written by: Kara Bietz
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 9/11/2012
Use these ideas to help create a fun lesson plan that will lead preschoolers to discover what makes the human body tick. Also includes activities and book suggestions to expand your nutrition and exercise lesson planning.
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What makes us grow? Preschool children are inherently curious about their bodies and what makes them tick. Exploring science, nutrition, and exercise in a "What Makes Us Grow?" themed lesson plan, preschoolers can satisfy their curiosity about the human body.
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This activity is best done over a long period of time. If possible, measure each of the children in your classroom at the very beginning of the school year. Keep a separate growth chart for each child. Large sheets of butcher paper can be made to look like rulers, and children can decorate the ruler if they please. Be sure to measure each child once a month, and make comparisons to earlier heights. Comment on how many inches or centimeters each child has grown every month. Be sure to display the growth charts so each child can see their progress. Use the growth charts to compare and contrast heights, being sure to note that every child grows at a different rate and some months, the child may remain the same height as the previous month and that is okay. Another idea for a different kind of growth chart is to make a handprint or footprint craft at the beginning of the year. Keep this artwork displayed throughout the year and allow the children to measure their hands on it periodically. At the end of the year, have the children paint and stamp their hands onto the same mural, right next to their first handprint. Compare the sizes.
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Discuss the food pyramid with your preschool class. Explain that eating healthy foods from the pyramid will help their bodies grow. Enlist the children's help when menu planning, if possible, and challenge them to include all the foods in the pyramid. Focus on one or two food groups for snack time. To reinforce the importance of each section of the pyramid, spend one day on each section. Plan lessons based on each section of the food pyramid, and discuss why that food group is important to the children's health. Another idea may be to create a large blank food pyramid. Allow children to cut out pictures of different foods from cooking and home magazines and glue them into the correct section of the pyramid.
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Explain to the children how movement and exercise are important for growing bodies. This will also be a good time to introduce the importance of resting for a growing body. Ask the children for suggestions as to how they can exercise each day. If possible, use your large group movement time to show the children some simple stretches and cardiovascular exercises. Some easy cardio exercises that the children will enjoy may include: jumping jacks, sit-ups, modified push-ups, running in place, and marching. Use music to liven up your cardiovascular workout. Let the children lead the group in their favorite exercise. Try a modified freeze-dance activity with the children, letting them exercise and freeze when the music turns off. Be sure to emphasize that exercising can be fun.
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Expand Your Teaching
Some developmentally appropriate books available to introduce growing, nutrition, and exercise to preschoolers:
Oscar and The Frog: A Book About Growing, by Geoff Waring
Baby Dance, by Ann Taylor
Eat Healthy, Feel Great, by William Sears
Showdown at the Food Pyramid, by Rex Barron
Good Enough To Eat ,by Lizzy Rockwell
Exercise: Rookie Read-About Health, by Sharon Gordon
All Oh the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You!: About Staying Healthy (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library), by Tish Rabe
With this "What Makes Us Grow?" preschool lesson, planning can be a weeklong theme in your curriculum. Use these ideas to help plan and implement a fun and appropriate plan for preschoolers.