After winter break, children arrived at school coughing and sneezing. The teacher led a discussion. “This is a time of year that lots of people get sick. What do you do to keep your body healthy? One way I keep my body healthy is to get lots of sleep at night.”
The students shared their own stories orally, and then represented them. Morgan shared, “I jump rope to stay healthy, and my sister hula hoops.” She made a display out of a shoebox, markers, pipe cleaners, and beads.
Alex shared, “I play math games on the computer to keep my brain healthy.” He built a computer at woodworking and drew the numbers with markers.
Michael added, “I keep my body healthy by riding my scooter,” and built a scooter out of K’nex.
After we shared and represented our stories, questions emerged. For example, when Izzie shared that she jumps on the trampoline, children asked, “How does jumping keep your body healthy?” We generated a list of questions to investigate. At the same time students were representing their stories, the teacher's e-mailed parents inviting them to share expertise related to health and fitness.
PHASE 2Developing the Project
We invited guest experts to our class to help us answer our questions. A pediatrician performed a mock physical on a child while children took notes and did observational drawings of the tools she used. A yoga instructor led a Yoga for Children class. A massage therapist demonstrated ways massage helps our muscles and our mind, and a psychiatrist taught us that feelings affect our bodies.
PHASE 3Concluding the Project
Then we visited Lifetime Fitness, a local health club. On our tour we learned about the pool, the exercise equipment, the spa and the café. At the end, we participated in a rock climbing class.
Back in the class, students talked to teachers about the questions they most wanted to research, and we divided them into groups of 2-4 students. Some calculated how many sit-ups each of us could do in a minute. Others collected data to learn how running laps around the playground affected our heart rate. One student wanted to know what a normal body temperature was so they could take the temperature of classmates. We shared our results through charts, surveys and graphs.
In Reading Workshop, we read books and used technology to learn about nutrition, exercise and the human body.
For homework, everyone visited a grocery store with parents and learned about reading food labels, pricing, and packaging healthy food.
To conclude our project, we converted our room into a state-of-the-art wellness center. Parents and faculty members were invited and told to bring their money. The center offered a medical check-up by two first grade doctors, a relaxing massage in our spa, an aerobic workout, and guidance for healthier living by first grade health professionals. We also opened The First Grade Snack Shop, where healthy foods were sold. Our storekeepers bagged and priced the food and made attractive displays and signs. The cashiers totaled each client’s bill and made change.
One of the surprising outcomes of our project was the enduring effect it had on the children. For the remainder of the year, they were conscientious about packing healthy lunches and snacks and getting enough exercise on the playground. We made quite a profit on our First Grade Snack Shop, so we donated the money to Backpack Buddies. This community organization ensures that children have healthy meals over the weekend by giving needy children backpacks filled with food each Friday when they leave school.
Developed by Carolynn Klein and Asra Farooq at Duke School
Kathy Bartelmay, Curriculum Director
© 2013 Duke School