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Classroom Activities for National Nutrition Month

Janelle Cox

March is National Nutrition Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created this campaign to draw attention to nutrition education, and focus on the importance of making good food choices. Nutrition is not only important in maintaining good health, but it is also linked to academic success in students. To help promote good nutrition and health in the month of March and throughout the school year, provide your students with the following lesson plan ideas and classroom activities.

Supermarket Scavenger Hunt

A class field trip to your local supermarket is a great way for students to learn about nutrition hands-on. Before you go to the supermarket, provide students with a copy of the food plate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Talk to your student about the food groups and the types of foods that they should be eating. As you walk through the supermarket aisles, ask students to point out healthy foods that belong to each group on the food plate. Then, for a fun activity, divide students into groups and hand each group a list of healthy foods to search for.

Things to Find:

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  • I'm orange and crunchy and grow in the ground, bunny rabbits love to have me around. (carrot)
  • I'm red or green and grow on a tree, I'm a healthy snack, come find me. (apple)
  • I'm long and I'm yellow and I grow on a tree, people and monkeys sure love to eat me. (banana)

Making Healthy Food Choices

With the abundance of food choices out on the market, it is easy to make a bad food choice. To help your students understand the importance of choosing healthy foods to eat, try these classroom activities:

  • Provide students with a copy of the new and improved food pyramid (or as they now call it, My Plate). My Plate is an easy way for students to see what makes up a balanced meal.
  • Then, discuss with students the types of foods that belong in each food group, and how much of each group they should eat per meal.
  • Next, provide each student with three paper plates and a few grocery ads. Their goal is to cut out enough foods from the ads to create three healthy meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
  • Once they have completed this activity, have students share their meals with the class. Have classmates give a thumbs up if they think the meal is healthy, and a thumbs down if the student needs to try again.

Reading Food Labels

An important part of understanding nutrition is reading food labels. To get started, bring in a variety of food items and have students read the nutrition facts on the side panel. Go through each nutritional term and its meaning. Have students take a green crayon and highlight the areas of the food label that are good for them, and have them use a red crayon to mark the other areas. Then, help students learn how to identify the nutrients found on the labels by comparing two different food labels. Provide each student with a copy of the worksheet "Comparing Food Labels" and have them fill in the sheet. They will be asked to circle the food that is best described. For example "Has less sodium?" "Least amount of sugar?" Or "Most calories per serving?" Once they fill in the worksheet, have them figure out which food was better for them, and why.

Health and Nutrition Books

To create further interest in nutrition and healthy living, place the following books in your classroom library:

  • Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition, written by Lizzy Rockwell (A reference book about nutrition.)
  • The Vegetables We Eat, written by Gail Gibons (A beautifully illustrated book that explains how vegtables are grown, and why they are good to eat.)
  • Eat Healthy, Feel Great, written by William Sears (This book gives children the tools to make good food choices.)
  • MyPlate and You, written by Gillia M. Olsen (Learn the basics of MyPyramid.)
  • Fruits on MyPlate, Mari Schuh (Learn how MyPlate can help children make smarter food choices.)

Do you have a great idea or activity about nutrition that will help other teachers? Share it with us!