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With the concern about nutrition and obesity I thought that I would start this thread to connect concerned teachers with resources and ideas to teach about nutrition and health
To begin here is a link to middle school curriculum resources from NIH
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NSTA also has some very nice resources that were developed in conjunction with the FDA. There are Nutrition SciGuides at each of the grade spans and a Nutrition SciPack as well as the co-ordinated Science Objects. To access these resources, visit the NSTA Learning Center - http://learningcenter.nsta.org. I have also created several collections in the Learning Center that I have attached.
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NSTA also has the great SciGuide and free SciObjects abailable to members. They are a wonderful resource for elementary through high school classes and the content and material are correlated with state and national standards. I found them most useful and have even used them with PR teachers and other health-related educators. I encourage you to browse the SciGuide, too. Happy reading :}
Nutrition: Grades 5-8 (SciGuide)
Nutrition: What is Food? (Science Object)
Nutrition: What Happens to the Food I Eat? (Science Object)
Nutrition: What are Nutrients? (Science Object)
Nutrition: What Choices Lead to a Healthy Lifestyle? (Science Object)
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We use the FOSS Food and Nutrition Science Kit at our school.
The science objectives from this kit include:
• Observe and investigate properties of foods.
• Become aware of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins as components of food.
• Gain experience with indicators.
• Use indicators to test for acid, vitamin C, sugar, and fat in foods.
• Relate the results of investigations and experiments to the amount of chemicals in foods.
• Become aware of guides for healthy nutrition.
• Become informed consumers, able to gather information about food products.
• Apply mathematics in the context of science.
• Acquire vocabulary associated with nutrition.
• Use scientific thinking processes to conduct investigations and build explanations: observing, communicating, comparing, organizing, and relating.
The first two investigations are The Fat Test and The Sugar Test.
1. THE FAT TEST
In this investigation, students are introduced to fats in the human diet and conduct a fat search using the brown-paper technique.
In this investigation my students learn about the different types of fats and how the body uses fats for different functions.
2. THE SUGAR TEST
Students use yeast metabolism as an indicator of the presence of sugar in
foods. They experiment with different kinds of cereals and relate the amount of gas produced by yeast to the amount of sugar in the cereal.
After the investigation, I have students compare their results with the information given on the food label on each brand of cereal. By looking at the food labels students understand this is a way for them to decide if a food is a healthy choice.
I usually use this unit as an opportunity to teach nutrition. The FOSS program also comes with Science Stories for the students to read. Many of these articles cover topics like obesity, heart disease, the food pyramid, vitamins, and nutrition.
This information is found at:
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I really love this idea of teaching nutrition in the school system! It's something I never really thought of but makes since saying that obesity is a important topic and problem in young children! As a up and coming teacher after reading this forum I have gotten ideas and I know where to go with it. Thank you! It was a huge help reading about it. Also I have a younger brother so I will ask him has he learned any of the information. I learned having a younger brother in elementary schooler he is very helpful with coming up with ideas since he is currently in the atmosphere I'm trying to be. Children are our future! Thank you for all your ideas!
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Hi Miriam and other thread participants,
I was very impressed with all of the resources you found for this topic. Thank you for putting them into a collection. I recently participated in a web seminar on Food Chemistry in the High School Classroom that might be of interest to those of you teaching high school chemistry or life science. You can download the archived webinar or the powerpoint slides at the above link. It was outstanding, and the teacher had many great ideas for teaching chemistry through foods and nutrition.
I loved the comments you shared about your brother, Victoria. I know exactly what you mean. When I was teaching middle school, it was so helpful to have a child that age at home for part of that time. I saw what I was teaching through his eyes - a very important perspective to be able to know about firsthand!
It will be exciting to see how others are making connections for their students between science learning and healthy eating.
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I don't know if you know this already but Hawaii DOE has just taken on a new wellness plan. We have a state wide wellness guide that we must follow as teachers and it also applies to parents. Parents are no longer allowed to bring cupcakes and sorts for bithdays and teachers are no longer allowed to give unhealthy treats. (This inculdes class parties). I have mixed feelings on this program but thought you might find it interesting.
Here is a link to just some of the things they are doing
Also the NSTA site has a great link to the blast off game for the Nutrition sci guide. I did it last year with my students and they loved it!
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Has anyone done any lessons using nutrition and how it affects our society as well? I think for the Hawaii Standards, it would be standard 2 (how technology affects society). I would be interested to see what students also thought about the universal health care law too. If anyone has any ideas I wouldn't mind trying it out in my class. Some students really get interested when you combine science and society with the government ;)
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Hi Loren and group,
Technology and science are great topics to cover in the classrooms. Have you thought about looking at medical procedures that are currently being done i.e. gastic bypass, and have the students research the new nutritional guides that the patient would need to follow. My students often develop and look at quick fixes to "cure" obesity and then realize it must be a life long commitment. Depending on the level you teach I would encourage them to debate on should the government increase taxes on fast food type of meals, decrease premiums, allow discounted gym memberships etc...
