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Happy, Healthy Kids

Meet the Kids at Excel Academy!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Excel Academy, a K-8 school in Arvada, CO. Program Director Karly Workman has created an outstanding before & after school care program that supports the healthy development of the kids who attend her program. She shared some of her favorite activities with us, most of which can be adapted to groups large or small, and we are excited to share those activities with you!

Karly has set up a flexible schedule for the kids in her program that allows them to know what’s on the agenda for the day while leaving room for adaptions based on the kids’ mood, energy levels, the size group she has that day and even the weather. Karly writes the schedule on the board because she feels that it gives the kids an opportunity to participate in the day’s plan through working on their own time management skills.

Since Excel is a K-8 school, Karly is charged with coming up with activities that appeal to very young children as well as middle school aged children. To address this challenge, Karly has encouraged the older kids to take on a mentoring relationship with the younger ones. To her delight, the older kids absolutely love helping the younger children however they can – with homework, craft projects or during group games.

Building a Sense of Community

Karly looks for opportunities to pull the kids together into group discussions that help build a sense of community. One of those opportunities is during their daily snack time. Often, Karly will write a riddle or a Wuzzle (word puzzle) on the board for the kids to solve during snack time. Sometimes, the kids will even come in with their own riddles for the board. Karly has been amazed and impressed by how good these original riddles are!

When things come up that the kids want to share or talk about, snack time is the perfect opportunity. For example, one day a child brought an arrow head with him to after school care. This allowed Karly to lead a discussion about what arrow heads are and where they come from that not only allowed the children to share their own knowledge about the subject with the group – it opened up a chance for Karly to teach them a few new things about our country’s history.

Mindfulness

As with all Kids’ Adventures programs, mindfulness is a key part of the programing at Excel. Karly has found that one of the best ways to teach the kids greater focus and attention is through creative activities that require long periods of concentration and imagination. One of those activities is handing out printed pictures from intricate adult coloring books. As an incentive to finish their work, Karly will laminate their finished artwork to hang on display in their room or take home. Laminating these pictures gives them a “professional” finished look and feel that the kids love!

Another thing the kids love to play with is Perler Beads. Perler Beads are small plastic beads that can be ironed into shapes and designs. Projects take a while to complete and require long periods of focus, concentration and planning. It allows the kids time to relax with themselves and get lost in a creative activity.

Nutrition

Karly looks for any opportunity she can to teach the kids in her program about good nutrition, but has found that hands-on activities are the best way to keep the kids interested in learning about healthy food. For example, a few weeks ago the kids planted a variety of vegetables in pots. Some of the kids took their vegetable plants home, while others left them at the school so that everyone can watch them grow. They keep the plants in the cafeteria where they get plenty of daily sunlight and the kids have had a great time watching their little plants poke through the surface of the soil and start to grow. Karly feels that hands on experiences like this allow the kids to better understand where their food comes from and gets them excited to want to know more.

Another thing Karly has done to teach the kids about good nutrition is show them how to make homemade popsicles from fruit juice and berries. The kids loved participating in making their snack, and especially loved eating them!

Movement

As do most children, the kids at Excel love the opportunity to cut loose and just play. Karly tries to give them a good mix of free time and structured group games. She’s found that having time to stretch their legs and exert some energy really helps them concentrate on other activities – like completing their homework. When they go outside, the kids love playing Capture the Flag and games of tag and kick ball. But they have several favorite gym games as well.

One of their favorite gym games is called Treasure Island.

Here’s how to play…

Select one person as the “Captain”. Everyone else is a pirate. The Captain’s job is to shout out commands and the pirates’ job is to follow them. For example, if the Captain calls out, “Three men in a boat!”, the kids must scramble themselves into groups of three and quickly sit down in a row as if they were inside a small boat. If the captain shouts, “Mop the deck!”, the kids must all pretend to mop the boat deck. If the Captain yells, “Treasure!”, all the kids must run to the other side of the gym – where the treasure lies – as quickly as they can. If the Captain shouts, “Back to the boat!”, all the kids must run back to the boat.

Ready, Aim, Fire

The kids at Excel love to play dodge ball; however, school rules prevent them from playing this game on school grounds. So, Karly has come up with a great alternative! In Ready, Aim, Fire, one child is selected to run around a designated space with an empty plastic tub. All the other kids must stand behind one of the floor lines and try to throw rubber balls into the tub. If a child makes the shot, they get a turn at holding the tub.

Tech Thursdays

The kids at Excel are not allowed to use any electronics while attending the Kids’ Adventures program at Excel, with the exception of Thursdays. On this day, the kids are allowed to do some activities on their phones or iPads. Often Karly will ask the kids to find some of their favorite songs on YouTube. Karly will play the songs for the whole group and start a dance party in the middle of the room with all the kids dancing and singing along to the music.

Meet Karly


Karly has been working with kids since her last semester in college when she did an internship with the Boys and Girls Club. She loved working with the kids and was allowed the opportunity to study the optimal level of structure for before & after school programs, information that has served her well as a Program Director for Kids’ Adventures.

After graduating from UNC with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Psychology, Karly worked with non-profits providing support services to high school aged kids. She has also worked at the YMCA in their child watch department, caring for infants and toddlers.

A native of Virginia, Karly’s family moved to Colorado when she was just 5 years old and it’s here that she calls home. After moving around a bit after college, she decided that nowhere else in the country felt like home and moved back. She grew up hiking, mountain biking and skiing with her family and continues to enjoy those activities as an adult.

When Karly is not at Kids’ Adventures or enjoying the great Colorado outdoors, you can most often find her at home practicing a new song on the piano.

We are so grateful for Karly and all the work she does with our kids at Excel Academy!

For more information about the program at Excel Academy, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.

Meet the Kids of Rocky Mountain Prep!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Rocky Mountain Prep in Denver, CO. Program Director Marcus Howell has created a tight-knit program focused on building relationships with the kids that promote teamwork, ownership and personal responsibility. Marcus shared several great ideas with us for activities that can be adapted for groups large or small, in the classroom or at home. We are excited to share many of those activities with you!

In everything he does, Marcus is focused on building a positive relationship with the kids in his program. He feels that he has a greater ability to influence positive behavior when the kids trust him as a friend rather than an authority figure. The approach has been positive. The kids are conscious of not wanting to violate that friendship and are more apt to take personal responsibility for their side of the relationship. Marcus has also seen this translate out in their interactions with each other, especially when it comes to the relationships between the older kids and the younger ones. By helping the kids understand how to work together, Marcus is able to encourage kindness, compassion and respect in their interactions with one another.

As with all Kids’ Adventures programs, Rocky Mountain prep is focused on teaching the kids good nutrition, mindfulness and physical fitness through fun games and activities that kids love. Here are a few of their favorites…

Nutrition

In the mornings, before the school day begins, Marcus engages kids in what he calls “Dinner talks”. As a group, they discuss what they had for dinner the night before and for breakfast that morning. Marcus uses this discussion as a spring board to talk about what constitutes healthy, nutritious food and how they can make healthy choices about what they put in their bodies. 

In the afternoons, Marcus uses snack time as a similar opportunity. As a group, they look at nutrition labels on snacks and drinks the kids bring in and discuss how to read nutrition labels, what that information means, and how to make the healthiest choices possible. 

Movement

The kids at Rocky Mountain Prep love any opportunity to run around! Marcus finds that this is especially true at the end of the school day when they are feeling restless and are tired of sitting still.

The kids spend some time every day playing games in the school gym or outside. He loves to use the BOKS program as a spring board for activities that get their hearts pumping while being fun and accessible to kids of all ages. For example, instead of running laps, he’ll instruct the kids to go around the gym doing a crab walk or bear crawl. This turns exercise into a game!

They also play a lot of fun group games, such as dodge ball, basket ball and tag. The kids especially love to come up with their own creative versions of games. Marcus will introduce a game to the group, and before he knows it, the kids have altered it to something new and original.

Here are a few of their other favorite gym games… 

The Hula Hoop Pass

This is a fun game that requires teamwork and problem solving skills. Kids stand in a circle holding hands and Marcus places a hula hoop around the arms of two of the children. The goal is to pass the hula hoop completely around the circle as quickly as possible without breaking handholds. Marcus loves to use this game as an opportunity to talk with the kids about teamwork by asking them to think about what worked and what didn’t at the game’s conclusion. This allows the kids to participate in figuring out solutions to problems and challenges. 

The Hula Hoop Toss

Another fun hula hoop game is called the Hula Hoop Toss. For this game, the kids are paired into small groups. One group member tosses the hula hoop so that it rolls across the gym floor while the other kids try to throw a ball through the hoop while it’s spinning. In addition to encouraging teamwork, this game also supports the development of hand-eye coordination, motor skills, thinking strategically and problem solving.


Mindfulness

Marcus’s Program Leader, Anne, has been a tremendous influence when it comes to bringing mindfulness into the program at Rocky Mountain Prep. She spends a lot of time teaching the kids about what it means to be mindful in their day-to-day actions. For example, she’ll use snack time to teach them about being mindful about their nutritional choices and also about how to eat in a way that allows them to fully experience the tastes and textures of the foods and be more aware of when they are hungry and when they are full.

They also embrace opportunities throughout the day to teach the kids how to make mindful choices. When conflict occurs between the children, they use it as an opportunity to ask kids questions that help them understand the situation and how to solve it.

Marcus and Anne also look for opportunities to help the kids understand their own emotions and how to communicate about them in a positive way. For example, when a child is feeling stress or exhaustion, they’ll help them identify what they are feeling and show them that, regardless of how they feel, they still have control over their own behavior. By asking them questions such as, “Is that behavior getting you want you want? Why are you sabotaging yourself right now?”, the kids are learning to understand themselves and be more introspective.

While Marcus and Anne view most naturally occurring circumstances as an opportunity to teach mindfulness, they also take the kids through planned activities that promote focus and awareness such as yoga and breathing exercises. They will also sometimes give the kids Mandalas to color, printed from adult coloring books. The kids love these! As they work on their Mandala, Marcus and Anne instruct them to slow down, take their time, think about the colors they choose and what they want their finished artwork to look at. It’s a great activity for when the kids are overly restless or high strung.

Another thing the kids love to play with is Perler Beads. Perler Beads are small plastic beads that can be ironed into shapes and designs. Projects take a while to complete and require long periods of focus, concentration and planning. It allows the kids time to relax with themselves and get lost in a creative activity. 

Craft Time!

Marcus also likes to engage the kids in a group craft about once a month. He will give each child a paper or project to work on that will eventually be combined form something larger. For example, Marcus gave each child a coloring sheet that said, “I am”. Each child drew pictures and wrote words on their paper that best described how they see themselves, such as “athlete”, “student”, “daughter” or “friend”. Then, they took everyone’s papers and put them all into a big poster titled, “We are”.

The kids also worked together to create this beautiful poster about all the things they are most grateful for:

Meet Marcus!


Marcus has been working with kids for years, starting with working as a summer camp leader during his college years. When he and his fiancé decide to live in Hawaii for a time, he chose to work at a school because he felt it was his biggest opportunity to engage in meaningful work that makes a difference. Over the years, Marcus has had the chance to work towards a lot of causes that he believes in, but feels that there is nothing quite as fulfilling as working with kids. He especially loves running into kids he’s worked with in the past whom are now nearly grown and feeling that he’s had some influence over the person they’ve become.

Marcus grew up in Denver and attended Denver Public Schools from kindergarten through high school. He attended collage at Mesa State for a while before transferring to CSU and graduating with a degree in Political Science and Media Studies.

When Marcus is not at Kids’ Adventures, you can most always find him home with is 4-month old daughter, Gisele.

We are so grateful for Marcus and all the work he does with our kids at Rocky Mountain Prep!

For more information about the program at Sixth Ave., please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.



The Best of Colorado's Kid Friendly Summer Excursions

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fun Things to do This Summer With Kids!

Ahhh.... summer. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways... backyard barbecues, ice cream, running through the sprinklers, picnics, stargazing and long, lazy days at the pool. We love summer!

We especially love summer in Colorado, where there is a ton of fun stuff to do with kids! For months we've been having a blast planning all sorts of fun excursions for kids attending our Summer Camp and thought we'd share some of our favorites with you. If you are looking for ideas for fun places to take your kiddos this summer, here are some great ideas. If your kids are already signed up for this year's Kids' Adventures Summer Camp, here's what they have to look forward to!

The Colorado History Museum

The Colorado History Museum offers a lot more than your typical museum experience. Through colorful hands-on exhibits, the museum tells the story of the people of Colorado with all sorts of fun family friendly activities. The state-of-the-art facility opened in April of 2012 with an emphasis on interactive and digital experiences that keep kids (and adults!) interested and engaged while learning about our state's history. Amongst other things, you can experience what it's like to descend down a mineshaft in search of silver, walk the harrowing path of the African-American Coloradans who found a mountain escape in Lincoln hills Resort near Black Hawk, and learn how a 1915 wooden ski jump inspired Olympic athletes from Steamboat Springs to reach new heights. 

The museum's status as a Smithsonian Affiliate means access to Smithsonian collections and programs showcasing what Colorado might look like in the future. Visit the museum's website for more information.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove Water Park is one of our favorite places to go when the summer heats up! With three large water slides, a huge sandbox, gentle lazy river and a giant pirate water ship that dumps buckets of water every 15 minutes, what's not to love? The leisure pool is the perfect place for young children to play, featuring a large water park and zero depth entry. If you really need to cool off, the Dump Bucket pours 750 gallons of water on everyone brave enough to stand below it. Chill out in a water tube as you coast down the lazy river or, for the more adventurous, take your tube down a swirling vortex. For those who love water slides, Pirates Cove features a 35-foot slide tower with three water slides that range in length and speed. And what's a day in the water without a beach? Let the kids go to town building sand castles in the giant sandbox! For more information, visit the Pirates Cove website.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

What's summer without baseball?! We love our Colorado Rockies! Even if you aren't much of a baseball fan (gasp!), Coors Field is a great family friendly way to enjoy America's pastime. Kids will love the entertainment tossed in to every game to keep everyone amused, including crazy shenanigans from the Rockies mascot, Digger. If you, or anyone in your family, needs a break from the game, there are always baseball-oriented activities, concessions, souvenir stands and even a small playground for little ones along the concourse. For this summer's line-up of games, check out the Colorado Rockies website.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver is home to one of the best museums of Nature and Science in the country! Housed in a giant 716,000-square-foot facility, the museum contains a wide variety of exhibitions, programs and activities. There is always something here to do and see! For young children, Discovery Zone is full of hands-on activities where kids can dig up dinosaur bones, make crafts, play on the discovery stage, inspect insects and play with funhouse mirrors. The Egyptian Mummy exhibit includes two real mummies along with their tomb artifacts and teaches young learners about how people in ancient Egypt lived. Expedition Health is full of interactive activities that teach visitors about health and biology. Prehistoric Journey traces the evolution of Earth's species from single-cell organisms to us and includes a wide variety of ancient bones and replicas of ancient animals. Space Odyssey takes visitors to the far reaches of the universe with hands-on exhibits, live performances and demonstrations.

It's one of our favorite places to visit with kids! For more information visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science website

Kids' Adventures Summer Camp!

Of course, our favorite thing to do with kids during the summer is the Kids' Adventures Summer Camp! This year's camp is packed with fun activities that promote fitness, good nutrition and learning. 

Campers will participate in fun new events each week that will get them moving and teach them important skills. Exciting excursions will let kids explore all the fun things Colorado has to offer, super fun BOKS classes will keep them active, and nutrition classes from Slow Food Denver will let them nurture their inner chef. Plus, our staff will provide powerful reading practices in collaboration with BOSSreaders that will keep the learning going all summer long. 

PLUS, amongst all sorts of other fun activities, we'll visit The Colorado History Museum, Pirates Cove, A Colorado Rockies Game and The Denver Museum of Nature and Science!

Click here to select a location and register your child for Kids' Adventures Summer Camp!


Meet the Kids of Sixth Avenue Elementary

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Sixth Ave. Elementary in Aurora, CO. Program Director Melody Monroe has created an innovative program with plenty of movement, activities that promote mindfulness and gratitude, lessons in good nutrition, music and art. We are excited to share many of those activities with you!


Movement

Whenever she can, Melody loves to take the kids in her program outside to play. Sixth Ave. Elementary has two large playing fields and an awesome playground.

She has recently incorporated BOKS into her programming. BOKS, sponsored by Reebok and a partner of Kids’ Adventures, was founded to give kids a body and brain boost that set them up for learning. They have extensive resources for Kids’ Adventures program leaders looking for fun ways to increase the physical activity of the kids in their programs. Whenever possible, Melody loves to do BOKS activities outside where they have much more room than inside the school’s gym. The kids love being outside, and Melody loves that the extra space encourages them to have to run more!

Good Witch, Bad Witch.

This is one of the kids’ favorite games at Sixth Ave. One player is designated as the witch and stands in the middle of the play space randomly shouting “good witch”, “bad witch”, “silly witch”, or “sand-witch”. When the other players hear “good witch”, they must move forward with some sort of physical movement such as a lunges, one legged jumps, frog jumps, etc. When they hear “bad witch”, they have to do the same movement, but in reverse. If they hear “silly witch”, they must do that same movement sideways. And if they hear “sand-witch”, everyone must run around trying to not get tagged by the witch.

Music and Movement

Melody is a musician and loves to incorporate music into her program whenever she can. She will bring in small musical instruments, like a drum or harmonica, and play music during warm ups. Sometimes she will instruct the kids to do a variety of movements that incorporate both hands and feet – bear crawls, pretending to be a snake in the grass, frog jumps, etc. - while the music is playing. When the music stops, the kids must freeze until the music begins again.

Another fun game Melody plays with the kids in her program is to instruct them to go to one of the 4 corners of the gym and walk or skip toward the center while music is playing. As soon as the music stops, the kids must run back to their corner as fast as they can. Sometimes Melody will ask the kids to come up with creative ideas for how they should move for this game. The kids will shout out fun ideas such as, “Act like a butterfly!”, “Pretend we are an ostrich!”

Melody also incorporates songs into transitions between activities, especially when the kids have to move from one space to another. She will instruct the kids to sing with her, stomp their feet to the music, or clap while they move to the next activity.

Original Games!

Melody loves to engage their creative brain by working with them to create brand new games to play. One of their most successful made-up games is a version of tag they named “Lava shark”. The game is played outside on the playground. One child is the Lava Shark and is confined to the playground woodchips (the lava), or anything on the playground that is blue. All the other kids run around on the playground equipment, trying to stay out of the lava and not get tagged by the shark. If they do get tagged, they become a shark too.

Just Dance!

Fridays at Sixth Ave. are a more relaxed day because the kids don’t have homework to complete. Often, she’ll take them into the music room where she’ll put on Just Dance and let them dance their hearts out! The kids love it and Melody loves that they are getting so much exercise while having so much fun!

Nutrition

The most effective way Melody has found to teach the kids in her program about good nutrition is through the snacks they bring with them to Kids’ Adventures. If the kids bring in a fresh fruit or vegetable for snack, they earn a Kids’ Ka$h dollar. Kids’ Ka$h is pretend money they can trade in at the end of the week for fun prizes.

While the kids eat their snacks, Melody uses the opportunity to talk with them about the nutritional value of some of the foods they’ve brought in. Melody also does a lot to teach the kids about food labels – how to read them and what all the information means to their health and well-being.

Mindfulness

Melody loves to use a tone bar when the kids need to calm down and focus. All the kids will sit or lie down with their eyes closed. Melody will tap the tone bar and the kids are instructed to raise their hand once they can no longer hear the tone.

One of the best ways Melody has found to cultivate gratitude and thoughtfulness in the kids in her program is through a Gratitude Jar. During the last few minutes of the program each day, the kids will write a note about something they are grateful for and place it in the jar. Every Friday, Melody reads these notes out loud to the group. As an added incentive, Melody places one Kids’ Ka$h dollar into a pot for every note in the gratitude jar. The kids are charged with what to do with their communal Kids’ Ka$h on Friday. They usually choose to divide them evenly amongst themselves and Melody helps them work out the math in order to do so.

Arts and Crafts

Melody and the kids in her program all LOVE to color and paint! They mostly paint with water colors, but occasionally complete a project with acrylics. For example, the kids worked together to decorate their Kids’ Ka$h board using acrylics.

Meet Melody

This is Melody’s second year at Sixth Ave. Elementary. As a musician, she’s taught music to people and children of various levels and ages, but this is her first experience working with kids outside of music. She absolutely loves it! She loves that the kids’ brains work in so many creative and different ways and does all she can to encourage their own uniqueness. She also loves that she has such a huge opportunity to build influential relationships with the kids in her program.

Melody grew up in the Denver Metro area and studied English and Russian at CU Boulder. One of her favorite things to do with the kids in her program when they aren’t paying attention is start speaking in a Russian accent (or act like a robot!). This always gets their attention!

Outside Kids’ Adventures, Melody is a practicing musician on several fronts. She has participated in several different drum lines – including the drum line for the Denver Broncos! She also teaches an open class percussion ensemble that is currently preparing to compete at the World Championships!

As a singer and songwriter, Melody performs 4 or 5 gigs a month at various venues across the Denver Metro area, accompanying herself with a piano, percussion and a variety of other instruments.

If you ever want to see Melody perform, she performs regularly at Cervantes Masterpiece Theater. Her next performance is on April 25th, so check it out!

We are so grateful for Melody and all the work she does with our kids at Sixth Ave. Elementary!

For more information about the program at Sixth Ave., please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.

Making A Difference At Aurora Academy!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Meet the Kids of Aurora Academy!

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Aurora Academy, a K-8 Charter School in Aurora, CO. Program Director Kristy Vigil has created a program with plenty of movement, activities that promote mindfulness and gratitude, lessons in good nutrition, and plenty of fun crafts. We are excited to share many of those activities with you!

Movement

The kids at Aurora Academy get plenty of time every day to run around and have fun playing active games. They spend as much time as possible outside. In addition to a playground, the school has several areas to play 4-square, a large fenced playing field in which to play kick ball, and an outdoor basketball court.

The kids love playing games outside, but they also love large group gym games. Capture the Flag and Dodgeball are amongst their favorites.

Capture The Flag!

Who doesn’t love a fun game of Capture the Flag?! To play, divide a large field or gym into three areas. Each team gets one area, with a neutral space between them. Each team must hide their flag somewhere in their area, doing their best to ensure that the opposing team won’t be able to find it easily. The goal of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and get it back to their area. But, if an opposing team member tags you while on their side of the field, you are put into “jail” until one of your team members is able to free you by tagging you again.

Dodgeball!


The main objective in dodgeball is to eliminate the players of the opposing team by hitting them with a ball. Plays must dodge the ball to remain in the game and the team who manages to eliminate all of their opponent’s first are deemed the winners.

It’s a super fun game for kids of all ages – as long as you have a large space in which to play! If you don’t a good idea is to use beanbags instead of balls and require the kids to slide them across the floor instead of throwing them.

Mindfulness

The kids at Aurora Academy also participate in mindfulness actives each day that engage their creative brains, promote focus and emotional awareness.

What if…?


One of their favorite things to do is get into a large circle and play the “What If” game. Kristy asks the kids for off-the-wall discussion topic suggestions such as… “What if you owned the earth for 24 hours? What would you do?” Or, “Are you happy with the month of your birthday? If not, what month would you change it to?”

Not only does this game allow the kids to come up with fun, creative topics of discussion, it engages their imagination, teaches communication skills, and even encourages creative problem solving.

Floating On a Cloud

Another favorite Mindfulness activity at Aurora Academy is an imagination exercise called Floating On a Cloud. Kristy explains that the “cloud” is their happy place. All the children lie back and close their eyes asking them to imagine what their cloud looks like – it’s shape, color, size, etc. Then, she has the kids draw their cloud while leading them in a discussion about what helps them feel peaceful in their cloud and where their cloud would take them.

Wink Murderer

Wink Murderer is a fun game that encourages concentration and communication skills. The kids sit in a circle and select one child to be the detective another to be the wink murderer. The detective must leave the room before the wink murderer is selected so they don’t know who it is. Once the wink murderer has been established, the detective returns to the room and has to try and figure out who the wink murderer is. Verbal communication is not allowed and the only way to discover who the murderer is to catch them winking at another player.

Nutrition

One of the kids’ most requested games at Aurora Academy is a nutrition game somewhat resembling a relay race. Kids are divided into 4 groups and given a list of different fruits and vegetables. Kristy writes those same fruits and vegetables on sheets of paper using large lettering, cuts the words up into individual letters and then scatters the letters in the center of the room, placing them upside down. The goal of the game is for each group to spell one of the words on their list by collecting all the letters. The group to spell one of the words first is the winning team. Kids decide as a team which word they are going to go for and then take turns running to the center of the room to grab an upside down letter. If they flip the letter over and it doesn’t belong in their word, the next child must run the letter back to the center of the room and select a new one. The game is great because it allows Kristy to lead a discussion after the game is over about what makes those particular fruits and vegetable nutritious and it also gets the kids running!

The kids at Aurora Academy also have the opportunity to earn Kids’ Ka$h dollars if they bring in a healthy snack and for positive behavior. Kids’ Ka$h is pretend money they can trade in at the end of the week for fun prizes. Kristy sets a goal at the beginning of the week for how much Kids’ Ka$h they should try to earn, and they work as a group to reach their goal. If they reach their goal amount, they earn more time outside or a game of their choice on Friday. Working as a group is great because the kids’ encourage one another to make healthy snack and positive behavior choices. Having a Kids’ Ka$h board is also a great incentive because the kids can watch their dollars accumulate over the course of the week.

Craft Time and Free Time!

The kids at Aurora Academy LOVE to make crafts. The kids have made all sorts of fun projects, including unicorn horns and popsicle stick people and fuzz ball creatures.

Fridays are more of a relaxed day at Aurora Academy. One of Kristy’s program leaders is going to school to become a nail technician and often brings in supplies to paint the little girls’ fingernails. Kristy also allows kids to play on electronics such as phones or iPads on Fridays and allows more time for group games that the kids choose.

About Kristy

This is Kristy’s 6th year with the Kids’ Adventures program at Aurora Academy! Years ago, Kristy’s first job was at Skate City. She realized that she loved working with kids, but wanted to do so in a more dynamic way. A friend of hers recommended Kids’ Adventures, and she’s been there ever since.

Kristy graduated last May with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in elementary education. Her goal is to pursue a graduate degree in Psychology so that she can work as a school counselor. Born and raised in Colorado, Kristy is engaged to be married this June. The couple has a dog named Nike. Staying active is important to her, and one of her favorite things to do is take Nike out for a jog.

One of the things she loves most about running a Kids’ Adventures program is the opportunity she’s had to bond with both the kids in her program and their parents. The parents at her school make the point of coming to talk with her frequently about their children, letting her know what’s happening in their lives. She has formed a fantastic relationship with them that allows her to support their children in a positive and lasting way. Kristy also works with an awesome team of program leaders who assist her with every aspect of the program at Aurora Academy.

We are so grateful for Kristy and all the work she does with our kids at Aurora Academy!

For more information about the program at Aurora Academy Charter school, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.

Inspiration from Prairie Winds Elementary!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meet the Kids of Prairie Winds Elementary!

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Prairie Winds Elementary in Monument, Colorado!

Program Director Mike Temple has created a program packed with activities designed to boost physical fitness and inspire kids to make healthy choices. We are excited to share some of those activities with you today, many of which can easily be adapted for groups of kids large or small!

Movement

Mike is a pretty active guy and recognized right away that he had a pretty active group of kids at Prairie Winds. So, right from the start, he had the kids in both before and after school care engaged in all sorts of fun activities to get them moving. Over the years, he’s accumulated a list of over 60 games that the kids love. Here are three of their favorites…

Medic

Medic is a form of dodge ball with a fun, unusual twist. Mike uses small Nerf balls for a game of team-against-team dodge ball in the school’s gym. The difference between this and regular dodge-ball is that each team is instructed to secretly select a “medic”. One of the goals of the game is to not allow the other team to figure out who your medic is. If a player is hit with a ball they are “frozen” and must sit down. They now have a choice: they can stay put and wait for the medic to make their way over to them, slyly tag them, thus releasing them from their frozen state. Or they can try to release themselves by making a basket in one of the basketball hoops on either side of the gym. The catch with this option is that they must shoot their basket from a kneeling or sitting position.

Because Mike’s program has a lot of young children, Mike acts as the “Shooter for Hire” when they play this game. He hovers in the middle of the game and is available to step in and make a basket for any of the kids having trouble making the basket for themselves.

Gold Rush

Gold Rush is basically a more strategic game of Capture the Flag. For anyone who’s not familiar with Capture the Flag, here’s how the game goes…

The “area of play” is divided into separate areas, one for each team, with a neutral space between. Each team is given a flag and instructed to hide it somewhere in their area, doing their best to ensure that the opposing team won’t be able to find it easily. The goal of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and get it back to their area. But, if an opposing team member tags you while on their side of the field, you are put into “jail” until one of your team members is able to free you by tagging you again.

Gold Rush differs in that it can be played in a smaller area – like a school gymnasium. Players are divided into two teams, with the center line of the gym as the safety line. If a player crosses the line, they can be tagged by the opposing team. At Prairie Winds, Mike gives each team three items to “hide” on their side of the gym. To win the game, they must capture the opposing team’s items and hang on to their own. Mike loves this game because it gets the kids moving, but also requires them to have to think strategically and work as a team.

Wall Ball

Another game that the kids at Prairie Winds love to play is a version of Wall Ball. Soft balls are thrown into play to toss against the gym walls. As a player, if a ball comes to you, you must grab it and throw it against the wall. If you drop the ball, you have to sprint to touch the wall before someone else is able to pick it up and throw it against the wall before you are able to touch it. The game is great because the kids get an amazing workout, but don’t even realize it because they are having so much fun.

BOKS!


Even though Mike has a created a rich catalogue of active games that the kids love, he has recently introduced BOKS into their weekly routine. BOKS, sponsored by Reebok and a partner of Kids’ Adventures, was founded to give kids a body and brain boost that set them up for learning. They have extensive resources for Kids’ Adventures program leaders looking for fun ways to increase the physical activity of the kids in their programs. Mike likes to combine BOKS programming in with games and activities already in his repertoire.

Fitness Tests

Mike also gives regular fitness tests to the kids in his program. The tests are designed to capitalize on the kids’ natural competitive nature by allowing them to compete against their own personal best.

As a part of the test, Mike will sit down with each child in his program and help them set fitness goals. For example, if a child was able to complete 20 push-ups, they might set a goal to be able to do 30 at the next fitness test. Mike keeps track of their goals and encourages the kids towards achieving them, something that gives them a huge confidence boost and sense of accomplishment.

Nutrition

Mike’s favorite way to teach the kids about good nutrition is by playing Jeopardy. He created a large Jeopardy board that hangs on the wall. The board contains questions and categories, with envelopes for each. They usually play the game with six categories: 4 nutrition categories and 2 “fun” categories to help keep their interest.

Mike even incorporates things the kids are learning about in school into the game. Teachers at Prairie Winds frequently give Mike questions for the game that corresponds what they are learning.

Mindfulness

Activities that teach the kids mindfulness are a daily part of the programming at Prairie Winds. Mike likes to incorporate some “down time” after every rambunctious gym game. He’ll call them all the the center of the gym to form a “circle of trust”. This is also a good time for Mike to talk with them about things like good sportsmanship, respect, and treating each other with kindness.

Sometimes, they will pass a ball around the circle, taking turns saying something positive about one another. Other times, Mike will have the kids lie back with their eyes closed and take them through listening exercises that help build focus and concentration. Another favorite activity is to take a “virtual field trip”. With their eyes closed, Mike will take them through a story about going someplace fun and exotic, asking the kids to imagine the trip every step of the way.

Projects

Mike loves to engage the kids in his program in large projects. For example, the kids built their very own miniature golf course. Mike divided them into groups and assigned each the task of creating one of the holes for the course. The kids had to come up with the idea, create a plan, list the materials they needed, and then build the hole. Once the course was built, the whole school, including the teachers, all came out to play a round.

Another incredible project that Mike takes on every year with his kids is the making of a half-hour movie. The kids write the screenplay, act, film and direct the entire film. Then, they host a Movie Premier Night and invite all their friends, family and teachers. At the premier night, they not only sell tickets – they also run a snack bar. The movie is a tremendous fundraiser, with proceeds going to a local cause. Last year they raised $2200, which they used to purchase an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) device for Prairie Winds Elementary. This year, the proceeds from their movie night will be donated to a local children’s cancer society founded by Prairie Winds parents.

Mike’s reason for projects like Movie Night are simple. “If I’m going to have this many kids in my care, let’s do something that matters.”

Meet Mike

Mike moved to Colorado from California when he was 18 years old. He didn’t know anyone and wasn’t even sure what he wanted to do. The day he arrived, he saw a posting for a job as a lifeguard at a local YMCA. He applied and they immediately called him back to say that they really needed help at that year’s summer camp. Mike agreed, and the course of his life was set. “I knew on that first day of camp that working with kids was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Mike came on board with Kids’ Adventures three years ago. It’s a family affair – his wife teaches at the school, one of his two sons attends the school, and the second son will attend starting next year.

Mike is also a life-long martial arts enthusiast. If he’s not at Kids’ Adventures or spending time with his family, you will most often find him at a martial arts class or event.

We are so grateful for the incredible creativity, energy and positive influence that Mike brings to the Kids’ Adventures program at Prairie Winds!

For more information about the program at Prairie Winds, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.

Before & After School Care That's Making A Difference

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Meet the Kids of Lyn Knoll Elementary!

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Lyn Knoll Elementary in Aurora, Colorado!



Program Director Jesus Ortiz has created a program packed with activities designed to boost physical fitness and inspire kids to make healthy choices.

The kids at Lyn Knoll get plenty of physical activity every day, as well as time for a snack and the completion of homework. The rest of the program is organized to provide a planned activity based on the day of the week. We are excited to share many of those activities with you! 

Mindful Mondays



The Gratitude Circle. This is such a simple activity and yet one of the most powerful ways Jesus has found to cultivate gratitude in the kids in his program. The kids sit in a circle and take turns sharing something they are grateful for. Because it’s something the kids look forward to, it helps them think about what they are grateful for all day long so that they are prepared to share in the gratitude circle.

Gratitude Jar. Another way Jesus encourages a sense of gratitude is with a gratitude jar. Kids are encouraged to write two complements about someone else every day and place them in the jar. Even the youngest kindergarteners do their best to write down their complements every day. Every Wednesday, Jesus pulls out the little slips of paper and reads the complements aloud to the group.

Simon Ball. This fun game is great for teaching focus and concentration. All the kids are given a ball and instructed to walk anywhere they like around the room while Jesus counts down from 10. At the count of zero, the kids freeze and toss or roll the ball to someone else. The catch? No speaking is allowed. The kids must use observation and body language to communicate who they are passing the ball to.

Shadow Boxing. Shadow boxing is another fun game that teaches focus and concentration. All the kids put their hands behind their backs and Jesus places different shaped objects in their hands. The kids are then paired up and instructed to figure out what each other is holding. In order to accomplish this, the kids must try to maneuver themselves to see what their partner is holding behind their backs. But they are not allowed to talk or touch each other.

Mindful Listening. This activity is so simple, it’s hard to believe that it’s one of the kids’ favorite activities at Lyn Knoll – but it is! All the kids go outside and pick a spot in the grass to lie down and close their eyes. Then they simply listen. After some time has passed, Jesus will ask them to share the things they heard… birds chirping, lawn mowers running, a dog barking, etc. The kids enjoy this activity so much that one day Jesus surprised them with some time for free play and all the kids chose to just go on quietly listening to the world around them.

Nutrition Wednesdays



Most Wednesdays, Kids’ Adventures kids at Lyn Knoll get to learn something new about healthy food and nutrition. Kids can earn Kids’ K$sh, pretend dollars, for bringing in a healthy snack each day. Each month, the goal is for the entire group to have earned $100 dollars in Kids’ Ka$h. If they meet this goal, Jesus brings a fun snack for all the kids to share.



They also learn about a new fruit or vegetable each week. Jesus will hold a discussion with the kids about what makes that particular food nutritious and how it is prepared and eaten. He’ll ask the kids if they’ve ever tried it and if they like it. Talking about different fruits is a great way to teach the kids about the difference in they type of sugar found in fruit and the type (and amount) of sugar in things like candy bars.

Jesus also teaches the kids in his program how to read food labels. He’ll bring in a large poster of a food label and go through it with the kids, explaining what all of it means and how to read the information found there. Then, when any of the kids bring in a packaged snack, he’ll sit down with them and help them read the label and determine what is healthy, or unhealthy about that particular snack.


The kids also love to play a game called Planting Fruits and Vegetables. Jesus will throw a bunch of different colored dodge balls around the room and instruct the kids to choose a color and then gather as many of that color as they can carry. Then the kids take turns identifying fruits or vegetables that match the color of their balls, naming as many kinds of fruits or vegetables as the number of balls in their arms.

They also love to play Farmer Tag. Jesus will call out 3 kinds of fruits or vegetables and the kids will all select one of the three as their fruit. One child is selected to be the farmer. The farmer will then call out the name of one of the three fruits or vegetables, and everyone who has chosen that particular fruit or vegetable must try to run to the other side of the room before the farmer can “pick” (tag) them.

Science Thursday

Thursdays are science day for Kids’ Adventures kids at Lyn Knoll. Over the past several months, Jesus has come prepared to lead the kids in his program through all sorts of fun science related activities. One day, he gave the kids a bunch of toothpicks and marshmallows and instructed them to work together to build the biggest tower they could. He did a similar activity with raisins and dried pasta, instructing the kids to work together to build the largest bridge they could with the materials.

One Thursday, Jesus brought in small mirrors and a lamp and the kids had fun working as a team to figure out how to use the mirrors to reflect the light all the way across the room to a particular point. 



The kids have made bubbles with soap and pancake syrup and have even created lava lamps with vegetable oil and food coloring!

Fun Fridays!

Fridays are devoted to games and crafts and, when the weather is nice, extra time playing outside.



Jesus has worked with Kids’ Adventures for 4 years, but took on the role of Program Leader at Lyn Knoll this past May.



One of his favorite things about being a before & after school care director is getting to play with the kids. Jesus doesn’t just instruct the kids about how to play games – he jumps right in and plays with them. He also loves the satisfaction that comes with knowing the kids in his program are learning positive lessons that will support their healthy development. Jesus is also so grateful for all the parents of the kids in his program who regularly take the time to tell him thank you for caring for their kids before & after school.

Jesus has always wanted to work with kids. He volunteered for several organizations that care for kids in middle school and high school and is working towards obtaining his teaching degree.

When Jesus is not at Kids’ Adventures, you can most often find him watching or playing sports (his favorite sport to watch is baseball and his favorite sport to play is soccer) or writing poetry. Jesus has been working on the completion of a book of original poetry for the past several years!



We are so grateful that Jesus is a part of the Kids’ Adventures team. He has made, and continues to make, a huge impact in his community through his service to the kids in his program. We are inspired by his love for the kids in his program and the positive impact he is making on their young lives!

For more information about the program at Lyn Knoll, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.



Giving Kids a Healthy Foundation

Monday, March 14, 2016

Meet the Kids of Landmark Academy at Reunion!

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures program at Landmark Academy, a K-8 school in the Reunion area of Commerce City, CO!

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

Trisha Kramer has been the Kids’ Adventures Program Director for 6 years and has created a program packed with activities designed to boost physical fitness and inspire kids to make healthy choices through nutrition education and mindfulness training. We are excited to share many of those activities with you! 

The kids at Landmark get plenty of physical activity every day, as well as time for a snack and the completion of homework. The rest of the program is organized to provide a planned activity based on the day of the week: Mindful Mondays, Tasty Tuesdays, Workout Wednesdays, Thrifty Crafty Thursdays, and Funtastic Film Fridays. Here are some of their favorite activities for each day…

Mindful Mondays

Every Mindful Monday begins with Trisha gathering the kids into a circle for a short discussion about what mindfulness is and why it’s important. They talk about subjects that focus the kids on gratitude, stress management and emotional awareness. Sometimes, during circle time, Trisha brings out The Breathing Ball, a plastic ball that contracts and expands on demand.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

The kids sit in a circle and take turns leading the group in slow, mindful breathing by expanding the ball as they inhale and then contracting it as they exhale. All the kids breathe in and out along with the ball. The ball is passed around the circle so that every child has a chance to lead the breathing practice. (You can find a breathing ball such as the one pictured above on Amazon.) 

Trisha also keeps a file of YouTube video links at the ready that take kids through Mindfulness practices. The kids love these videos and ask for them repeatedly. The kids lie down on yoga mats, Trisha turns down the lights, and plays a video that teaches them how to focus their young minds and be more aware of their experience. 

A few of her favorites include: Hot Air Balloon Ride, Children's Space Adventure, and Meditation for Children.

Sometimes, on Mindful Monday’s, the kids do yoga. Trisha is a member of a local yoga studio, where she has learned a lot from an instructor there who teaches classes for kids. Trisha will take them through a series of animal poses, which they love, or play a game in which they can earn points for holding a pose for a certain amount of time.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

During summer break camp, Trisha puts out a Gratitude Jar. Kids write down things and people that they are grateful for on little slips of paper throughout the week and put them in the jar. On Friday, Trisha pulls out all the slips of paper and reads them aloud to all the children.

Tasty Tuesdays

Trisha alternates Tasty Tuesday activities between tasting activities and cooking activities. For tasting activities, Trisha will often bring in several different types of a particular food. For example, she’ll bring in 4 or 5 different varieties of oranges or apples, letting the kids taste the difference between each and talk about which is their favorite. Sometimes, she’ll have the kids put on blindfolds, taste several different foods, and try to identify what each of the foods is. This exercise helps kids decide what foods they like based solely on taste rather than on what the food looks like. 

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

Trisha has collected a great collection of cooking utensils over the years that she brings in on cooking days. Every cooking lesson begins with a discussion about food safety and good sanitary practices. Trisha also brings a printed copy of the recipe for whatever they are making that day so that each child can take it home with them. The kids at Landmark have made all sorts of healthy foods that expose the kids to things they might not otherwise try, such as quesadillas made whole wheat tortillas, pesto, tomatoes and spinach. The kids have also made pesto from scratch, healthy trail mix, bananas baked with honey and cinnamon, and learned all sorts of new ways to cook vegetables.

While they cook, Trisha takes the opportunity to teach them about the nutritional value of the food they are making and ways they can make the foods they love to eat healthier. Trisha loves cooking activities because it gets the kids involved and excited about new foods and about eating healthy in ways that just talking about nutrition falls short.

Workout Wednesdays

Even though the kids at Landmark participate in activities that get them moving every day, Wednesdays are dedicated to fun, organized activities that promote physical fitness. One of Trisha’s favorite resources for Workout Wednesdays is Gonoodle.com. Gonoodle has all sorts of fun, interactive activities that gets kids moving. Trisha also has a collection of videos that she’s pulled from YouTube that teach them fun dances. Currently, their favorite is the Sid Shuffle.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

Trisha also loves the BOKS program. She uses activities from BOKS every morning to get the kids moving and prep their brains for a day of learning. But, she also uses a lot of BOKS games in the afternoon on Workout Wednesdays.

The kids at Landmark also love the 7 Minute Workout App. These short workouts take them through many activities they groan about in gym class – but, because the app is focused on speed, it feels more like a game.

