March is National Nutrition Month!
I am thinking about the special days that we celebrate with our students every year and am looking ahead to the next several observations. In recent weeks, we've celebrated the one hundredth day of school, Valentine's Day, Dental Health Month, and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.
One thing that I often neglect to observe is "National Nutrition Month". "National Nutrition Month" takes place in the month of March. Usually, it's not a big event in the classroom. Yet, I want children to form healthy eating habits that they will take with them throughout their lives. I want them to make informed choices about the foods they are putting in their mouths. I DON'T want them to be consuming foods that are filled with empty calories. How can I help them to do that if they are not taught the basics of proper nutrition?
Back in the "Good Old Days" health lessons were part of the curriculum. The emphasis now is on the core subjects of math, language art, science, and social studies. It seems that the subject of health is getting neglected more and more.
In the past, we had a food pyramid graphic displayed. The pyramid would show examples of the foods we should be eating from the four main food groups. The pyramid changed over the years and there is a NEW graphic now. It's a PLATE. I found it at the Choose My Plate website. This website is a great source of information about food. The website has a tool called "Food-A-Pedia". "Food-A-Pedia" allows one to collect information about almost any food imaginable. Just type in the food and it will tell what food group it is classified in as well as the number of calories in a serving. One odd thing about the website is that a tomato is categorized as a vegetable. Hmm. . . . I would beg to differ on that one. It makes sense to change the graphic to a plate because children can CONNECT more easily to the idea of a plate than to one of a pyramid. Another change that I noticed was the food groups themselves. I was taught that there were FOUR main food groups. Here's what the food groups were called when I was a child:
1. milk group
2. fruits and vegetables group
3. meat group
4. bread and cereal group
Today there are FIVE main food groups. Here's what the food groups are called:
4. protein foods
While I might not have the time to spend on an extensive unit about nutrition, there are a few easy things that I can do. I can talk about the foods we are eating from the school lunch menu. I can bring in magazines with photographs of foods. I can allow the children to cut out the pictures from the magazines and create a "Food Groups" collage. I can use educational websites to present information about healthy food choices.
The Choose My Plate website has a children's domain as well. There are tons of nutrition activities on this website. Here is the link if you are interested: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids/
I made a few nutrition themed bingo games which are available at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. The one shown in the photo below uses BLACK ink from a printer. There are 25 unique bingo cards included. Each card has 24 foods which are from the FIVE main food groups. All 25 bingo cards use the same 24 foods. This avoids confusion! The children know that they MUST find the word that is called out. There is a free space in the center of the bingo card. When the game is in play, the words can be covered with bingo chips, paint daubers, or small objects such as plastic cubes.
In addition to the bingo game shown above, I made another nutrition bingo game that would be ideal for pre-readers. I changed some of the food names in this version. The game shown below comes with 18 unique bingo cards. It will require COLOR ink from a printer. If you are interested, click on the image below:
Post written by Molly McMahon
Teachers Pay Teachers