I have not had the opportunity to take this topic to the next level, at the MS level the students love researching and discovering the weight loss surgeries.
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I taught a lesson on nutrition using popular fast food restaurants. I had the students write down a typical order from a restaurant and then using the nutritional guide from that restaurant, the students added up the calories, fat and sodium. I then had them re-order the meal cutting all calories, fat and sodium. The students really enjoyed it and were very surprised as to the numbers they came up with.
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Hi all -
The NSTA has amazing resources dealing with nutrition. I am planning on making a summative assessment (our school is heading toward implementing the middle years program (MYP) and all units have to have summative assessments) in which students will research a certain aspect of nutrition and report back to class. I was planning on having students keep extensive logs of what they consume in a day, what they should consume and what 'typical' individuals from at least five other cultures consume in a day. I think it will be a very engaging project and hopefully teach students the main reason why we eat; to obtain energy.
Has anybody done a project like this and have any pointers? Thanks for sharing all of the NSTA resources again!
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Bernadette.....I also did the same thing with my students but I added an extra component. The following class I put them in to teams and assigned them a specific disease that requires a special diet (like diabetes). I had them try to choose a meal at that same fast food location. It really showed the students how hard it is to eat healthy for some people.
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I taught a Nutrition unit last year and used the USDA MyPyramnd.gov website for some good ideas. We (kindergarten) played an interactive game on the projector which got them all really engaged and excited about choosing healthy foods. When I taught the unit, it was still a pyramid...and now with the new Plate design, I'm sure there are some great new ideas too. I too agree that this is such an important topic to teach. My students really do not know what "healthy" food is.
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There are several podcasts about nutrition, food safety, food irradiation, EPA's role, etc. I put them into a collection in case anyone is interested: Podcasts on Food Safety, Nutrition, and EPA
I have also used the FOSS kit on nutrition that you had mentioned. This investigation was a wonderful eye-opener for the students. We started by making a list of some common things that they might eat or drink in a normal day. then the next day I brought in most of the foods that they had listed, or at least an ingredient of each food. We then followed through with doing our grade 4 standard on scientific process and made a hypothesis. The next day they were shocked to see that the peanut butter had the most fat. Only 1 student predicted that peanut butter would have the most fat. Other students chose candy, bread, rice, etc.
We also did an extension of counting the number of calories they may have consumed if they ate all of they food that we had listed, including a Jamba Juice which had almost 1000 calories!!
I found a site that has great nutritional games for the kids to play:
Have fun learning about good nutrition!
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Yes I would like to cover certain topics like gastric bypass but I don't think my students can handle it. I teach 9th graders and they struggle with words like "excess" so I worry about their very limited vocab. Not that I'd be opposed to it, but it would take extra time that I'm not sure I'd have this quarter since we have two major projects to complete.
Would you happen to have any idea where I could find an article that could break down really potentially complicated topics to something that's more manageable for basic 9th graders? Thanks for all of the great ideas.
I am interested in learning about different strategies to incorporate in nutrition lessons that help relate the concepts to their everyday lives, therefore creating motivation. Any suggestions?
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Hi Katie, and welcome to the nutrition discussion thread! I did an advanced search in the NLC (NSTA Learning Center) and found a few resources that might interest you.
Science Shorts: The Challenge of Nutrition - This resource is geared toward elementary students and highlights childhood obesity.
Big Macs and Healthy Teens? Exploring Fast Food as Part of a Healthy Adolescent Lifestyle This article is geared toward middle school and is about making healthy nutritional food choices.
Be a Food Scientist is for elementary through middle school students and integrates math while using food as a tool to understand science concepts.
PhUn Week: Understanding Physiology This article is geared toward high school and has a neat simulation for the digestive system.
Let us know what grade level you teach, and others will chime in with more specific resources and ideas for you. Looking forward to 'hearing' from you again!
Thank you very much. One thing that you can help to drive home the importance of nutrition would be to show your students "Super-size Me! The McDonald's fast food restaurant case study. This would expose your students to the severity of eating healthy from their youth.
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Thanks a lot for your helpful responses! I will definitely use these resources.
A site that might get the students thinking more about their own nutrition and how that coincides with exercise is mapmyrun.com The students can create a profile, track their exercise (and they log a lot more than running), and also track their nutrition. It is fascinating to see how long it takes to burn calories and then how little you have to eat to put those calories back in your body. If the students really like it, there is an app they can get for free. I use the information with my students, and I track my own exercise and eating habits with it.
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I've always thought that one of the greatest goals of science is health and nutrition. Thanks for all the ideas shared in this thread. I really hope to be able to share next time too my materials and resources. I just dropped by and saw the wealth of ideas everyone shares. Thanks a lot.
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I absolutely love mapmyrun.com. I began using this site this summer when training for the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure (3 Day Walk). I was surprised to see my daily nutritional intake, and more importantly, te types of foods I consumed on a daily basis.