Trisha also started a “running club” for any of the kids in her program who like to run. She’ll say, “Who wants to join me for running club?” and take the kids on a jog around the parameter of the school, about 2 miles. Calling it a “club” makes it so much more appealing for kids than just saying they are going to run around the school.

Thrifty Crafty Thursday

Thursdays at Landmark always includes a fun craft using recycled materials. For example, the kids have made all sorts of fun things with old t-shirts: superhero capes, masks, scarves and even purses!

Recently, the kids had fun making Easter cards with stamps made from toilet paper rolls!

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

The kids also had a blast making these marshmallow shooters with toilet paper rolls and balloons.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

They played games with their shooters to see how far they could shoot their marshmallows, and then had an all out “paint ball style” war on the playground, shooting marshmallows at each other.

The kids at Landmark have also made roads and ramps for matchbox cars out of cardboard boxes and water noodles.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

Funtastic Fun Film Fridays

Friday’s at Landmark are a chance to hang out and watch a fun movie while eating popcorn that Trisha makes at home (the old fashioned way, on the stovetop) and brings in for all the kids to share. Their favorite movie right now is Home.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

They also love the Disney Buddies movies, which can be found on Netflix.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

Trisha has been working with kids all her life, from babysitting throughout high school, to working as a high school aid right after highs school graduation, to running an after school program at the age of 19.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

This is Trisha’s 6th year as the Kids’ Adventures Program Director at Landmark. A mother to 5 boys, one of whom currently attends Landmark, Trisha lives in the area and is very involved in the community. Running the Kids’ Adventures program is just one more way she is able to contribute in a positive way to the kids and parents in her own neighborhood.

When she’s not at Kids’ Adventures, you can most likely find her at one of her son’s sporting events (all her boys are very athletic), on her bike, or out for a run or a hike. Trisha is very active and loves long bike rides of 25-30 miles, usually with her youngest son in tow. 

She tries to climb several 14ers every year and hikes The Incline on Pikes Peak with her 16-year-old son (a Kids' Adventures Program Leader) every month.

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

If you’re unfamiliar with The Incline, it looks like this:

Movement, nutrition and mindfulness activities for kids. ~ www.kidsadventures.com

We are so grateful to have had Trisha as a Kids’ Adventures director for these past 6 years. She has made, and continues to make, a huge impact on her community through her service to the neighborhood kids. We are inspired by her love for the kids in her program and the positive impact she is making on their young lives!

For more information about the program at Landmark, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.


Active Games for Small Spaces

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

What Do You Do With A Small Room Full of Restless Kids?



Movement is a HUGE part of Kids’ Adventures programming. Every single one of our before & after school programs includes plenty of daily physical activity. Many of our programs are fortunate enough to be housed in schools with large gyms or cafeterias. And, of course, leaders take kids outside for active play whenever possible. 


But nearly every one of our Program Leaders has found themselves in a situation where outside play was not an option and spaces like the school gym were occupied with other extra curricular activities. As a result, our Program Leaders have come up with some great ideas for fun games that get kids moving even in small spaces.


Here are some of their favorite active games for small spaces, all of which can be easily adapted for kids at home or in a classroom.


Jump Over the River (Or, Jump The Canyon)

This is one of the Program Leaders’ favorite activities at Aurora Quest and Arvada K-8 because it is not only conducive to a small space, it requires no other materials than a couple of jump ropes, yarn, or even masking tape!

Lay two jump ropes (or yarn or masking tape) on the floor to create parallel lines about 6 inches apart. Tell kids that outside the jump ropes lie the river banks, but inside the ropes there is a rushing river. Instruct the kids to jump from one side of the river to the other, gradually widening the width of the river by moving the jump ropes further and further apart after each successful jump.

Bean Bag Dodge Ball

Dodge ball is one of our favorite games to play with kids because it gets kids running and supports hand-eye coordination. Even more importantly, it’s so much FUN! However, it’s not a great game to play in small spaces. Unless you play with bean bags!

The kids at Aurora Quest love to play dodge ball, but don’t always have room for the game. So, Program Leader Bekah has had to get creative. She initiates games of dodge ball using beanbags instead of balls, and requiring the kids to slide them across the floor instead of throwing them. The kids also love to play “Beanbag Bowling” by lining up bowling pins and sliding their beanbags across the floor to knock them down. 

Speaking of bean bags…

Bean Bag Toss

When leaders at Foundations Academy are relegated to stay inside but need an active game, they take sand buckets, label them 1-4, line them up on one side of the room and have the kids toss beanbags into them. Don’t have any sand buckets? No problem! Use masking tape to create targets on a table or on the floor and have kids take turns seeing how many targets they can hit with their beanbags.

The Bean Bag Relay

This fun idea comes from the Early Childhood Education program at Highline Academy Northeast. Ask kids to stand in a straight line, one behind the other. Place several bean bags in the front of the line and an empty bucket behind the last kid in line. Tell the child in the front of the line to grab a bean bag and pass it overhead to the child behind them, continuing to pass the bean bag down the line until the last child drops it over their head and into the bucket. Once the child in the back of the line has dropped the bean bag in the bucket, they should run to the front of the line to repeat the relay. This activity is great for improving hand-eye coordination and bilateral coordination in young kids!

Fun with Pedometers



Several of our programs, such as the kids at Collegiate Academy pictured above, have found that giving the kids pedometers has a huge effect on their daily activity levels. The kid’s love watching their steps add up throughout the week and look for all sorts of ways to increase the number of steps they take. Pedometers, of course, are a great way to get kids moving regardless of the size space available to them. But you might be surprised how many steps kids manage to accumulate just from jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, or forming a fun conga line! Activities that kids might otherwise groan about suddenly become fun when kids are engaged in a contest to see who can get the most steps!

 What about you? What activities do you have in your back pocket for dealing with restless kids in small spaces?

Kids' Adventures Is The Leader in Movement, Nutrition and Mindfulness Education for Kids



The Kids’ Adventures before and after school program is more than just a safe place for kids to go while parents’ are at work. We offer a structured environment that enhances classroom learning through education and activities in the areas of movement, nutrition and mindfulness. Our programs focus on social and emotional learning, how to make good nutritional choices, how to manage stress and conflict, and the importance of incorporating physical movement into everyday life. Find out more... 


Making a Positive Impact Through Movement, Nutrition and Mindfulness

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Meet the Kids at Arvada K-8!

Welcome to the Kids’ Adventures before & after school care program at Arvada K-8! Program Director Stacy Graham and Program Leader Lexus Valencia have built a program that is packed with fun activities that encourage the formation of healthy habits in kids.

 

The kids at Arvada K-8 participate in activities every day designed to boost their level of physical fitness and inspire them to make healthy choices through nutrition education and mindfulness training. We are excited to share many of those activities with you! 

Movement!


Kids’ Adventures kids at Arvada K-8 receive at least 45 minutes of physical activity every day. When the weather is nice, the kids play outside. When the weather prohibits outside play, they head to the gym. Regardless, the kids play one or two structured games that get them running first, and are then allowed some free time to play what they wish. Here are a few of their favorite games…

Jump Over the River

Lay two jump ropes on the floor to create parallel lines about 6 inches apart. Tell kids that outside the jump ropes lie the river banks, but inside the ropes there is a rushing river. Instruct the kids to jump from one side of the river to the other, gradually widening the width of the river by moving the jump ropes further and further apart after each successful jump.


