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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seven Resources for Teaching and Learning About Food & Nutrition

On Tuesday morning I'm going to visit a school that has adopted a new health and fitness curriculum focused on helping students make better food choices and help them develop personal fitness goals. In thinking about my upcoming visit I revisited the following resources that can help students learn about food and nutrition.

Chow Checker was developed by students was developed by students at Hampstead Academy. The app was submitted to and won Verizon's Innovative App Challenge. Chow Checker is a free Android app that anyone can use to search for foods and discover which allergens may be in them. Chow Checker users can create profiles of their own allergens to help them keep track of the foods that contain allergens that can affect them. You don't have to create a profile in order to use the app. You can simply enter a food's name or part of the name ("trail" instead of "trail mix" for example) and view the common allergens that it contains.

Why do so many of us crave sugar and sweet things? Untamed Science offers a short explanation in the video below.



Chew or Die is a free iOS app that encourages people to try new healthy foods. The free app contains a series of healthy food challenges. The challenges include things like removing bread and potato-based starches with rice, trying a new vegetable, removing meat from your diet for a week, and sneaking more fiber into your diet. When you try a challenge take a picture of the food that you try and upload it to Chew or Die to challenge your friends to match your healthy choice.

Sugar Stacks is a good website for understanding how much sugar is in the food and beverages that we consume. Sugar Stacks lists popular food and beverage items in ten categories. Every item is pictured with a stack of sugar cubes. Each sugar cube represents four grams of sugar. This is a great way to see just how much sugar you really consume in your favorite snack or beverage.

Food Play Productions produces and performs educational plays about healthy lifestyle habits. In addition to the plays, Food Play produces a nice selection of resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. Food Play also has resources designed for kids, teens, and parents to access on their own. The type of resource that visitors to the site will find are things like "school wellness" checklists and "snacking guides."

Healthy Heroes is a free iPad app designed to help children learn about healthy snacks and meals. In the free app students feed healthy foods to a friendly monster. Before each activity students are shown a few healthy foods and they’re told a bit about the nutrition and calories of the foods. Then in the activity students tap mystery boxes to find the snacks and drag them to the monster’s mouth. Between each activity a short, healthy eating tip is played for students to watch.

Nourish Interactive is a great resource for elementary school health and nutrition teachers. Nourish Interactive offers lesson plans, printable guides and forms, resources for parents, and games for students. In the printables section teachers will find things like fun coloring pages as well as educational pages like "name the food group" and "exercise tracking sheets." The parents' section of Nourish Interactive offers parents tips on teaching healthy eating habits at home. The parents' section also offers tips and recipes for cooking healthy food with kids. The games section of Nourish Interactive contains ten online games for elementary school students. The games are designed to reinforce the lessons learned from parents and teachers using the teaching resources on Nourish Interactive.

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