When school began in August, I shared the site with our Health and Wellness Coordinator (new program at my school to combat childhood obesity). Because every scomar in our school has an iPad for daily use in all classes, we synced the mapmyrun app on the technologies. Those scholars who participate in our morning exercise program before school have the opportunity to input data from the previous day/evening. According to our data and surveys, the program is making a difference in the lives of scholars, and many attribute the difference to the app; being able to track your exercise and to know what you're eating and how that affects your health is so very important.
Great resource. Thanks for sharing.
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Those who have not tried these two scipacks, you could learn a lot from them.
Science of Food Safety (SciPack)
I am still exploring all that the Learning Center has to offer; I didn't realize there was a 'Nutrition' SciPack. The seventh grade teachers in our county instruct a unit on nutrition and the food pyramid, and the free science objects could provide wonderful professional development for them.
Thanks for sharing.
I teach in Hawaii and our school still allows students to celebrate their birthday with sugary sweets. I do know of other schools that have a "no cupcake" rule. My school has applied for a fresh fruits and vegetables grant. We have either a fresh fruit or fresh vegetable delivered to our classroom every Tuesday. The students really enjoy trying new fruits/vegetables that they might not normally eat at home. Of course, there are others who refuse to try anything because they don't normally have a healthy eating lifestyle at home. Still, I encourage the students to try a small piece.
I am going to try to teach a modified lesson on the food pyramid with my Kindergartners. I hope they can see what foods are good for their bodies and what foods are "no-nos".
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I teach in Hawaii too and we also have the fresh fruit and vegetable program. The students love it! I plan on focusing on nutrition during third quarter and want to teach the students more about why these fruits and vegetables are being delivered. Does anybody else teach third grade in Hawaii? I am looking for resources. I will be checking out the resources on the NSTA sight this weekend.
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I think nutrition is a VERY important topic that needs to be addressed in the classroom. I try to model good eating and exercise behaviors for all of my students and bring in fresh fruits and vegetables for rewards/parties. The students are always excited and appreciate the fresh foods. I don't have really any time alotted to teach nutrition b/c they learn that in their Health class, but I do incorporate it in other ways. In the past we have done a nutrition unit where groups of students research different diseases and prepare a brochure with information and present it to the community - school and parents. I recently had my students write a persuasive essay - where one student decided to write about how schools should provide healthier foods. It was very exciting to hear students write about this topic - and I could see that some of my informal "lessons" about health were rubbing off!
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I think teaching nutrition in the schools is essential for students to have a basic understanding of nutrition that can combat the media blitz. I also believe it is incumbent upon staff to model good nutrition and health habits. Our school has started with an aerobics class for staff after school twice a week and we have a 21 day "greens" challenge. The students do pay attention to what staff do even when staff don't think they're paying attention--or wish they wouldn't.
I like the ideas all of you have posted and think they would be great to add to our School Nutrition Month activities. Thank you.
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I teach kindergarten in Hawaii and our school has also adopted a Health Policy. The children are not allowed to bring food items to celebrate their birthdays and their snacks should be healthy and appropriate portions. In my class it has been easy to enforce the birthday celebration treats but I sometimes have to ask the kiddies if their snacks are a healthy or unhealthy choice. Knowing that the health policy was going to be enforced this school year I began the school year talking about healthy and unhealthy foods and why they are considered to be healthy or unhealthy. I knew teaching them about calories, fat, sodium, sugar and the food groups would be too much so I focused on sugar. I brought in some snacks and pictures of snacks and had the kids sort them and from that we came up with a list of healthy and unhealthy snacks. I sent the list of healthy snacks home as a reference for the parents so they had some healthy snack ideas and didn't keep sending the same unhealthy snacks.
Next year we are looking into the Happy Hearts! Healthy Planet! program offered by Green Fleet Hawaii. This program focuses a little more on exercise but it will reinforce how important a healthy lifestyle is and how it can help keep our planet healthy.
Teaching young children about proper nutrition is very important because during their early years they develop food preferences and habits that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives!
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I believe Hawai'i is on the right track when it comes to the Fruits and Vegetable Program prevalent in many Hawai'i schools. Poor nutrition and lack of nutrition, is a concern for many. I believe there's a correlation between eating a balanced diet that includes all major food groups and work performance amongst students. Allowing students to try a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables during the school day does help provide that balance that children would not otherwise receive. I'm glad that our keiki are given this opportunity to enjoy fruits and vegetables.
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I am still looking for kid friendly websites for the students to learn about how nutrition affects their health. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear (for third graders especially). I have been working on the SciPack for Nutrition and am excited to learn more myself.
ChooseMyPlate.gov (which is the "new" food pyramid) has a variety of resources to teach kids about healthy eating. There are also links on there to other websites like fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org, which contains even more resources. I hope you can find something to teach your 3rd graders!
While I agree that children in elementary school need to learn the importance of healthy eating and exercise, I feel like if they are not being reinforced at home, it's difficult to expect kids to make wise choices about what they eat and the physical activities they do. At my school we recently started giving "choice" during lunch to encourage students to make healthy choices with the food they eat, but mostly to help eliminate waste. It is encouraged and hoped that the students choose a serving from each of the food groups, but sometimes that is not always how it turns out. Many times the salad or greens are what's left behind because now the students can choose to not take it.
