Use “Taste and Learn” Activities to Help Improve Academic Performance

September 27, 2012

Have you ever taught a health, nutrition, or life skills class and wished there was a fun way to improve students’ retention of the lesson? After all, we learn best by DOING, right?

Try a “Taste & Learn”, or the whole set of them, to drive home the importance of the particular lesson/skill you are teaching. “Taste & Learn” activities support classroom lessons with food preparation and tasting.

But what does preparing food and tasting it have to do with _____________? (Fill in the blank with any of the following: Nutrition, Physical Education, Health, Life skills, Math, Reading, English)

Well, these lessons offer many options for kids to apply math, writing, and other subjects to real life situations. AND preparation of healthy foods is a critical sub-skill in developing healthy habits. It’s a win-win situation for academics and for health both!

Here’s an example using “Mighty Milk” from the KSU Research & Extension Kids a Cookin’ web site.

Mighty Milk

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 6 servings or 24 (1/4 cup servings) tasting samples

Ingredients
8 ice cubes
2 cups 2% milk
2 bananas
4 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Cover and blend for about 20 seconds.
  3. Serve ¼ cup tasting samples in small paper cups.
  4. Clean work area and utensils with warm soapy water. Rinse with clean water.

Taste and Learn Activity
Materials: Nutrition Facts labels from skim, 1%, 2% and whole milk.

  1. Explain that milk is a source of saturated fat (a solid fat at room temperature, usually found in meat, dairy, and processed foods).
  2. Ask kids to look at Nutrition Facts label of each milk type to identify:
    a) fat content
    b) calories
  3. Ask them to explain how to reduce the amount of fat in the recipe. (Answer: By choosing low fat or skim milk, we reduce the saturated and total fat for a healthier heart and body.)
  4. Ask kids to determine the number of MyPlate Dairy servings in one serving of the recipe. (Answer: 2 c. milk divided by 6 servings = ⅓ c. serving) and recall the benefits of calcium.
  5. Discuss the different times of the day the recipe could be made. (Examples: as a breakfast shake, a snack, or mealtime “dessert shake.”
  6. Ask kids to pretend they are restaurant owners and write menu board descriptions that market the recipe as a healthy drink. Suggest they come up with their own recipe names

You can find the “Taste & Learn” Activities within your Balance My Day™ Nutrition Education Curriculum for Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. When kids regularly practice healthy habits like these, they perform better in school!

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