– Physical Education and Nutrition Education Working Together
PE-Nut is a nutrition and physical education program that uses a whole-school approach to motivate students, parents and educators to be physically active and eat healthier. PE-Nut is designed to improve health behaviors in a school environment by presenting simple, consistent nutrition and ubiquitous physical activity messages via multiple approaches and locations. Academic achievement improves when students receive a healthful diet and when they can be physically active throughout the school day. In PE-Nut, physical educators, classroom teachers and school administrators work together to improve nutrition and physical activity in K-5 school settings. It fits nicely with the coordinated school health (CSH) approach in schools.
Students who eat nutritious food and participate in regular physical activity are healthier. They miss fewer days of school and are more on task. This means that teachers’ instructional time is more efficient. Numerous studies have linked physical activity among students to higher test scores. So not only will students’ health improve, but they'll be more focused learners.
School-Wide Nutrition and Physical Activity Messages
School administrators participating in the PE-Nut program receive the Building Leadership Guide. Since messages are more effective when they are consistent and delivered through multiple channels, school administrators play a vital role by using their Building Leadership Guide (BLG) to reinforce nutrition messages daily through morning announcements. Administrators can also reach the home by including the brief articles from the BLG on school websites or in monthly school newsletters to help to enlist parent assistance by conveying healthy eating messages and program updates to them.Also included is a "Health and Learning" presentation for a school's board of education to communicate the importance of creating a healthier school environment.
In the classroom, students not only learn why it is important to eat properly, they learn how to make healthy choices while sampling healthy snacks, all in an environment that supports healthy living. Physical activity is also included via activity breaks in the classroom. This all happens within a school culture where teachers, physical educators, administrators and other partners (such as the food service director) teach and reinforce the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition with consistent language and messages.
PE-Nut program materials are linked to Michigan GLCEs, so when you teach with these materials, you are also covering required content expectations. Many of the PE-Nut materials also have core curriculum links, so you can reinforce instruction in math, science, social studies, and language arts.
Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Schools helps teachers transform first their classroom and, ultimately, their school to be environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity.
One HCHS set is for grades K–2, the other for grades 3–5. Both can be ordered with companion books tailored to a specific grade. Both also include activities for teachers and students that introduce and reinforce healthy messages.
Healthy Classrooms, Healthy Schools touches on all areas defined by the Centers for Disease Control as part of a Coordinated School Health program. To view the Michigan GLCEs covered by each of the HCHS activities, select a grade-level chart below:
The book sets that make up Health Through Literacy include five to six books, age-appropriate for each grade K–5, with nutrition or physical activity themes.
Each book also comes with a tip sheet to enhance the health messages within the books. These tip sheets help teachers to discuss the books with their classes, incorporate physical activity into the reading of the book, provide a food tasting opportunity for students, and integrate health messages with other areas of the program. Michigan GLCE correlations are included right on the tip sheets.
Studies have indicated that classroom physical activity breaks improve on-task behaviors in students, thereby increasing the learning experience of the child. Teachers can use Fit Bits to offer students a physical activity break lasting 7–10 minutes while simultaneously teaching nutrition concepts in the classroom. Fit Bits also promote the character traits identified by the Michigan Partnership for Character Education.
Each book has forty activities targeted at a single grade. Twenty activities focus on nutrition messages; twenty focus on character education skills. Nutrition activities cover food variety, fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks, and food safety.
Each book also includes a CD with music to play during the physical activity component, if desired, and animations that demonstrate many of the activities. More information about Fit Bits can be found at www.epec4kids.com
In the whole-school approach of PE-Nut, physical education (PE) and nutrition education (NE) work together to create healthy student behavior change. In physical education class, students not only learn why it is important to be physically active, but also the skills to do so. Nutrition education is also infused into the PE instruction.
The nutrition-enhanced Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum (EPEC)
EPEC is an easy-to-use, award-winning physical education curriculum aligned with the national (NASPE) standards. EPEC teaches students the knowledge and skills and fosters the competence and confidence they need to enjoy physical activity for a lifetime.
Being a true curriculum, EPEC includes:
EPEC is being used by thousands of teachers nationwide to strengthen both the practice and perception of physical education in their schools. For more information, please visit www.epec4kids.com
The Building Leadership Guide is provided to school administrators as a resource to help incorporate healthy eating and physical activity messages into parent engagement activities. Since many schools have weekly or monthly opportunities for parents to become engaged with school themes or issues, schools are encouraged to work in conjunction with their PE-Nut Nutrition Educator to include nutrition, physical education, and physical activity information as part of these regular, parent engagement activities.
These activities reinforce the message being taught in the gymnasium and classrooms and allow outreach to parents and guardians of students and the community beyond.
PE-Nut includes many materials that reach beyond the student and the classroom to encompass parents and families, such as the Parent Newsletters. Four quarterly newsletters specific for each grade K–5 that focus on physical education, physical activity, and nutrition are available. Each newsletter reinforces not only the physical education skills taught in EPEC PE classes, but also the personal/social skills. The newsletters also provide ideas for families to get physically active together.
The nutrition side of each newsletter provides a brief article addressing common misconceptions regarding nutrition, ideas for family nutritional activities, an easy recipe and the title of a related book.
A blank area on each newsletter can be used for school announcements or for recognition of an agency that underwrites the costs of the newsletters.
The PE-Nut program also offers other materials that help spread messages about healthy eating and physical activity to the home, including: