Nourished and Active in Early Learning

Nourished and Active in Early Learning graphic

Nourished and Active in Early Learning is a collaboration between the Department of Health and partners to offer trainings, materials and resources that help early learning programs adopt best practices in nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding and media use. Nourished and Active partners include: the Department of Children, Youth, and Families; the Department of Agriculture; the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; the University of Washington's Center for Public Health Nutrition; Child Care Aware of Washington; the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition; Seattle Children's Hospital; local health jurisdictions, and others. These projects were made possible through CDC funding.

Nourished and Active in Early Learning - Projects

FREE Online, STARS-credited Training and Education for Early Learning Professionals

Developed by the Department of Health in collaboration with the University of Washington's Center for Public Health Nutrition, all trainings are free and provide information in an interactive and reflective format. For each module completed, participants can earn between one (1) and two (2) State Training and Registry System (STARS) credits in Health, Safety and Nutrition.

Washington Statewide Survey on Nutrition and Physical Activity in Early Learning

In 2013, The University of Washington's Center for Public Health Nutrition, with support from the Washington State Department of Health and others, conducted the first statewide survey of nutrition and physical activity best practices in early learning. Programs across Washington responded and provided important information about nutrition and physical activity for young children in our state.

Five years later, the Washington State Department of Health conducted a second statewide survey, and 671 early learning programs responded. In addition to the main report, four (4) topical reports provide additional insights and recommendations.

2018 Washington Statewide Survey of Nutrition and Physical Activity in Early Learning (COMING SOON)

Topical Reports

Early Achievers* - Health Connections: Connecting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Best Practices with Early Achievers

This project shows how healthy eating and physical activity best practices align with Early Achievers' quality measures to support program quality without creating “extra work” for coaches or early learning providers. The materials and resources below integrate these topics into existing technical assistance, training, and resource systems of Early Achievers. (*Early Achievers is Washington State's Quality Rating and Improvement System that supports positive child outcomes in early learning settings.)

(For Coaches) Healthy Eating and Active Play Crosswalks: These crosswalks provide detailed examples of how engaging children in developmentally appropriate physical activity and healthy mealtime practices aligns with items in Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) rating tools used in Early Achievers. Examples align with Personal Care Routines, Listening and Talking, Activities, and Interaction - categories seemingly unrelated to movement and mealtimes. Each Crosswalk presents specific items on the rating scale, examples of physical activities and mealtime practices, and the rationale for how these activities can be used to attain a higher quality score.

Versions of the crosswalks with the 3rd Edition of the Environmental Rating Scales are in development and coming soon.

Healthy Mealtimes Crosswalks Active Play Crosswalks
Mealtimes ECERS-3 and CLASS (PDF) Active Play ECERS-3 and CLASS (PDF)
Mealtimes FCCERS-3 and CLASS (PDF) Active Play FCCERS-R and CLASS (PDF)
Mealtimes ITERS-3 and CLASS (PDF) Active Play ITERS-3 and CLASS (PDF)

(For Providers) Classroom Lesson Plans and Materials: These materials, adapted from the crosswalks above, provide easy to use examples and instructions for early learning providers to promote active play and healthy mealtimes while highlighting how they connect with quality areas from Early Achievers.

The Department of Health can assist with trainings on both crosswalks and classroom materials. For training materials, ERS-R versions of crosswalks, or if you are interested in hosting a training for Early Achievers coaches or providers in your area please contact

Farm to Early Care and Education (Farm to ECE)

The Washington State Farm to School Network's Farm to Early Care and Education (Farm to ECE) Community of Practice brings together early learning professionals across the state who are both interested in and actively doing Farm to ECE activities. The website includes resources, lesson plans and curriculums to support Farm to ECE practices. Those who sign to join the network will have access to quarterly webinars on what's happening in Farm to ECE across the state, as well as a Farm to ECE listserv to connect with other members of the community.

COVID Resources for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Early Learning

The Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released guidance on operating child care programs during the COVID outbreak. The materials below are intended to help programs promote healthy eating and physical activity while following CDC and Department of Health guidance. For more resources on gardening, Farm to ECE, and outdoor learning during COVID-19, refer to the Farm to ECE website.


Healthy Eating

Physical Activity

Additional Resources on Nutrition, Healthy Eating, Active Play and Breastfeeding Support in Early Learning


Physical Activity (Active Play)

  • Head Out to Keep Colds Out! (PDF) – This short resource for early learning programs and families talks about how colds spread and the benefits of playing outdoors during the colder months. Also available in Spanish (PDF), Russian (PDF), and Somali (PDF).
  • Motion Moments – Videos from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care with ideas on how to weave physical activity into everyday activities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
  • PE Central – Preschool physical education lesson plan ideas from teachers around the world
  • Playworks – A library of games and activities searchable by age of children (including ages 3-5)

Nutrition, Healthy Eating and Breastfeeding