Bay area third grade teacher experiences firsthand the value of teaching nutrition in the classroom
By: Jammie Lam
Teachers across California are emphasizing students’ health and well-being more than ever before. To help students understand what healthy eating looks like, educators are using science-based resources like Dairy Council of California’s nutrition education curriculum in their classrooms.
Satomi Fujikawa of Country Lane Elementary School in San Jose is an educator who empowers her students to make healthier choices through Dairy Council of California’s nutrition education workbooks. Using the revised third grade Shaping Up My Choices program, Fujikawa taught her 26 students about nutrition and the importance of healthy eating patterns.
I observed as Fujikawa taught a lesson on nutrient power and Nutrition Facts labels. Following the teacher guide, she began the lesson with a brain break activity. The students got active with a five-minute physical activity that included jumping jacks, squats and planks. They loved the activity and were noticeably excited and energized. One even asked, “Can we do this every day?!”
As the lesson continued, Fujikawa taught the students about the importance of each food group and its contribution to their overall health. To add real-life context to the lesson, students learned to read Nutrition Facts labels on foods and were asked to bring an example from home the following day.
At the end of the lesson, the teacher asked, “Why is it important to eat nutritious foods?” The students responded with variations of, “It’s good for your body,” and “If you only eat one food, then your body won’t get everything it needs.”
After completing all five lessons, Fujikawa provided feedback that included how much she valued the program. She was able to inspire her students to be conscious of the impact of healthy foods on their bodies, and she made applicable connections between nutrition and the real world, including the class garden. In class, student posters featuring food pictures and empty food labels were positioned next to a hand-written question, “What is the healthy choice?” Based on their responses, it was clear to me that her students now knew the answer.
Dairy Council of California’s nutrition education classroom curriculum and resources are always free to California educators. Visit our curriculum page to order today. All educators can empower their students on healthy eating and how to make healthy choices that will last a lifetime.
Jammie is a Community Nutrition Adviser in the South Bay Area and Northern Central Valley region.
Data collected from pre- and post-surveys in the 2019-2020 school year shows increased nutrition knowledge and improved eating behaviors.
Builders can accompany Dairy Council of California’s curriculum for further learning or stand alone to introduce a nutrition topic.