Childhood Obesity…The Rest of the Story Activity

Critical thinking and problem solving skills are definitely needed for today’s teens to prepare for the real world and life The rest of the storyon their own or with their future families.  What better way to prepare them than to provide them with a real life scenario that needs to be solved.  In this activity students are introduced to a problem and must work together as a group to figure out and creatively write and present the “rest of the story”,as the late Paul Harvey would say on his radio broadcasts. The beauty of this activity is that you can create a scenario that needs solved using any crisis type topic.  I used childhood obesity, but you can use other important topics such as bullying, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, financial debt, finding quality day care, divorce, dating violence, aging and more.  So let the scenarios begin!

Teacher Notes

  • It’s important to teach the background information about the topic or problem you want students to solve before giving them the scenario.
  • To create the scenario you will need to include a hook, something to grab your students’ attention, that relates to the problem.  The hook can be a story, a video clip, a song, props, bulletin boards about the topic, etc.  Then provide student groups with an introduction to the specific scenario/problem you want them to think about and come up with a solution.  The idea is for them to apply class information they’ve learned as well as investigate and use additional resources to complete the story using creative writing.

Childhood Obesity Scenario

  • Background:  Prior to assigning students the scenario to complete I would have discussed the following about childhood obesity–who is at risk,causes, food selection such as the impact of snacks, fast food and eating at home, as well consequences (physical, emotional, social).
  • The Hook:  Show the beginning clip from an episode of “Honey We’re Killing the Kids” (Here’s one but there are many to choose from on YouTube).
  • Introduction:  Give a description of the family:  Name, ages, family structure, where they live and any background information you want to include.  The Frank family is a nuclear, dual income family.  The parents have been married for 8 years and have two children ages 7 and 5.  They live in a rural community, in a small development.  They are like most family’s in that they are busy, work full-time and are involved in community organizations, which leaves little time for home-cooked meals and physical activities.  The family is seeing the impact of this lifestyle via their children. The children eat too much processed, fast foods and spend way too much time in front of screens; television, computer and video games.  Consequently, they are both have had BMI letters sent home from the school nurse indicating obesity and the risk of Type II diabetes.
  • Characters:  Father, Jeffrey, age 32, Mother, Rachel, age 31, 7 year old Reagan, and 5 year old Amy.
  • Character Sketches:  Given the characters, students will use their critical thinking skills to elaborate and establish an identity for each one.  A couple of sentences per character is sufficient, we don’t need a life history.
  • Directions:  You and your group members will be creating the “rest of the story” using your critical thinking and creative writing skills to write how the parents will solve this problem that’s effecting their family.  You will incorporate information you have learned in class about childhood obesity while solving this problem.  The main idea is to examine and describe the effects childhood obesity, poor food selection and physical inactivity have on the children and parents of this family.
  • Questions to Consider:  Before writing the “rest of the story” and providing a solution for this family think about the following:  What might happen at school to contribute to this problem that might make it worse or better?  How are the children being perceived by their peers and others in their life?  How might the children feel?  What are some simple changes the parents could make to solve this problem?  What areas are going to require parental input, enforcement, and consistency?  Is there a positive way to resolve this problem?  How?  What are the underlying causes of this problems (be sure to consider both sides; parents and children)?  What are some of the short term and long term health risks these children could potentially face if the problem is not rectified?  Where can parents go for help with this problem?
  • Presentations:  Students will orally share creative writings, sharing the “rest of the story” with the entire class.  Students can share their stories via poems, children’s storybook, posters, role plays, power points, prezi, videos, talk shows, music, songs, or rap. The choice is theirs!

Photo Credit

  • Courtesy Dreamstime Images

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