Apps, Websites Encourage Students to Eat Well and Stay Active

By Rob Klindt

Most veteran teachers have seen the strong correlation between good nutrition, physical fitness and students’ academic success.

A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people and helping them establish lifelong healthy behaviors.

And teachers are at the starting point.

Teachers at all grade levels should include instruction about nutrition, healthy food choices and the benefits of exercise into their lesson plans. Instruction for younger children should focus on the benefits of different types of foods including fruits and vegetables. Lessons for older students should examine how calories, weight control and exercise contribute to a person’s well-being.

Resources for Teachers

Lesson plans, printable study guides and quizzes are among many free health and nutrition resources for teachers on the Internet.

  • Milk Matters. Developed for teachers, this website offers lesson plans, classroom activities and games that teach students the benefits of calcium and the foods that have it. Teachers learn how to help students minimize lactose-intolerance symptoms and still get enough calcium. Free.
    Visit the site
  • This webpage from the U. S. Department of Agriculture offers links to resource pages on a variety of food, nutrition, weight-control and exercise topics for children and teenagers. It also includes links to teacher resources. Free.
    Visit the site
  • PE Central. Physical exercise is just as important as proper nutrition for young people to grow and thrive. This website offers K-12 physical education teachers creative and fun ideas to get students moving. Games and exercises include archery, badminton, dancing and even Frisbee. Free.
    Visit the site
  • TeacherVision. Hundreds of cross-curricular resources on health and nutrition for K-12 students are on this website. Downloadable lesson plans, study documents and quizzes introduce students to healthy-living concepts through good eating habits and exercise. Free.
    Visit the site

Learning Through Games

For younger students, interactive games make learning about healthy foods and nutrition fun.

Nourish Interactive helps younger children learn about nutritionA game on the Nourish Interactive website lets younger children see the foods that make up a healthy meal.
  • Nourish Interactive. Younger students will enjoy learning about nutrition through interactive games, animation and quizzes, while older students can learn to plan healthy meals and download recipes that emphasize good nutrition and health. Free; registration required.
    Visit the site
  • Awesome Eats. This fun interactive game from Whole Foods Foundation lets younger children sort, stack and pack a colorful variety of fresh-from-the-garden foods on moving conveyor belts, and then recycle the leftovers. There are multiple skill levels. For Apple iPhone and iPad. Free.
    Download the app

Nutrition Education Apps

Mobile apps can help make shopping for healthy foods easier and put nutritious recipes at students’ fingertips.

  • Fooducate. This mobile app for iOS and Android devices lets students and their families scan barcodes while shopping for groceries to learn about the quality of ingredients in various foods. Foods have letter grades and explanations in the app database. Free; a paid version with more features is available.
    Download the app
  • Nicolas’ Garden. Developed “for kids by kids,” this mobile app encourages healthy eating for children ages 5 to 15 with simple, easy-to-follow recipes. A fun feature lets users photograph their completed recipes and share them with friends and classmates. For Apple iPhone and iPad. Free.
    Download the app

Nutrition and Sleep

Students studying health and science topics will find that nutrition and sleep are closely tied to good health and well-being.

  • BAM! Created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this webpage for students in middle school and above includes food and nutrition tips, recipes, and an interactive dining-decisions game that helps students choose healthy foods in school cafeterias. Free.
    Visit the site
  • Sleep For Kids. This entertaining webpage from the National Sleep Foundation uses interactive games, charts and animation to show students in grades K-6 why sleep is important and what happens during sleep. Free.
    Visit the site

Good nutrition and exercise are important for everyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s especially important for students because feeling well helps them focus on classroom learning and boosts academic success.