This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

Balance Food and Activity

The following message comes from the National Institutes of Health.

balance

What is Energy Balance?

Energy is another word for “calories.” Your energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity. What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT.

Your ENERGY IN and OUT doesn’t have to balance every day. It’s having a balance over time that will help you stay at a healthy weight for the long term. Children need to balance their energy, too, but they’re also growing and that should be considered as well. Energy balance in children happens when the amount of ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT supports natural growth without promoting excess weight gain.

That’s why you should take a look at the Estimated Calorie Requirement chart, to get a sense of how many calories (ENERGY IN) you and your family need on a daily basis.

Estimated Calorie Requirements

This calorie requirement chart presents estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance (and a healthy body weight) for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories and were determined using an equation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Estimated Calorie Requirements (in kilocalories) for Each Gender and Age Group at Three Levels of Physical Activity.

Gender

Age (years)

Activity Level

Sedentary

Moderately Active

Active

Child

2-3

1,000

1,000 – 1,400

1,000 – 1,400

Female

4 – 8

1,200

1,400 – 1,600

1,400 – 1,800

Female

9-13

1,600

1,600 – 2,000

1,800 – 2,000

Female

14-18

1,800

2,000

2,400

Female

19-30

2,000

2,000 – 2,200

2,400

Female

31-50

1,800

2,000

2,200

Female

51+

1,600

1,800

2,000 – 2,200

Male

4-8

1,400

1,400 – 1,600

1,600 – 2,000

Male

9-13

1,800

1,800 – 2,200

2,000 – 2,600

Male

14-18

2,200

2,400 – 2,800

2,800 – 3,200

Male

19-30

2,400

2,600 – 2,800

3,000

Male

31-50

2,200

2,400 – 2,600

2,800 – 3,000

Male

51+

2,000

2,200 – 2,400

2,400 – 2,800

Source: HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2005

  • These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the IOM Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. “Reference size,” as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males.
  • Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For children and adolescents, more calories are needed at older ages. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.

Energy Balance in Real Life

Think of it as balancing your “lifestyle budget.” For example, if you know you and your family will be going to a party and may eat more high-calorie foods than normal, then you may wish to eat fewer calories for a few days before so that it balances out. Or, you can increase your physical activity level for the few days before or after the party, so that you can burn off the extra energy.

The same applies to your kids. If they’ll be going to a birthday party and eating cake and ice cream—or other foods high in fat and added sugar—help them balance their calories the day before and/or after by providing ways for them to be more physically active.

Here’s another way of looking at energy balance in real life.

Eating just 150 calories more a day than you burn can lead to an extra 5 pounds over 6 months. That’s a gain of 10 pounds a year. If you don’t want this weight gain to happen, or you want to lose the extra weight, you can either reduce your ENERGY IN or increase your ENERGY OUT. Doing both is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Here are some ways to cut 150 calories (ENERGY IN):
    • Drink water instead of a 12-ounce regular soda
    • Order a small serving of French fries instead of a medium , or order a salad with dressing on the side instead
    • Eat an egg-white omelet (with three eggs), instead of whole eggs
    •  Use tuna canned in water (6-ounce can), instead of oil
  • Here are some ways to burn 150 calories (ENERGY OUT), in just 30 minutes (for a 150 pound person):
    • Shoot hoops
    • Walk two miles
    • Do yard work (gardening, raking leaves, etc.)
    • Go for a bike ride
    • Dance with your family or friends
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Campfire Safety

 

campfire

Let’s hope that summer will bring a return to activities we love, even if they are in our backyard. 

Most camping brochures feature a picture of adults and kids sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and telling stories. But, a campfire requires following safety guidelines if campers are to be safe and the campground protected against fire.

The following campfire safety tips are from Idaho Firewise.

Most campgrounds already have preexisting fire rings to use. Unless the fire ring is in a dangerous spot, you should build your fire there. The campground owners have likely already deemed this as a safe location to build a campfire. The fire ring will help contain sparks and prevent your fire from spreading.

If your campsite does not have a fire ring, you will need to create one. First find a spot that meets these criteria:

  • Downwind at least 15 feet away from your tent and firewood
  • Away from trees, bushes, logs, stumps and overhanging branches
  • Away from dry grass and forest debris
  • Away from any other flammable items

If your campsite does have a fire ring already, check if it meets the above criteria too. The landscape around your campsite could have changed since the fire ring was initially built. There might now be a branch that overhangs the current fire ring. For example, now there might be branches overhanging the old fire ring.

Once you have chosen where to build your campfire, you need to ensure the area is completely clear of any combustible material that could possibly ignite. It is best to clear the ground right down to the soil, and out five (5) feet from the fire pit. Fires can spread underground through root systems or decaying material. Surrounding twigs and dry leaves can easily catch fire from a wayward spark.

After the ground has been cleared, dig a shallow pit about two (2) feet across and encircle this pit with a ring of medium-sized rocks. These rocks should be tightly placed together, without any gaps where sparks could fly through. Remove any small, loose stones from the pit that could potentially explode from the fire’s heat.

Before you begin building the campfire, make sure you have equipment on hand to extinguish a fire. A responsible camper will not light the first match until he or she is sure there is a bucket of water or sand nearby to douse unruly flames in the event of an emergency. You will need a large bucket of water and a shovel. Keep these things close enough to the fire pit that they are quickly accessible in an emergency.

Avoid using lighter fluid, or any other chemicals, to start your fire. These fuels are dangerous to use in the wilderness. They can unexpectedly flare-up and catch your clothing on fire. Always use a lighter or match to ignite the kindling. Do not discard any used matches until they are cool to the touch.

While your campfire is burning, never leave it unattended. Despite safety precautions, the campfire could spread from your fire pit. You need to remain in the area to ensure your campfire doesn’t spread.

