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Posts Tagged ‘outside play’

Staying Safe and Warm in the Winter

Winter is fun! Kids love playing in the cold and snow and they should be encouraged to do so. There are some wonderful learning opportunities outside in the Winter! However, there are also some important things to remember while out in the cold. This article found on healthychildren.org gives some wonderful tips on staying warm and safe during all that outside Winter fun!

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temperatures, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some valuable tips on how to keep your children safe and warm.

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities.  Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Always remember warm boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • When riding in the car, babies and children should wear thin, snug layers rather than thick, bulky coats or snowsuits. See Winter Car Seat Safety Tips for additional information.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, bumpers, sheepskins and other loose bedding should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment because they are associated with suffocation deaths. It is better to use sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers or wearable blankets.
  •  If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be thin and tucked under the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding materials.


  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to colder temperatures. It often happens when a child is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy.  Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.


  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen.  This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose.  They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water.  104° Fahrenheit (about the temperature of most hot tubs) is recommended. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Safe Winter Sports and Activities

Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.  Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Ice Skating

  • Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces.  Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
  • Advise your child to:
    • Skate in the same direction as the crowd
    • Avoid darting across the ice
    • Never skate alone
    • Do Not chew gum or eat candy while skating
    • Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate to keep them safe.


  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet while sledding.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow (not ice), not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
  • Never ski or snowboard alone.
  • Young children should always be supervised by an adult.  Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill.  If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.


  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never snowmobile alone or at night.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

Tuning Out to Tune In: How Time Outside Can Improve Readiness to Learn Inside

Below is an article from NAEYC that discusses the positive affect the outdoors can have on learning. . It is written by Andrea Laser.


Outdoor time matters. I’ve certainly lost track of time and my thoughts and worries seemed to disappear – all because I was outdoors in a peaceful setting. As teachers we send wound up children outside to “burn off some energy.” And many of us plan our vacations based on the outdoor scenery. Our need to be restored by the outdoors and nature’s almost magical effects may actually have its roots in brain research. As it turns out, the time we spend outside can do amazing work getting our brain ready for the time we spend inside. Several years ago, the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv was published that described much of the research about the powerful effects of being outside for children. His book has many studies that describe the power of benefits of being outside and in nature for children.

The Power of Outside

Nature has beautiful and unexpected ways of capturing our attention–the wind suddenly blowing across our face, our feet slowly sinking into the sand at the beach, or seeing an animal run in full stride in its natural habitat.

Researchers call this type of attention “involuntary attention” and believe that time spent in involuntary attention may actually be giving our voluntary attention an important time of rest (Kaplan, 1995, and Taylor, Kuo, & Sullivan, 2001). Voluntary attention includes such activities as focusing on a math problem, or writing letters- basically tasks that make a person focus on what he is doing. Involuntary attention is when we don’t mean to pay attention to something, but our brain shifts our focus anyway (an animal making noise, the sound of thunder, the smell of lilacs, etc.)This research isn’t new, but as academic expectations are pushed down into earlier grades, sometimes what is considered the “non-essential” and non-academic parts of a child’s day, including recess, are tragically cut or eliminated. The reality is, outside matters, and children need time outside to be ready to learn inside.

How can you encourage this power of the outdoors for your children?

• Recess matters

Advocate for your child’s school to keep recess. If your school has cut or limited recess, ask to talk to the principal or director about why and how this decision was made. One guideline from SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators) is that children ages 3-5 years old should be engaged in 60 minutes of structured physical activity and 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity per day.

• Windows matter

Some research suggests that simply looking out a window can have some of the same revitalizing effects as being outdoors. When looking at schools and child care centers, notice how many windows there are and if children are to see out them (they aren’t covered, and they are low enough for children to see out).

• How you get to school matters

If you live close enough, try walking or biking to school with your child. Not only will this give your child’s brain time to revitalize, it also provides great opportunities for conversation and starting the day off right for both of you.

• Take time to revitalize your brain too! 

Don’t forget that revitalizing your brain is important too! Take time for yourself to be in nature. Throughout your day spend a few minutes outside and see how you can benefit from the effects of time outside.

