March is National Nutrition Month and I have started to celebrate with my third graders!
Have you ever eaten lunch with your students? As a reward for good behavior, some students choose to purchase “lunch with the teacher” with their money they earned. When I eat lunch with these students, it never ceases to amaze me the foods they are eating. Unfortunately, I am not amazed in a good way but a sad way. Classic example: one of my students brought a bag of Doritos and Cheetos- THAT’S IT!!- for their lunch…that’s it! The student poured both baggies onto his tray, mixed it up, and that was his lunch!! It pained me!
Which is why I get so excited for March to roll around! I am one of those people who really do enjoy working out (can’t run a marathon if you don’t!) and eating chia seeds with my plain Greek yogurt and wild organic blueberries mixed in. I don’t even give my pup dog food- nope! Home cooked soup every night for him and a healthy breakfast in the morning. Now, in the same breath, I must admit that I have a *slight* addiction to Coke and just may have given it up for Lent. Four weeks strong, but who’s counting?”
Since my students are allowed to bring “healthy” snack to eat in the classroom, I use it as a perfect opportunity to conduct our official Fat Test Experiment and Sugar Shock Experiment, which jumpstart our nutrition unit. I like to set up these two activities up as a science inquiry, where students develop their own questions and ideas about what is happening, versus me just telling them, “Sugar is bad for you, don’t eat it!”
For one of our first experiments, students go into:
The next activity is a completed as a whole class. One at a time, we read each sentence and students identified if it was True or False.
I knew they would have a hard time believing me for some of these statements. After all, they are shocking even for me! However, I had proof! Proof in the form of articles and books about sugar! With the implementation of CCSS, using textual evidence has become a staple in my classroom, during our ELA block.
This article explained the harmful effects of too much sugar- in which students identified the main idea and supporting details. The students used what they learned for our next hands-on activity. Students sorted different photographs of (real) food, into two categories: high sugar foods and low sugar foods.
Many of the foods that were on the picture cards were part of the sugar experiment. The students used the nutrition labels to find the EXACT amount of sugar in the food, before classifying it as “high” or “low” sugar.
My students became Sugar Sleuths and sorted the true and false statements.
I ended our lessons on sugar by challenging my students to a “no sugar” challenge, should they choose to participate.
After we finished our (sad) study on sugar, we started to learn about unhealthy fats in our foods.
I explain the difference between good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats ) and bad fats (trans fats and saturated fats). I bring examples of good fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish. On the other hand, the fat that their snack has is the “bad fat,” which clogs arteries and promotes obesity.
I don’t need to bring any examples of bad fats, because as you can see below, they always have plenty of examples of these:
If you are looking to turn your students into nutritionists and create their own fat and sugar test (among many other lessons/activities), you may be interested in my nutrition file:
There are over 180 pages to this extensive file.
Activity 1: Fitness and food log-The students will keep track of all the food they eat and exercise they do for a week. They will then reflect and analyze their food and exercise intake for the week.
Activity 2: Healthy and unhealthy lunches part 1- This lesson will help your students open their eyes to the food that they put on their lunch tray if they have a school lunch or a lunch from home.
Activity 3: Healthy and unhealthy lunches part 2- Students will use photographs of real food to compare two different lunches and write about the similarities and differences with a Venn diagram.
Activity 4: Healthy breakfasts- Now that your students are hopefully making better choices for their lunches, they are ready to conquer their breakfast food! Working in cooperative groups, ask your students to dissect the breakfast displayed on Smart board/printed as a hard copy.
Activity 5: Mission Nutrition- Students will be challenged to participate in a mission nutrition challenge for 10 days.
Activity 6: Food pyramid lessons- Students learn about the different food groups with this interactive lesson. Students compare the old food pyramid to the current food pyramid, and identify the main differences between the two.
Activity 7: Analyzing nutrition labels- Student learn how to analyze the nutrition labels on their favorite foods. Lesson includes an example of a nutrition label and resources for your students to analyze their own nutrition label.
Activity 8: Fruit vs. fries experiment- This is an experiment that you will have to see to believe! Students observe what happens when they leave out fruit and fries for a few days. Lesson include an observation journal for each day, detailed directions, pictures of the experiment, and colorful posters to print for the experiment.
Activity 9: Unhealthy fats experiment- Another experiment your students will love! Each student brings a sample of their favorite snack food (crackers, chips, cookies, doughnut) to leave out for a couple of days on a paper bag. Students will use their journal to record the grease stain from their snack food, along with any other important information. Experiment includes an observation journal, detailed directions, colorful posters for you to print for the experiment.
Activity 10: Food group posters- This resource incudes a poster for each food group (grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, protein) to print and display. There are two options for you. One set of posters have beautiful photographs of real food. The other set of food group posters includes clip art of food.
Activity 11: My nutrition flip book- As you teach about the different food groups, students can follow along by writing what they learn in their own personal nutrition flip book. There is one page for each food group.
Activity 12: Exercise every day- Remember when students took the nutrition mission challenge? Now, they will take an exercise every day challenge! Students learn that recommended amount of daily exercise is 60 minutes per day.
Activity 13: Eat the colors of the rainbow- Students learn what “eating a rainbow every day” means. In this lesson, students work together to cut out pictures of foods that represent different colors of the rainbow. Lesson includes a note to go home, a student flip book, and a bookmark printable.
Activity 14: Harmful Effects of Sugar Article- Students read the article independently, as a whole group, or with partners and fill out the “3,2,1” graphic organizer to reflect on what they learned. Display the colorful “sugar shock” poster and “warning” and an introduction to reading the article. Resources include a color photograph to display, a one page article about sugar, and two graphic organizers to choose from.
Activity 15: True and False Interactive Sort- There are 16 cards that have a sentence about sugar. One at a time, a student reads the card and the class determines if the statement is a true or false by holding up their sign. Students have a discussion about the statement and place in under the correct category. After this part of the lesson is complete, students will independently read, cut, and sort the sentences into “true” and “false” statements. Resources include directions, 16 statements about sugar, one blank template to write your own, an answer key, and a “sugar shock” color poster to print if you choose to display for a bulletin board.
Activity 16: Sugar Sleuths- As a follow up to the whole group true and false interactive sort, students turn into sugar sleuths and independently (or with a partner) read, cut out, and sort all sentences into their own book.
Activity 17: High Sugar/Low Sugar Food Sort- There are 36 photographs of real food that students must identify as “high sugar” or “low sugar.” Students sort the foods into the correct category. This can be done as a whole group or as a center. Resources include a color informational poster about high sugar foods, 36 real photographs in color of common foods, and “high sugar/low sugar” cards to print.
Activity 18: Sugar Shock Experiment- Your students may just go into shock after this experiment! Students use real sugar to measure out the amount of sugar in their favorite snack. Students compare the amount of sugar in their food to the other snacks students tested.
Activity 19: Letter Writing Reflection- Students will reflect on what they learned throughout this unit by writing a letter about sugar. However, this will be done with a creative twist! Students will write about the topic from the first person point of view, which means that they are writing from the perspective of sugar! Included for this activity is directions for the students, 2 letter templates, an example of a finished letter, and a colorful poster “Dear Humans, Love Sugar” poster to display as a bulletin board.
Activity 20: No Sugar Challenge- What better way to end the unit than with a fun challenge? Students can choose to participate in a “no sugar” or “low sugar” challenge for 10 days.. Resources include a note home listing a challenge for each day, a poster to display with facts from the American Heart Association about added sugars, and a participation award in color and also black and white.
If you would like to purchase the nutrition unit on Teacher Pay Teachers, click here: Nutrition Unit.
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Stay healthy, my friends!