Supporting Health and Activity in Preschool Environments (SHAPES)

University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health


Supporting Health and Activity in Preschool Environments (SHAPES) is a direct education intervention designed to increase young children’s physical activity (PA) levels by teaching the importance of adequate PA for healthy development and training educators to provide opportunities for PA throughout the day by adapting existing curricula. SHAPES is a flexible online program, executed over the course of 6 weeks, that allows educators to participate on their own schedule. SHAPES trainers work with participants throughout the program to further ensure participant success. SHAPES addresses SNAP-Ed outcomes by providing teachers with strategies to increase PA and reduce sedentary behavior without additional resources.

Target Behavior: Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time

Intervention Type: Direct Education

Intervention Reach and Adoption

SHAPES targets preschool-age children and early childhood educators in the child care setting. SHAPES was developed as a professional development program for early childhood educators by members of the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group (CPARG) at the University of South Carolina. The SHAPES development team recruited key stakeholders (current preschool teachers) to advise program development, and SHAPES was tested in a wide variety of preschool settings to ensure appropriateness and effectiveness. Research indicates that SHAPES content is clearly understood by the target audience, and participants successfully implement SHAPES strategies.

Setting: Child care (Learn), School (Learn)

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years)

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

SHAPES includes 6 interactive online modules that define PA and PA intensity; address the importance of physical activity for healthy development; teach strategies to provide adequate PA indoors, outdoors, and during pre-academic lessons by adapting existing curricula; provide strategies to maximize the effectiveness of PA opportunities; and provide interactive evaluation tools to assess and enhance classroom PA. These intervention components provide early childhood educators with the knowledge and tools to increase their students’ PA levels by emphasizing its importance and increasing PA opportunities. Participants complete one module per week with support from SHAPES staff and implement SHAPES strategies for at least 30 minutes per week to build efficacy. Knowledge is evaluated by a quiz after each module, and participants have the opportunity for self-assessment with SHAPES self-assessment tools in the final module. Additionally, many optional resources are provided to facilitate successful participation and implementation.

Intervention Materials

Reviewer login credentials are required to access intervention materials. Please contact Dale Murrie at or visit the SHAPES sign-up webpage for program access. Materials include:

  • 6 online modules with corresponding quizzes
  • Interactive message board
  • Online guidebook that supports the curriculum
  • Virtual Activity Binder with over 90 sample activities
  • Three sets of activity cards
  • Video library with sample activities
  • SHAPES Pinterest Boards
  • Self-Assessment Tools
  • Poster of SHAPES goals

Intervention Costs

Please contact Dale Murrie at for more information about the cost of SHAPES.

Evidence Summary

SHAPES process evaluation included participant surveys and interviews with preschool teachers to assess the acceptability of the intervention. Surveys were collected throughout each iteration of SHAPES, and the results informed updates and modifications to the program. Interviews were conducted after the first two phases of SHAPES to further ensure acceptability. Schools with administrative support for SHAPES and PA practices, in general, were more likely to participate successfully.

Results of the initial RCT indicated that children in classrooms that participated in SHAPES engaged in significantly more moderate-to-vigorous PA than children in control classrooms. Results of a later trial comparing in-person training to online-only training indicated that online training resulted in effective classroom implementation. Online module completion was good in the distance-only group and adequate in the in-person group. Both groups had very high levels of teacher-reported PA opportunities (100% for distance-only and 87% for in-person), teacher-reported being active with children (100% each), and process-observed child enjoyment (94% for distance only and 87% for in-person). Teachers felt prepared to carry out SHAPES, suggesting that online dissemination is a viable strategy for SHAPES.

Published research includes:

Evidence-based Approach: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual MT3
Environmental Settings
Sectors of Influence
  • MT3b: Results from a randomized controlled trial indicated that students in classrooms that participated in SHAPES spent significantly more time engaged in moderate-to-vigorous PA.

Evaluation Materials

SHAPES participants are provided with self-assessment tools to track planned and executed physical activity and a midway check-in survey. Reviewer login credentials are required to access resources. Please contact Dale Murrie ( for program access.

Additional Information

Website: The SHAPES website includes information on SHAPES, directions for how to access the SHAPES program, and testimonials for SHAPES.

Contact Person:
Dale Murrie