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Nutrition Week

Nutrition Week at the Village School - 2012-2013

The Village School is expanding its Health Program! While good nutrition is always a priority at the school, this year began with Nutrition Week in late September, a special celebration of food, health and harvest.

Each day throughout the week, students explored nutrition through experiential and interdisciplinary learning. The emphasis for the week was fresh food. Older students studied food groups, while younger students learned about eating colorful foods through the concept of eating a “Rainbow Plate”. The week culminated with a nutritious feast enjoyed by students of all ages.

In preschool, the children harvested beets from their garden, and cleaned them and ate them for snack the next day. Art teacher Renee Malowitz taught a game, “Rainbow Plate Colors.” She called out a color of the rainbow, and the children would find a picture of a food of that color, and glue it onto their ‘rainbow plate.’ On Friday, the class made tasty guacamole for the Rainbow Plate lunch.

In kindergarten and 1st grade science class, the children sampled and compared fresh and canned fruit. The class also explored food magazines to find pictures of fresh food that could be bought at a farmer’s market. In art, the children made their own ‘rainbow plate’ of food, sticking pictures of colorful foods on a plate to make a balanced meal.

In 2nd and 3rd grade science, students did experiments to see how much fat and starch is in popular snack foods. The children were surprised to see just how much fat comes out of a potato chip when it is crushed between a piece of paper - it left a big grease stain! During preparation for the feast at the end of the week, children showed off their culinary skills by cutting up fruits and veggies of many colors, for vegetable and fruit salads.

The 4th-6th grade began the week with a special science lesson, in which science teacher Cathy Szal gave a presentation about food groups, and went on to teach students how to read food labels on processed food. The children worked in pairs to evaluate two versions of a processed food – two brands of ketchup, for example – and worked out from the labels which would be healthier. Each pair presented its findings to the rest of the class.

The nutrition theme even carried into Spanish class for 2nd-6th graders, when Jocelyn Langer gave a presentation in Spanish about the importance of healthy food. With a number of English scientific terms being cognate with their Spanish equivalents, the class understood a surprising amount of the presentation.

The Village School’s annual tradition of Harvest Day was scheduled for the middle of Nutrition Week. The entire school spent the morning in the garden, harvesting what they had planted last spring, and learning first-hand where their food comes from. Everyone enjoyed fresh dug, roasted potatoes for snack the next day.

Nutrition Week built to a glorious climax on Friday, with a ‘rainbow’ feast featuring the main food groups, prepared by children, parents and teachers. The 4th-6th grades were responsible for calcium-laden foods, and parent Fanny Elouz came into the class to demonstrate how to make hummus. The children worked happily together to chop garnishes, squeeze lemons, and slice cheese. 2nd and 3rd grade students and parents were responsible for preparing fruit and vegetable dishes, while the Kindergarten-1st grade was responsible for whole grains, and the Preschool produced tasty protein dishes and foods with healthy oils and fats.

Before filling their plates at the rainbow lunch, students were encouraged to try a new food from each food group. Overcoming some initial skepticism, many students expanded their palate, and even the preschoolers came back for second helpings of the delicious and nutritious feast. Throughout the week, parents expressed appreciation for the school’s reinforcement of healthy eating habits.

Nutrition Week was a classic example of the Village School’s tradition of integrating themes throughout the curriculum, engaging and inspiring staff, children, and parents.