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Dinner Moves

Students work together to create a dance about how their eating habits make them feel

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: Students jump, squat, and balance to express their feelings during a discussion of healthy eating habits.
Objective: Students will recognize their dinner-time habits and set a dinner-related personal health goal.
Materials: One piece of paper and a pen or pencil per student
  1. Ask the students to form a large circle around you.
  2. Ask them to make sure they have enough room around them to stretch their arms out without touching anyone.
  3. Tell them they are going to play "Dinner Dance," a game about their eating habits.
  4. Begin a discussion about some of the reasons that might prevent them from eating a healthy dinner (their parents don't have time or energy to cook; they don't like the food; there's no healthy food at home; they're not hungry, etc).
  5. Tell the students you are going to read some statements (see below). Ask them to respond to each statement by performing the action that demonstrates how they feel about the statement.
    • Strongly agree--jump straight up vertically with hands high in the air five times
    • Agree--hop on one foot five times
    • Are neutral or no comment--balance on one foot
    • Disagree--squat down as if you are sitting in an invisible chair for 5 seconds
    • Strongly disagree--bend over, touch toes, and hold for 5 seconds
  6. After each statement, provide a general "talk through," being sensitive to students' feelings.
  7. Then, hand a piece of paper and a pen to each student and ask them to write down a personal health goal related to eating dinner and/or specific dinner foods everyday.
  8. If time permits, ask the students to share.

Statements can include the following (but feel free to include your own). Talk through points follow each statement.

  • "It's hard to find time to sit down for dinner at night."

    Encourage students to make time for meals by doing their homework right when they get home, watching less TV, or talking to their parents.

  • "Soft drinks (sodas) are good drinks to have with dinner because they contain many nutrients."

    Soft drinks are not good choices because they are high in added sugar. Low-fat milk, 100% juice, or water are better choices.

  • "Eating a healthy dinner helps me feel good and concentrate on my homework."

    Eating the recommended amounts of nutrient-rich food promotes brain growth and improves concentration.

  • "Skipping dinner is a good way to lose weight."

    Skipping meals is not a smart way to lose weight. To maintain a healthy body weight, exercise and eat fewer "slow" foods. Regular and healthy meals are the best way to keep your body at a healthy body weight.

  • "Baked potatoes are healthier than french fries."

    Baked potatoes are a smarter choice because they are high in fiber and nutrients, whereas fries are high in fat and salt.

  • "There is no healthy food in my house or in my local grocery store."

    While this is a valid concern, it is important to be resourceful. Canned vegetables and tuna are almost always available! You can also tell the students many neighborhoods have healthy, inexpensive food options through food cooperatives--Coops--or Community Supported Agriculture programs--CSAs--and encourage them to research what is available in their own community.

  • "It is important to me to eat vegetables every day."

    It is a good idea to eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day--2.5 servings--because they keep our bodies healthy and strong.

  • "I know where to get the vegetables I want."

    Encourage students to check out the produce section of their local grocery store or to discover an affordable healthy food store with their parents.

  • "When given the choice, I would choose whole wheat over white bread."

    Whole wheat contains more nutrients and is a healthier choice than processed white bread.

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 2.5.1, 5.5.5, 6.5.1, 7.5.1, 7.5.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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