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  • About
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  • Environmental Standards
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  • Getting Other Staff on Board
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  • Articles, Emails, and Handouts
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  • Unit 1: Fruits and Vegetables
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  • Unit 2: Get Moving
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  • Unit 3: Be Sugar Smart
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  • Unit 4: Go for Good Fat
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  • Unit 5: Go for Whole Grains
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  • Unit 6: Super Snacks
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  • Unit 7: Fruits and Veggies Mix it Up
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  • Unit 8: Tune Out TV
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  • Unit 9: Play Hard
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  • Unit 10: Hydration
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  • Unit 11: Finale
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  • Recipe Packet
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  • Complete Curriculum
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After school and other out-of-school time programs like vacation or summer camps offer a wonderful setting for teaching children positive health behaviors. Schools and community organizations are looking for more creative ways to help children and families develop healthy eating and physical activity habits.

The goal of Food & Fun Afterschool is to assist program staff in providing healthier environments to children during out-of-school time. The curriculum is designed to incorporate lessons and activities about healthy eating and physical activity into regular after school program schedules. Food & Fun Afterschool includes 11 teaching units that encourage healthy behaviors through active play, literacy and math skills development, creative learning, and hands-on snack time activities. With over 70 activities to choose from and a user-friendly layout for each lesson, Food & Fun makes it simple to promote healthy eating and physical activity in your program every day!

In addition to encouraging kids to embrace a healthier lifestyle, Food & Fun Afterschool supports the academic objectives defined by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. This alignment guide shows how Food & Fun activities can support the academic objectives defined by the College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts and the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Download the About Guide PDF here

About the Unit Themes

Ten topic units offer a variety of games, learning activities, and recipes for after school settings. While some units reinforce others, each unit can stand alone. Use all ten units over the course of a school year, or use only a few. Some unit themes connect to a national month or other special events, as noted, which allows you to find other resources to support the messages in the units. Check out the Food & Fun Web Resources in each unit for some great places to start. Unit 11 is an opportunity to review the key messages from Food & Fun, play a popular game or activity from a previous unit, and make your favorite recipes again. Try it out half way through Food & Fun, or when you have finished all of the units.

The curriculum and program tools were created by the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center for educational use in after school programs for children from kindergarten through fifth grade.

Unit (Month)

Title

Theme

Unit 1 (September) Take a Bite! Fruits and vegetables
Unit 2 (October) Get Moving Physical Activity
Unit 3 (November) Be Sugar Smart Sugar-Sweetened Drinks
Unit 4 (December) Go For Good Fat Healthy and Unhealthy Fats
Unit 5 (January) Go for Whole Grains Whole Grains
National Oatmeal Month
Unit 6 (February) Super Snacks Healthy Snacking
Unit 7 (March) Mix it Up Fruits and Vegetables
National Nutrition Month
Unit 8 (April) Tune Out the TV Reduce TV viewing
TV Turn Off Week (3rd week)
Unit 9 (May) Play Hard Physical Activity
National Physical Fitness and Sports Month
Unit 10 (June) Be Active, Stay Cool Keeping Hydrated
Unit 11 (Anytime!) Food & Fun Finale! Food & Fun Review

Unit 7 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Go for five or more! 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (combined) each day.
  • Try to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack.
  • Fruits and vegetables come in lots of colors. Try to eat as many different colors as you can.

Key Information for Program Staff

Fruits and vegetables are important foods to include in a healthy diet, but many children (and adults!) eat much less than the recommended 5 or more servings each day. Fruits and vegetables are packed with lots of vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, B (folate) and C, and minerals such as potassium and even calcium. Fruits and vegetables are also a great source of fiber, which helps you feel full.

Fruits and vegetables come in many different colors, and each color brings with it nutrients that other colors may not offer. For instance, deep orange and yellow produce such as cantaloupe, carrots, and sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A, while citrus fruits like oranges and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli contain vitamin C. Broccoli and dark leafy greens like kale provide calcium. Bananas are great sources of potassium.

Encourage children to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables so they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy. Tell children it is fun to try new fruits and vegetables, and they taste great! Striving for variety also means you should also try to incorporate fruits and vegetables that are relevant to the lives of the children you serve. Take time to talk to kids about the kinds of fruits and vegetables they eat at home and make sure to incorporate them into your snacks and activities in this unit.