Like everything else we can only do so much in school, teach all that we can, and try to instill good values in our students, but how it is transferred is greatly affected by their parents' values.
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Analyze My Plate is a fun interactive that students use to create a meal by dragging various foods onto their plate. They can get nutritional info. on the food such as calories, sodium, and fat by clicking on the picture and then decide if they want to drag it onto their plate. The program will analyze their plates after they have built it.
Another fun activity I did with my first graders was an activity called "Go, Slow, Whoa." We talked about foods that you can eat anytime, the go foods, foods you can eat sometimes, the slow foods, and foods that you should eat once in awhile, the whoa foods. I had three different colored construction paper, green, yellow, and red labeled with each group, then I had a bunch of plastic play food and had students take turns putting foods into the right categories. You can print picture if you don't have plastic food. The go foods would be things like fruits and veges, slow foods include pancakes, and the whoa foods are foods that have a lot of sugar and/or fat.
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Thanks for sharing about the website. I may try it with my 5th graders as well. At this age, some are still not making the best food choices.
I just learned about "Go, Slow, Whoa" from the Health class that I am taking! It's a cute way to get the kids thinking about the different kinds of food they eat and how often they should be eating them. Before the instructor talked about "Go, Slow, Whoa" she had us work in small groups and make lists of different foods that belonged under each food group. There were five chart paper around the room for the five food groups. After we made a list, there was a little physical activity tied in, which matched the food group. For example, under the Fruit group we listed different kinds of fruit, then the physical activity was "Apple Jacks" - which is just jumping jacks. We did the physical activity for about 1 minute. Then we rotated among the other food groups and repeated the same process. As an adult, I enjoyed this activity so I think my kids will too. Then to tie it in with "Go, Slow, Whoa" the kids should have a better idea of what foods to eat more and less of.
That's a great idea to do the "go, slow, whoa" activity with the five food groups and I like the idea of tying in a physical activity to help kids make that connection to which are the best healthy food choices.
Best wishes with your lessons!
Nutrition is one of my favorite topics, not only to teach, but to learn about. I am strongly for healthy choices and strongly against poor eating habits and childhood obesity. I was going to post the Nutrition SciPack, but Patricia already did. I'm currently planning a lesson on involving reading the nutrition label which is great exposure to young kids on how to make better choices and it shows why certain aspects of food are more essential than others. I think teaching children about food labels is a great opportunity to promote a healthier lifestyle and it introduces them to make healthier choices. It even involves vocab and math!
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Hi Everyone! I'm glad that I happened to come upon this thread. Thanks to each of you for your thoughtful and insightful suggestions and resources on how to teach health and nutrition to students of all ages. This seems to be a hot button issue in our country, most especially for teachers. NSTA has very good resources that help to address health and nutrition for students in the lower grades and in the upper grades. The rich discussion that is contained in this thread has provided much resources and helpful suggestions on different ways that I can address this topic with my students.
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I agree, everyone has so many awesome ideas for teaching nutrition. I think as educators we are definitely doing our part in promoting healthy eating and wellness in the school. So now it will depend on whether the parents and students are doing their part at home. I was able to do the food group/physical activity with my students that I had mentioned in a previous post. It turned out really well. As we rotated between the 5 food groups they came up with an enormous list of what food items belong in each group. It also presented a lively discussion of other foods that they eat that has a combination of items from different food groups. So that's when I tied in the "Go, Slow, Whoa". I was quite impressed with my students. As soon as I complete the Nutrition SciPack I plan to bring in the Body Systems, which is what I am teaching this quarter, and hopefully the students see the connection of why healthy nutrition is necessary for our body to function and for the different systems to be able to do their job.
Thank you for sharing all of the nutrition resources and the "go, slow, whoa" activity. It sounds like a great idea to do with the children. I can't wait to try it with my students.
I agree that a lot of the nutrition choices that the kids make have to do with influences at home. When we line up to go places I sometimes ask my kids to line up based on the types of food they had for breakfast or dinner to see what kinds of foods they are eating at home and its quite sad to see how few children are eating veggies and fruits at home. Hopefully as parents begin to understand the importance of a balanced diet the eating habits of our students will change.
Home does play a large part in what students will eat. School also does when students have two of their three meals of the day and snacks in the school. So keep showing them the importance of vegetables and good overall nutrition. It does sink in more than you might realize.
We do a few things at our school to try to help them think about ways to eat outside of school that can start discussions at home.
Our school nurse talks with students about the amount of fat in different sizes of french fries and sugar in different sizes of drinks. She has visuals that really make an impact.
In our after school program, we have taste testings for different fruits and vegetables and healthy snacks where the students each have score cards and they are to record if it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory etc.. and write what they think of it and why and then give an overall rating of their preference for the item. Then we chart the ratings and talk about it.
We also have a fantastic cooking program called "Cooking Matters" that comes after school in 6 week sessions and teaches healthier versions of typical meals to the students and another session that is parent/guardian and child. The parents love it because they have fun and get to take the recipe and a bag of groceries home to try it with their children again.
