Our students admire athletes, from their teammates in school sports to professional sports figures. Athlete heroes are a varied group, so that every student can find someone he or she can admire. Use our lesson plans to work on research skills and to learn about health.
Create an ad.
Instead of an ad for soft drinks or shoes, let your athlete heroes support a character trait they embody. We put Wilma Rudolph on a cereal box to advertise persistence. Rudolph grew up in poverty, suffering from severe illnesses including polio, which left her without the use of her left leg. She wore a leg brace till age 9, learned to walk normally again by age 12, and won her first Olympic medal in track at age 16. Learn more about this heroic athlete:
- Wilma Rudolph biography
- Online quiz on Rudolph’s life
- The official Olympics page for Rudolph includes video and background information about the events in which she competed.
Have students choose an athlete they admire and research that athlete’s life and work. They should then choose a character trait which their athlete could represent. Use any art techniques to make a cereal box ad for this character trait.
Write an essay.
Get to know the classic 5 paragraph essay form with an essay about an athlete hero. Hve students research their hero and write three sentences explaining this person’s admirable traits. For example, here’s our list for climber Jordan Romero:
- At 13, Romero became the youngest person ever to climb Mt. Everest, showing dedication to a difficult goal.
- Romero inspired his family to join him in his goal of climbing the world’s highest mountains.
- Romero gives credit to his family and his team, not just his own efforts.
Students should expand each of their sentences into a paragraph. Have students write each sentence at the top of a notecard and list events that show evidence for the sentence. For example, Romero’s interview at Athletic Capital has many quotes in which Romero gives credit to his family and his team. Once students have a good list of evidence for their claims, they can write each one up into a paragraph.
Have students put their three paragraphs together to form the body of the essay, and add an introduction and a conclusion.
Sports heroes inspire students with their dedication, persistence, and hard work. They should also be health role models. Help students learn how to create SMART goals by choosing a health goal inspired by their athletic hero.
Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter has plenty of good health habits, but one she’s famous for is eating a healthy breakfast every day. Students who start their day with a Coke and a candy bar can learn from Hannah. Use this example for a SMART goal.
SMART stands for
- Specific: A goal can’t be something vague like, “I want to eat better.” “I’ll eat a balanced breakfast every day” is a specific goal.
- Measurable: Without a quantifiable goal, you can’t tell whether you succeeded or not. A healthy breakfast, according to WebMD, should contain 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fber. That cuts out the Coke and candy bar, but still leaves plenty of options from fruit and yogurt to eggs and veggies in a whole wheat tortilla.
- Achievable: A good goal is something the student can actually accomplish. Not all students have the capacity to win Olympic medals, but all students can make healthy breakfast choices.
- Realistic: A SMART goal is not only within a student’s power, but can also be achieved with the resources available. Examine the breakfast choices available in your school cafeteria or in local groceries to identify realistic healthy breakfast options.
- Timely: A goal is a dream with a timeline. Add a timeframe to the goal.
A student who chooses to follow in Hannah’s footsteps when it comes to breakfast might end up with, “I’m going to improve my health by having a balanced breakfast with 5 grams each of protein and fiber, such as the oatmeal and fruit in the cafeteria, each day beginning January 7th.”
Gather students’ goals and post them on the bulletin board.
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:
Brought to you by MAT@USC Masters in Teaching
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
- Balanced meals
- 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 new 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.
Hve 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 creatre a habit. Discuss with the students whether they plan to keep up with the change now that the study is over.