Refer to the "Fruits & Veggies!" Tip Sheet for ideas on how to serve fruits and vegetables for snack at your afterschool program.

  • Refer to the Fruits and Veggies Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to serve fruits and vegetables for snack at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 8 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available
here.

Behavior Goal

Children will watch less TV.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Moving your body keeps you fit!
  • Do something active instead of watching TV playing videogames, or spending time on the computer.

Key Information for Program Staff

Television viewing is the most common sedentary activity of children in the United States. Every day 8- to 18-year-olds spend about 4 hours watching TV and DVDs, over an hour on the computer and almost an hour playing video games! Excess TV viewing can lead to less physical activity, overeating, and a higher risk for becoming overweight. This is because children are not active when they watch TV, they tend to snack more, and they see lots of advertising for high calorie, high sugar foods like candy, soda, and fast foods.

The activities in this unit help children recognize how much TV they watch, and more importantly, help you encourage children to replace TV and other screen time (like video games and computers) with other activities that they like. Take the time to brainstorm with the kids in your program to identify a wide variety of screen-free activities they enjoy. It is important to share the key messages and tips for families so parents and guardians can limit TV time at home (see the Parent Communications and Parent Handouts section in the Food & Fun curriculum). Support these messages in your afterschool program by eliminating broadcast and cable TV or movies, and limiting computer time to less than 1 hour each day. If you do show TV in your afterschool program, replace this with physically active games or other non-screentime activities like board games, cards, or arts and crafts. The key to successfully reducing TV and other screen time is to replace that time with activities that children like!

Tip: While physical activity is a great way to spend non-TV time, reducing screen time also provides a wonderful opportunity to promote literacy through reading, crossword puzzles, and other word games. Consider making a connection with your local library to support literacy efforts. Also try participating in a TV Turn-Off week, a national event that takes place each April (see http://www.tvturnoff.org/).

  • Refer to the "Turn Off That Screen!" Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to eliminate TV and suggestions for non-screentime activities at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 9 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will "play hard" at least 3 times each week at afterschool.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Doing activities that make you sweat or breathe hard will make you strong and keep your bones and heart healthy.
  • Playing hard is fun when it's something you like to do.
  • Do an activity that makes you sweat or breathe hard at least 3 times per week.

Key Information for Program Staff

It is important to create an afterschool environment where children are able to participate in physical activity every day. When regular activity is not part of a healthy lifestyle, children are more likely to develop chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis when they grow up. Physical activity tends to decline as children enter the adolescent years, and inactive children and teens are more likely to grow into sedentary adults.

The goal is to engage all children in regular physical activity, regardless of physical or mental abilities, and for them to have fun while being active. Many schools have reduced physical education and recess times, so children come to afterschool programs ready to move! Children ages 6-17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. They should participate in vigorous activity on at least 3 days per week. To help children meet this goal, provide all children with at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Offer at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity on 3 or more days per week. Don't forget proper hydration! Offer water before, during, and after all physical activity.

In this unit, children will learn what it means to "play hard". Vigorous activities are games and sports that are more intense than fast walking. They make you sweat and your heart beat faster. This unit also encourages children to identify vigorous physical activities that are fun for them. Take time to learn about students' cultures to be sure you offer meaningful and interesting activities for all the kids in your program. Kids will be more likely to take part!

  • Refer to the Physical Activity PDF Tip Sheets for ideas on how to engage staff and children in physical activity at your afterschool program every day.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 10 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will drink water at every snack and when they are thirsty.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Water is the best thirst quencher.
  • Drink water when you are thirsty.
  • Drink water instead of juice or soda at every snack and meal.

Key Information for Program Staff

Water is the best drink for children in afterschool programs. It is calorie free, hydrates children, and is low-cost from your nearest tap! Serve water at every snack, and make sure it is available throughout the afterschool period. Encourage children to drink water whenever they are thirsty.

Do not serve sugar-sweetened beverages (like soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and fruit-ades) during afterschool; these drinks provide a lot of sugar and calories that children's bodies don't need. Children do not need sport and energy drinks because most sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes who exercise for hours at high intensity. They contain lots of sugar and calories.

It is important to communicate about the importance of drinking water instead of sugary drinks to parents because kids are most likely to drink soda and juice drinks at home. Many parents don't realize the large amount of sugar their children get from drinks. Most tap water in the United States is safe to drink, but if you or the parents from your program are concerned about the safety of your local water supply check out The Environmental Protection Agency's annual water quality reports: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/whereyoulive.html.

