Water is one of the six essential nutrients that is often overlooked and forgotten. Water is so important to our health and after viewing the Fed-Up documentary, I wanted to show my students why it’s a better alternative to their sugar laden soda and juices. This lesson can be used as a follow up to sugary beverages or it can be used as a stand alone lesson. Either way, the emphasis is on the role and importance of water in our diet, using Memes as a fun, humorous way to generate the message.
You are you probably aware that the nutrition facts label has been updated, but do you think your students are aware of the changes made? My guess is that most students will have no idea that the nutrition facts labels have changed or why. So, with that mindset I put together some activities to not only show students the differences between the old and new labels, but to have them put themselves in the driver’s seat and create their own updated version of a nutrition facts label first. This gives them an idea, as a team, how to approach a problem, critically discuss possible changes based on what they know and then come up with a final revision. Finally, they will explore why actual changes were made to the current nutrition facts food labels.
Genetically Modified Foods, known as GMO’s, are foods that have had their genes altered through science or genetic engineering, which is monitored through the EPA, the FDA and the USDA. Did you know that many of the foods found in our grocery stores contain at least one ingredient that has been genetically modified? Should we be informed as consumers when this process is affecting the foods we eat? Should genetically modified foods be labeled? There is a huge debate surrounding this dispute. How do your students weigh in on this topic?
There are so many herbs and spices out there that it’s hard to know where to start! In the past, I’ve had my students pick an herb or spice to research and present to the rest of the class. While that was okay, I wanted something a little more “spicy” (pardon my pun) and interactive. After wracking my brain for how I was going to do this, I put it aside for a while. Finally, after months of mulling this over in my head, the following activities and labs came to fruition and were worth the wait! I hope your students like it as much as mine did!
When I ask my students what they or their parents typically make for supper, I get a lot of similar responses. Most tell me they make and or eat whatever is easy, comes out of a box, comes out of the freezer, can be made in the microwave or picked up from a fast food restaurant on the way home. It’s so sad that convenience foods are so heavily relied on instead of preparing foods from scratch. This is one of the reasons I like teaching about casseroles! Not only are they easy to make, include a variety of foods and nutrients, but they can be made in advance, put in the freezer for future meals and convenience and because they get us in the kitchen cooking and using a lot of staple ingredients from the pantry. Way to go casseroles!
During my unit titled “Off to College”, we talk about a variety of topics related to college living and dorm life. One of these topics includes the “Freshmen 15”. Students always wonder if it’s true and if so, how does it happen. Since students were curious, I decided to let them figure out the answers by having them research the topic and create a game board that incorporated all of the information they learned in a fun, creative and competitive way. Students took turns playing each others games, providing feedback and learning something about the “Freshman 15”!
MyPlate encourages us to make half our plates whole and the dietary guidelines also recommend we increase our intake of whole grains. This is all great and seems like it should be relatively easy to do, when in reality it is often difficult to know what is truly a whole grain and what is refined. Because whole grains are typically a good source of fiber, I decided to marry the two topics into one mini-lesson and activity where students become sleuths and decode a variety of grain products in order to determine which are truly excellent sources of both fiber and whole grains and which don’t make the grade (even if their labels are deceiving).
My junior high classes rotate every six weeks which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to cover all the material that I need or want to. Because of this, I find myself trying to piggyback multiple concepts and standards into a lesson or activity. So when I teach about how to calculate unit prices and read package labels, both ingredient lists and nutrition facts, it makes sense to combine the two into a hands-on hot cocoa mix taste testing lab. Not only does it get the students into the kitchen, but it ties back to everything we covered so far in the rotation, helping them to review the concepts previously learned. In the lab students determine which product they think tastes the best and then in the follow-up students use the product labels to compare everything from unit price to ingredients to nutrition. Do students know their brands like they think they do? Can they determine the healthiest brand for their dollars? This lesson helps them find out!