March is National Nutrition Month, sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Started 36 years ago, this is a National campaign focused on making healthy food choices and developing consistent physical activity habits for the well-being of all. With a concern about obesity in our nation, starting these habits young is an important part of the fight against obesity. This year's theme for the month is "Put Your Best Fork Forward", an important reminder that we each hold the tool for healthy food and activity choices. For more information, go to the National Nutrition Month website for additional resources on ways you can get involved.
Here are 20 ways you can celebrate National Nutrition Month in your classroom:
1) Draw Your Healthy MyPlate Meal - Have a discussion about healthy eating habits and encouraging children to color and create their healthy meal.
2) Have children collect food product labels. Read and discuss them, comparing to the Nutrition Facts panel. Explain what is "good" and "not-so-good"
3) Grow healthy vegetables in a garden. Seeds can be started indoors and taken care of by children.
4) Encourage a school potluck with families. Ask parents to bring in their favorite family healthy dish to share, making sure all of the food groups are included.
5) Organize a tasting party. Can be organized around a specific food group. Go to www.actionforhealthykids.org for some ideas on ways to implement this.
6) Host a junk food drive. Join the National Education Association for their #BagtheJunk campaign.
7) Take part in the National School Breakfast Week with the School Nutrition Association, March 6-10, 2017.
8) Mix food and art by cutting various fruits in half and dipping into paint. Stamp fruit onto paper for unique pieces of art work.
9) Add a guessing game that turns into counting. Guess how many seeds are in an apple. Cut open and count the seeds, enjoy apple as a healthy snack.
10) Ask about favorite fruits (or vegetables), graphing the results.
11) Create an obstacle course indoors or out to encourage healthy movement.
12) Setup a mini yoga session for children just before nap time. Ending in corpse pose will encourage children to sleep. Unsure of what to do, check out Kids Yoga Stories for 58 Yoga Poses for Kids and Shanti Generation for a guide on Creating a Lesson Plan.
13) Take a hike to look at trees and rocks.
14) Turn on some music and have a goofy dance session with children. Encourage movement of all sorts.
15) When weather causes activities to be indoors, organize a march, encouraging children to count their steps through the hallway or classroom. Talk about desired number of steps per day.
16) Organize a relay of sorts with each leg imitating different animals' movements; crab walk, penguin waddle, leap frog, elephant walk, caterpillar crawl. donkey kick, etc. If adventurous, encourage making noises to coordinate.
17) Play a game of "Ring around the rosy" for a fun indoor activity.
18) Add movement to the song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" by sitting on the ground rowing and moving with the waves of the water.
19) Play movement games like "Red Light, Green Light" of "Simon Says"
20) Putting letters in a box, encourage children to move their bodies to create the shape of the letter chosen from the box.