There are many important subjects and lessons we cover in middle school, and nutrition should be one of them. A school is a place where teenagers exercise their minds and bodies, but teachers can also give them information and strategies for how to make good choices regarding their health and well-being at home.
From making healthier snack choices to learning recipes and reading food labels, there are so many ways we can incorporate nutrition into our students' daily lives. Here are 20 of our favorite activities to promote and foster healthy habits in our middle school classrooms.
1. Lunch Menu Challenge
One of the first ways we can educate our students on how to make healthy food choices is through meal planning. Split your students into groups and ask each group to design a healthy lunch menu for the school. Make sure they are prepared to answer discussion questions about why they made the choices they did.
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2. Nutrition Word Search
When teaching teens about nutrition, there are some important terms and concepts they should get familiar with. Once you've had a class discussion about food groups, you can dive deeper into nutrient deficiencies, common ingredient items, and food science. To check student comprehension, word searches are a fun option.
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3. How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label
Many teens have gone their whole lives without reading food packages. Many people rely on food ads and images when they make their purchases. Here is an activity that teaches students what to look for when buying food products. Give them a list of questions to answer about one of their favorite processed food items.
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4. Food Diary Apps
Depending on the age of your students, an application can be a better option for a food journal than a written one. Encourage your students to input their daily food intake for a set amount of time while they are taking nutrition lessons. Have them write an overview of how their choices improved as they learned more about a healthy diet.
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5. Healthy Eating Crosswor
Informative lesson plans can incorporate hands-on activities, as well as independent ones students can complete on their own. Crosswords are great educational resources students can take home and review or use as a reference for further exploration.
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6. Incorporating More Herbs!
Talk about food that packs a nutrient punch! Herbs are amazing plants that can greatly improve the taste and health quality of most meals. Students can learn how to incorporate herbs into different dishes for a more balanced diet. Create a mini herb garden in the classroom your students can help take care of!
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7. Tips for Eating Out
We all love to eat out on occasion, and most of the time these aren't health food restaurants. Students can learn how to make healthier food choices while still eating out and enjoying their favorite dishes. Portion size, sauces, and forms of cooking are all things to consider when ordering food.
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8. Snack Attack!
Pick a day of the week and ask your middle schoolers to bring in one of their favorite snacks. Encourage them to make healthy snack choices, and see what everyone decides to bring! While sharing the food, ask questions about the nutrients in each and award a prize for the healthiest one!
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9. Potato Chip Experiment
This experiment tests to see which brand of potato chips uses the most grease and therefore has the most fat. The point is to show your students through crushing and viewing the grease marks, what they are putting in their bodies. Many students will be grossed out by the grease and learn to eat less of these processed foods.
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10. Food Safety Science
Now here is an exciting online food safety game your middle schoolers will get lost in! Ninja kitchen has the thrill of a time crunch, making food and serving customers, but it also teaches important food safety practices.
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11. Nutritious Math Practice
There are a few different math activities you can ask your students to complete using their favorite foods. You can have them solve word problems regarding serving sizes, total package calculations of various processed foods, and even have student groups make comparisons between different products.
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12. Health and Fitness Games
Nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand, so whether you are a science teacher or a P.E. teacher, these ideas are for you! Make some DIY fitness dice kids can take turns rolling and doing the actions for, or write nutrition questions on popsicle sticks and have students pick and answer for a fun interactive game.
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13. Food Collage
Time to get a little artsy with a fun magazine collage activity your teens will get wrapped up in. Bring some health magazines to class with lots of pictures of different foods inside. Ask your students to get into groups and create a nutrition collage board by cutting out food pictures and writing facts to share with the class.
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14. Using Our Senses
Let's see how good your students are at naming different foods by smell and taste. Bring some blindfolds and food items into class. Have your students partner up and feed each other food to see if they can guess what it is.
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15. Rainbow Nutrients
Did you know a food's natural color can tell us what nutrients it contains? Red foods are good for your blood and joints, while yellow foods help with digestion and your immune system. Fun and colorful facts can lead to a more varied and healthy diet!
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16. Grocery Store Scavenger Hunt
Give your middle school students some authentic homework that will teach them to be more conscientious grocery shoppers. This scavenger hunt worksheet asks students to find their favorite foods, as well as other items, and record their nutrition facts.
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18. Water Content Nutrition Experiment
Bring some fresh fruits and veggies to class and have your students do a little experiment to determine if the water content in different foods says something about their nutritional value.
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19. Kitchen Tools, Food Preparation Practice
We want to make sure that students know how to use knives, peelers, and mashers to prepare healthy meals for themselves. Foster respect and knowledge for these tools by practicing in a safe environment and improving students' kitchen skills.
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20. Healthy Potluck
Once you've done the lessons and taught your students the basics of nutrition, it's time for a celebration! Ask your students to prepare and bring in a healthy dish to enjoy with the class so they can share the benefits of eating a well-balanced meal.
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