• If you can’t get outside as much as you’d like, try bringing some of the outdoors in

Both weather conditions and location can be a deterrent to safe outdoor play for children. If you cannot get outside, try to bring the outdoors inside- collect some natural materials for children to sort, count, pattern with, draw, and observe. In addition, consider having plants, fairy gardens, and observational areas where children can observe and have opportunities to document what they notice.

Andrea Laser is an Early Childhood Special Educator teaching in Colorado for her 14th year in public schools. She has her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, recently completed the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program, and is currently pursuing an educational doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity with a concentration in early childhood. She has two boys, ages three and seven who simultaneously energize and exhaust her and her husband. She can be contacted at abp818@gmail.com


For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

The Importance of Physical Activity in Children

We are hearing more and more about the importance of physical activity for our good health. This applies to children too. Below is an article explaining this concept very well. Children love to move and it is proven to be good for their mental and emotional health as well as their physical health! So as the days and nights are cooling off, grab your kiddos and go outside to play!

Let’s Get Physical!
By Rae Pica
There are so many reasons why children need to move. But today, more than ever, the primary reason may be movement’s contribution to their physical fitness. Word of the childhood obesity crisis is everywhere: magazines, newspapers, television, and radio talk shows. Even so, it’s sometimes difficult to take it all seriously. How can we be experiencing a childhood obesity epidemic? Worse yet, how can we be using words like heart disease in relation to young children?Unfortunately, we are. Obesity among children is increasing faster than among adults. In 2000, 22 percent of U.S. preschoolers were overweight and 10 percent clinically obese (Pica, 2003). Obesity is also now seen among infants and toddlers as well (Huettig, Sanborn, DiMarco, Popejoy, & Rich, 2004).Studies have shown that 40 percent of children ages five to eight have at least one heart disease risk factor, including hypertension (Bar-Or et al., 1988; Berenson, 1980; Ross, Pate, Lohman, & Christenson, 1987). The first signs of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are now appearing at age five (Institute for Aerobic Research, 1987). A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) presentation contends that American children born in the year 2000 face a one-in-three chance of developing Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes because it was previously nonexistent among the young). And a number of experts believe this may be the first generation of children who will not outlive their parents.

A Different Kind of Energy Crisis

Why is this happening? The formula is pretty straightforward: energy in/energy out. This is the phrase nutritionists use to describe the intended balance between calories consumed and calories burned. If the level of physical activity isn’t great enough to burn the amount of calories taken in, weight increases. If this imbalance continues, obesity may result.


Given our fondness for fast food and our tendency to “super size,” it’s easy to imagine that caloric intake is the crux of the obesity problem. And certainly it is part of the problem. But studies both here and abroad have indicated the greater problem lies with the second half of the equation: energy out. Children simply aren’t moving enough!


It’s been estimated that between the ages of two and 17, American children spend an average of three years of their waking lives watching TV (Cooper, 1999). That’s the equivalent of more than 15,000 hours in front of the set (and this doesn’t even include time spent watching videos, playing video games, or using the computer)—as compared with 12,000 hours spent in a classroom. The end result? A minimum of 27,000 hours—more than six years of their young lives.


The Importance of Physical Activity

Although most of the research has been conducted on the relationship between physical activity and adult health, there’s now enough evidence to show physical activity causes health benefits for children and adolescents as well. Improved aerobic endurance, muscle growth, muscular strength, motor coordination, and growth stimulation of the heart, lungs, and other vital organs are among these benefits.


Given these rewards, it’s important that teachers and families work together to help children establish healthy eating patterns and healthy physical activity habits during the stage when important habits are formed: early childhood! Also, the goal should not only be to ward off ill health but to promote good health and physical fitness in all children.


The Five Fitness Factors

To help children along the path to fitness, it’s helpful to have some understanding of the components involved. It’s also important to realize that the emphasis should be placed on the health-related, as opposed to the skill-related, components of fitness. Descriptions of the five health-related components of physical fitness and some sample activities follow.

