As children succumb to the obesity epidemic, schools are turning to all teachers— not just physical education teachers—to instruct and encourage students to develop healthier lifestyles.
Although obesity amongst children has become a national concern, more and more schools are being forced to scale back or cut physical education classes to focus on academia. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, currently 16% of our nation’s children are overweight; this is a result of poor nutritional habits and lack of physical activity.
Below are five activities that combine academics with health, fitness and a nutritious curriculum that you can begin using in the classroom. Say that five times fast!
1. Learn the Food Groups
Provide a variety of vegetables and discuss the nutritional value of each one, which can lead to a discussion of the importance of healthy eating habits. Ask the students to write down as many vegetables as they can and spell them. Have fun with this exercise; don’t stop with common veggies like cucumbers or squash, introduce them to kohlrabi and parsnip! Then have your students pick out a favorite vegetable, perhaps explaining ways to use it in a recipe. It’s a fun and delicious way to teach your students food groups and prepare them to be the next spelling bee champ.
2. Times Table Toss
Students become lethargic just sitting behind a desk all day. Here is a fun way to help wake them up. Bring in a medium size Nerf ball and have the students throw the ball around to each other, as they recite their multiplication tables. This activity will wake the body up, improve hand-eye coordination, and boost math scores. What a way to cure the mid-day slump!
3. Healthy Food Flash Cards
Have your students make flash cards of their favorite foods using magazine photos. Have an open discussion identifying what is plentiful and unsuitable for their bodies by reviewing the calorie counts and fat content for each food item (i.e. french fries vs. baked potato). This is a lesson on reading food labels and making healthy food choices.
4. Classroom Charades
Have your students play a game of charades using people, places or times in history. The students will team up and act out their appointed clue word or phrase to get ahead of their opponents. They will work up a sweat without even noticing. They will have so much fun learning that they won’t even realize how many calories they are burning. This game can be played in any subject: history, current events, English, and even math.
5. Show & Well
Have a themed show and tell about wellness and health. Ask your students to bring in items they use every day to maintain their health and discuss them with the class. It could be the gi they wear for karate or the kickboard they use for swimming practice. This allows your students to participate and learn about health practices and etiquette and participate in show and tell.
These activities can be adapted into most age groups. Have fun with it and add your own educational twist.
We would love to hear about your ideas for incorporating health, nutrition and fitness into your classroom. What about ideas you use in your own home? Write to us about them in the comments section below.