Support for PBS Parents provided by:

  • Arthur
  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Let's Go Luna
  • Nature Cat
  • Odd Squad
  • Peg + Cat
  • Pinkalicous and Peterriffic
  • Ready Jet Go
  • Splash and Bubbles
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • Sesame Street
  • Ruff Ruffman Show
  • Mister Rogers
  • Cyberchase
  • SciGirls
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Martha Speaks
  • The Electric Company
  • WordGirl
  • Caillou
  • Oh Noah
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM
Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Category: Nutrition

I can’t help but notice a shift happening as we head towards the spring season. There are flowers on the trees and the wet mornings a little less chilly. We are definitely feeling the effects of the time change over the weekend. At seven in the evening the boys observed the twilight sky from the car windows with wonder. “Is it night or day?” they asked. I love that question because it is neither night nor day. It is the magical time of the day that harkens to evening baseball games and picnics on the beach in July. Spring makes summer feel closer, right?
Henry and Leo were chatting in their beds well past nine o’clock on last night. Another time change side effect. I tried to be stern about quiet in the bedroom but it is so sweet to hear them chatting away in whispers. It fulfills a dream I have for them as brothers and best friends. But this morning was decidedly groggy.
Little league season has started. Morning games are chilly and afternoon games are hot. What a happy sign of spring! Baseball is full of science learning around physics, speed, and nutrition. Yes, nutrition. I am trying to teach Henry and Leo about correctly fueling their little bodies for sports. We are learning how to read labels and count our sugar intake. We are drinking lots of water and eating protein before practice and games. Henry, especially, needs to fuel up or he crashes (literally) mid-game and plops down on the grass in the infield. Both boys love baseball (so far) and the exercise is much needed after a quiet winter.
The season of birthday parties has also begun. Outside birthday parties are a clear sign to me that folks are willing to risk the elements in the hopes that spring provides sunny and clear days for celebrating. We got lucky this weekend! And the party was a science party! We were treated to a reptile show in the backyard of Leo’s school buddy. It was so much fun! In the hour-long show the kids were introduced to scorpions, spiders, snakes, lizards, and frogs of all sizes. While the show was entertaining, it was also full of great science facts about the animals: what they eat, where they are from, how they hunt, how the protect themselves from predators. The kids were riveted and I was impressed. And what 4-year-old boy wouldn’t be thrilled by a ride on a tortoise?
On a Sid note: I overheard Leo talking with his friend Devon about friction the other morning. He said, “These socks have friction. I need to change.” And then Leo charged upstairs to change his treaded socks to ones without treads on the bottom. He also brought down a pair of socks for his barefoot friend. And then they started sliding all over the place. I love that for Leo, friction is a noun. Things have friction or they don’t. I couldn’t resist jumping into their fun and asking all sorts of questions about friction. I was informed that the sliding wouldn’t work on the carpet (duh mom!) or without shoes or with socks that have bumps on them. I tried to take a clear action shot of the sliding…but the boys were just too fast!
Spring inspires me to plan new science activities and explorations for us. In April we have new Sid the Science Kid Easter episode to look forward to. I am excited to explore a new science museum on our trip to San Francisco over spring break in a couple of weeks. There is something to be said for spring cleaning: open the windows, put on some shorts, and start adventuring!
Do you have any spring activities planned? How can you bring more science into your springtime?

