How to Integrate Nutrition & Literacy into PE: Classics with Content

Our profession’s challenge to find balance between content rich activities and keeping students active has produced great strategies for blending content throughout student learning to provide more effective physical education. The goal of this blog is to share how the USDA’s Choose MyPlate website can enhance classic game activities by integrating nutrition in PE using the ‘10 tips’ Series.

Choose My Plate Picture - Nutrition in PE

Classic games such as tag, pin knockdown and bowling became revitalized when I began integrating the MyPlate content. Once pin knockdown was enhanced using colored pins to represent food groups and tag games could represent the balance between “energy in” (food consumed) and “energy out” (exercise) students became more engaged and this provided valuable talking points at the end of lessons that extended the bond across the psychomotor, cognitive and affective domains. It was the priceless trifecta I was looking for and has challenged me to continue to enhance other areas of my instruction.

Before I move into specific examples, here are 3 tips to help you get started with blending content into activities if you haven’t already done so:

1) Balance: Finding the balance between how much talking and moving is the first barrier to overcome. Realize effective physical education requires students to talk and interact with one another to help process learning. Challenge yourself to plan for these teachable moments and begin to find a balance that works for you and your students.

2) Purposeful Progressions: Analyze your curriculum and identify activity or skill progressions that may lend themselves well to integrating content progressions such as nutrition.

3) Start Small & Keep It Simple: Once you decide when, how and what to do…you just gotta GO FOR IT! Try it, and then try it again and again. It gets easier and better each time.

FREE Resource: One valuable (and FREE) resource that will enhance your current curriculum and/or offer a starting point if you have no formal curriculum is: Choose My Plate. Here I use the 10 Tips series and the .pdf handout of the MyPlate as a student game board.

The MyPlate 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series offers one-page, reader friendly handouts with ‘10 tips’ on nutrition based topics. From “Add More Vegetables to Your Day”, to “Snack Tips”, to “Build a Healthy Meal”, to “Be an Active Family” there are over 30 choices. An educator could easily have a theme for each week of the year and have great nutrition talking points that can be integrated throughout the week’s activities and sent home with students or put in newsletters to communicate with families and promote health literacy. The information can be adapted for use in most any activity in my class.

Here are three examples of how I have integrated the ‘10 tips’ handouts into activity. To prepare for these, take a 10-tips handout and cut each tip out to make “tickets” then place them in team envelopes or mix them together depending upon the activity (See ticket sample and detailed game ideas on my website). I have put the food group tips into a word document and will share them to help get your started.

Activity #1: “My Plate in Motion” Bowling. After students knock down certain colored pins, or combination of pins, or for a strike/spare (whichever situation) they collect a tip from their team envelope or the food bank bucket (where a mix of tickets is located).  You can use the food group themed tips to have students build plates or collect all 10 tips from the envelope provided. You can do this style of activity with any skill development activity such as shooting in basketball or hockey.

Activity #2: “My Plate in Motion” Fitness. Set up fitness stations. After students complete a station they can earn a tip ticket for their team and take it back to their “home” location (hulahoop) and then go back out to exercise and earn more tips. Use the same strategy to build a plate or collect all 10 of one theme.

Activity #3: “My Plate in Motion” Relays & Tag. Take any standard relay or tag game and integrate the ‘10 tips’ tickets where students work together to collect all 10 tickets on a certain topic or theme.

Ultimately, I want to encourage our profession to keep students moving, having fun, and learning purposeful content. Use the Choose MyPlate resource as a springboard to promote health literacy and nutrition in PE in a simple and fun manner as you continue or begin the journey of integrating content into your effective physical education program. If you are looking for some great ready-to-go activities, don’t forget to check out these fun and easy-to-use Nutrition-Themed Games from Gopher!

Continue the conversation: What resources or tips have you used to help blend purposeful content into your activity and instruction?


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