These activities excite the students and they talk about them through the year. It also helps to keep talking about it even after the actual lessons.
Does anyone know how to make a giant tongue that shows the tastebuds? I want to add that to our taste testing sessions.
Barbra wrote, "Does anyone know how to make a giant tongue that shows the tastebuds?"
What if you used papier mache? It would be inexpensive, but it would not feel like a tongue. Another suggestion would be to use Model Magic. It is a dough that dries relatively quickly and still has a little spring to it. Crayola makes it and you can find it in craft stores. They even sell class packs. You can also paint it or it comes in several different colors. Finally, you might ask your local supermarket or butcher if they carry fresh beef tongue. You and your students could dissect it.
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Thank you everybody for your suggestions on how to teach nutrition! I will definitely check out my plate! I love interactive sites and so do the students.
Thank you for your great ideas! I think the students will love them.
I really appreciate the great ideas and resources throughout this nutrition discussion thread! I am currently a pre-service teacher creating a “Food & Nutrition” workshop with colleagues for our science methods course. We are using the FOSS Food & Nutrition science kit as previously described by Dawn N. My particular station activity will focus on the analysis of vitamin and mineral content in common foods and the importance of these nutrients in our diet. I bookmarked the link referenced by Lori K to the CDC website “Analyze My Plate” interactive, which is a great resource! Our opening activity will ask students to describe what they ate for breakfast and evaluate which choices fit best within the “My Plate” guidelines. This interactive would be a great way to compare various suggestions and possibly address some misconceptions. I also plan to use this link during my station activity: http://www.nourishinteractive.com/nutrition-tools-healthy-fa...nformation which features an Interactive Nutrient Tool. I think this interactive is easy to use and very informative. In the fall I will be student teaching in a fifth grade classroom. The students will be studying human body systems as well as nutrition. I would certainly be interested in other suggestions and activities that have been a success in your classroom!
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I was taking the Illinois Content Test today and one of the questions got me thinking about an activity I could do with my future students when teaching about healthy foods.
I think it would be really neat to start a school garden where the students could grow some of their favorite fruits and vegetables. Students could learn about how to plant and grow fruits and vegetables and also how to harvest them. Students could also learn about how plants grow.
Once the fruits and vegetables are harvested, students can prepare and eat dishes made with them. In conjuncture with this activity students could calculate the calorie content and other nutritional facts of the dishes they created.
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Out of curiosity, what was the question on the test that triggered a school garden?
I think school gardens are a great way to teach students many different standards. You can use them to teach about nutrition and connections to the land of course. You can use them to teach life science. You can use them for different math standards (story problems, graphing, money, etc.) You should get some teachers together and start one! The kids love them.
Great suggestion about the school gardens, Crystal. This is something I would also like to try in my future classroom concerning health and nutrition, the environment, and life science. It also got me thinking about Slow Food USA, which has a great tab about starting school gardens: http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/programs/in_schools_detail/get_started/
This link features a nice PDF with tips on starting a school garden program. It also includes other useful resources such as links to videos about food and the community. Various videos explain the value of a school garden in today’s fast food culture. This website also contains many resources for teachers and students concerning seasonal and local foods. I also like this PDF: http://www.agr.state.il.us/markets/WhatsInSeason.pdf
that displays a colorful chart of seasonal produce by state. (This is the link for Illinois.) This type of program would take a great deal of planning and coordination, but would certainly provide the students with a great hands-on learning experience!
I am a pre-service teacher, and I am creating a workshop with my colleagues. We have used the Foss Kit as a resource and guide for our workshop. Ann Kennedy is a colleague of mine. My station focuses on fat content in common foods. I will be creating grease spots of ten common foods. I will have the common foods displayed and the grease spots also displayed. My students will be asked to predict and match the common foods to the grease spots. The larger the grease spot, the greater the fat content in the food. My students will also be measuring the grease spots by using a centimeter grid. The students will display their results by creating a graph. They will be given the option of creating a percentage chart on paper, or creating a bar graph online. It is important for students to understand that common foods have different fat content levels. If I teach this same workshop in a classroom, I would have my students create their own grease spots. I would still have the students predict which foods contain the most fat, and which foods they think contain the least amount of fat.
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I am following up on Justine’s post regarding our food and nutrition workshop. We used a “My-Plate” pre and post assessment to compare students’ prior knowledge with newly acquired understandings from the workshop. Students could also synthesize what they have learned by writing a persuasive essay using new vocabulary and key concepts. The fifth graders I have been observing recently responded to the prompt, “Should the school cafeteria serve fast food as an option?” This was a topic they were excited to write about and demonstrated a wide range of ideas about eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals; and lower in fat, sodium, and sugar. Many students researched information that supported how some fast food items are just as (or more) nutritious than some current cafeteria options. Other students contended that less healthy selections should not even be offered to promote health and wellness within the school. I think this is a great integration of language arts with the science curriculum. It allows students to express opinions about relevant topics of interest while demonstrating what they have learned.
