARK. Email your ideas at spark@sparkpe.org. We’d love to share your best practices with the SPARK family!