For nearly 30 years, Julie Woods has come to St. John's Children Center in Reno regularly. She always comes armed with a sack full of colorful props and a brown bag with a different fruit or vegetable each week. She uses them in each of her half-hour classes designed to educate young kids about nutrition and fitness. Julie calls her preschool fitness program Kiddin' Around.
Julie starts every class with circle time and a sign language lesson. Then she pulls the "fabulicious food" from her brown bag to expose kids to a different food every week. She says she was surprised to learn some kids only recognized peaches in a plastic cup. After she exposes them to some unique produce, Julie says some of the kids actually encourage their parents to start buying it.
"Stand up and spread out kiddos!" yells Julie, after circle time is over. During every class, she has the children do three movement exercises. Whether they are flying streamers or kicking foam balls, you will have a hard time finding a child without a smile on their face. Julie says, "Everybody moves, moves, moves, moves, moves, moves, moves. That's my goal." She works to keep the kids active for the better half of 30-minutes. She also offers age-appropriate and cooperative games for older kids, too. However, Julie says, "Teaching them early and getting them to recognize it is fun to move and it makes you feel better and it makes you happy - it's so important."
Some area schools pay for Julie to come to them weekly and parents at other schools pay for her visits. Kiddin' Around costs $8 per child per class. She guarantees, however, that every child will not only finish the class energized, but also with smiles on their faces. "Everybody leaves with a smile which I really like. And it's my goal for them to move and to really enjoy what they're doing."
To learn more, find Julie on her Kiddin' Around Facebook page.
Written by Kristen Remington