Teaching nutrition in our schools will be a critical component in showing students how to lead healthy lives. With childhood obesity becoming an epidemic, it will be the job of teachers to educate their students on proper eating habits, what it means to be healthy, activities to stay active and the new "My Food Plate" which has taken over the food pyramid. For a recent project I did, I signed up and utilized the brainpop website. It is an amazing source that shows students how important nutrition is through a fun way. Another website that I have found helpful is the kidshealth website. Using this source in your classroom or by just having students access the website at home is a great way for students to get involved in learning about nutrition.
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The question on the test was something to the effect of "what is the best way to teach students about nutrition and healthy eating?" There were four choices with one being to plant a garden so that students can grow their own vegetables and then make healthy dishes with those vegetables.
I agree with Callie! Nutrition is such an important subject to teach our students, especially since an increasing number of our students are being labeled as overweight and obese. BrainPop is a fantastic website with really interesting videos to show students that can make learning about nutrition fun. Here on the NSTA site there are Science Objects and a SciPack with all sorts of great information regarding nutrition.
I think it's also important that when teaching in the elementary grades we take the time to think of ways to get our students up and out of their chairs. This is especially important in schools where recess and P.E. aren't available. Playing short games where students are physically engaged or even doing something as simple as having students do ten jumping jacks every half hour can make an enormous impact on a student's health as well as their mental focus.
It’s interesting that you should mention classroom physical activity because I mentioned this concept to one of my previous instructors, and was told this was a taboo, touchy subject that I should avoid. I agree with that even getting up and walking around the room hourly or doing pushups could be a huge step in the right direction. This kind of behavior should be encouraged school wide and not shyed away from.
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The NSTA and FDA have a partnership that resulted in a "supplementary curriculum called Science and Our Food Supply, for middle and high school science teachers. The program provides challenging hands-on activities that link food science and food safety to students’ everyday lives. The teacher-friendly modular format covers food science from the farm to the table linked to the National Science Education standards (NSES).
An annual weeklong Professional Development Program in Food Science, held in Washington, DC, provides an in-depth orientation to the curriculum. Participating teachers tour FDA laboratories and meet the scientists, explore food safety on the farm at government research sites, and learn the science behind safe food production while they visit a seafood processing plant.
How FDA Investigates a Forborne Illness Outbreak
How bacteria can grow in food and how to avoid it
About DNA Micro-array Technology and how it is used to promote Food Safety
The Nutrition Science in the foods they eat
Energy Balance and how the Food Label can help their students make healthier food choices"
You can find out more by going to NSTA's page which describes the FDA/NSTA partnership. you can also go to the FDA's site at where the program is described.
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The NSTA website has a great variety of information and resources to help teachers instruct and make their students aware of proper nutrition. I just completed the SciPack for nutrition, and I must say it was a great tool to brush up or learn about nutrition. I also believe it would be a great resource for teachers to look at if they are having trouble breaking down the concepts of nutrition. The way the SciPack is set up builds from the most basic of knowledge needed to understand proper nutrition to the more complex topics. The SciPack also has guides to websites and tools you can show to students. They also include some hands-on activity sections and simulations within the science objects that can be used or recreated in the classroom.
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I found the Nutrition Sci Pack to be very helpful in learning more about nutrition and steps to take to be able to teach it better.
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It’s imperative for students to be exposed early on nutrition facts and eating healthy... very interesting facts! Last year, we had our students work on a six-week project related to “nutrition.” In, fact, students had to investigate a variety of food and create a healthy/balanced menu, documenting facts such as calories, protein, cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, etc... The students had fun doing this project & gained knowledge of diet facts and eating healthier...
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With our annual Fun Fair coming up, there has been a lot of discussion about following the "wellness Guidelines that our school needs to follow. We find this the perfect time to talk about healthy eating and nutrition. The Nutrition scipack had a lot of information and has broadened the discussion immensely. The students always like talking about food anyway, this gives them a chance to research and make the right choices to stay on the path of eating healthy. I recommend the Nutrition Scipack to anyone taking/teaching Life Science.
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I agree! The Nutrition SciPack was very informative. I haven't completed it yet, but it has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of what foods I should consume. As a first grade teacher, I felt that there was a lot of concepts in the SciPack that might be too overwhelming for my students. For example, I wouldn't teach my students about phospholipids or amino acids, to name a few, because those are a bit too abstract for their level of understanding. However, I will teach my students about myPyramid and what foods they should eat to keep healthy. Although the Nutrition SciPack falls under "Life Sciences," I felt that it also touched upon some benchmarks in my Health standards.
720 Activity Points
In Hawaii, the State Department of Health produces and shows commercials that focus on being active, healthy, and avoiding sugary drinks. One of the more appealing commercials involve a local comedian who downs 16 packets of sugar and even offers some to a nearby patron. The idea is to associate soft drinks with the amount of sugar consumption. Locally, students produce video commercials regarding Nutritional advocacy.
Does anyone know if there is a national bank of commercials advocating healthy eating or lifestyle? It would be useful to compare messages advocated locally and nationally.
