Food habits are complex in nature and multiple conditioning factors interact in their development. Young children do not choose what they eat, but their parents decide and prepare the food for them. During infancy and early childhood the family is a key environment for children to learn and develop food preferences and eating habits. As they grow and start school, teachers, peers and other people at school,together with the media and social leaders, become more important (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2001).
Children and young people need to enhance their competence as informed consumers able to perform their food choices in a complex society with a wide variety of food available. School-based nutrition education should focus not only on nutrition information, but also develop skills and behaviours related to areas such as food preparation, food preservation and storage; social and cultural aspects of food and eating; enhance self-esteem and positive body image and consumer aspects (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2003).
Nutrition education curriculam should aim to provide students with the required knowledge and skills, support self-efficacy and encourage behaviour change conducive to adopt a healthful diet and physical activity levels in agreement with dietary guidelines. There is a wide array of teaching methods that can be used according to learning objectives: from classroom discussions, worksheets, keeping food records to shopping exercises, taste-testing, creating or drama, etc. Extra-curricular activities are also challenging, for example: school gardening, developing cooking skills, exhibitions and other workshop activities. The following link is a website that includes many worksheets and activities for all ages to help learn about healthy foods and nutrition (one pictured on left). Below is a video from the American Heart Association that explains why it is important to teach nutrition in school and how gardening is an effective way to do it.
Educational strategies should promote increase to health awareness, communication, and skill building. They should be relevant to the nutrition program rules and what the children can already do. Cultural relevance is of highest importance. The message should be delivered in a way the students can understand, and should teach skills and knowledge required to improve their eating habits (Pérez-Rodrigo & Aranceta, 2003).Different cultures should be respected and accounted for. Teachers, in the classroom, should teach different aspects of culture that are related to eating and nutrition.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Lesson Plan
-The students will learn the different food groups of the food pyramid.
-The students will learn how many servings go along with each food group.
-The students will work on fine motor skills but coloring and cutting out different foods and gluing they down one their own pyramid.
-The students will make their own food pyramid.
-The students will learn about different foods and different cultures that correspond with them.
-crayons/markers -scissors -glue
The teacher should make a worksheet that has different pictures of fruits, vegetables, grains, fats, and other food from all different food groups on the food pyramid. They should be outlines and in black and white so the children can later color them in. Examples could be milk, carrots, apples, cookies, and cereal (example shown at top right). The teacher should make sure that the items could be easily identified by 1st graders, and big enough for them to color and cut out. The teacher should also print worksheets of the blank food pyramid for all the children. (The different food groups and servings can be labeled on the pyramid if the teacher feels the students will need more help identifying each food group section).
Motivation and Introduction:
As and introduction to the lesson, the teacher should introduce the food pyramid and go over the different categories of fats, dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains and where they are located on the pyramid. The teacher should also go over how many servings of each are required per day and why these numbers are appropriate.
To start the lesson, the teacher should pass out the worksheets that have the different foods on them. The teacher should then tell the students to color them to make they look like what they do in real life. For example, the children should color their broccoli green, bananas yellow, eggs white, and bread brown. After all the children are all done coloring the foods, the teacher should pass out the children's scissors and have them cut out all of the foods. The teacher then should have all the students gather in a circle in the middle of the room. Once they are all in a circle in the middle of the room, the teacher will then pass out the papers that have the blank food pyramid on them (labeling groups optional). Then as a class the teacher will hold up one of the foods from the worksheet and have all the children find it in their pile. The teacher then should call on a child and ask what food it is and where it belongs on the food pyramid. She should then have a class discussion and asks who agrees and disagrees. Once all the students agree they are to glue it in the right category on their blank pyramid. The teacher will then repeat this for the rest of the food the students have color and cut out by asking different students what the foods are and where to put them. Then after the students are finished with all the foods they have cut out have them go back to their desks and draw one of their favorite foods the didn't previously color and cut out. After they do this, have then cut it out and place it in which food category they think it belongs. Then as a class talk about different foods different people chose. If there are foods children picked that others didn't know what they were, or from different cultures talk about how this influences their culture. (Good if you have a diverse class room).
To summarize the key points of the lesson, the teacher should revisit how the different servings of different food groups is what makes not not makes us healthy and why it is important. The teacher should reinforce why healthy eating is important and how this lesson has shown it.