5 Cross-Curricular Health Projects
One of the best teacher tricks of the trade is cross-curricular lesson planning. With a dash of creativity and bit of planning time, layering subject areas into student projects will make you a wizard. When given the responsibility to focus on building meaningful health projects for the good of our students’ futures, we can help ourselves create more time, or at least the allusion of it, by meeting several curriculum standards across subject areas– magic!
Health education, as a core staple to our everyday lives, is more easily interlaced into core subject areas than one might initially imagine. Most of us can easily see the relationship between health and physical education, or even health and science, but how can we approach social studies or art with a health educator’s lens?
If you’re struggling to find clear ties to weave subject areas together, take the opportunity to collaborate with your building colleagues or consider a few of the options below:
Health + Science: Pop-Culture Pandemics
Public health epidemics are prevelanent in pop culture, from the loss of Belle’s mother to the plague in the live-action reprisal of Beauty and the Beast to the widespread interest of zombies in The Walking Dead. Grab their attention by helping students explore and discern fact from fiction with disease control.
Your elementary students can benefit from simple lessons on germs, and even put on their investigative hats as health detectives tracing a glitter “cold” around your classroom. The Learning Network offers a launch point through their Pestilence and Plague Lesson for older students.
Health + Social Studies: Food System
We tend to have an out of sight, out of mind view when it comes to ‘the where’ of what we eat. When teaching in an urban food desert, I found the lack of insight into the food system especially prominent for my students. When I asked where eggs came from, the grocery store won out over farm as the most popular response. How often do we ask our students to think through the origin places their food comes from? What happens before the market, dinner table or restaurant?
Use a map to show/point to common regional crops and explain the most popular food export for your local area. Show a video or find a virtual field trip about a favorite food grown in another country or region that is then transported to your hometown.
Project: Have students pick and research the supply chain of an entire meal. They can map the origins of every ingredient (meals with fewer whole ingredients are suggested for younger students) and record the people, activities, and resources involved from farm to fork.
Health + Art: Healthier Advertisements
Our students live in a noisy world and their thoughts and habits are influenced by the marketing that constantly surrounds them from TV to billboards. In the U.S., the healthcare industry is one of the top ten biggest ad spenders, pouring nearly $10 billion into the advertising and marketing industry in 2015 (AdvertisingAge). In Canada, new research shows, in one year collectively, children (ages 2–11) viewed more than 25 million food and beverage ads (Heart & Stroke).
Review popular health-promoting advertisements related to healthcare and the food industry. What methods are advertisers using to sell their products? Why might companies use spokescharacters and cartoon mascots? Ask students to reflect on the ways promotional materials affect their choices and feelings.
For Grades 7-12, ask students how healthcare ads differ from food industry ads. Read and discuss How To Cure Boring Healthcare Advertising (Forbes). Consider projects for writing original jingles, commercials or print ads for healthier choices and actions, like brushing your teeth.
Health + Business: Financial Fitness
Financial fears and general worries are commonly related to stress which can present itself in a number of physical forms from inconsistent sleep or insomnia to heart problems (Paying With Our Health, 2015). According to research, there’s even a link between financial problems and depression and anxiety. It is important we help students see the value of their health and finances.
Many of our students are considering higher education with a lack of understanding for the bottomline costs. Ask students to review their local or top college options. What costs will students need to factor in for life outside their classroom walls like books, housing, and extracurricular interests? Have your middle and high school students learn more about the negative relationship between debt and blood pressure in research like High Debt Could Be Hazardous to Your Health (Northwestern Now).
Health + Physical Education: Heart Zone
Our heart health is undeniably the most important component of our overall health and ability to perform physical tasks. Ask students if they can guess what the average heart rate is for a professional athlete. Write guesses on the board. Explain that a professional athlete’s heart rate is about 40 bpm. Explain that today we’re going to see what effect exercise has on our heart and breathing rates. Students will be performing different exercise for different amounts of time, eventually comparing their class average to that of an athlete.
Using the Future Goals: Hockey Scholar Vital Signs Lab Activity, students can conduct investigations into the effects of exercise on heart rate and breathing rate, examining how exercises of different lengths and intensities affect their heart and breathing rate.
Log into the EVERFI Teacher Dashboard to access the full Resource Center and associated student lab packets.
Amber Osuba is the Senior Marketing Manager for K-12. Prior to this role, Amber served as a Senior Implementation Manager supporting educators and districts across Pennsylvania and Maryland for three years. She is a former first grade STEM teacher and curriculum lead. You’ll find her at EVERFI’s national conference booths asking teachers to grab swag, take a selfie and tag @EVERFI.