Thursday, August 25, 2016

5 Tools to Help Keep Your Students and Yourself Active & Healthy

The new school year always feels like a new calendar year to me as many students and teachers have "resolutions" for the new school year. If one of your resolutions for the new school year is to keep yourself or your students active and healthy, the following free resources are for you.

GoNoodle is a free service that is designed to promote physical fitness in a fun environment. GoNoodle features tons of free videos that lead students in short, 2-5 minutes, exercises. These are fun exercises like dancing that can be done in your classroom or at home with parents. GoNoodle provides an online environment in which students track the minutes that they spend exercising. Students choose avatars to represent themselves in the GoNoodle environment. New avatars are available once a student completes enough activity time to reach a new level.

Sworkit Kids is a similar app (Android versioniOS version) that will also help you get your students moving for short exercise breaks. Sworkit Kids doesn't have animated videos like GoNoodle does. Sworkit Kids simply features short video demonstrations of a movement like diagonal hopping accompanied by a countdown timer.

One of the simple improvements that I made to my diet a couple of years ago was cutting out sugar from my morning coffee (I never used cream). The CDC's Rethink Your Drink helped me understand how many extra calories I was taking in through sugar. Rethink Your Drink provides a chart of sugar content and calories found in popular beverages. The PDF also contains a chart of suggested alternatives to drinking sugary beverages. In addition to the charts Rethink Your Drink provides suggestions on ways to cut sugar calories safely while not sacrificing nutrients.

Space Chef is a free iPad app from the Lawrence Hall of Science. The purpose of the app is to introduce students to healthy foods and recipes that they may not have ever tried or even heard about. Space Chef features a fast-paced game in which students have to quickly grab the ingredients for a recipe. The ingredients scroll past them in three streams or flight paths. Students are shown a recipe at the top of the screen and they must grab the appropriate ingredients as they stream across the screen.

Arthur Family Health is a free resource from PBS Kids. Arthur Family Health is designed to help parents, teachers, and students learn about common health challenges children face. Through videos, games (online and offline), and data sheets visitors to Arthur Family Health can learn about asthma, allergies, nutrition, fitness, and resilience (dealing with tragedies).