|Reviewers Comments: ||The Smart Choices Nutrition Curriculum for Youth can be a great tool for those working with middle school aged students. Based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, the ten lessons included in the curriculum each consist of a lesson booklet for educators, two to six fact sheets, and a Power Point slideshow. Also included is the MyPyramid for Kids poster and the “Finding Your Way to a Healthier You” booklet from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Lessons cover important nutrition topics for a fifth through eighth grade audience. Although they can be used in any sequence, they begin with general topics – healthy eating, MyPyramid and physical activity – and move on to more specific topics – reading nutrition facts labels, breakfast, specific food groups, fat, sugar and salt, snacks, and diabetes awareness. The lesson on diabetes awareness follows the same pattern as the other lessons, but can be omitted without effecting the series if this topic is out of scope with local program learning objectives. Although together the lessons compose a complete curriculum, it is possible to use handouts, power points, activities and other elements from the lessons as stand alone components or in part with other existing resources.
Each lesson includes a specific learning activity, key concepts, objectives, and materials listed, and teaching tips. The lesson plan summarizes the entire lesson for the educator, listing specifically what to say and do throughout the lesson, and going through the power point slide by slide. This makes the classes easier to teach, especially for someone without a background in nutrition education. However a background in nutrition or the class topic may still be necessary to answer student questions. While there is less room for adaption in the lesson plans, alternate activities are provided where variation can take place.
The PowerPoint presentations are included on CD and each correspond to a specific lesson. They are logical, with adequate graphics to balance out text, and extensive notes on each slide. The number of slides ranges from 11 to 31, with 74 slides divided into four sections for the last lesson. Each lesson spans 50 to 60 minutes, except the last one which spans 30 to 40 minutes for each of four PowerPoints.
Throughout the lesson plans, engaging hands on activities and unique games are incorporated to keep the students engaged. The handouts also contain fun games, puzzles, fill in the blanks, fast facts, songs and recipes. Nutrition information is included for the recipes provided.
Most handouts are brightly colored with creative layouts, and use child-friendly fonts and graphics, including a mixture of both photo quality and clip art. Many are printed on high quality glossy paper. While some of the handouts are of better quality than others, all of the information in the handouts included is credible. Handouts are all three hole punched so they can be kept together easily in the curriculum binder. Many of the handouts are available as free PDFs online. Other optional activities in the lessons include relay games, computer games, food demonstrations, and activities that incorporate materials that are sold separately.
At the end of most lessons, several questions are included to evaluate students’ learning. Lessons also include a short assessment to test how much students know about nutrition before and after the lesson. There is extra space available in the curriculum binder after the lessons to include additional notes.