Media Literacy Lesson Plan Ideas: Nutrition
- Bring a bathroom scale to class and have your students weigh themselves. Older students should be allowed to do this in private. Then have the kids measure each other’s height. Have the students figure out their Body Mass Index and where they fall compared to healthy numbers. Discuss the possible ways that the BMI could be inaccurate (ex. muscle weighs more than fat).
Then have students find statistics on celebrities using the internet. Then figure out the BMI for celebrities and discuss whether or not they are healthy. Make sure to discuss the underweight celebrities. Discuss eating disorders and how the media portrays body ideals.
- Have the students keep an emotional food diary. Over the course of a week or more, have them write down how they’re feeling each time they eat in a day. For younger students, it might be a good idea to supply a list of options for what they might be feeling. Afterward, have them look at which feelings the entire class felt most when they eat. Are they surprised? How often do they eat when they’re not hungry? Have your students keep track of the emotional eating they see on the television shows they watch, the books they read and the advertising they see. Then have them write an essay about how their emotional eating compares to what they saw in the media.
- Have your students make a log of all the exercise they get in a week or more. Have them do research on how much exercise children their age should be getting and compare their own amounts. If they took some of the time they spend using media and used it to do something active, would that make a difference in how healthy they are? Explore some ways to get exercise and use media at the same time. For example, set up the videogame Dance Dance Revolution in your classroom and have a competition. Or talk about how to figure out beats-per-minute in songs and have each student make a workout mix.
- Split kids into groups and have them pick a popular nutritional aspect such as carbohydrates, fat, calcium, sugar, etc. Have the group research their choice in nutritional texts and determine how much people should eat in a day, whether too much or too little is bad, etc. Then, have the groups create a profile of how that topic is discussed in the media (especially advertisements). Each group should give a presentation to the class, teach the class what they found and give examples.
- Break the students into groups and have them research different health issues they have heard about on television and in other media. They can choose issues such as heart disease, diabetes, emphysema, high cholesterol, etc. Have the kids focus on prevention and risk factors and report back to the class. Discuss how these issues are discussed in the media and make sure to address the medicines that are advertised. Are drugs always the answer? Make a class list of the things students can do to take care of their bodies.
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