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I liked your lesson and how you made it personal by asking the students what kinds of foods they ate. I plan on teaching it similarly. It is a crucial topic to discuss in school, since it isn't usually discussed at home. Luckily, we have a school garden, so we can compare the things we grow in the garden to what they eat at home. Thanks for the idea!
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I read that for most people the majority of calories that we ingest come from sugary drinks. Just eliminating sugar-filled drinks from our diets can lead to weight loss. I saw a great lesson idea when I was working through the Nutrition SciPack. The lesson asks students to look at the nutrition labels of popular drinks and actually measure out and place the same amount of sugar in a Ziploc bag. I thought that this lesson would help students see just how much sugar they are ingesting when they choose to drink these beverages and hopefully this will encourage them to choose healthier options.
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This is a great thread! I think kids are put in a difficult position when it comes to health and nutrition because they really have no choice but to follow what their parents say. Parents should always think about the health and safety of their children (and themselves) when it comes to food choices, but unfortunately that is not often the case. Therefore, it is important as teachers that we try our best to teach children proper nutrition and food choices and encourage them to go home and tell their parents what they have learned, teaching them in the process. A lot of poor food choices may come from lack of funds, but often it is caused by lack of proper information. We live in such a commercialized world, and some individuals are not able to pick out what information if helpful and what is simply advertising.
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Glancing through all the comments, I really liked Bernadette's idea. It's important that kids understand the nutrition behind fast food restaurants. I know as a kid I always wanted to eat at places like McDonald's and Burger King and I would always try to force my parents into going there (they never gave in). Maybe if kids understood more how harmful that food can be for your body they will lose interest in going there. This could also help parents if we teachers show their kids good nutrition and they take it home to mom and dad. I think another good thing to do would be to take volunteers and look at everyones lunch and what they eat first (most kids start with their desert items). Perhaps showing kids what food they should try to fill up on first could would also tie into healthy eating.
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This year was the first year that I changed my nutrition unit to make it more meaningful for my class. In the past I did the food pyramid/plate, food groups, and a little about the nutrition of each food group. This year, after reviewing the SciGuide, I decided to go a little more in depth about nutrition. The SciGuide had a lesson using fast food places such as McDonalds and KFC. I used the lesson as a guide and created a lesson appropriate for my 6th graders. I did a great activity using McDonalds and their nutritional values for their menu items. The students were highly engaged in this activity because they all LOVE McDonalds. The students basically logged their typical meal at McDonalds and found out how many calories and fat they ate from that one meal. A majority of the students had outrageous numbers!!! After discussing calorie and fat intake for a student their age, they went back and make healthy selections from McDonalds. The outcome that I got from this activity was that the students realized that fast food places, such as McDonalds, can be a healthy place to eat with proper food selection.
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This thread was a great read. Who would've guessed that nutrition would be such a hot topic and include so much science. I really enjoyed reading about what is out there and how many schools have the fruit and vegetable program. i wish our school had it. I work in a title 1 school and I think the exposure for our students would be interesting and definitely show them some new fruits and vegetables. I also agree that parents should be in on the conversation when it comes to healthy choices. I really feel that part of our health unit should include at least a little bit on the cost of food and how nutritious food is sometimes more expensive. Then it could lead to a conversation about the carbon footprint of food. I found an interesting link.[url=http://www.thedailygreen.com/weird-weather/weather-categories/global-warming-pictures/carbon-footprint-of-food-0717]
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Sorry I hope this creates a link. here is the website again...
http://www.thedailygreen.com/weird-weather/weather-categories/global-warming-pictures/carbon-footpri (External Website)
Yes! nutrition is so interesting and such a big part of who we are. To start my nutrition unit I will be having the kids keep food dairies to record what and how much they ate and how they felt after they ate it. (3rd grade) I think that this will make a concrete connection to how food affects mood and ability to function. Also will help kids to be more in tune with their body and understand that certain foods affect certain people differently. Then I may go into the abstract math of how much food and what kids of food should go in. Starting this next week! Keep you all posted on how it turns out.
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This year all of the 5th and 6th graders are running daily. The goal is a mile by the end of the year. They started with one lap, now it's 2 laps, 3rd quarter will be 3 laps, and 4th qtr will be 4 laps. Some of my students have recognized that they are losing weight - a pound every two weeks and they are feeling better. Some couldn't walk a lap when they started, now all can jog at least one lap!
We kept a food diary for a week and will look up nutrition content and measure out the sugar content in the food. I am going to have them take home a ziploc of sugar that is representative of the amount of sugar they consume in a day. Then we are going to see where we can make changes - goal of reducing the sugar consumption and increase the fruits and veggies in their diet.
