5th grade students learn to make healthful food choices
My students really liked looking at the labels. The hands on, real world connection was engaging. I noticed an immediate change in them the next day as they began noticing the labels on their snacks for recess.
The 5th grade nutrition education program consists of seven lessons that include interactive activities, simulations, and reflections taught by classroom teachers. Aligned with California’s Common Core Content Standards, California’s National Health Education Standards, and current psychological theory, each lesson is designed specifically for fifth graders. For example, the 5th grade program includes critical thinking skills, such as creating and analyzing food records. Fifth grade students also work on more advanced goal-setting lessons and an advertising lesson designed for students to analyze marketing information related to foods.
The five food groups and their main nutrients
Estimating appropriate serving sizes using hand symbols
How to be physically active for 60 minutes each day
Creating and evaluating food records
Planning and setting goals to help improve healthy eating and physical activity
Critically analyzing food advertisements
Student’s workbook (English and Spanish versions)
Family connection and homework activities
Supplemental visual materials
Key findings from research evaluating the program
Teachers found the lessons simple, straightforward, well scripted with complete, student-friendly information.
Students understood concepts and learned key vocabulary words easily.
Teachers noticed students were more aware of the foods they were eating, and the foods their peers selected at snack and lunch. Together they encouraged each other to make better food choices and to be more physically active
Parents reported their children talked about trying new foods.
The program increased students’ consumption of foods from the five food groups, including whole grains, proteins, and fruits
The program decreased students’ consumption of foods high in empty calories and high sugar drinks
Parents reported that children read food labels, wanted to try new foods, and talked about eating balanced meals more often after completing the program
The program and homework activities increased parents’ frequency of serving foods from the five food groups
Teachers indicated that they generally liked all of the lessons, and that the lessons were easy to teach and well designed for their students
An important observation of the 5th grade program was that it led to greater changes than with earlier editions of the program. The more rigorous and interactive content indicated positive knowledge and behavior outcomes. A subsequent evaluation of our fourth grade version of the program has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Translational Behavioral Medicine demonstrates that the program has a moderate to high public health impact.
About the study
A formative evaluation was conducted by researchers at RTI International and the University of Southern California during the 2011-2012 school year. Thirty-six participating teachers had students complete a survey before and after the lessons were taught. Qualitative input from the teachers provided during this formative project was used to improve the 4th and 5th grade programs and a summative evaluation was completed with our 4th grade version of the program. Students were measured prior to participating in the program and after participating to test changes in important variables. A similar study with a control group and a final survey three-months after the program was completed using the 4th grade version. Read the full report here.
Why Nutrition Education is Important?
1st grade teacher, Michaela Nealy, explains why food literacy is important for students.