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Balance makes us stronger. When we balance on two feet, on a balance beam, or on a bicycle, we evenly distribute our weight to keep us upright and steady. When two kids of equal weight sit on a seesaw, it is balanced. In cooking, balance happens when ingredients come together to make a complete, healthy meal. A balanced lifestyle makes room for the exercise, nutrition and sleep that keep our minds sharp and our bodies strong. How do you and your kids find balance?
Talk About It!
Our conversations with our kids increase their powers of observation and help them ask and answer questions about the world around them.
- At Home: Think about all the activities you do that require physical balance. Start with walking. What does a baby look like when it begins to walk? Babies and toddlers are still learning how to balance on two feet! What else takes balance? Think about walking up or down stairs, standing on one foot, stepping out of the bathtub, carrying bags or backpacks while walking, climbing a stool or ladder, riding a scooter or bike, and dancing. What sports require a sense of balance? Watch clips of gymnasts on a balance beam or snowboarders going down a mountain.
- Around Town: On the playground, which pieces of equipment use balance to work? If two people sit on the same side of the tire swing, what happens? What if only one person sits on a seesaw? What would happen if everyone sat on the same side of the merry-go-round – would it be easier or harder to push it? Watch someone cross a balance beam; what do they do to keep themselves from falling? What do you think helps people stay balanced when riding a bike?
Balanced Diet: When children help with meal preparation, they can learn a little something about balanced nutrition, health, math and science. Here are some simple ways to get started in the kitchen with little ones:
- Show kids what cups, teaspoons and tablespoons look like. Let them help measure ingredients.
- Let them pull the right number of eggs out of the carton or fill the measuring cup to the correct line.
- Ask them to mix the batter 15 times and count with them as they do it.
- Help them set the timer and show them how it counts down.
- Set the oven to the right temperature together and watch as the numbers climb up. Talk about what "degrees" means.
- Let them figure out how many pieces of bread you need to make three sandwiches for lunch. Or how to cut the pizza to feed the whole family.
- Teach them how to read a recipe and, as they get older, talk about how to "double" or "halve" a recipe.
- Have them estimate how many pancakes or cookies the batter will make.
- Show them how to create a “balanced” plate. For example, their lunch plate could include a piece of fruit, a vegetable, a grain and a source of protein.
- Let them help you create a balanced shopping list. What fruit will go on the list? Veggies? Protein? Grains?
Balanced Exercise: Exercise is part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle – and balancing activities are a fun form of exercising. Here are a few you can try:
- Balance Beams: When you are walking on a balance beam, what does the rest of your body do to stay upright? Many playgrounds have balance beams, but you can also practice this at home by laying a piece of rope or yardstick on the ground and walking along it without stepping off.
- Climbing: Climbing walls – found on many playgrounds – are a physical and mental challenge. To stay balanced, you have to pay close attention to how your body is positioned and where to move next.
- Yoga: Simple yoga poses – such as balancing on one foot with your hands outstretched or stretched above your head – help improve balance. See how many seconds you and your child can stand on one foot without! Can you balance with your eyes closed?
- Freeze Dance: Hold a family dance party! Each time the music stops, everyone needs to freeze. When the music resumes, so does the dancing. Freezing and holding a pose is a great way to strengthen balance and coordination.
- Hopscotch: That old-fashioned game asks kids to hop on one foot – another great way to strengthen the muscles required for balance.
- Game: Sid the Science Kid: Balancing Act
- Game: Sid the Science Kid: Pan Balance
- Game: Arthur: Lunch-O-Matic
- Game: Arthur: Dance Club
- Game: Fizzy's Lunch Lab
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