  • Refer to the "Water, Water Everywhere!" Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to serve water at your afterschool program!
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 11 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will review health messages from the Food & Fun lessons that have been taught at afterschool

Key Messages for Kids

  • Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains taste great and are good for you.
  • Being active is fun and good for your body!
  • Water is the best drink when you are thirsty.
  • Do something active instead of watching TV.
  • Fats from fish, nuts, and seeds are healthy for your body.

Key Information for Program Staff

This unit, "Food & Fun Finale!" is an opportunity for you to review the key messages from Food & Fun, play a popular game or activity from a previous unit, and make your favorite recipes again! Try this out half way through Food & Fun, or when you have finished all of the units.

If you need a refresher of the key messages, re-read the "Key Information for Program Staff" in each unit. If you notice that there are some key messages in this Unit that you have not yet covered, consider teaching these units next. It is important for kids to understand all parts of a healthy lifestyle-staying physically active, eating healthy foods, drinking healthy beverages, and limiting time in front of the TV and computer. Don't forget to check out some of the suggested references in each of the units if you want to delve deeper in to a unit that kids really love!

It is important to communicate about the importance of drinking water instead of sugary drinks to parents because kids are most likely to drink soda and juice drinks at home. Many parents don't realize the large amount of sugar their children get from drinks. Most tap water in the United States is safe to drink, but if you or the parents from your program are concerned about the safety of your local water supply check out The Environmental Protection Agency's annual water quality reports: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/whereyoulive.html.

Refer to the "Water, Water Everywhere!" Tip Sheet for ideas on how to serve water at your afterschool program!

Recipe Packet

You can download the complete Recipe Packet here .

The Recipe Packet will provide you with tips on preparing food with children, and fun, healthy, inexpensive recipes, as well as guidelines for including taste tests as part of your snack program.

Each recipe is classified into levels of kitchen equipment requirements so you can easily determine if you have the resources to make the snack at your afterschool program. The price per serving and preparation time is included for each recipe as well. Have fun... and dig in!

Complete Food&Fun Afterschool Curriculum

The complete Food&Fun curriculum includes all units, planning tools, recipes, and parent materials. Please note that the complete curriculum is 600 pages and 14MB.

You can download the entire curriculum here.

Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center Environmental Standards for Nutrition and Physical Activity in Out-of-School Time Programs

A PDF version of these Environmental Standards is available here.

A poster of these standards is available here.

The aim of the Environmental Standards for Nutrition and Physical Activity are to help program leaders create healthier out-of-school environments for children by achieving 7 simple standards. These Environmental Standards are based on current scientific evidence about healthy eating and physical activity. These standards have been developed for part-day out-of-school time settings like sport programs and after school programs, but can easily be modified for full day programs like summer camps.

For each Environmental Standard below, we provide a brief rationale and a few suggested strategies for putting them into practice at your out-of-school time program. For more ideas on incorporating these standards into your program, check out the Tip Sheets in the Change section!

It is important to keep parents involved and educated about healthy eating and physical activity so they can reinforce the Environmental Standards at home. Use the Parent Handouts and Parent Communications from Food & Fun to help develop and maintain your connection with parents.

soda

Environmental Standard #1:
Do not serve sugar-sweetened beverages.

Rationale:

The amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that children drink has significantly increased over the past 20 years. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the top source of added sugar in kids' diets. Examples of sugar-sweetened beverages are soda, sweetened iced teas, fruit punches, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with obesity in children. They provide a lot of calories with little to no nutritional benefit. These beverages also lead to dental cavities. If you do serve 100% juice, limit to 4 ounces per day.

Suggested strategies:

  • Offer water instead of sugar sweetened beverages every day.
  • Implement policies that prevent using vending machines during program time.
  • Restrict bringing drinks in from outside the program.
water

Environmental Standard #2:
Serve water every day.

Rationale:

Water is a great drink choice for kids. It keeps them hydrated, it is calorie-free, and it is almost cost free from the tap! Replacing caloric beverages with water at snack time saves money, and is an easy way to eliminate calories from sugar-sweetened beverages. Our bodies are the best judge of how much water we need. Teach kids to take a drink whenever they are thirsty.

Suggested Strategies

  • Serve tap water- it costs only pennies!
  • Serve water in a pitcher with cups at the snack table every day.
vegetables

Environmental Standard #3:
Serve a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal and snack.

Rationale:

Children should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. However, most U.S. children are only eating about 2 1/2 servings each day. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They protect against heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some cancers. The fiber and water in fruits and vegetables also help you feel full. Serving 100% fruit juice does not substitute for whole fruit because juice does not contain fiber.

Suggested strategies

  • Use taste tests to learn kids' preferences and to find new fruits and vegetables that kids like.
  • Cut and peel fruits and vegetables before serving so they are easier for kids to eat.
fats

Environmental Standard #4:
Do not serve foods with trans fat.

Rationale:

The type of fat you eat is more important than the total amount of fat in your diet. Avoid foods with trans fat, which is a type of unhealthy fat. Trans fat has many harmful effects on your body. It is commonly found in packaged bakery foods (like muffins, brownies, cookies, and crackers) and deep fried foods (like chicken fingers, fish sticks, and french fries). Products labeled as 0 grams trans fat can still have up to 0.49 grams per serving by law. Avoid foods with the words "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" on the ingredient list; this means the food contains trans fat.

Suggested strategies

  • Read nutrition labels and only select foods with 0g of trans fat.
  • Review vendor lists and only order foods without trans fat.
grains

Environmental Standard #5:
When serving grains (like bread, crackers, and cereals), serve whole grains.

Rationale:

Whole grains contain fiber, vitamins, and healthy fats that can lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. They can also help you feel full longer. Refined "white" flour and sugar do not have these nutrients or health benefits. Serve whole grains instead of refined ones whenever possible. Whole grain options are often available at the same price as refined options.

Suggested strategies

  • Select breads, crackers, and, cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Examples are whole wheat, barley, oats, and rye.
  • Select foods containing at least 3 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar or less per serving.
tv

Environmental Standard #6:
Eliminate broadcast and cable TV and movies.
Limit computer time to less than 1 hour each day.

Rationale:

Children should spend no more than a total of 2 hours each day watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the web. These activities can lead to overeating, less physical activity, and a higher risk for becoming overweight. TV watching also may influence children to make unhealthy food choices because they see a lot of advertisements for foods that are high in sugars and calories. Setting limits on kids' TV, video game, and computer time is important for their health.

Suggested strategies

  • Remove TVs from the out-of-school time space or cover them with a cloth so they can't be seen.
  • Try new indoor games or an arts and crafts project if weather limits outdoor playtime.
activity

Environmental Standard #7:
Provide all children with at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.
Offer 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 3 days per week.

Rationale:

Children 6-17 years old need at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day. Most of the 1 hour or more a day should be moderate or vigorous physical activity. Children should participate in vigorous activity on at least 3 days per week. Examples of moderate physical activity are bike riding, hopscotch and playground play. Vigorous activity are more intense and make you sweat, like running, basketball, and aerobic dancing. Regular physical activity is important for preventing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

Suggested strategies

  • Schedule at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Convert cafeteria or classroom areas for dance or fitness if space is limited.

References
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Childhood Overweight and Obesity. www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html. Accessed 9/15/09
2. American Academy of Pediatrics; Prevention of Pediatric Overweight and Obesity: Family Portal. www.aap.org/obesity/families.html?technology=1. Accessed 09/15/09
3. Harvard School of Public Health; The Nutrition Source. www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource. Accessed 9/15/09
4. United States Department of Agriculture; Mypyramid.gov. www.mypyramid.gov. Accessed 09/22/09.
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. www.health.gov/paguidelines/factsheetprof.aspx. Accessed 09/15/09
6. Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Increasing caloric contribution from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices among US children and adolescents, 1988-2004. Pediatrics. 2008 Jun;121(6):e 1604-14.
7. Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet. 2001 Feb 17;357(9255):505-8.
8. Mozaffarian D, Katan MB, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med. 2006 Apr 13;354(15):1601-13.
9. Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Apr; 160(4):436-42.

Getting Other Staff On Board!

A PDF version of Getting Other Staff on Board is available here.

Getting other staff on board with healthy eating and physical activity changes is a challenge many programs face. Some staff members might be hesitant about their knowledge of what "healthy" means, while others might feel conflicted because they drink too much soda, don't eat enough healthy foods, or spend more time in front of the television than being physically active. The good news is that Food & Fun Afterschool teaches kids, family, and childcare staff a simple set of healthy goals to live by and provides fun activities and accessible information to help change behaviors and environments. Staff are encouraged to learn along with the children and families and make healthy changes in their own lives. Below you'll find some simple tips for involving staff with Food & Fun!

Who & What?

All staff should understand the healthy messages of Food & Fun Afterschool. Although the whole staff does not need to know how to deliver the curriculum, it is important for consistency and clear messaging that all staff know about the basic health objectives. One way to get started is to review the behavioral goals and key messages for kids at the beginning of each unit with your staff so they have a sense of what children are learning. You could also walk staff through the Environmental Standards for Nutrition and Physical Activity in Out-of-School Time Programs or the parent communications as a way to teach the aims and rationale of the curriculum.

Where and When?

Afterschool is a busy, bustling place! Try to incorporate review of the key messages or environmental standards into your current routine-maybe during a monthly staff meeting or during set up at the beginning of the afterschool day. The goals of Food & Fun Afterschool are designed to be easily incorporated into the way the program runs and shouldn't feel like a lot of extra work. You should also try to have trainings and periodic refreshers for staff who are in charge of delivering the curriculum. This way staff (new and old) will continue to feel confident about their knowledge and Food & Fun will start to become a regular part of your afterschool program.

Why and How?

Equipping staff with the knowledge and skills to successfully delivery Food & Fun Afterschool has many benefits! First, staff will likely gain confidence and enthusiasm for implementing the curriculum. Reviewing key messages with the entire program staff will help with consistency and facilitate program change. With these pieces in places, the curriculum will be able to make a positive impact on children and their families. Try to make use of the many materials available in Food & Fun Afterschool 2nd Edition. There are staff tip sheets with practical strategies for making healthy changes in afterschool programs, the Snack Sense Guide with healthy and low cost snack ideas, and colorful posters to reinforce the environmental standards.

  • Refer to the Staff Enagagement Tip Sheet PDF for more ideas.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Articles, Emails, and Handouts

Refer to the Newsletter Article, Email message, and Parent Handout to reinforce the messages in Food & Fun. These files will also be a available at the bottom of their respective unit pages. All three are available in Spanish and English, and the Handout is available in Chinese.

Unit 1: Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Fruits and Vegetables for Better Health" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Get your 5 servings of fruits and Veggies" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Fruits and vegetables: Eat 5 or more servings for your health". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 2: Get Moving

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Get Moving! Feel Great!" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Get Moving!" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Activate your Family!". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick-up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 3: Be Sugar Smart

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Sugar is Sweet. And Drinks are too?" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Be Sugar Smart" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "More whole grains, less added sugar for good health". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 4: Go For Good Fat

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Go For Healthy Fats!" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Fats in foods" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Dietary Fats: The good, the bad, and the ugly". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 5: Go for Whole Grains

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Get the Whole Story on Whole Grains" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Go for Whole Grains" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "More whole grains, less added sugar for good health". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.
  4. Other Whole Grain Resources: "Healthy Whole Grains". More tips on choosing healthy whole grain snacks.

Unit 6: Super Snacks

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Snacking the Healthy Way!" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Super Snacks" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Snacks: A Bridge Between Meals". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 7: Fruits and Veggies Mix it Up

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Fruits and Vegetables for Better Health" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Get your 5 servings of fruits and veggies!" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Fruits and vegetables: Eat 5 or more servings for health". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick-up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 8: Tune Out TV

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Tune Out Your TV for Better Health" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Tune Out the TV" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Take Control of TV (and other screen time)". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 9: Play Hard

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Get Moving! Feel Great!" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Get Moving!" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Activate your Family!". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick-up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 10: Hydration

  1. Parent Communications: Ideas for parent engagement, as well as a newsletter, "Hydrated Kids are Healthy Kids" and email message, "Healthy Habits Power Tips: Stay Cool" to distribute to parents.
  2. Newsletter Article: The formatted version of the parent Newsletter
  3. Parent Handout: "Quenchers!". Send this handout home in a mailing, insert it into your next newsletter, or have copies available for pick up at your program's sign-out area.

Unit 1 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will eat more fruits and vegetables (5-a-day!)

Key Messages for Kids

  • Go for Five! Eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables (combined) each day.
  • Try to eat a fruit or a vegetable with every meal and snack.
  • Just take a bite! Don't be afraid to try a new fruit or vegetable - chances are you'll like it.

