Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones

Empowering young children to make healthy choices.



Healthy Alternatives for Little Ones, known as HALO, is a 12-unit, evidence-based, hands-on, health education and prevention program for 3-6 year old children, recognized and listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

The HALO program is unique because it offers comprehensive prevention and healthy choices to preschoolers, about alcohol, tobacco, drugs that address a prevention gap with this age group. The best news is this outcome-based program is a complete package with curriculum that involves both children and their families teaching a non-judgmental, child-centered focus on the child’s healthy choices.

Even better, HALO is a one of a kind, outcome-based, copyrighted, health education and prevention program that is:
• Offered in a complete HALO Curriculum & Training Kit
• Available in English and Spanish
• And affordable!

All components of the HALO program are developmentally appropriate for children in any early childcare environment and designed to facilitate skill-building, social and emotional skill development in a fun way to help children become — Bigger, Stronger and Better Able to Think!


Any in-home childcare provider, early childhood education centers, kindergartens, after school programs and pre-schools with enrollments of over 20 children ages 3-6, is eligible to purchase and teach the HALO program. The HALO Curriculum & Training Kit is 12-units and includes: activity cards, a music CD with original children’s songs, program training for teachers/staff, ongoing support from HALO staff, and access to a broad range of Heartland Family Service child care and family support resources.


Although 3-6 year olds may seem too young for prevention information, HOW IS HALO TAUGHT?

Every week when the teacher announces its “HALO Time,” children eagerly assemble to sing songs, perform finger plays, separate “healthy” and “harmful” photo recognition cards representing foods or behaviors or wear the “Organ Apron” to understand how the liver functions using a sponge and red water. The exciting part is this positive, loving approach empowers children, grows their knowledge and strengthens their confidence. – making them Bigger, Stronger and Better Able to Think!

The HALO program highlights diversity and inclusion, and explains how all children have individual qualities that make them special. All components of this program are developmentally appropriate for children in any early childhood education environment. Plus integrating “HALO Time” into your current curriculum is easy, only takes 30-45 minutes a week to teach and most importantly, the children love it!


Those that teach the HALO program to little ones benefit from an evidence based training that promotes positive youth development, prevents problem behaviors and prepares children to be emotionally and socially ready for kindergarten.

The Program Guide is made up of the following 12- units:
1. I Am Special
2. I Can
3. Families
4. Communication
5. I Feel (Happy and Sad)
6. I Feel (Mad and Scared)
7. Healthy Bodies/Health Choices
8. Healthy Choices/No Harmful Drugs
9. Healthy Choices/Drugs are Dangerous
10. Stress and Relaxation
11. Healthy Lifestyles/Healthy Eating
12. Healthy Lifestyles/Physical Activity

These twelve HALO units focus on sense of self, self-esteem, recognizing and expressing feelings, family roles, body organs, exercise, nutrition and the effects of healthy and harmful choices. These units present important information that is easily understood by young children. Six activity cards per unit reinforce the unit themes.

Learn how to integrate HALO Curriculum with the Creative Curriculum.

The HALO program takes a comprehensive approach — children learn drug prevention as only one component of a lifestyle that includes making healthy choices about stress management, family communication and feelings. The emphasis is on equipping children with the decision-making skills they will need as they grow and encounter more and stronger negative influences in their world. The program highlights diversity and inclusion, and explains how all children have individual qualities that make them special.

Each HALO curriculum unit was designed using research to develop the strategy and content for each unit’s message. For example: Unit 1 is supported by the research of Houck and Spegman, 1999 in the development of “I am Special” the unit that strengthens a child’s sense of self or identity.

The HALO curriculum is very versatile. Child care professionals may adapt the lessons and implement the activities to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the children in their care. They choose which activities work for their sites, and may interpret the discussions and implement the curriculum in any manner that is most appropriate for their children. There is no one particular way to teach HALO. Instead, creativity is encouraged to enhance to adapt the lessons and activities. And remember, HALO is available in English and Spanish!

The HALO program accentuates the concept that “It is never O.K. for children to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or use other harmful substances,” and that adults make their own choices. Through developmentally appropriate activities, children are given repeated opportunities to practice skills that help them make healthy choices and say “no” to harmful substances.

