President Kennedy said that physical fitness is not only important for physical health, but that it is also “the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” Still, we know that many of our students (and maybe even some of us) aren’t making the lifestyle choices that lead to optimum health and fitness. Try a lesson that looks at some of those choices.
This lesson begins with infograpics. You might want to start with our Infographics Lesson Plans, using the health-related infographics offered here as the starting point.
Start by printing or projecting this infographic and sharing it with your class:
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Discuss the infographic and list the facts your class finds surprising. Did they realize that so few kids eat vegetables and exercise? Did they know that babies drink soda? Were they aware of the consequences of these lifestyle choices?
Check out a few more infographics on kids and health:
- School lunches and nutrition
- Vegetables and Physical Activity (not for kids especially, but these are probably the most important changes kids can make)
- Changing eating patterns
- How fitness helps learning
- Fruit drinks
Divide the class into four groups. Ask each group to come up with a healthy change they’d be willing to make. Examples:
- Cutting out soda
- Using the government’s MyPlate system
- Having 4-6 servings of vegetables every day
- Getting 30 minutes of activity every day
- Cutting out candy
If you have students who are not ready to make changes, ask them to serve as the control group for the class study.
Determine as a class how you’ll measure the difference in each group’s health. All groups must use the same metric for accuracy. Possibilities:
- Number of school days missed because of illness
- Perceived energy levels (have students write how great they feel, from 1 to 10, on a slip of paper each day at the same time and collect the slips for each group in a jar)
- Heart rate tests before and after the study
Give each group a box with a slit in the top, like a piggy bank. Every day, students should anonymously write “Yes, did it” or “No, not today” and put their slip into the box. This will allow you to determine whether the groups made their planned changes or not. If the majority of the slips say “no,” then that group can’t be said to have made their change.
Have your class continue with their changes for three weeks. Encourage students, share news about fitness and health, and keep up with any measurements you planned on during the study. At the end of the three weeks, analyze the data:
- Count “yes” and “no” slips for each group, and eliminate any group that has a majority of “no” slips.
- Take and count the agreed upon measures for all the groups.
- Compare the group results.
- Create your own class chart, infographic, or other presentation about the results of your study.
21 days is long enough to create a habit. Discuss with the students whether they plan to keep up with the change now that the study is over.
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