I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have a lot of experience with after-school programming. It’s such a different animal from anything in the classroom or during the school day. It takes a little more energy, a lot more patience, and an acceptance of chaos. Let’s be honest, outside of the structure of the school day, kids are ready to play and they’ll knock down anyone standing between them and their afternoon snack. Throw your hands up with me and embrace whatever shenanigans come your way.
This year, the Elgin Library’s after-school program asked Laura Leichty and myself if we could do a monthly nutrition education during their time on Wednesday afternoons. We gladly accepted the challenge of wrangling together 30-45 students aged anywhere from 4-10 years old. We’ve had quite the learning curve with how to structure our “lessons” and activities, but it’s also been a lot fun to see students in a loose environment. Plus, having the flexibility has also given us the opportunity to do more with the small amount of time we spend with this group of kids.
The Elgin Library Director, Lisa Leuck, asked that we incorporate a version of “Pick A Better Snack” curriculum. We’ve covered MyPlate basics, working our way through the different food groups, and plan to branch off in the upcoming months as we work our way into the spring. We’ve been able to try a variety of foods and snacks with the kids that they might not get to try otherwise. We even made our own butter!
I’ve LOVED getting more time and flexibility to try different exercise games and activities. Laura and I tested out “The 12 days of Fitness” before winter break, acted out stories and pretend field trips, and shimmied away to multiple Just Dance videos. The students seem to really enjoy having new visitors at the library as well.
I’ve had so much fun embracing the new experience, and I can’t wait to see what other activities and foods we have yet to explore with Elgin’s enthusiastic library crew.
Cheers to new adventures and energetic kiddos!