Key Information for Program Staff

Fruits and vegetables are important foods to include in a healthy diet, but many children (and adults!) eat much less than the recommended 5 or more servings each day. Fruits and vegetables are packed with lots of vitamins and nutrients. They are also a great source of fiber, which helps you feel full.

The trick is that each type of fruit or vegetable has unique benefits, so it is important to eat different types. Encourage children to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables so they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy. Tell children it is fun to try new fruits and vegetables, and they taste great! They say that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but don't forget your oranges and broccoli! Striving for variety also means you should also try to incorporate fruits and vegetables that are relevant to the lives of the children you serve. Take time to talk to kids about the kinds of fruits and vegetables they eat at home and make sure to incorporate them into your snacks and activities in this unit.

Tip: September is National 5-a-Day month, so check out the resource section and connect to organizations that may offer free materials or ideas. School food service directors may also have promotional material, or they may be interested in working with school-based programs on taste-tests or other activities.

  • Refer to the Fruits and Veggies Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to serve fruits and vegetables for snack at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

What's a Serving?

  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit, like raisins
  • 1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables, like baby carrots or cooked green beans
  • 1/2 cup of canned or cut-up fruit, like applesauce or canned pineapple
  • 1 medium piece of fresh fruit (an apple the size of a tennis ball, or 1 medium banana)
  • 1 cup of leafy greens like spinach and lettuce (dark greens pack more nutrients than pale iceberg lettuce)

Unit 2 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will be more physically active.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Moving your body is fun and helps your body be healthy and strong.
  • All types of physical activities like playing, dancing, and sports are good for you.
  • Do something active every day.

Key Information for Program Staff

It is important to create an afterschool environment where children are able to participate in physical activity every day. When regular activity is not part of a healthy lifestyle, children are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis when they grow up. Physical activity tends to decline as children enter the adolescent years, and inactive children and teens are more likely to grow into sedentary adults.

The goal is to engage all children in regular physical activity, regardless of physical or mental abilities, and for them to have fun being active. Many schools have reduced physical education and recess times so children come to afterschool programs ready to move! Children ages 6-17 need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This can occur in 15 minute periods of activity throughout the day. They should participate in vigorous activity on at least 3 days per week. To help children meet this goal, provide all children with at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Offer at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity on 3 or more days per week.

In this unit, children will recognize that traditional forms of exercise, like sports, are not the only way to get moving. Free play, like running, jumping and climbing on playground equipment is just as important as organized sports like soccer or softball. Children can also be active in their chores at home. They may walk a dog or help sweep floors. Finally, children and families should be encouraged to find active forms of transportation like walking to school or riding bikes to the park or store. It is important to keep in mind that people hold different values and understanding about exercise, so talking about all these different ways to be physically active is important.

Don't forget proper hydration! Offer water before, during, and after all physical activity.

  • Refer to the Moderate Physical Activity PDF Tip Sheets for ideas on how to engage staff and children in physical activity at your afterschool program every day.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 3 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will drink fewer sweetened beverages and eat fewer sweets

Key Messages for Kids

  • Sweetened drinks like soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar.
  • Eating and drinking too much sugar is not healthy for your body and it can cause cavities.
  • Water and low fat milk are the best drinks to have at snacks and meals.
  • Juice is not as healthy as it seems. It can have as much sugar as soda.

Key Information for Program Staff

Children often replace healthy drinks like milk or water with sugary drinks like punch, soda, and fruit drinks. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as eating sugary foods like candy and cookies, can lead to dental cavities and may increase the risk for overweight, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, some children are developing type 2 diabetes because of poor diets and overweight.

In this unit, children will learn how to read the sugar content in different drinks and identify drinks with lots of sugar. You can help children (especially older ones) investigate other drinks, snacks and treats by looking at the amount of sugar listed on the food label, then converting that number into teaspoons. To calculate grams of sugar to teaspoons, divide the grams of sugar by 4 (there is 1 teaspoon of sugar for every 4 grams of sugar listed).

Teach children and their parents the many different forms sugar can take. High fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, honey, cane juice, molasses, and malt syrup all mean one thing: SUGAR! Help children develop healthy habits by serving water instead of sugary drinks at every snack. Drinks with artificial sweeteners are not a healthy alternative, because the long term safety of artificial sweeteners is unknown.