One of the most satisfying things about summer vacation is the freedom the boys and I have to pick and choose our activities every day. Without the constraints of the school/soccer/baseball/life schedule we can take each day as it comes. It can also be a trap, where we stall within our freedom and end up doing a lot of nuthin’. As I reviewed my blog post about summer activities from earlier this month, I realized we need to get moving. Summer doesn’t last forever and here in Southern CA it ends with an August 23 school start date. Oh no!
At bedtime I asked the boys what they wanted to do the next day. I suggested the zoo or a museum. Henry was quiet for a bit and then asked if we could go to the farm. The farm! The one in our very own town, so conveniently located, inexpensive, and fun?! Yes, of course we could go to the farm! It felt satisfying as a mom to let Henry take the lead and choose the activity. It made him feel good. In the morning I called a couple of our friends and we made an afternoon farm date.
Our local farm is a family destination in the LA area. Not only can kids pick all kinds of fruits and veggies, but there the farm is home to many animals: goats, cows, chickens, oxen, emus, rabbits, horses, and the biggest pig I have ever seen in my life. Not to mention a view that makes me think I have landed in a postcard.
After visiting the animals we grabbed a wagon and went out to see what we could pick. I think I was more excited than the kids. As we came up row after row of green we loved looking at the sign to see what was growing. Many times the kids had to push aside lush greens to find the vegetable below. The cucumbers were especially fun. The skin of the cucumber was surprisingly bumpy and even spiky. It was a great opportunity for the kids to use description words and a stark reminder to the moms about what happens to veggies on their way to the grocery store. How DO cucumbers get all waxy and why?
We tried to pull our some carrots, but soon discovered that they weren’t ready for picking yet. We stuck them right back in. I hope they keep growing!
The big highlight for the kids was the berry picking. We walked far out into the fields to find the most delicious and sweet strawberries. As my friend said, we should have weighed them before the picking started and then after to pay for what landed in their bellies. It was an idyllic afternoon; the weather was perfect, the sky blue, and the kids were happy.
On our way out, we came across some unfamiliar vegetables that I had to pick. One was called a sunburst squash. I have no idea what to do with it, but the kids were delighted. It will turn into a kitchen investigation soon! The other was a purple pepper. Who knew there were purple peppers! When we got to the front to pay everyone was hot, dirty, and tired – exactly what we want after a day on the farm! Look at our bounty (and Henry’s dirty face!)
Of course, I can’t sign off without reminding you all about our good friend Sid the Science Kid. This week is a great week to sit down with the kids and watch some special Sid episodes! Some of our favorites are on this week, including the camping episode and the sing-along special. As I have said before, I like to remind my kids it is okay to sit down and take a break in the middle of our busy day. I like to get them out of the hot sun and give them a chance to rest before we head out on our afternoon adventures. Why not let them hang out with Sid? I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far! Tell me what you’ve been up to with your kids!

I feel like a lot of my daily mental energy is taken up by food: what to make for my family, how to get the boys to eat, what to give for snack, how to say no to requests for treats, how to get dinner on the table before 6pm, and how to manage my budget at the grocery store. Of course, healthy eating is something I strive for, but with so much to juggle, I can’t say that I always succeed.
As the boys get older, I find myself loosening the food restraints I have traditionally enforced. This is especially true for snacking. When our world was more home-oriented, snacks were always healthy, rarely sugary, and never ever given on demand. As our world has expanded to include school, sports, and play dates, I have been unable to follow through with all of my at-home rules.
Every Monday we have a play date with Henry’s classmates at the park. We all bring a snack, potluck style. At the beginning of the school year I always tried to bring fruits, nuts, or crackers. As time goes on, however, it is easier to buy a bag of cookies. I know how busy we all are and somewhere along the way I stopped caring about big buckets of cheese balls. I let the boys play with their friends and feast at the snack table, no matter what’s there. To be fair, there is usually a fruit in the mix, but the kids don’t really gravitate that way. The times when Henry would pick a strawberry over a cupcake are long gone.
Let me be clear, I ALWAYS want to eat cake, just like Sid does on the show. I totally understand the struggle for the boys. We just get in a rut, and I lose my routine. I sometimes need to reboot, and remind myself about what’s important for the whole family. Henry and Leo are learning the tools of how to make eating choices for the rest of their lives right now. In honor of Food Week on Sid the Science Kid, I am going to make some changes. The first step is to educate my boys about healthy foods vs. sometimes food.
So, Leo and I headed to Trader Joe’s to grocery shop and have a lesson about healthy eating. Once we got in and Leo was pushing his own little cart, we started talking about what kinds of food are healthy choices and which foods are only to be eaten sometimes. We decided that only healthy foods would land in his cart.
We began in the vegetable and fruit area and he clearly knew that both varieties are definitely healthy foods. When we moved over to the whole grains and bread area, he wasn’t so sure, but I helped him understand that this food group is important.
He was very happy to get these cookies in his hands, and not so happy to put them in the big cart. But he knew right away that this was a sometimes food.
Once again, Leo was way ahead of what I think he knows. He ran around that store on a mission. He never got it wrong. For some reason, Leo was insistent that I take his picture in front of the healthy yogurt.
Our last stop was by the chips and snacks. He loves to snack on cheesy crunchies, although he did know to put in my cart as a sometimes food.
Once again, it is evident my kids are way ahead of where I think they are. They can only eat what I offer them, and I feel like it’s my job to provide them with the healthiest foods I can. To give them credit, Henry has been known to insist that a mom call me when he’s offered a sugary snack on a playdate. Makes me proud. They will have plenty of time on their own in the future to choose for themselves. I just need to be mindful and not let the occasional “treats” become everyday routines.
What tips do you have about healthy eating? Tell me about some of your successes with your kids and healthy food habits.
NOTE: Leo fell on the corner of a coffee table last week. That’s why his cute little face looks a little blue. I keep telling them not to jump on the furniture…

