The importance of forming healthy habits early in life cannot be overstated. Whether we pick up good or bad routines, once set, they can be difficult to undo. Many doctors, teachers, and parents agree about this statement; I learned it from firsthand experience. As a child, I was overweight and terribly out of shape for the majority of my elementary school years. Photos tell the story – luckily I have found and destroyed most photographic evidence of that part of my past (thank goodness Facebook was not yet a part of life). My two favorite childhood hobbies, reading and eating, did not bode well for a healthful, active lifestyle. To date, those are still my favorite pastimes. Now, however, I work to eat the right foods and balance my leisure reading with activity (hello Zumba dance class). That is why I love any chance to dig in and interact with younger students. Giving students knowledge about food choices early in their academic career is an important step towards setting them on a path to a healthier life. I had plenty of opportunity to empower younger students to make informed food choices in Oelwein this week. For Head Start Parent night, we made kale and strawberry smoothies using a bike-powered blender.
The recipe was kid friendly and taster approved, green mustaches covering the faces of all.
In two elementary classes, we planted leek and onion seeds. “How long before our seeds will grow, will they be ready tomorrow?” I had to laugh at this concerned question from a kindergartner. Prior to planting our leek and onion seeds, I had shown the class a time-lapse video of seeds sprouting, roots and all. I explained again and again that our seeds would not grow at the speed of light, and it would take time and care before we saw any green bursting out of our soil.
Regardless of their concept of time, the students were so excited to feel the dirt and sow the seeds (or toss about messily, the rows will be anything but organized). One student, the designated waterer, was so involved in misting the seeds that he did not want to go outside for recess! If the seeds do sprout, students will have the opportunity to take samples home to plant and continue growing. I like the idea that students will have a physical reminder of their own power to generate food they can eat – nourishing themselves, one handful of seed at a time.