Early Care and Education
The California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB) recognizes the importance of focusing on the zero-to-five age group as part of nutrition education and obesity prevention efforts. Local Health Departments selecting this group as a target for their nutrition education activities are encouraged to consider service to the children themselves; early childhood is an important time to help establish healthy habits and to expose children to a variety of healthy foods. Education can also be focused on parents and other adult caregivers (such as childcare providers, pre-school teachers, aides, afterschool program leads, etc.).
The development of healthy and active early care and education environments is encouraged. This includes aspects such as serving and promoting healthy foods and beverages, implementing healthy celebrations and meetings, and providing multiple opportunities for daily physical activity—all supported by healthy site policies and systems.
A variety of materials are available for use with this population, per the NEOPB Approved Materials section on the
Publications webpage. Qualifying community organizations in California can request free materials through the Local Health Department in their county. To purchase materials, please email
Early Care and Education Physical Activity and Nutrition Policy and Templates
The Early Care and Education Physical Activity and Nutrition Policy and Templates are customizable and child care providers can use the templates in their entirety or can adapt, and/or adopt portions of the templates as desired. The following information is included in the document:
Physical Activity Template
The template includes information specific to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
The template includes general information for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Supportive Background Policy Information and Resources
Painting Preschool Playgrounds for Movement
CDPH and CSU Chico developed a guide to aid in designing and painting playgrounds. The guide addresses: preschool physical activity recommendations, fundamental movement skills, suggested playground elements, and preparation and instructions for painting the playground designs. The playground activities associated with the use of the stencils will help the children and schools to meet the CDC’s recommended standards: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, and National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (2012).
Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education: Selected Standards from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd Edition (PDF)
Guía del juego de plantillas (en espanol)
Guía del juego de plantillas para pintar patios de recreo preescolares para fomentar el movimiento
El Departamento de Salud Pública de California (California Department of Public Health) y la California State University Chico desarrollaron una guía adjunta para ayudar a diseñar y pintar los patios de recreo. La guía contiene: recomendaciones para actividades físicas de preescolar, habilidades básicas del movimiento, sugerencias de elementos para el patio de recreo y preparaciones e instrucciones para pintar los diseños del patio de recreo. Las actividades del patio de recreo asociadas con el uso de plantillas ayudarán a los niños y a las escuelas a cumplir las normas recomendadas de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades: la American Academy of Pediatrics, la American Public Health Association y el National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education (2012). Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education: Selected Standards from Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards (Prevención de la obesidad infantil en la atención y educación tempranas: normas seleccionadas de Cómo cuidar a nuestros hijos: normas nacionales de desempeño en materia de salud y seguridad).
Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs (Lineamientos para los programas de atención y educación tempranas), 3.ª edición (PDF)
Description of Stencil Kit Contents
This is an updated list of all stencils in the Kit with photos and dimensions.
Painting Preschool Playgrounds for Movement "Stencil Kits" Contacts
If your organization is interested in borrowing a kit, use this list to identify your local contact.
Painting Preschool Playgrounds for Movement “Stencil Kit” – Pilot Study, Evaluation, Methods, and Results
With a Community Grant from California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) California Obesity Prevention Program, the California State University Chico, Center for Healthy Communities piloted the use of inexpensive and reusable playground stencils to enhance outdoor physical activity opportunities for preschool children at eight sites. The Center for Healthy Communities’ observational study of playgrounds enhanced with stencil designs confirmed that the use of playground stencils during the above mentioned pilot program resulted in a significant increase in active play when stenciled playgrounds were compared with a control site without stencils. During the pilot study, System for Observing Play and Leisure Activity in Youth (SOPLAY) was used for the evaluation. SOPLAY is a validated tool for directly observing physical activity and associated environmental characteristics in free play settings (e.g., recess and lunch at school).