720 Activity Points
Our school has taken many steps to encourage the students to change their eating habits and exercise. We are in our second year of implementing the nutrition guidelines within the school which eliminated any foods or snacks that are not "healthy." This requires the parents to send only healthy snacks for their children and it also eliminates all of the goodies, birthday and holiday treats. We are also in the second year of our "Fresh Fruit and Vegetable" program that is made possible from a grant received by our school. On a weekly basis every student, Kindergarten to sixth grade, are provided with a different fruit or vegetable to try in the classroom. The produce ranges from the basics like grapes and strawberries and includes things that are not so common, such as cobocha pumpkin and rabutan. We have also made changes to our school activities by including messages that encourage a healthy lifestyle. For example, our students all participated in the recent Halloween parade but the various stops throughout were all hosted by the student council sending messages about the impact of exercise and the eating healthy. There was no Halloween candy to be handed out; instead students received tangerines and safety stickers. Although these practices are all against the norm that we were all so accustomed to, after having taking these steps toward a healthier lifestyle, students, their families, and the teachers are realizing that these healthier choices are not that difficult to implement and students are definitely beginning to enjoy and understand the benefits.
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I have created a unit for nutrition and have included all my documents and templates here. The main idea was to get kids to realize that everyone's nutritional needs varies dependent of personal reactions to certain foods and preferences of food.
First, we filled out a food diary for 1 week, see template. Also sent letter hoem to parents so they knew the expectation for filling it out.
Next, we reflected on the food journal by filling out the food journal reflection form
Then we went into the computer lab and printed off their individual food guides off of the USDA food pyramid site. We also played a game on building meals for a day. There is a ton of resources out there for your grade level.
As the final they created their own menu for a day taking into consideration their intake needs for age, gender , height, food preferences, allergies. See template
A parent also suggested bringing in food to create a healthy meal..thinking about graphing weight and height as a class..we shall see on these extras.
Nutrition_unit_food_diary.pdf (1.48 Mb)
Nutrition_lesson_reflection.pdf (0.02 Mb)
Final_assessment_menu.pdf (1.56 Mb)
Especially with our country becoming more health conscious and concerned for good nutrition, I think it is very important to teach our children about healthy eating and healthy living in general.
One site I found that could aid in teaching nutrition to kids is
There are lots of games, bright colors, and kid-friendly graphics.
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eThemes from the University of Missouri aggregates web resources by topic for elementary and middle school. I saw some discussion of obesity in this thread and found that there is an etheme for this.
For those of you interested in learning more about the genetic bases for obesity, I highly recommend these lectures from the HHMI
In 2004 the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Lectures were on the topic of obesity. If you have interest in current research they are very well done and intended for a high school audience.
Here are two more eTheme resources that might help with lessons on nutrition
These sites are about metabolism and the process of metabolism. Learn about metabolism, factors that affect metabolic rate, converting food intake into energy, and staying balanced. Includes lesson plans, interactive materials, and a physical activity calorie-use chart. There are also links to eThemes Resources on diet and nutrition, and obesity.
Diet and Nutrition
These sites are about good nutrition and healthy diets. Learn about the food pyramid and how food is good for the body. Topics include how to read food labels and look for additives. There are also online games and quizzes about nutrition.
Learn about anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, compulsive overeating, and other types of eating disorders. Find out their signs and symptoms, how they can be identified, and prevented. Includes video files, peer stories, questions and answers, and a lesson plan. There is also a link to an eThemes resource on diet and nutrition.
I like your idea on bringing a recipe and having the students make a dish together in class! I really think they would enjoy this. Being that I love cooking and have been a vegan for 6 years now, I enjoy getting my students to eat healthy! I share the fact that I am vegan with my students, and we grow a garden together at school, which they tend to on a weekly basis. This might be something you try with your students too, as I found last year that my student's motivation levels and curiosity levels went up for science since we started our garden! When our tomatoes and basil were growing nicely, we made mini capris in class. When our eggplant was ready, we prepared eggplant parmesan (baked not fried) in the cafeteria, and when our parsley was really big, one of my student's mothers from Lebanon came to the classroom and made falafel with us! We had a huge feast with all the items from our garden, and the AP and Principal joined in too!
Another thing I like to teach, is about finding your BMI (body mass index). This website, KidsHealth is very useful. They have info, recipes, etc.! My students enjoyed using it.
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Here is a picture of my garden last year!
Garden_Picture.jpg (4.12 Mb)
Curriculums look good, but would love to see one like “Understanding Alcohol: Investigations into Biology and Behavior” but more of “How to Gain Weight: Investigation into Biology” because I want the kids to know how our body (biologically) process foods and different nutrition therefore learning about how to gain weight from various foods and will help reduce obesity and anorexia.
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I have been reading the new book Salt, Sugar Fat on my Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Salt-Sugar-Fat-Giants-Hooked/dp/1400069807
and then came across this from vision learning
I think there are some great lesson ideas. The book is very readable and could easily be used with HS students
I have yet to begin the Food Safety SciPack but I have been doing a Pinterest search and found some good lessons for elementary health. Lesson Plan SOS is a blog with a few great nutrition lessons that show kids what they are really eating. The Fat Test was amazing. Kids brought in some of their favorite snacks, they labeled paper bags with a circle and the name of the snack and let it sit over a couple days. In that time, the grease seeped out and the kids had to chart it using graph paper. The sugar shock is another great lesson that I may include this year especially including those Gatorades that some of my kids bring to school.
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