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Family Activities
Set Family Routines

Helping children stay healthy in mind and body means providing healthier meals and snacks, encouraging regular physical activity, and ensuring that they get enough sleep. But our daily lives sometimes get in the way of our best intentions. Here are a few tips, Building Blocks activities, and resources to help you take small steps toward creating a healthy routine in your home.

Healthy Sleeping

  • Set a consistent bedtime and stick to it.
  • Read to children just before bedtime to emphasize the positive qualities of bedtime as well as signal that it is time to sleep.
  • End stimulating activities at least 1 hour before the set time for bed.
  • Make sure the child has a positive sleep environment: no TV in the room and lights are off or at least dim.

Healthy Eating

  • Model good eating habits.
  • Stock a healthy pantry for easy access to nutrition-rich foods and snacks.
  • Be careful about portion size. Don’t insist that your children clean their plates, especially if they say they are full.
  • Never use food as a way to control behavior.
  • Eat together regularly as a family, and eat at home more often.
  • Engage in family activities around food: Shop and cook together, and have your children choose a new food to try.
  • Involve your children in planning and preparing meals. Children may be more willing to eat dishes they help prepare.
  • Teach children to read nutrition labels and how to use them to make smart choices.
  • Introduce new foods carefully: Serve one new food at a time, serve a new food with other food the child already likes, and model good habits by eating the new food, too!

Healthy Exercise

  • Be a role model for your children. If they see you being physical active and having fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active.
  • Plan activities for all of your family members to exercise together: walks and fun runs, chasing games, bike rides, jump rope, and swimming.
  • Keep your activities fun and celebrate even the smallest of successes, such as walking longer or jumping higher or longer than previous attempts.
  • Encourage your children to find physical activities they enjoy, as they are more likely to stick with them. Children who are active while they are young are more likely to engage in sports activities when they are older and, thus, less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Cut back on sedentary activities for the entire family, including spending time in front of the television and the computer and playing videos and video games.

Building Blocks Activities
Building Blocks ActivitiesUse the Building Blocks program and resources to help your children stay healthy. All of the materials needed to help you start setting healthy routines for your family are available for free.

The Building Blocks Sing-Along Music CD (PDF 512KB)
Your children can sing along with Wally Bear and his friends as the songs make eating healthy, exercising, and feeling good about themselves easy and fun.

  • Smile at Your Neighbor”: When your children start dancing with Wally Bear and his friends, they’ll not only get a good workout but also feel good about themselves and everyone around them.
  • Power Positive”: Your children just need just puff up their chests, pump up their arms, and strut to the music to understand just how important self-confidence can be to their mental and physical well-being.
  • Healthy Snacks”: We all need “good food to keep us in the saddle,” and this song lets your children know just what they should and shouldn’t eat to stay healthy and alert.

Easy Readers

Play Day in the Park  PDFPlay Day in the Park (for 3- to 4-year-olds) (PDF 928KB)
The friends spend a day in the park together. See if your children can find all of their healthy activities as you read the fun rhyming story.

Look What I Can Do!  PDFLook What I Can Do! (for 5- to 6-year-olds) (PDF 951KB)

The friends show the kinds of healthy activities they can do—riding bikes in the park, reading books from the library, and making healthy snacks for the family. Each page encourages children to talk about their skills and abilities and challenges them to do more.

Activity Book (PDF 2.03MB) (Libro de actividades PDF 4.64MB)
Whether in English or Spanish, the Activity Book is an excellent tool to help your family practice healthy habits.

Activity Book“Power Positive” (pages 4 and 16) emphasizes the things that children can do now and what new things they can learn to do.

“Healthy Snacks” (pages 6 and 18) provides information on good things to eat and how to make sure your children’s snacks are healthful.

“Moving in a Circle” (pages 8 and 20) allows your children to sing and dance as they learn how different parts of their bodies move.

Know Kit Cards
Know Kit Cards (ages 3–4 (PDF 1.75MB) and ages 5–6 (PDF 1.64MB))
Know Kit Cards, through colorful pictures and questions, provide discussion topics to help explore your child’s world—body, mind, family, and friends. Questions and activity suggestions help children expand their thinking and practice making their own healthy decisions.

Additional Family Activities for Healthy Routines

  • Keep a Sleep Diary helps point out the importance of sleep and solve bedtime problems.

  • Daily Exercise Chart helps children keep track of the times and amount of physical activity they do and what they do when they “get physical.”

  • Move Your Body Physical Activities for Children lists some games and activities that your children will want to do regularly.

  • Let’s Eat Healthy Snacks suggests great ways to get your children to learn to love healthy snacks.

Online Children’s Games

thumbnail of circle game Moving in Circle Game allows your children to sing and dance with Thurgood.

thumbnail of Favorite Snacks Memory Game Favorite Snacks Memory Game challenges your children’s memory as it teaches about choosing and eating healthy snacks.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. This initiative provides parents helpful information and tools to foster environments that support healthy choices.

We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutritionis a national movement campaign that provides parents with resources and tools to help children stay at a healthy weight.

SLEEP Journal
Sleep, Learning, and the Developing Brain: Early-to-Bed as a Healthy and Wise Choice for School Aged Children” (PDF 211KB) talks about the importance of sleep for normal health, development, and academic performance of children.

National Institutes of Health
Shape Your Family’s Habits” suggests ways to encourage healthy habits in eating and physical activity and describes the importance of caregivers in shaping those habits.

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Updated on 3/22/2014