You can hardly turn on the TV any more without seeing some kind of a message about healthy eating. Jamie Oliver is trying to change school cafeterias in his “Food Revolution” series while “The Biggest Loser” shows contestants learning to eat right and exercise to lose weight. In between shows on the Disney Channel, my kids love watching “Captain Carlos” and “Tasty Time With ZeFronk,” both shorts that target healthy eating for the preschool set. We might enjoy watching this type of programming, but are our kids truly taking the healthy eating message to heart? Despite all of the publicity, the figures Joann cited in her Battle of the Bulge post are astounding. Our kids don’t seem to be getting any thinner.
Young kids are not always aware of what they are eating and how it affects their body. They are hungry, and they eat what adults buy them to eat. The resources we are featuring this week from Nourish Interactive help teachers encourage students to be more aware of what they are eating. One activity has students record what they eat for an entire day. Better yet, you can have them color in part of a food group on a worksheet each time they eat something from that group. (There are plenty of printable options on the Nourish Interactive site.) This might help them figure out for themselves where their eating is out of balance. Another simple activity to try involves coloring a character for each healthy lunch they eat at school. This can help your students critically think about what they are putting into their bodies during lunchtime. Lunchtime for me (especially during junior high and high school) was a time when nutrition went completely out the window. Who says cheese fries and Skittles isn’t a healthy lunch?
Speaking of lunch, another fun resource for learning about nutrition is Fizzy’s Lunch Lab from PBS Kids Go! This site has episodes of the show to watch online and healthy, kid-friendly recipes, complete with Nutrition Facts labels that look just like the ones found on pre-packaged snacks. The site also has printable placemats, outdoor game instructions, and online games. It could be a good website for home-enrichment activities during a unit on healthy eating habits, and many of the activities would also work well in an elementary classroom as well.
Healthy eating is only part of the solution, though. Students need to be given an opportunity to exercise during the day and to learn to love being active. P.E. Central struck me as a very important resource for many of us who are in schools with limited budgets and limited (or nonexistent) physical education programs. The activity about reading snack labels looks especially effective, since it includes movement. Not only do they have to figure out that one serving of Cheez-Its has 140 calories, they have to jump rope 140 times as well. You could implement this kind of active lesson into all kinds of different subject areas to get kids without P.E. moving every day. Another neat part of the P.E. Central website is the LogIt program that allows students to log their daily physical activity steps or miles. Classes can compete for prizes and take virtual hikes across the country to motivate students to become more physically active. This activity would be good for a P.E. class, and it would also work to increase physical activity in a regular classroom.
Good luck helping your students adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle! I hope these resources give you a running start.
~Peggy's Corner - 5/8/2010~