Provide naturally sweet or low-sugar snack foods like dried fruit, yogurt and fruit (try plain or vanilla yogurt mixed with fruit), granola, or low to moderate sugar cereals (under 10 grams of sugar per serving). Also, snacks do not need to be sweet! Try serving savory snacks like popcorn, trail mix or whole grain crackers with no trans fat in them.

  • Refer to the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this quick guide is available here

Unit 4 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will choose foods with healthy fats when possible.

Key Messages for Kids

  • You need to eat fat to keep your body healthy, but not all fats are the same. Try to choose fats that are good for your body.
  • Fats from fish, nuts, and seeds are healthy for your body.
  • Limit fats from animal sources, like butter, whole milk, and red meat.
  • Do not eat trans fats found in fast food like French fries and baked goods like cookies.

Key Information for Program Staff

Fat is a tricky subject for children (and adults!) to think about. Children, especially older ones, often associate "fat" with body image, and they do not think about it in a good way. When you introduce this unit, inform the group that fat is just one of three energy sources that we get from food (carbohydrates, protein, and fat all give us energy for the body to work). We need to eat fat for energy, to help us feel full, and because it provides nutrients like vitamin E. Our bodies need fat for nerve function, healthy skin and to protect our organs (fat acts like a cushion!). Some body fat is normal and healthy! However, we need to be careful about the type of fat we consume.

Before participating in the activities in this unit, children should have some understanding of the difference between "Go" foods with healthy fat and "Slow" foods with unhealthy fats. Explain that healthy fats are plant fats (like nuts or olive oil) and fish oils, or have lower saturated fat (like low-fat milk). Fats that are not healthy are saturated, like fat from animals (butter, red meat, and whole milk), and trans fat (found in processed snack foods, margarine, and many fried fast foods like French fries). See the box below for more information on the different types of fats!

When discussing food fats with children, keep in mind that younger children in particular will have difficulty understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. Try partnering older children with younger children so they can help with these concepts. You can also discuss food choices with children and encourage them to find healthier options at lunch or when they are eating out. As you explore the different types of healthy fats, try to incorporate foods that are relevant to the lives of the children you serve. Take time to talk to kids about how the food they eat at home is prepared and help them identify when they are eating healthy vs. unhealthy fats. Don't forget, the best way to influence healthy habits among children is for you to be a positive role model by offering healthy snack options (and eating them too!).

It is important to avoid suggestions of "dieting" to children at this age! You may need to remind children that you are discussing food fat as it relates to healthy eating, and not as it relates to body fatness. We do not want children to interpret this topic as suggesting that they are "fat" or need to lose weight. Though some children may be overweight, neither this unit nor the Food & Fun curriculum are designed for weight loss. Also avoid the suggestion that low-fat diets will help children stay slim or lose weight. Food fats are not turned directly into body fat; they have functions in the body as noted above. When people gain too much weight, it is because they eat more calories from any type of food (calories comes from carbohydrates, protein and fat) than they use for exercise and basic body functions (including growth and development).

Children should be encouraged to be active for the fun of it and to choose foods that taste good and keep their bodies healthy. If weight is a real concern, it is up to the parents to work with the child's doctor and a dietitian on a healthy plan.

  • Refer to the "Say No to Trans Fat!" Tip Sheet for ideas on how to get trans fats out of the snacks served at your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Keeping Track of Fats!

Unsaturated fats are healthy fats. These fats are found in plant oils (like olive oil and vegetable oil), nuts, and fish. Unsaturated fats help lower the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

Saturated fats come from animal sources like dairy products (for example whole milk and butter) and red meat. Coconut and palm oils are also saturated fats. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol and can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Since whole milk is a major source of saturated fat in children's diets, one easy way to lower their intake of unhealthy saturated fat is to offer skim or 1% milk.

Trans fats are created from plant oils through a chemical process called partial hydrogenation which makes them solid at room temperature. Trans fats are commonly found in stick margarine, processed baked goods like cookies, crackers, and other snack products, and fast foods. Trans fats are bad for your health and should be avoided! Buy snacks for your program that have 0 grams of trans fat on the nutrition label. But, also check the ingredient list! By law, products labeled as "0 grams trans fat," are still allowed to contain up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving. Look for the words "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil" in the ingredient list; this means the food has trans fat.

Unit 5 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will eat more whole grain foods.

