Health and nutrition has always been an important topic for both parents and teachers. I started this whole child journey when I created a unit called Mindful Brains Mindful Hearts. It was a culmination of all the Mindup, Bucket Filling, Brain-based and compassion ideas that I found so fascinating and effective with the children in my classroom. The children were SOO interested in learning about their brains and the control that they have on their own emotions and self awareness. This led me to more research and teaching on self regulation and setting up learning spaces that were more conducive to learning. I discovered along the way that children began to crave the brain breaks and brain boosts as much as I did and parents began reporting to me that their children were practising mindfulness at home. That really warmed my heart!
Like most teachers, one size doesn’t fit all and one resource isn’t going to do it all. So, I use a few different things in my classroom for mindfulness and classroom management. But then I got to thinking about the learning process more and how happy, relaxed students are better learners. They think more, are more patient and tolerant and seem to engage in deeper thinking when asked questions. I then thought about the curriculum and the whole “work smarter not harder” idea and realized that being mindful goes hand in hand with exercise, health and nutrition.
I often taught these concepts together in the Physical Education and/or personal planning lessons. But did I really TEACH it? You know, passionately. Then I saw the new book by Tom Rath. He is the author of How Full is Your Bucket? There it was. The best way to teach WHY nutrition, and exercise are important. Tom Rath includes sleep in his book too – why haven’t I? I always talk to the students about the importance of sleep but why not include it with nutrition and exercise? Mr. Rath does a phenomenal job of doing this in his book THE RECHARGEABLES.
This book is about a make believe land called “Verve” where all the people are dark and lifeless. The main character is Poppy. She sees a boy named Simon, lifeless against a tree.
She goes into a local house and sees a note that someone is writing about moving giving you energy. Then she notices a colored strip on Simon that was red but turns yellow when he gets up. They soon discover that running and running may not give you an endless supply of energy. You need more. They write that down so that they don’t forget. They go into the fridge and eat food that is not healthy. Again, they get an energy boost but it is short lived. As the book continues, Simon and Poppy discover that they are sister and brother.
Their brains were so tired and groggy because they hadn’t been living a healthy lifestyle and making good food and exercise choices that they weren’t aware of this. They eat some wonderful fruit and run around. Soon, they also realize that because they were exercising and eating well, they also slept well. Wow! Did they ever feel great the next day! They learned that sleep is also great for recharging. After they help their parents to learn this too. 🙂 I would highly recommend this book.
The book has a few of these “charging strips” inside it but for you to use with your class, I made this set. It is a great way to focus on health and nutrition and the energy you get. You can laminate and reuse them year after year or give them to kids to take home to put on the fridge so that they will remember to make good choices. Click on the picture to grab these Fuel Strips as an instant blog only download.
Do you have a health curriculum to teach? I put together all my ideas about nutrition and exercise together with ideas and printables about sleep too in my new packet called Mindful Bodies, Mindful Learning. It’s full of useful stuff! It’s a great way to teach students that fuelling your body helps you to learn and to be happy!
If you’d like to read more about mindfulness and whole child, check out the blog post I wrote on Interactive Mindful Notebooks.