During the first week of January, I had the opportunity to share with students at Armstrong Elementary School (AES) select food and nutrition topics. As part of AES’ healthful start to 2016, we focused on MyPlate food groups and portions, as well as ways to incorporate real food into snack time. With a cup of enthusiasm, a pinch of curiosity and some super snack choices (carrots, sunflower seeds, popcorn, raisins, and lentil sticks) almost 400 students evaluated snack choices (super versus silly), selected those that were “super” and shared their learning with family members at home.
As a special guest teacher, working with the Physical Education team led by Ali Rheaume, I was assigned a two-part task: build on students’ learning regarding the MyPlate food groups, but emphasize healthful snacks and snacking (keeping it all allergy friendly). Needless to say, I enjoyed this assignment immensely as it allowed me to utilize my nutrition knowledge and facilitation skills while being able to work with an enthusiastic student population.
I designed the classes to showcase “real food choices” so that the students (and their families) can incorporate these options into snack time. Each class evaluated different snack choices using a “water test” to determine if a snack would be a super snack choice (appropriate) or a silly snack choice (inappropriate). The water test assesses a food item’s ability to look the same (or mostly the similar) after having been placed under running water (or in the case of our classes, in a glass container with 6 ounces of water). If the food item does in fact look the same after having been in water it’s a super snack choice (e.g. carrot sticks). If the food item looks remarkably different after having been in water, it’s a silly snack choice (e.g., mini powered donut). The students then used the knowledge gained from the assessment to create their own super snack packs for take home.
The classes were created as interactive (but quick) ways for students (and their families) to work together to choose super snack foods. We also highlighted that snacks should be real food, smaller than a meal, and fit easily in the palms of one’s hands. Students (some teachers and even the school principal) actively participated in the assessment and the preparation of our super snack packs. Thanks Armstrong Elementary School for a fantastic week! Eat well to be well...Catherine