Key Messages for Kids

  • Whole grains are important because they help you feel full longer and make your body healthy.
  • Eat whole grains (like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat crackers and brown rice) instead of refined grains (like white bread, muffins, pasta, and white rice) whenever possible.
  • Breakfast is a great time to try whole grains. Try whole grain cereals, waffles, bread, or bagels.

Key Information for Program Staff

Many children do not eat enough whole grains. Whole grains contain fiber, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Whole grains help keep your blood sugar under control, arteries clear, and they also make you feel full longer. Refined "white" flour and sugar do not have the nutrients or health benefits of whole grains. When serving grains for snack (like bread, crackers, and cereal), serve whole grains! Read nutrition labels and choose 100% whole grain breads and cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Choose breads and cereals that list a whole grain first, like whole wheat, barley, oats or rye. As you explore all the different types of whole grains, try to incorporate foods that are relevant to the lives of the children you serve. Take time to talk to kids about the grains they eat at home, identify which of these grains are whole grains, and make sure to incorporate them into your snacks and activities in this unit.

Children have several opportunities during the day to consume whole grains. The two easiest meals to do so are breakfast and lunch since there are many cereals and breads made with whole grains. Out-of-school programs can help introduce such whole grain foods like whole wheat crackers (with no trans fats), breakfast cereals (with less than 5g of sugar per servings), mini whole-wheat bagels, and whole wheat pita bread. There are many whole grains options available for the same price as refined options.

  • Look for products with at least 3 grams of fiber and no more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Refer to the "Whole Grains" Tip Sheet PDF for ideas on how to serve whole grains in your afterschool program.
  • The browser version of this tip sheet is located here
  • The fast map for this unit is available here
  • The browser version of this fast map is available here

Unit 6 Information for Leaders

To view the individual activities for this unit, click on them in the highlighted orange box to the left

A PDF version of this unit is available here.

Behavior Goal

Children will choose healthy snack foods

Key Messages for Kids

  • Our bodies need healthy snacks to stay energized between meals.
  • Choose healthy snack foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, and lean meats or proteins.
  • Snacks that have a lot of sugar, unhealthy fat, and salt like candy, cookies, and chips are "slow" snacks.

Key Information for Program Staff

Many children enjoy treats at snack time, but they need the nutrition and energy that comes from a healthy snack. Snacks often provide children with up to 25% of their daily calorie needs, so serving healthy and tasty foods and drinks are important! Help children understand that snacks create a bridge between meals - it gives them the energy they need to concentrate on schoolwork and to play.

Snacks should be made from the foods children would enjoy at a meal, and snacks should not always be seen as a treat. Avoid serving snacks that are high in sugar or contain trans fat. When children eat sugary snacks, they may get short term relief from hunger and a quick energy boost, but those good feelings don't last. Similarly, it is unhealthy to choose foods like cookies or brownies because these often contain harmful trans fats. Trans fats are oils that have been chemically treated to make them harder, and more shelf stable so they last longer. Trans fats are harmful to health, so it's important to read food labels to choose products that list 0 grams trans fat, and do not list "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients. Also, look at the nutrition label on canned, boxed, and frozen foods to ensure that sodium (salt) levels are low. Try to serve items with less than 300 mg/serving. Look for hidden salt in prepared snacks such as macaroni and cheese, chili, soup or canned pasta like SpaghettiOs®, and compare different brands and types of bread and deli meat.

Since children often have little control over the types of foods served to them, it is important to praise children when they do make healthy choices. The best way to influence children is to provide them with healthy, tasty snack choices. Show them that eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods at snack time is fun by getting creative with recipes and enlisting kids to help with selecting and preparing snacks! Serve a variety of healthy snacks from different food groups during program time. Striving for variety also means you should also try to incorporate foods that are relevant to the lives of the children you serve. Take time to talk to kids about the healthy foods they eat at home and make sure to incorporate them into your snacks and activities in this unit. Involve children in preparing and serving snacks. As always, help children see how tasty and fun healthy snacks are by eating healthy snacks yourself!

You all will benefit!

To do the activities in this unit, it is important that children understand the difference between GO foods and SLOW foods. Explain to children at the beginning of this unit and at the start of each activity that GO foods are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk or dairy foods, lean meats, and nuts or seeds. SLOW foods contain few vitamins, minerals and fiber but do contain a lot of sugar, salt and/or unhealthy saturated or trans fats.