HALO lays the foundations necessary for understanding and making “healthy” versus “harmful” choices through a curriculum that helps young children feel special, capable and able to communicate feelings, all while learning about the important ways their bodies work and how what they do affects the health of their important organs.

HALO strengthens protective factors and reduces risk factors by developing resiliency — self-discipline, an internal locus of control, problem-solving skills and tolerance of people and situations that are different from their own.

Strongly promoting children’s awareness of healthy and harmful choices, rather than “good and bad” choices is the core of the HALO program. The program explains how the body organs work, and how both healthy and harmful choices ultimately affect a child’s mental and physical being. Therefore, children are provided with an understanding of “healthy” concepts, rather than just the recognition that a behavior is either “good or bad.”

A children’s CD of original music is included in the curriculum with kid-friendly songs about healthy and harmful choices. There is also a “songs” section in the curriculum including additional songs that complement the HALO themes, and may be used to enhance HALO lessons.

Overall, the HALO curriculum is extremely user-friendly and offers fun and educational activities for childcare professionals and children.


Another benefit is that HALO builds upon and nourishes protective factors through the Family Involvement Section. Before a childcare site begins the HALO program, a letter is sent home to parents explaining what the program is and describing the topics that will be addressed. Then, after each unit is taught, the “Family Connection” letter for that unit is sent to the parents, that explain the current lesson discussion and gives them tips for reinforcing the HALO unit messages at home. The “Family Connection Letters” are within the curriculum and keep parents/guardians informed about what their child is currently learning and provides them with suggestions about how they can reinforce the lessons within the family.

Through these shared experiences, children learn that the adults in their lives care about and support them. Children also realize that these adults expect them to make healthy choices as they mature and grow. Parents report that children retain the lessons learned for years, and several children have convinced their parents to stop smoking. Learn what parents, providers and funders say about HALO.

The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Center in Omaha NE worked with HALO to revise these letters into an “easy reader” version, to engage parents with limited language skills. Through these shared experiences at home, children learn how adults in their lives are caring and supportive. Ask about our “easy reader” letters.


Children today are regularly exposed to conflicting messages about health, nutrition, physical activity and harmful substances. This makes programs like HALO more critical than they have ever been in securing a healthy future for our children. Education is a community’s opportunity to affect the future decisions of a child. You can be part of this important mission.

Child care providers make a difference in the healthy choices made by the children they care for. Becoming a HALO Site can help you promote healthy lives for children and families in your community.

The HALO curriculum is very versatile and available in English and Spanish. Child care professionals may adapt the lessons and implement the activities to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the children in their care. Creativity is encouraged when enhancing or adapting the lessons.


Child care providers make a difference in the healthy choices made by the children they care for. Becoming a HALO Site will help you promote healthy lives for children and families in your community. If you are interested in helping the children at your child care site make healthy choices, you may want to learn about becoming a HALO site.

The HALO Training DVD Video, Resource Materials and Program Guide included in the HALO Curriculum & Training Kit is a comprehensive training tool for learning how to teach the HALO program in your classroom. An in classroom teacher training program, or on-sight training is also available. For more information, contact the HALO Program Director at (877) 553-3001 or email us.


HALO has a comprehensive quality assurance protocol which includes a tool to measure the programs’ effectiveness. The tool is booklet called Bonita Bunny’s Guide to HALO. To uphold the integrity of the HALO program, the HALO Curriculum & Training Kit includes an Integrity Checklist for HALO Sites to administer. Learn more about the HALO Evaluation.

Bonita Bunny, Katie Kitty and all of their friend’s can’t wait to meet your children! Who are these characters? They are the stars of Bonita Bunny’s Guide to HALO -the new HALO assessment tool, of course. The assessment is as easy as 1-2-3.
1 – Read a short story to a child (one at a time),
2 – Ask a few questions along the way, and
3 – Keep track of their answers.
Before you know it, you’ve got an assessment of how well that child has retained information from HALO.

The data collected from your children is used to validate the outcomes of the HALO program. This information is quite useful for you, too. By using the data scoring sheet, you can see where you can spend more time or enhance concepts during the next HALO cycle. It may even be able to serve as an early identification tool for children who need special attention in areas of communication, identifying feelings or other physical needs.


HALO staff provides ongoing support services to childcare programs through website and telephone consultations. Contact us at 877-553-3001.