Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

Classroom Activities

Best practices in practice!  How classroom and P.E. teachers are using healthy eating and/or physical activity lessons.

With a goal of adding exercise breaks in the classroom and using fun physical movement activities to "fill" extra time, St. Joseph's school increased physical movement throughout the day at least 3-4 times per week! Here is how! Two teachers on the KidLink (wellness) team reviewed Healthy Kids Challenge resources to gather examples of how to increase physical activity in the classroom and introduced the ideas to other teachers. Then, their first and fifth grade teachers shared HKC resources and classroom activities with 10 fellow teachers during a staff in- service meeting. HKC Making Strides School, St. Joseph Catholic School, Wichita, KS, Dan McAdam, Principal "Coming from me, it's a mandate, but if they hear it from other teachers during a staff meeting they are more receptive (to classroom energizers) especially with state asssessments near. The parents have been very supportive and Healthy Kids Challenge has been helpful with ideas for us to try."

These hands on lessons give the practice all kids need to try new foods at Maude Trevvett Elementary. These unique ideas below help turn food into lessons and lessons into food:

  • Fruit is arranged on skewers (or toothpicks) to teach a lesson on patterns, and then kids eat the results.
  • Pipe cleaners are used by special education students to make a mobile of "carrots, grapes, apples, cherries, bananas" which is displayed on the hallway bulletin board.
  • One Friday each month, kids enjoy "Fun Fruit Friday" using fresh fruit for a snack while reading a book that features the fruit.

Incorporating healthy messages into any classroom in a variety of ways does not require a special event or extensive preparation. - Cigna Showcase School, Maude Trevvett Elementary, Richmond, VA, Judy Hall, Physical Educator

Fifth graders at Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center enjoy classroom energizers nearly every day, even during state assessments. Their teacher, Ms. Brungardt, gets them outside and moving before they begin their testing at the computers. The small groups that are not taking tests play a game of "Oxygen to the Brain". Every student picks up a scarf and they form a circle. One person stands in the middle of the circle and makes up movements for all the others to copy as the teacher plays music. When the music stops, the person in the center picks the next leader and the music starts again. Ms. Brungardt reports that the students look forward to the activity breaks and are more focused and ready to learn following the increased minutes of motion in their day. - Kansas Kids C.A.N. School, Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center, Garden City, KS, Ashley Brungardt, 5th Grade Teacher

The Fruit & Veggie Challenge was conducted with 3 Herington Elementary classes whose teachers had volunteered for the grant project. The purpose was to:

  • help children experience fruits and vegetables in a fun environment
  • teach kids the importance of choosing foods from MyPyramid for better health

Each teacher was given a set of the Healthy Kids Challenge Wellness Solutions Toolkit young boy eating from bowl booklets to use. A pre-test fruit & veggie checklist was given to determine the kids' current knowledge level.

Then for 3 weeks on each Tuesday and Thursday, 53 first, 3rd and 4th graders were given taste samples of 3 different fruits and/or veggies until they had the chance to sample all the foods on the checklist. Other days during the 3 weeks, the teachers provided classroom activities, fruit and veggie trivia and promoted eating a variety of healthy foods using HKC materials. Educational brochures and handouts were also sent home to the families. The 3rd and 4th graders participated in a fruit and veggie log to record the number of servings they and their families ate in one week.

The 4th week, a post test fruit & veggie checklist was given and the results were as follows:

  • 12% increase in the fruits and veggies kids tried and liked
  • 18% increase in the fruits and veggies kids wanted to choose at school
  • 18% increase in the fruits and veggies kids wanted to choose at home

Note: "At first, when tasting the samples the children were reluctant to try the unfamiliar foods, but soon they were excited to see what the featured sample was each day. - Herington Elementary, Herington, KS, Diana Floyd RD, LD, Fruit & Veggie Grant Coordinator