BROOKINGS — As her girls start fourth grade and kindergarten this fall, SDSU Extension Early Childhood Field Specialist Audrey Rider says she is working to pre-make easy and nutritious after school snacks to hold them over until dinnertime, as well as prepare some fun activities to keep them busy while they wait for her to get home from work.

“I could go buy the boxed snacks, like fruit snacks and chips, but I want them to get more of their essential nutrients from this snack and be able to eat supper when I get home from work and not be filled up on empty calories,” Rider explains. “Eating healthy is a life habit we can help our children develop early on.”

So, she did some of her own online research and found no-recipe-needed ideas to pre-make and have waiting for her girls after school. Below she shares some of the easy snack ideas she found on the Food Network website.

  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Dehydrated fruits and vegetables (tomatoes, peas, corn, bananas, apples, mangoes, vegetable blends)
  • Rice cakes topped with light vegetable cream cheese
  • Low-fat granola with low-fat milk
  • Toasted whole wheat pita triangles with light herbed cheese
  • Cucumber boats filled with part-skim ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese
  • Dried figs stuffed with light strawberry cream cheese
  • Watermelon wedges dipped in low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • Baked corn chips with fat-free black bean dip or warmed vegetarian refried beans
  • Baby carrots, bell pepper strips, celery sticks and zucchini sticks dipped in hummus
  • Sliced apples with cubed cheddar cheese
  • Cubed cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon
  • Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, mangoes, pineapple, apricots, and blueberries) mixed with nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts)
  • Whole wheat pretzel sticks dipped in nut butter
  • Graham cracker sandwiches made with hazelnut spread
  • Whole grain, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk
  • Guacamole with baked tortilla chips
  • Whole grain crackers with low-fat cottage cheese and sliced (oil packed) sundried tomatoes

Non-tech activities

Rider also wanted her daughters to have some non-screen related activities they can do once their homework is done.

“I encourage parents to think about the things their children like to do and then create an activity box or area where the kids can easily access items that will keep them entertained and exercise their imagination,” she says.

Below she shares some of her daughters’ favorite activities.

  • Box of Legos to build their own inventions/structures
  • Art supply box with various paints, brushes, colors, coloring books etc. (I picked up most items at dollar stores)
  • Flashcards to practice
  • Sidewalk chalk for creations outside (if weather and space allow)
  • Slime making materials (if you don’t mind a little bit of mess when you get home from work)

For more information on early childhood development and resources contact Audrey Rider at audrey.rider@sdstate.edu.

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