What do you think of when you think of health? Nutrition? Physical Activity? These are the two answers I usually get when I ask my students what it means to be healthy. Well, they are not wrong but they are not completely correct either. They are missing three very key areas of health that we deal with every day of our lives: social health (communication), emotional health (feelings) and Mental Health (thoughts).
I am a very visual person and I know some of my students are as well so to help students better understand the four main areas of health I constructed a wheel giving examples of each realm of health that I hang up in my health room.
- To begin our Intro to Health unit we have our 6th grade students take a look back at their VIA Character Strength Survey they complete at the beginning of 6th grade. This is a pretty amazing survey that takes only about 20 minutes or so to complete. After you’re done, it shoots out the top character strengths of each individual student. I took it, and at least for me, it was a pretty accurate reading of who I am and the strengths I have. Just make sure your students take the one FOR YOUTH and not the one for adults.
- Have students take a screen shot or copy and paste of their top 5 strengths into a word document to refer back to.
- Have students chat in small or one large discussion group about their top character strength and how they embody that strength. It’s interesting hearing this conversation, because our school is small enough that our kids really know each other well nd sometimes kids don’t think they embody their top strength, but when we discuss, others in the class will give them multiple examples of how they DO embody their strength. Really fun to see this happen!
- Character Strength Shield Project. Students will take their top 4 strengths and create their own character strength shield. It would be easy enough to find a blank shield from google images that would work for this project (sorry! don’t have a copy of our shield!)
- In each part of the shield, students need to have their character strength as well as a picture/drawing to show how they use each character strength. Our shield also had a little space on the bottom so we had the students write their favorite quote. See examples below
- This project is not graded. Just a good reminder to them of all of the great qualities they have and allows me to get to know them a bit as well:)
Next we move to talking more about the Wellness Wheel and what each of sections (physical, emotional, social and mental health) mean. BALANCE amongst the four sections of wheel is what we emphasize to our middle school students. We know middle schoolers are going through a lot of changes phsycially, metally, emotionally and socially while their in middle school so teaching them how to keep their wheel rolling and balanced is so important.
- Draw a wheel on the board. Explain how each section deals with a different area of your life. Using the wellness wheel (above) as a guide teach them the meaning of each section of the wheel. Have them generate some ideas in their notebooks or take notes as you’re teaching them the differences between physical, mental, emotional and social health.
- Handout Sheet How Healthy Are You? to reinforce student learning of the Wellness Wheel. What they usually find when they do fill out this sheet is that most examples could go into at least two sections of the wellness wheel and could be different from person to person.
- Have a brief discussion about answers (if time permits).
- Go over students How Healthy Are You? sheet. Good review from yesterday.
- Now students need to think about each section of the wheel and come up with one goal for themselves for each section of their wellness wheel (Wellness Wheel Project Instruction Sheet). We tell the students to think about their lives and what they want to get better at, something their having trouble with (often times ends up to be time management of some sort), something they love but need to make more time for, etc. Have them write down 2 or 3 ideas for physical, social, emotional and mental and then circle the one for each category they really want to focus on.
- Now they need to construct that goal into a “I will” Statement (see instruction sheet for more details).
- Construct Wellness Wheels