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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Healthy Kids on a Budget: Discount Store Scavenger Hunt

Healthy Kids on a Budget: Discount Store Scavenger Hunt

Back-to-school is here!

Like most educators, you probably spend money out of your own pocket for supplies, enrichment materials, treats, and rewards. I recently went to my local discount store with $20 and a mission to find simple things to bring healthy afterschool to life. Check out my finds and corresponding activities below, then share your ideas in the comment section.

Supply list: neon tape, plastic orange cones, math flashcards, animal flashcards, foam activity ball, wooden clothespins, pineapple shaped pen, smiley-face erasers, paper emoji cards, markers, folder, glass jar, and paper rainbow cutouts.

Total price: $17.96 (under $20!)

Increase Physical Activity

Give student leaders a roll of neon tape and ask them to create a path around the room. Introduce the walking game Alligator Swamp Trail, then pair students for a walking discussion. Try questions like “what did you enjoy the most about your summer?” or “what are you looking forward to this school year?” Send healthy messages home with 7 Benefits of Walking (page 5) to encourage family walking groups.

*Neon and bright colors also aid individuals with visual impairments and intellectual disabilities. For more inclusion tips, visit the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability.

Plastic orange cones are great for adding physical activity to small spaces, empty parking lots, and green space. Set up an obstacle course for students or add team-building exercise to your next staff meeting with agility drills.

Pair math flashcards with simple physical activities for a DIY energizer break; 5 x 2 burpees anyone? I also found a set of $1 animal flashcards perfect for a round of Zoo Lib (page 151).

One of my favorite discount store finds was a soft activity ball labeled with movements like push-ups and crab walks. Adding an energizing break to your next staff meeting or community event is as simple as rolling the dice!

*If you’re looking for sports equipment but don’t have the budget, explore these Sports Equipment Donation Programs.

Boost Healthy Eating and Family Engagement

Blend STEM education and wellness by growing your own windowsill garden this fall. Use string and wooden clothespins to dry and preserve your herbs (here’s an example) for DIY healthy recipe mix-ins.

Download the free Foods of the Month Curriculum for hands-on nutrition enrichment. Hang student creations from the experiential guide for a fun family art expo night. Community engagement and healthy messaging, it’s a win-win.

Make healthy celebrations the norm this year by swapping sweet treats for an inexpensive treasure chest of colorful school supply rewards. Those cupcakes can add up over the course of a year; and who wouldn’t want to write with a pineapple shaped pen or use smiley-face erasers?

Host a taste test and ask students to vote with paper emoji cards. Find out what fruits and vegetables students would like to have at upcoming holiday parties to cut down on food waste.

Inexpensive markers and paper can go a long way! Engage families and students with PLUM LANDING outdoor activities like “Sniffing Safari.” Go on a walk and draw what you see and smell. Or try “Mapping The Park” and “Wake Up Your Ears” from the Wildlife Explorers Workbook to blend creative arts and outdoor activity. Ready for fall? Try crafty autumn leaf suncatchers and other fall outdoor activities.

Staff Engagement

If you are the wellness champion at your organization, documenting success is important to demonstrate progress and get new staff involved. Fill an inexpensive folder or DIY journal with your favorite ideas from the year. For example, print a copy of the latest Fitness Challenge Calendar – try it for the month – then put it in your folder along with notes of what worked and what could be improved.

Stay hydrated with afternoon spa water in a hip glass jar! Bonus points if you grow your own herbs or try water infusions based on the Foods of the Month calendar.

Create a “kudos” bulletin board and provide paper rainbows for students, staff, and families to leave each other positive messages.

For breakfast, I had whole grain cinnamon waffles with honey.

Author: @danielh

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