Thursday, July 19, 2012

5 Easy Activities to Teach Preschoolers Healthy Habits

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Knowledge is power, right?  By teaching our children how to make healthy choices, we're arming them with the ability to live healthy lifestyles. Children learn best by doing, so here are some easy activities that promote healthy habits that protect children's health and wellness. 

Hand washing Steps in Pictures
Proper hand washing is key to keeping healthy, but it can sometimes be a challenge for little ones to remember the steps.  To help them remember, create visual cue cards on the wall by the sink.  You could do this by taking pictures of your child doing each step or by using clip art as seen below. {You can click on the sign, select save as, and print out for your classroom/home}.  When demonstrating proper hand washing procedures, a good rule of thumb that they're washing long enough is if they sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" twice before rinsing off the soap.

Hand washing Steps Sign
*images from Microsoft Clip Art*

The Sneeze Test
Have you ever been sneezed on? Eww..gross...not to mention the germs. Here's a fun and simple activity to show children the importance of covering their nose and mouth when they sneeze. Take a little bit of flour and place it in your hand. Put your hand close to your face and do a fake sneeze, blowing the flour in the air.  Just like the flour, when we sneeze without covering our nose and mouth, germs fly into the air and towards others. Give your child a chance to try this out... guaranteed learning...and giggles.

Preparing Healthy Snacks
Taking an active role in preparing healthy food is an easy way to teach children how to make healthy food choices.  One of Bear's favorite things to make and eat is trail mix.  We use squared corn cereal, pretzels, cheese crackers, raisins, dried cranberries, and marshmallows.  True, the marshmallows aren't that healthy, but they add just enough appeal to little eyes.  They also give us the opportunity to talk about how sweets should be eaten in moderation.  You could also add peanuts into the mix but since we are peanut-free, we don't.  We also bag up our snacks into the small snack size plastic bags so that they are easy to grab.

Painting with Toothpaste and Floss
I've been brushing Bear's teeth since he was one. I've taught him the basics about daily tooth brushing, but still I thought we'd explore why we brush our teeth. We mixed food coloring into white Colgate toothpaste to create paint. Then he "brushed" [painted] the white paper with the toothpaste paint and a toothbrush. I tried to have him focus on using a circular movement. Then we did yarn painting with floss. After dipping the yarn into the toothpaste paint, it was placed on a paper and folded in half. Then the floss was pulled from between the "teeth" [paper], creating unique minty-scented art. 

Exploring the Importance of Sunscreen
Just because school is starting back in session, doesn't mean that it's time to put away the sunscreen.  The rule in our house is that if you're going outside, you have to wear sunscreen....even in the winter.  Using an easy and fun activity, I was able to show Bear how sunscreen protects your skin from the sun.  The construction paper represents our skin, the items represent sunscreen.  After we laid them out in the sun for a few hours, the sun left noticeable damage to the paper.  This was a simple way to show a preschooler why it's important to wear sunscreen. 

We can't be with our children every second of the day.  But we can teach them healthy habits that will help them to keep themselves safe and well through hands on activities. 

I'd love to hear what types of things do you do to protect your children's health and wellness.  Share with me below! 

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