Searsport students play games to learn healthy habits
Learning about Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 doesn’t really sound like something fun to do in the afternoon enrichment portion of the Searsport Elementary School (SES) summer school program. But playing “Swim Fishies Swim,” cutting up the ingredients for a salad, or making an art project to put on your refrigerator at home — well, those do sound like fun. And the children in the SES summer school found those activities along with some others made for two interesting afternoons.
Waldo County General Hospital’s Barbara Crowley and Sarah O’Blenes, both health educators, spent one afternoon with the children playing games, both inside and outside, and another teaching them about some of the fun things to do with fruits and vegetables.
On the first afternoon, the women asked the children what 5-2-1-0 stood for. After one child thought it was the phone number for the hospital, they narrowed the question down to what the “5” stood for. “Five hours of exercise,” said one boy. “Five servings of fruits and veggies a day,” correctly answered another child.
How about the “2”? “Two hours of exercise,” said the same little boy who had answered five hours of exercise earlier. “Two hours or less of screen time,” was the correct response from another child.
What about the “1”? “One hour of exercise,” was the correct answer from the same little boy this time.
And the “0” stands for no sugary drinks, the children replied.
“Let’s play now,” suggested Sarah as she had the children get into a circle. She threw the first colored ball to one of the children, saying the child’s name at the same time. Then that child threw it to another, also saying the child’s name. After everyone had received the ball once, she threw the ball to the same child she threw it to the first time. Then as that child tossed the ball to the same child he had thrown it to before, she introduced more balls and the children were supposed to throw them in the same order as before. Soon there were balls going in every direction and names being yelled out.
“That was a fun game,” said one child. “Let’s play it again,” added others. Little did they realize they were working toward getting their one hour of physical exercise.
Next came a game of “Swim Fishies Swim.” One child was designated as the shark and was placed in the middle between two lines. The shark would say, “Come little fishies, come to my sea,” and the children would try to run to the other side without being tagged. If the child was tagged, he or she became a sea ameba, who couldn’t move in the center.
After having fun with that game, the children moved inside and played “See Ya.” There were hula hoops on the floor, which represented a safety zone but only one child at a time could be inside the hoop and had to move when “see ya” was yelled. If you got tagged outside the hula hoop by a shark, you had to do five jumping jacks. Again the children were having so much fun that they didn’t realize they were exercising.
After playing that game several times, the children were each given a water bottle, which they filled with cold water and then added an orange or lemon slice to flavor it, instead of having a sugary drink.
A couple of weeks later, Sarah and Barbara returned. This time, Sarah brought lots of colorful vegetables for the children to use to create a salad they would later eat. The children were delighted to be able to cut and chop the veggies with plastic knives and to sample whatever they wanted.
“I don’t like any of this,” said one girl as they cooking segment started and Sarah pulled lots of vegetables out of a bag. Later, that same girl was raving about the taste of a slice of fresh green pepper dipped in some humus, while another child decided he really liked fresh scallions.
By the time the salad was ready, all of the children were ready to taste some—well on their way to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Meanwhile, Barbara was doing an arts and crafts project with another group. The children were given scissors, paste and lots of pictures of fruits and vegetables to put on a paper plate and then were given a magnet to put keep their creation on their home refrigerator to remind them to eat healthy foods.
Many made their creations in the shape of a heart and added phrases such as, “Fruits and veggies are good for your heart.”
And so is learning how to meet the 5-2-1-0 guidelines while having fun.