Cardiovascular Endurance. The ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen and nutrients to the muscles defines cardiovascular endurance. In simple terms someone with great cardiovascular endurance has a strong heart—one that actually grows in size and pumps more blood with every beat, resulting in a lower heart rate. As you can imagine, this can happen only when an individual exercises regularly. Typically it’s aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness, but where children are concerned we can’t think of “aerobics” in the same way that we do for adults.

Children are not made for long, uninterrupted periods of strenuous activity. So expecting them to jog, walk briskly, or follow an exercise video for 20 to 30 minutes, particularly before the age of six, is not only unrealistic but could be damaging. Rather, when we consider developmentally appropriate aerobic activities for children, we should be thinking along the lines of moderate to vigorous play and movement. Walking, marching, playing tag, dancing to music, and jumping rope all fall under the heading of moderate to vigorous exercise for children. In other words, it’s anything that keeps the child moving continuously, sometimes strenuously and sometimes less so.

Muscular Strength. Muscular strength is described as the ability to exert force with a single maximum effort. Strong muscles are necessary not only for performing certain tasks, like throwing for distance, hanging and swinging, climbing, and carrying heavy books and groceries, but also for preventing injury and maintaining proper posture. An added bonus is that increasing muscle strength also increases strength in tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Strength training, also known as resistance or weight training, is the best way to build muscular strength. But here again, we must view things differently than if we were discussing adults. While there’s a lot of debate over the appropriateness of involving young children in strength training, there are some points on which the experts agree.

First, it’s never a good idea to modify an adult strength-training program for children. Adults’ bodies are fully developed; children’s are not. Adults have long attention spans and the motivation to endure the monotony of repetitive exercises; children do not. For these reasons the best “strength training” for children involves the use of their own weight in physical activities they’d be performing anyway, like jumping, playing tug-of-war, and pumping higher and higher on a swing.

Muscular Endurance. Muscular endurance is the muscles’ ability to continue contracting over an extended period of time. In other words, it’s about stamina. Landy and Burridge (1997) write: “Good muscular endurance gives you the ability to repeat a movement without getting tired or to hold a position or carry something for a long period of time without being fatigued. A child who has good muscular endurance will enjoy and have greater success in her daily work activities, in play, and in sporting and athletic competitions.”

Obviously, muscular endurance is tied to muscular strength; so many of the same kinds of activities and exercises benefit both. However, muscular endurance also depends on skill level. Children, by virtue of having fewer years of practice in most skills, will use the maximum force and contract more muscles than actually needed for the movement. Therefore, they won’t be able to last as long as a skilled mover.

Flexibility. Flexibility is the range of motion around joints. When people possess good flexibility, they can stretch to put something on a high shelf, bend to tie a shoe, or sit cross-legged without effort or aches and pains. They can swing a tennis racket or a golf club, perform a lay-up in basketball, or reach for a high fly without fear of muscle strain, sprain, or spasm.

If children are physically active, they’ll be flexible. But they should also be encouraged to work on their flexibility through gentle, static stretches that take a muscle just beyond its usual length (without pain!) and are held for at least 10 seconds.

Two no-no’s regarding stretching: First, children should work their own limbs through their range of motion; it’s extremely easy for an adult to stretch a child’s muscles and joints too far. Second, children should be warned against ballistic (bouncing) stretching. It can cause small tears in the muscle fibers and is not as effective as static stretching.

Body Composition. The final component of health-related fitness is body composition: the body’s makeup in terms of fat, muscle, tissue, and bone or the percentage of lean body tissue to fat.

Obviously, with childhood obesity becoming more of a problem as the years go by, much attention is focused on body composition right now. But weight alone is not a good indicator of body composition. Some children are simply large-boned. Also, muscle weighs more than fat. So it’s possible for two children to have the same weight but very different make-ups, one possessing very little fat and the other too much.

Research has shown that inactive preschool children were almost four times more likely to enter first grade with increased body fatness (Moore, 1995). Physical activity, of course, is the key to combating fat, with aerobic and muscle-strengthening movement making the largest contribution.

By ensuring our children stay active, we can combat obesity before it starts rather than once it’s upon them. We can also help guarantee they derive positive health benefits both as children and as adults.