"Painting Playgrounds with Stencils" Training Webinar Recording
This training webinar provided information about physical activity recommendations for young children, fundamental movement skills, and how to use the Stencil Kits provided by CDPH/NEOPB.
Painting Playgrounds with Stencils" Training Webinar Slides (PDF)
Painting Preschool Playgrounds for Movement "Stencil Kit" - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The documents included in this section were developed by stencil kit coordinators across the state.
Painted Playground Activities - A Guide for Grownups (English)
This document provides activities that are intended to help preschoolers learn fundamental movement skills or gross motor skills for healthy growth and development.
Painted Playground Activities - A Guide for Grownups (Spanish)
This document, in Spanish, provides activities that are intended to help preschoolers learn fundamental movement skills or gross motor skills for healthy growth and development.
Promote Active Play with Playground Stencils!
This is a promotional flyer.
Physical Activity Playground Stencils Calendar
This is a calendar used to monitor the usage of the stencils.
Physical Activity Playground Stencils Request Form
This is a request form that would be completed by those who want to borrow the stencils.
UC CalFresh How-To Stencil Guide
This is a step by step description of the processes involved in a stenciling project.
Early Childhood On-Line SNAP-Ed Toolkit
This Early Childhood On-Line Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) Toolkit provides resources to support and promote healthy eating and physical activity in ECE settings.
Early Childhood On-Line SNAP-Ed Toolkit (PDF)
Though organized as resources to help assess, plan, implement, and evaluate SNAP-Ed efforts, many of the resources support functions in more than one category. NOTE: Implementation resources are further identified by their practical uses (i.e., activities and games, and curriculum and lessons).
CHOICE – Creating Healthy Opportunities in Child Care Environments
Created in collaboration with the
Contra Costa Child Care Council, the following materials can be used together to support nutrition and physical activity education in early care and education settings.
CHOICE - Creating Healthy Opportunities in Child Care Environments (PDF, 1.2MB)
A guide to promote and aid nutrition and physical activity environment self-assessment and policy development in early care and education settings.
Early Childhood Nutrition Education Bookmarks
These colorful bookmarks make a nice take-away for parents and adult caregivers working with young children. The bookmarks offer tips to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy beverages, and can be used in conjunction with a variety of nutrition education activities.
Healthy Beverages (PDF, Eng) | (PDF, Spa)
Whole Grains (PDF, Eng) | (PDF, Spa)
Physical Activity Promotion Handout
This handout is a nice complement to the similarly designed bookmarks. For use with parents and other adult caregivers working with young children, the Physical Activity handout offers basic tips to help adults promote physical activity for young children.
NEOPB SNAP-Ed Approved Potter the Otter Materials
Designed for early childhood education, the popular “Potter the Otter” book characters created by First 5 Santa Clara, are featured in activity sheets, tip sheets, posters, and handouts created for use with the Rethink Your Drink Campaign. The activity sheets and online activities reinforce key nutrition education messages. All materials are in both English and Spanish.
Resources from Scholastic
The online Potter the Otter resources from Scholastic are approved for use with NEOPB SNAP-Ed nutrition education.
It’s Picnic Day, Potter!
Follow Potter the Otter as he gets ready for a picnic by choosing healthy food and drinks to pack and games to play outside with his friends. Download the free digital book at
SCHOLASTIC. Note: This is the only book in the Potter the Otter book series that has been approved for NEOPB SNAP-Ed use. The first book, Potter the Otter Loves to Drink Water, is not approved.
The book, online activities, and upcoming events are available at
Potter the Otter.
Resources for families with young children at
Kindergarten readiness guides, activities, and recipes in English and Spanish.
Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education for Kindergarten
Ready-to-go lessons that help children become food-smart as they practice counting, reading, writing, and more! Fun characters and developmentally appropriate activities engage children in exploring healthy food choices and discovering fun ways to be physically active.
Send comments and questions to:
NEOPB@cdph.ca.gov, attention Policy and Partnership Development Unit or call 916-449-5400.