National Children's Nutrition Month!
- Grades: 1–2
March is National Children's Nutrition Month! This is a great opportunity for you to help your kids learn to make healthy choices about food and exercise. Read on to learn about creating a Healthy Choices Unit in your classroom or school and to peek into my school as we celebrate Healthy Choices Week.
Launching Healthy Choices Week
The first thing we do during Healthy Choices Week is to read Eat Healthy, Feel Great by Dr. William Sears to learn about Red Light, Yellow Light, and Green Light foods. Green Light foods are things like fruits and veggies. These are foods that you can eat as much of as you want and that are super healthy for your body. Yellow Light foods are things like white bread and fruit juice that should only be eaten occasionally, not daily. Red Light foods are things like ice cream, candy, fries, and other junk foods. These foods should be eaten VERY sparingly, if at all.
Eat Healthy, Feel Great is very kid friendly and makes it easy to understand what foods are good for your body. It also comes with a refrigerator poster to remind kids to think about what they're eating. In addition, it teaches them to be label readers and really look at what ingredients go into packaged foods. I highly recommend this book for launching your discussion about healthy eating!
During that week, we also have a nutritionist come into our class to talk about the food groups and how to choose foods that keep us healthy. She talks about how sugar can hide in foods and drinks that seem to be healthy. For example, kids may think that Gatorade is good to drink during their soccer games. But one bottle of Gatorade could have the equivalent of 15 packets of sugar in it!
In our school cafeteria during Healthy Choices Week, they have a fresh fruit and veggie bar that serves fruits and veggies that kids might not be familiar with, like jicama. They allow kids to sample five different fruits or veggies for about fifty cents.
There is a free downloadable poster at My Pyramid, where they also have tons of classroom materials, printables, articles, and helpful tips for parents on making meals healthy.
What Else Can You Do to Promote Healthy Eating?
- Be a role model! Download a tip sheet on how you can model good eating for your kids. This is a great handout for parents!
- Ban cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and other Red Light foods from parties and birthday celebrations. Fruits, veggies, and bottled water are served at our parties, but we have a blast with fun games like "Minute to Win It" and themes like "Pajama Day" and "Board Games." (The kids don't even notice that they aren't having a bunch of junk, and they can eat as much as they want.)
- In the beginning of the school year, warn parents of your policy regarding junk food. All of my parents know from the very beginning that I don't allow that kind of food at parties and birthdays. We still celebrate birthdays, but I ask students to bring a book to donate to our class library instead of a treat. The birthday child also gets a crown to wear, a birthday pencil, and a coupon for a prize.
- Promote healthy foods like fruits and veggies for daily snacks. In my class if a student chooses a cookie from their lunchbox, as opposed to an apple, for a snack, I ask them to switch. I also keep on hand some healthy granola bars for them.
- Have kids bring bottled water to school instead of sugary juice drinks and soda.
- Need materials for your Healthy Eating Units? Contact the Dairy Council! Every year they send me a food pyramid poster, free full-color workbooks for very child, and a pack of food picture cards. They will even book a live cow to come to your school for an assembly for free.
- Go to Scholastic Printables and download nutrition activities, a "My Daily Diet!" food journal, the play "A Monster Meal," a "Healthy Choices" worksheet, and a fruit word search!
- We also made posters and banners for our cafeteria that promoted healthy choices:
Today I Ate a Rainbow
Check out this cool Web site Today I Ate a Rainbow. It has an interactive chart for your refrigerator to help you and your family keep track of what color foods you ate that day. The price for the chart is $25 CAN, but if you have the time, you can make one in class using construction paper and clip art.
And Nourish Interactive has great resources for teaching your kids about the food pyramid. It includes printables, videos, and games.
Next week, I will post some online resources as well as some cool easy tech projects for you and your class to do. Enjoy your week.