Rae Pica is a children’s movement specialist and author of 14 books, including the text Experiences in Movement: Birth to Age Eight,Moving & Learning across the Curriculum, and Your Active Child, written for the parents of children birth to eight. She speaks on early childhood issues throughout North America.


For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity with Preschoolers

Healthy eating and physical activity are important habits that keep our bodies healthy! It is very important to start these habits in our children when they are young. Teaching them with our words is important but teaching through our example is crucial! Below are some helpful reminders about nutrition and being active.

Food Groups

The kinds of food your preschooler eats and drinks are important for his or her health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy provide the nutrients that their bodies need. Keep an eye on the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated (solid) fat.

  • Fruits – Let your preschooler enjoy a variety of whole or bite-sized fruits such as apples, sliced bananas, and mandarin orange pieces. Serve 100% fruit juice in small amounts and less often.
  • Vegetables – Prepare red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli as part of your child’s meals and snacks.
  • Grains – Make at least half their grains whole grains by offering 100% whole-grain cereals, breads, and pasta.
  • Protein Foods – Choose a variety of protein foods such as seafood, beans, and small portions of meat or poultry.
  • Dairy – Give them low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to provide much needed calcium.
  • Encourage water instead of fruit juice or sugary drinks – Too much 100% juice or sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, juice drinks, or sport drinks, can add more calories than your child needs.
  • Check out the sodium (salt) in canned foods, bread, and frozen meals – Read the Nutrition Facts label to find foods with lower numbers.
  • Watch the amount of saturated fats in foods – Cakes, cookies, ice cream, pizza, cheese, sausages, and hot dogs are okay sometimes but not every day.


Picky Eating

Do you have a picky eater in your home? Do any of these statements remind you of your preschooler?

  • “Michael won’t eat anything green, just because of the color.”
  • “Ebony will only eat peanut butter sandwiches!”
  • “Maria doesn’t sit still at the table. She can’t seem to pay attention long enough to eat a meal!”

You’re not alone. Picky eating is a typical behavior for many preschoolers. It’s simply another step in the process of growing up and becoming independent. As long as your preschooler is healthy, growing normally, and has plenty of energy, he or she is most likely getting needed nutrients.

Many children will show one or more of the following behaviors during the preschool years. In most cases, these will go away with time.

  • Your child may refuse a food based on a certain color or texture. For example, he or she could refuse foods that are red or green, contain seeds, or are squishy.
  • For a period of time, your preschooler may only eat a certain type of food. Your child may choose 1 or 2 foods he or she likes and refuse to eat anything else.
  • Sometimes your child may waste time at the table and seem interested in doing anything but eating.
  • Your child may be unwilling to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables. It is normal for your preschooler to prefer familiar foods and be afraid to try new things.

Having your preschooler help you in the kitchen is a good way to get your child to try new foods. Kids feel good about doing something “grown-up.” Give them small jobs to do. Praise their efforts. Children are much less likely to reject foods that they helped make.

Physical Activity

Being physically active helps your preschooler learn healthy habits. Preschoolers who participate in active play can get the physical activity they need to maintain a healthy weight, develop muscles and strong bones, and reduce their risk of developing chronic disease such as Type 2 diabetes.

Encourage your preschooler to play actively several times every day. Preschoolers’ activity may happen in short bursts of time instead of all at once. Physical activity does not always have to be led by adults..

Preschoolers need quiet time but make sure your preschooler is not inactive for too long.

Limit TV and screen time to less than 2 hours daily, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Encourage reading or crafts rather than TV time.
  • Quiet time is best before naps or bed.
  • Be a role model and limit your own inactivity. Your preschooler will learn that being physically active is part of a healthy life. Manage the time you spend watching TV or using mobile devices.
  • Avoid having the TV on during mealtimes.
  • Only put TVs in family rooms. Don’t put a TV in your child’s bedroom.

HealthyTipsforPickyEaters   KitchenHelperActivities

This information was compiled from Choosemyplate.gov  

For more information on The Goddard School in Franklin (Cool Springs) visit our website and our Facebook page.