Best Practices

Published on October 8th, 2014 | by Aaron Hart

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Nutrition Quick-Starts with MyPlate

Teaching students about nutrition and healthy eating is an essential component of quality physical education. However, many teachers struggle to find the time to fit nutrition education into an already packed schedule. Here’s one solution…

Start your lessons with instant activities that integrate MyPlate educational objectives.

Here’s the concept in 3 quick steps:

  1. Students enter the activity area.
  2. For 3 minutes get them active quickly in a high activity game with an instructional focus on MyPlate.
  3. Immediately after the activity is over use targeted debrief questions to emphasize nutrition education concepts. This quick discussion lasts approximately 1 minute.

Bam! Heightened nutritional awareness in less than 5 minutes.

The key to making sure the activities and messages are on target is the use of the Serving Up MyPlate learning objectives and essential questions. (I’ve created an excel chart of these for everyone to download and use.) These developmentally appropriate learning goals provide the roadmap for your planning. To help illustrate what this could look like I’ve created 3 very simple activity plans for you to try.

The first activity, Frozen Veggie Tag, is a very basic modification on the classic game of Freeze Tag. This is meant to illustrate how teachers can take classic games that students already know and blend MyPlate objectives into a very short debrief session.

The second activity, Hot Veggie Soup, is another modification of a game by Hal Cramer in the book The First Six Minutes (available here). Again, the quick debrief session is the key to making sure the instructional focus is targeted on nutrition education.

The third activity, MyPlate Walk/Jog Course, is simply a lap perimeter with posters on each cone to prompt partners or groups to talk while they walk or jog. You can use the cards that we created or you can create your own with MyPlate Icons available through the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov website.

My goal for sharing these activities, as well as the MyPlate objectives chart, is to provide an example of how easy it can be to modify favorite instant activities to incorporate targeted nutrition education messages. (It’s only right that I also included references to the National Standards and Outcomes, as well as relevant Academic Language.)

The links to each activity are provided again in the list below along with the posters and objectives chart. The lessons are in both PDF and MS Word formats so you can modify the basic ideas to meet the needs of your students. As you find ways to make each activity better, please share your ideas in the comments below. I hope you enjoy this week’s resources.

Work hard. Have fun!

(Follow me on Twitter @nyaaronhart)

Free PE Resources:

  • Serving Up My Plate Objectives Chart (Excel, PDF)
  • Frozen Veggie Tag Activity Plan (Word, PDF)
  • Hot Veggie Soup Activity Plan (Word, PDF)
  • MyPlate Walk/Jog Course (Word, PDF)
  • Food Group Poster Set [5] (PDF)
  • MyPlate Concept Poster Set [4] (PDF)


About the Author

is the Director of Educational Programs for US Games and teaches as a part-time faculty member in SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department. Aaron has been teaching physical education for seventeen years, serving all levels from Early Childhood through Graduate School. He’s provided over 150 professional development workshops in 36 states and Canada.



2 Responses to Nutrition Quick-Starts with MyPlate

  1. Kim Walker-Smith says:

    Thanks for the article, Aaron. I love this idea and will try the activities this 2nd quarter with my classes. All the best, Kim

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