This week is all about Health on Sid the Science Kid. I thought you might be interested and amused by a conversation we had at my house over dinner this week. Turns out that I had something to learn about nutrition from my little scientists.
For dinner I made the boys leftover grilled chicken, stuffing, and peas. In an ongoing, never-ending effort to build healthy eating into my lifestyle, I decided to throw together a spinach salad with chicken, cashews, peaches, cheese, and vinaigrette for myself. What happened when I sat down at the table with Henry and Leo was a big surprise.
Henry: Mom, what’s that? [Pointing to the salad.]
Me: A green salad. [Cleverly evading a word Henry dislikes: “spinach.”]
Henry: Would I like it?
Me: I don’t know. [Nonchalantly.] I love it. [Avoiding eye contact.]
Leo: Can I smell a leaf?
Me: Sure. [Placing leaf, cashew, peach on Leo’s plate.]
Leo: I like this food.
Henry: Me too! I want some.
Me: Okay, okay, but remember this is my dinner. [Keeping it cool.]
Henry: [Munching] Mom, I like this! I like the sauce. Can I have more leaves?
Mom: Please use your manners.
Henry: Please? Why haven’t you given us salad before? [From the mouths of babes.]
Then I watched my little boys devour spinach and chicken salad. It was glorious.
I am sure you understand why I felt victorious; and a little bit guilty. Had I forgotten to offer them salad over the years? The boys like all kinds of vegetables and I try to offer them new things. What happened? I am a terrible veggie consumer. I don’t like a lot of green vegetables and I struggle to work them into my diet. I do, however, love salad.
The truth is that I don’t take the time to make a salad for myself very often. I also don’t follow the healthy eating habits that I am trying to instill in my children. I suddenly realized that I was not modeling the habits I am trying to teach. Henry was interested in my salad because Mommy was eating the salad. It isn’t enough for me to serve Henry and Leo dinner and pretend that they do not notice the peas and broccoli missing from my own plate.
A foundation of my healthy eating philosophy is to give all the food on the dinner plate equal enthusiasm. By doing this, the kids don’t feel pressure to eat the veggies like I did when I was a kid. We talk a lot about the colors, textures, and taste of food, and I try not to say “eat your veggies!” What kind of subtle message am I sending when we have the conversations over my vegetable-free plate?
So where do we go from here? Well, the kids and I had a great conversation about all the different kinds of things that can go into salads. We planned a menu built around salmon and lettuce cups for later in the week. (Henry insists on the same salad sauce.) As a parent, I believe that it’s my responsibility to provide them with a variety of healthy food options and the flexibility to make some of their own food choices. As an adult who is trying to become a healthier person, I owe it to myself to follow my own advice.
What challenges do you face as you try and teach your children about healthy eating habits? How do you introduce new foods to your dinner table?

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

What's this?

PBS Parents Picks

  1. Wild Kratts image

    Wild Kratts App Teaches Young Children How to Care for Animals

    In this app, kids are charge of feeding, washing, and playing with baby animals.

  2. Curious Kids image

    How (And Why) To Encourage Curiosity

    "...when people are curious about something, they learn more, and better."

  3. Gardening Benefits image

    The Benefits of Gardening With Kids

    Don’t let the idea overwhelm you. A few containers and soil in a sunny spot will do.

PBS Parents Newsletter

Find activities, parenting tips, games from your child's favorite PBS KIDS programs and more.