Treasure Island

For this game, you need a fairly large space. Designate one side of the space as the “ship” and the other side of the space as a “treasure island”. Designate one player as the Captain and everyone else as Pirates. The goal of the Pirates is to get safely from the ship to the island and then back to the ship. As they run back and forth, the Captain yells out commands that change their coarse. If the Captain yells “Raise the sails!”, everyone must run to the ship and and act like they are raising the sails. If the captain yells “Starfish!”, all the kids must lay on the ground like a starfish. If the Captain yells, “Captain on Deck!”, they must run to the ship and salute. The game’s commands are only limited by your imagination!

Ultimate Tag! 

Ultimate Tag, in which everyone is “it” all at once, is a great variation on freeze tag. Ask all participants to spread out across the playing field, gym or room. Count to three and then yell, “everybody’s it!” Kids run around the space and try to tag other kids. When a player is tagged, they sit out until the person who tagged them gets tagged. When this happens, they can get back up and join back in the game.

Sharks and Minnows

This is another fun variation of tag. For this game, one player is the Shark and everyone else are Minnows. The Shark yells out, “Swim, fishy, swim!”, and all the Minnows try to run from one side of the space to the other. If they are tagged, they become another shark. Play continues until all the Minnows have become Sharks.

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag is one of the most requested games at Arvada K-8. To play, divide a large field into three areas. Each team gets one area, with a neutral space between them. Each team must hide their flag somewhere in their area, doing their best to ensure that the opposing team won’t be able to find it easily. The goal of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and get it back to their area. But, if an opposing team member tags you while on their side of the field, you are put into “jail” until one of your team members is able to free you by tagging you again.

Nutrition

Kids’ Adventures leaders at Arvada K-8 use the daily snack time as an opportunity to teach the kids in their program about good nutrition. As the kids eat their snacks, the leaders talk with them about what’s healthy and what’s not so healthy – making sure to help them understand why one snack is healthier than another.


The leaders bring in their own healthy snacks as examples, showing the kids what they brought and explaining why it is a healthy choice. The leaders also each have large bottles that hold the daily recommended amount of water. They frequently talk to the kids about why drinking plenty of water, especially in lieu of sugary drinks, is so important to their health.

All the kids have an opportunity to earn Kids’ Kash for bringing in a healthy snack. Kids can turn their Kids’ Kash in at the end of the week for fun prizes! 


Sometimes, the leaders take the kids through activities that teach them about how to make healthy nutritional choices. For example, they gave the kids a variety of food labels in order to teach them how to read the labels and determine whether the food constitutes a heathy choice. The leaders will also demonstrate how much sugar and salt is in foods by measuring the amount listed on the food label. If a label says “30g/ sugar”, Stacy will measure out 30g of sugar to let the kids see how much that really is.

Another activity that teaches kids how to make healthy choices comes from ChooseMyPlate.gov. Leaders print a sheet for each child that contains an empty plate and give them stacks of old magazines. The kids go through the magazines to find pictures of foods they can paste to their empty plates in order to build a balanced meal.


Mindfulness

Recently, the kids at Arvada K-8, created their very own “Future Posters”. The kids were given stacks of magazines and instructed to go through and cut out pictures of things that depicted the kind of life they wanted to have as adults. While, they worked, the leaders talked to them about what they might have to do to get the things they wanted, such as getting good grades, staying out of trouble, going to college, etc. Then the kids pasted their magazine images onto a life-size outline of themselves. The exercise helped the kids understand how their current actions might impact what they want to have and achieve later in life. 


The leaders at Arvada K-8 also focus a lot on social emotional learning with the kids in their program. The leaders love to use activities, games and worksheets found in a book called, Activities for Building Character and Social-Emotional Learning. The book is a rich resource of fun activities that build attitudes of respect and caring, reduce problem behaviors, and empower students to solve problems. 

For the last several weeks, they’ve been engaged in anti-bullying activities and discussions. The kids have worked together on worksheets designed to help them understand what constitutes bullying behavior and empowers them to take action if they are ever being bullied or see someone else being bullied. They also watched a movie together called The Ant Bully. 


In this adorable movie, a child being bullied takes out his frustration on an ant hill. But the industrious ants will only take so much. Retaliating, they shrink Lucas down to their size and give him a taste of "colony life!" Here, in a strange new world, Lucas learns about true friendship, gains a whole new perspective on life, and ultimately finds the courage to stand up for himself. Watching the movie led to a series of discussions with the kids about bullying and what they can do to prevent it.

The Human Pretzel is another fun activity that the kids at Arvada K-8 did to learn how to work together. The kids were divided into groups based on age, with the older kids in one group and the younger kids in another. Starting in a circle, the kids were instructed to connect hands with two others people in the group, causing them to all be tangled up. As a team, they had to try to unravel the “Human Pretzel” by untangling themselves without letting go.


This exercise is great at teaching communication and teamwork. Interestingly, the younger kids were far more efficient at getting untangled than the older kids because they didn’t bicker. This lead to a discussion about how bickering causes roadblocks to working together.

Another activity that the leaders at Arvada K-8 love to do is have the kids draw a self-portrait. Drawing self-portraits allows the leaders to talk with the kids about how they see themselves, and how much of an impact other people’s opinions has on their self-perception. The leaders save these self-portraits so that the kids can see how their self-perception has changed over time. This is especially eye-opening for the kids who have been in the program for several years.

Craft Time!

In addition to daily activities focused on Movement, Nutrition and Mindfulness, the kids at Arvada K-8 participate in a planned craft nearly every day. To reinforce lessons learned through the No Bullying programing, they created No Bully posters.


They also created Marble Paintings, in which a paper was placed inside a cardboard box, marbles were dipped in paint, and the kids shook around the box to create fun abstract art pieces.


The leaders at Arvada K-8 also love to engage the kids in sensory art projects. One of their favorites is to spread colored shaving cream across the table and let the kids draw pictures in it. They also have a “sandbox” filled with a mixture of cornstarch and flour that the kids can build stuff in.


Meet the Leaders of Kids’ Adventures at Arvada K-8

Stacy became the Program Director for the Kids’ Adventures before & after school care program at Arvada K-8 this last September. She loves spending her days having fun with the kids in her program and seeing how much of a positive influence she has on their development.

Stacy has always had a life-long desire to work with kids. She started babysitting as a young teenager and was hired at a daycare center at the age of 17. She is currently working on completing her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with the goal of working as a preschool educator after graduation.

Stacy, a native of Missouri, is the mother of two children, ages 8 and 12. When she’s not at Kids’ Adventures or in class, you can most often find her at home spending time with her kids or at the gym with her Program Leader, Lexi.

Lexus “Lexi” Valencia has been a Program Leader with Kids’ Adventures for over 2 years. She loves all the funny things the kids in her program say and do every day and loves to see how different all the kids are. Lexi, who is originally from Texas, plans to move to Gunnison next year where she will study law at Western State.

Nestled high in the Colorado Rockies, Gunnison should be a great fit for Lexi, who loves being in the great outdoors. When she’s not at Kids’ Adventures, you can most likely find her hiking, walking around Boulder or Downtown Denver with friends or fishing.

We are grateful for the program Stacy and Lexi have created for the kids at Arvada K-8. We are inspired by their love for the kids in their program and the positive impact they are making on their young lives!

For more information about the program at Arvada K-8, please click here. If you are interested in exploring the option of a Kids’ Adventures Before & After School Program at your school, please click here to get the conversation started.




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