Healthy body healthy mind

The “secrets” of healthy eating include variety, moderation and balance. A consistent, repeated message is one key to learning. A daily, or even weekly, message targeted not just to knowledge, but also attitude and healthy behavior, is the aim. In the classroom, plan 5-10 minute nutrition education or physical activity brain breaks. It doesn’t have to be complex:

Nutrition Ed

  • Discuss how MyPlate shows us how to choose a variety of foods from different food groups.
  • Talk about moderation. What is it and how do we choose it? Point out how MyPlate gives us serving sizes for the foods we eat and also recommends the number of servings we should eat for our age, gender and how active we are.
  • Talk about how eating a healthy breakfast can make school easier. Breakfast provides morning “Go Power.”

Brain Breaks

  • Talk about how moving more balances “energy in” from the foods we eat with “energy out” for a healthy heart and weight. While moving, ask kids to call out their favorite choices for active play.
  • Between lessons, have kids do jumping jacks, jog in place or act out sports like swimming, tennis or basketball.
  • Play five minutes of “musical desks.”

If time is limited to implement a full comprehensive nutrition education curriculum, do something else. There are many “One-a-Day” ideas to help fill a gap. Contact Healthy Kids Challenge for more ideas. The Healthy Kids Challenge Balance My Day™ curriculum is full of discussion points, hands-on activities and worksheets.



The benefits of including nutrition education during the school day are hard to ignore!

Benefits for Schools

Helping students stay healthy through eating healthy foods and being physically active can help schools achieve better overall:

  1. Test scores
  2. Grades
  3. Attendance rates
  4. Behavior patterns

Benefits for Parents

Kids spend a great deal of their time in school. A healthy school environment can:

  1. Provide opportunities to learn and practice healthy behaviors

Benefits for Kids

Eating healthier and staying active in school can help kids:

  1. Gain knowledge and skills to make healthy choices
  2. Feel better
  3. Do better in sports
  4. Concentrate
  5. Get better grades and test scores

Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

If you are looking for assistance in choosing a flexible, easy-to-implement, comprehensive nutrition education program, contact Healthy Kids Challenge!


You’re invited! Mark your calendars and sign up for an inspiring March 7th webinar, Making Healthy Eating a Habit… Anywhere Kids Live, Learn, Work and Play. This one hour webinar will be presented by Vickie L. James, Registered, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and the creator of the award winning Healthy Kids Challenge, now an integral part of School Specialty and SPARK programs. There is no cost.

Please join us to get some simple tips and ideas for integrating nutrition education into kids’ daily world. From classroom to PE, after school and community youth programs, you’ll find SPARK nutrition education resources your “go to” guide for healthy eating for kids!

Attendees will:

  • Understand the value and need for nutrition education for kids.
  • Discover simple ways to implement nutrition education into existing curriculum and youth programs.
  • Learn “edu-tainment” tips to make nutrition education fun for kids.
  • Discover how Healthy Kids Challenge nutrition education materials available through SPARK can be a valuable guide for your teaching needs.

Learn how you can be part of the healthy solution team for child nutrition!

Highlights include answers to questions like:

  • WHERE and HOW do I teach nutrition education?
  • Where can nutrition education find a home? How to deal with the time, tools and other issues.
  • Are you equipped? Understanding quick, simple ways to teach nutrition education in an integrated approach throughout the school day, or in youth programs.

When: Tuesday, March 7th, at 5pm Pacific, 8pm Eastern *Note the special time at 5pm Pacific*

Who: Grades K-8 classroom teachers and administrators, PE specialists, health and science teachers, school food service managers, school wellness council members and after school, summer camp, and youth program teachers and staff.

Duration: 60 Minutes

Cost: Free

Sign up:

Go ahead and Take Healthy Action by teaching Breakfast GO Power messaging with multiple ideas and activities to drive the message home!

Create Awareness

  • Have kids create a list of favorite healthy breakfast foods. Challenge them to make breakfast a daily habit! Use the Explore MyPlate Teaching Cards to jump start their lists and teach about breakfast foods in the different food groups.

  • Promote breakfast as a good way to start every day, not just during testing days! Have kids find facts online supporting breakfast every day, make a poster, and line the hallways with their promotions.

  • Our Wednesday WOWS newsletter has ideas every week!

