Saturday, March 7, 2020

Healthy Eating for Kids: Tummy Ninjas vs. The Stomach Virus

Healthy Eating for Kids:  
Tummy Ninjas vs. The Stomach Virus

I'm so excited about having my dear friend, Melisa, as a guest.  She and I taught 2nd grade together and then a few years later we taught 4th grade together.  She is one of the most awesome people I know!  Melisa is passionate about teaching kids all about eating healthy!

Melisa has written a book, Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus, and she's here to tell us all about it!

Hi, Melisa!  Thank you so much for being a guest.  Can you tell us a little about your background and who you are?

Hi!  My name is Melisa West and I am the author of Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus.  I have been an elementary school teacher for 17 years, and I LOVE it. My husband Brandon and I have two amazingly adorable children of our own.  I have a bachelor's degree in health and physical education and a master's degree in special education.  I am a NESTA certified Childhood Nutrition Specialist and a NESTA certified Fitness Nutrition Coach. It is a blessing to use my skills as an educator and my passion for health to teach, motivate, and encourage young people and families to lead healthy lifestyles. 

 My daughter, Ava, looking at her copy of the Tummy Ninjas book.

Can you tell us how you encourage a healthy lifestyle in your classroom?

 As a teacher, I have worked with thousands of children.  It has been exciting to observe how easy it is to be a positive role model and set a good example for them.  I have had countless parents send me messages thanking me for motivating their children to drink more water or try a new fruit.  Yes, I am THAT teacher who doesn't give candy.  I do make fruit salad for my students several times per year, and I encourage healthy snacks.  I have found that my students appreciate this. Plus, the students feel better throughout the day and are ready to learn.

How did you first develop the idea of your Tummy Ninja story?

It is in the classroom that I first created the Tummy Ninja story 7+ years ago.  I had a group of adorable 2nd graders pulling out their snacks for the day.  To my astonishment, most students had a bag of candy as their snack (it was the day after Halloween).  I always eat snacks with my students.  This is just a very subtle way that I like to inspire them to make healthy choices.  On this special day, I was eating egg salad wrapped in a Romaine lettuce leaf.  We had a very brief talk about how the candy would make them feel after they ate it.  The students all agreed that they would feel "kind of yucky".  We then discussed how apples, bananas, or something with less sugar would make them feel.  They all agreed that those foods would give them more energy and make them feel great.  From there, I told them that when we feed our Tummy Ninjas fresh fruits and vegetables, they get strong and can fight off germs.

How did the students react to this?

This really made an impact on the students.  The most exciting part of this story is that on the very next day, the students brought apples, bananas, carrot sticks, and even egg salad for snack.  They were all talking about the Tummy Ninjas and how they were feeding them to make them strong.  How cool and simple was that?

That's amazing!  I remember all of the work you and Brandon put into writing and illustrating this book.  Can you tell us more about your book?

We used our two children as the stars of our books.  Miles is the hero of the book, and Ava has her own character.  My husband did all of the illustrations using both of them as models.  Here's a synopsis of the book:

What is your next step of utilizing your book to reach more children and encourage healthy eating for kids?

After publishing my book, I have designed several health lessons using my Tummy Ninja theme. The health lessons strongly incorporate reading and writing skills.  These lessons can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  To find these fun lessons, click here.

I have also created a website dedicated to teaching children and parents about healthy options.

Melisa has generously offered to give away one of her books and a unit from her store to TWO lucky winners.  For a chance to win visit this simple giveaway to enter.  This contest will run from Sunday, March 8, 2020 to Sunday, March 15, 2020.

To purchase your own copy of Tummy Ninjas vs. the Stomach Virus, click here.

Ava admiring her father's drawing of her.

Spreading news about great happenings in the classroom. 

That's just...  

My Kind of Teaching!

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