In our Healthy Body, Healthy Mind unit we touch on a few different subject areas: body image, nutrition and physical activity as well as a project teaching student how to self-advocate for themselves when it comes to nutrition. We begin this unit with Body Image. Probably the hardest task to teach a middle school, pubescent child is how to love their body as is. This is why we start this topic in 6th grade and continue lessons about it into 7th and 8th grade. An amazing resource we use to teach positive body image to kids Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love their Bodies Too! by Kathy J. Kater. This resource is an amazing tool for teachers because each lesson includes a suggested lesson script (so nice!) for you as a teacher, but also is very thorough about each of the lessons outcomes while also giving background information on each lesson for the teacher (pretty awesome!). I would recommend reading the preface and background information for teachers prior to teaching the lessons. A wealth of great information is there!
1. Day 1: We begin with the opening lesson and unit introduction in the book: Growth and Change in Appearance. For this lesson we follow the exact teacher lesson script.
2. Day 2: Lesson 1: Gaining Perspective: The Development of Unrealistic and Negative Body Images in Western Culture. Follow the suggested lesson script 3.
Day 3-4: We skipped lesson 2 this year, however, have done it in the past. It took us at least 3 one hour classes to completed this lesson. It is pretty awesome, so we’re looking at figuring out a way to condense the lesson into one or two classes for next year. We went on to Lesson 3, How your appearance will change in puberty. Each child received their own packet. This lesson takes 2 one hour successive class periods and the way we do it is we pretty much just go through each question and have conversations and answer questions as they come up. After day two and the kids are done filling out their packets, we have them take the packet home to go over with their parents and bring back to school the following class. Maybe a good idea to send an email home to parents as a heads up:) This helps the parents prepare better and also makes sure that those apprehensive children actually goes over the info with their parents. It’s never too late or early to start the puberty dialogue with a child!
Day 5-Food Plate and Food Groups:
- Brainpop video on Body Weight. Excellent segway from Body Image to Nutrition and also leads to great discussions about differences in body size.
- Food Group Discussion. Have the students discuss the five food groups and discuss the food plate. Draw a very large food plate on the board (see picture). Next, we handed out sticky pieces of various foods to each table group. They had to sort the pieces of food at their table and then bring them up to the board to stick in the correct food group.
- Discuss the foods in each section and talk about the basics of what each food group does. (ex: protein-builds and repairs muscles).
- If there’s time end with this little video reemphasizing healthy choices:
Day 6: Cafeteria Observation
Now that the kids know and understand the basics of the food groups, we’re going to put their knowledge to the test! They are going to head over to the cafeteria to make some observations. Before we go over, each child will get the Cafeteria Observation handout, a clipboard and a pencil. Go over the sheet prior to heading over to the cafeteria. If there are no students in the cafeteria when you go over, have the students think about what the 6th grade students ate for lunch that day.
Come back and have a discussion about what they saw. Often times they have great ideas about changes that could be made to the cafeteria.