Build Skills in the Classroom

Change the Environment

  • Try out “grab-and-go” breakfast at school. Create appeal by marketing with signs everywhere. Have classes draw “Breakfast GO Power” messages; also present “Breakfast GO Power” commercials to another class.

Cook-up Cafeteria Excitement

  • Invite local celebrities to school breakfast, and as a bonus have a student reporter or class cover the event as a “media” story.

  • Create a plan with PTA to host a “Serving up MyPlate” breakfast as a way to give everyone a boost during testing weeks. For example, blend up smoothies and combine with a “build a breakfast trail mix” using whole grain cereal, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and nuts.

Connect with Families


Science experiments using food are a great way to catch the attention of middle school students, which can then be focused Explore MyPlate cover 110810Fon healthy eating habits. Give it a try with our fun activity below!

Hear – See – Do Activity

Adapted from the Static Electricity with Cereal experiment, Explore MyPlate with School Nutrition booklet

“Puffed rice jump and float from a table top to a plexiglass plate.”

What you need:

  • hand full of puffed rice cereal
  • a square plate of plexiglass, approximately 12 in. by 12 in.
    wooden blocks to balance the plate 1-3 inches above the table (table should be non-metallic)
  • wool sweater


  • Place the puffed rice on the table surface.
  • Place the wooden blocks on the table and balance the plexiglass plate over the table and the pile of puffed rice.
  • Vigorously rub the top of the plexiglass with the wool sweater.
  • The puffed rice should start to stand on end, then “jump” from the table surface to the plexiglass and back again.

Explanation: The effect is caused by the buildup of static charge. Rubbing the wool sweater on the plexiglass generates a net negative charge on the plate surface. This net negative charge has the effect of polarizing the puffed rice on the table below, so positive charges accumulate on points closest to the negatively charged plate. Unlike charges attract and when the difference in charge has become great enough, the puffed rice is drawn to the bottom of the plate. When the rice contacts the plate the charges dissipate and it falls back to the table.

During our Balance My Day Training at Westmar Middle School in beautiful Allegany County, MD, a concerned teacher asked bal my day cov 3_5 101027how to help obese middle school students knowing best practice guidelines advise against weight-loss diets for children and adolescents who are still growing taller. Addressing that dilemma, among a number of other concerns, is what the Balance My Day Training helps school personnel do! Using the Balance My Day Healthy 6 Messages, this teacher and his colleagues designed approaches to help all (not just overweight kids) Allegany Middle Schoolers eat healthier and move more.

Some of the approaches Allegany County teachers and administrators planned include:

  • serving healthy foods instead of doughnuts at staff meetings;
  • using hula hoops and bean bags in a relay race to teach MyPlate concepts;
  • employing the school’s smart t.v. system to motivate students to try new, healthful foods;
  • conducting science experiments with fruits and vegetables;
  • using healthy eating and physical activity as art project themes;
  • scheduling regular classroom brain breaks and
  • examining healthful recipes and food labels to teach math concepts.

Because of our discussions about role modeling healthy behaviors, I was thrilled to hear several teachers commit to stop using candy as a classroom reward.

Allegany County, MD schools has been proactive in helping their students to form healthy habits. As a result of our Balance My Day Training, teachers and administrators have many more exciting tools to motivate students to eat healthfully and move more.

Tomatoes are ripening on the vines, so start a discussion with kids about this HKC printable and diverse vegetable choices!Berry, Berry, Good image

Ahead of time:

Wash and cut small tomato pieces from varying types for tasting samples. Place on a serving tray and set aside.

  1. Ask kids how many different varieties of tomatoes they have seen at the grocery store, a garden or local farmer’s market? List on the board (such as standard round globe, plum, grape,cherry, yellow, green and purple).
  2. One child at a time, present the tomato sample serving tray and let kids pick one sample to taste.
  3. As kids are tasting, share tomato trivia:a.What nutrients do tomatoes have? (Vitamin A, C and the antioxidant, lycopene)

    b.Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”.

  4. Ask kids some of the ways they typically eat tomatoes? (in sandwiches, salads, Mexican food, pasta and pizza sauce).

  5. Discuss other healthy ways to eat tomatoes, such as a snack ( raw cherry tomatoes) or a veggie dip (tomato salsa mixed with low fat yogurt). If time allows, prepare the veggie dip for kids to try.


Help kids hear the message that vegetables come in many different varieties to enjoy.
Let them see different types of tomatoes.
Let them do by providing hands on activities and tasting opportunities.

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