Be careful what you burn in a campfire. Try to stick to manageable pieces of firewood that easily fit within your fire pit. It is not a good idea to burn large logs that stick out past the fire pit. Also, avoid burning fresh branches that give off excess sparks.

Before you go to sleep, or when you leave the campsite, you must fully extinguish your campfire. First, douse the flames by pouring water on the fire. However, you are not done yet. Just because you can’t see flames, does not mean the fire cannot re-ignite. Hot embers will continue smoldering for hours. To deal with the embers, stir the coals and add more water. Then cover the coals with dirt or sand. Feel the ashes with your hand to make sure there are no hot coals left.

It is far too easy for a campfire to spread and become a forest fire. When you are camping, it is your responsibility to protect the forest from your campfire. Follow these simple campfire safety rules and use common sense. Sometimes, it simply is not safe to have a campfire at all.

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E-learning and the Preschool Child is About Making Choices

 The Corona virus is keeping even our youngest learners on the Internet engaged in E-learning programs.  You may be concerned about this, but E-learning and the preschool child is about making good choices. Making good choices is a critical skill in every area of our lives. 

For instance, young children don’t realize they make choices every day. They decide what toy to play with, and whether to share a toy. At mealtime, they choose to eat or not eat what is put in front of them. These are just a few choices they make in a given day. Being able to make choices is empowering and that is the function of interactivity in E-learning programs. 

When a young child experiences the immediate results of making choices, it makes decision-making seem like a good thing to do. It helps a child develop the confidence to make decisions in real-time situations.

We teach our children to be safe. We encourage them to share, to be a friend, to play fair, to be honest, and to behave well. We hope when they are faced with a situation that challenges what we have taught them, that they make the right decision. It isn’t possible to give our children practice runs in all the life skills situations they may encounter.E-learning programs do just that. They give our children practice runs for making good choices when faced with life situations.

e-learning logo

Other Ways E-Learning is Good for Preschoolers

E-learning learning programs also have other ways in which decision-making become attractive to preschoolers. They ask a child using the program to help the animated, cartoon characters to make decisions. This makes decision-making less personal to a child. But, it also fosters a sense of responsibility for helping a character make the right decision.

E-learning content is always consistent. It is not affected by differences in an instructor’s performance resulting from tiredness or the time of the presentation. E-learning programs are less intimidating. A child can make an incorrect choice and go back and correct it. He or she doesn’t worry that others will know about it.

E-learning programs reinforce what is being taught through engaging the child in interactive decision-making. This reinforcement tends to result in higher content retention rates than a presentation that talks about life skills decision-making.

Our Children are Part of a Digital Generation

children using hand-held computersMore and more you see young children been pushed in carriages or riding in a car, while playing video games and watching movies on hand-held, digital devices.

Yes, it keeps them entertained. It also helps with eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity.

Yet, pediatricians and other child development specialists are warning about the excessive viewing and playing of video and computer games at the expense of needed daily physical activities and developing social skills that come from interacting with other children in community activities.

The commonly held belief is that children need a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activities each day.

According to a number of recent studies, many school-age children spend hours each day on their home computers and hand-held devices in non-academic activities. One such study, in the journal Pediatrics, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health, looked at the value of active video games as a way of making a child more active. The outcome of this research is no surprise…no, children were no more active while playing an active video game.

Dr. Tom Baranowski,  a professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital commented,”If Mama brings a video game home, can she expect that her child will get more physical activity, and the answer is, as far as we can tell, no. Parents who want to have their kids to be more physically active should enroll their children in school-based sports teams, and other kinds of physical activities.”

Computers and hand-held devices are here to stay and that is not a bad thing. We just need to decide how much time each day is a reasonable amount of time for our children to spend in recreational use on these digital wonders.

The Challenge…21 Days to Change Your Sodium Intake

Take the American Heart Association Challenge and change your sodium intake!

Sodium- Heavy SnacksThe heart and stroke experts launched a three-week Sodium Swap Challenge. The group is calling upon Americans to identify and track the Salty Six — the foods in their diet loaded with extra salt that increase their risk for heart disease and stroke. The goal is for Americans to limit sodium intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams each day. Currently, the typical American consumes more than twice that.

Never mind giving up the salt shaker, it will take more than that to lower your sodium intake. Americans can dramatically reduce their daily salt intake by cutting bread, cold cuts and cured meats from their diet, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Limiting condiments and reading nutritional labels are other ways to kick a high-sodium habit, the experts noted in an association news release. They also said people can change their palate and enjoy foods with less salt in just 21 days.

“To get started with the association’s challenge, we ask that consumers get familiar with the food labels and nutrition facts for the foods they eat and track their sodium consumption over the first two days to get an idea of how much they are eating, which I’m sure will be surprising to many people,” said Rachel Johnson, spokeswoman for the associations and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont. “Then, over the course of the next three weeks, consumers will use the Salty Six as their guide to help lower their sodium intake.”

During the first week of the challenge, Americans are asked to limit consumption of bread, rolls, cold cuts and cured meats. A slice of bread can contain more than 200 mg of sodium and one serving of turkey cold cuts as much as 1,050 mg. It’s also recommended that you check food labels and track sodium consumption daily.

For the second week, Americans are asked to opt for lower-salt versions of pizza and poultry. The idea is to choose foods with less cheese or meat and more vegetables. Poultry should also be skinless and not processed or fried.

Focus on soup and sandwiches during the third week, the associations said. Soups often contain up to 940 mg of sodium per serving. Layering meats, cheese and condiments to a sandwich can add more than 1,500 mg of sodium.

After three weeks, the experts said challenge participants should notice a difference in how they feel after eating and how their food tastes with less sodium usage.

More information

The American Heart Association provides more information on the Sodium Swap Challenge.

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