6 Tips for Writing an Engaging Nutrition Lesson Plan For Your Health Class

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If you have taught health classes before you might have experience using a lesson plan. Some organizations will have a lesson plan already made that you can personalize for your audience and situation.

For those that have taught nutrition classes without a lesson plan you may have experienced some extra stress before or during the lesson. Knowing how in depth to go can be a challenge. Lesson plans about nutrition can range from simple to very detailed, based on how they’re being used and who is using them.

Here are my top 6 tips for creating nutrition lesson plans. 

1) Know Your Audience

This may seem obvious, but being able to have a clear idea of the audience is the base for building an engaging nutrition lesson plan. Some questions to ask,

  • how big is the group?
  • What age range is the group? (elementary kids, or older?)
  • What education level is the group?
  • And what are the needs of the group?
  • Do they have a common health issue or goal?

Once you know this information you can create the goals for your nutrition lesson and associated teaching points and activities.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to have a clear idea of the audience’s level, when this happens it helps to plan for basic and more advanced principles and activities and you may even touch on both. It’s not always possible for every audience member to be engaged the whole lesson in order to teach a range of audience members. 

Here are some tips for teaching elementary age kids!

2) Define The Outcome

The outcome is what you want your audience members to leave with, this is the goal of the lesson. The outcome can be information, a skill or even just exposure. Having a clear goal helps the rest of the lesson become easier to plan.

Remember to keep the other principles taught and activities focused on reaching the desired outcome. If the lesson is about self efficacy then activities to help the individuals gain confidence in their skills would be an important part of the lesson not just sharing information.

After planning the nutrition lesson I like to go through and ask myself if each principle taught and activity done is going to help with the specific goal of the lesson. This can be helpful to know which parts of a lesson you can cut down if you become short on time. Or remove those parts from the lesson. 

3) Time Matters

There is a common use of time in many lessons that many have grown accustomed to, normally a short intro then going over the principles, and finish with an activity, individuals may expect this natural flow and if one portion is taking too long they may become antsy to move on to the next part they think is coming.

I find two things that help keep your audience on track.

  1. First, tell your audience the plan for the lesson. You don’t have to keep them in the dark to keep them engaged. It can be as simple as “we will go over My Plate and then practice sorting foods into the different food groups”, but it helps them know what to expect and relax during the lesson.
  2. Second, create blocks of time for each part of the lesson. I like to make general blocks of time before planning, but after I have come up with my teaching points and activities I like to go back and alter the times to be more specific. This helps it feel more natural and not forcing you to fill up blocks of time with extra info.
  3. Third, Stick to your times. If the time of the whole nutrition lesson is accounted for, you don’t have to worry about the time, you can just stick to the individual blocks of time. Some activities may be shorter and some longer but sticking to the time as best as possible will help you get through all the info without too much time left over. 

4) Focus on What Matters Most 

When teaching about nutrition there is so much that can be taught. You want to link everything to the main goal. I like to have some extra points prepared if there is extra time, and also have my essential points marked. Those are the most important parts of the lesson.

If you had to cut your lesson down by half, these are the points and activities you would want to keep. Even if you have the full time, I like to give priority to these principles and activities. When you focus on the important parts and give them the attention needed it helps your audience pick up more from these parts of the lesson. 

5) Make it Fun

Nutrition lessons have so many possibilities to be fun. Mixing up teaching methods can help the audience be engaged. Videos are a great way to teach complex physiological principles. Having engaging questions for people to discuss in small groups can help them feel more comfortable talking. Nutrition Activities are a great way to help the audience learn while having fun.  (Check out our 14 nutrition activity ideas with handouts!)

6) Plan it All Out

To make a lesson easy to carry out and repeat, have all the information you need on the lesson plan, all of it. It may seem over the top, but when I learned how to make a lesson plan, I was told to put in enough detail that someone could teach the lesson how you want it without speaking to you before. If you’re going to go over the five food groups, list them out, and what you’re going to say about each one. If you’re playing a game, include the instructions. And if you are doing an activity have the list of materials needed or handouts you’re going to give out. It makes it simple when you only need to worry about bringing the lesson plan and whatever supplies are listed on the lesson plan. 

Teaching can be intimidating, having a lesson plan with you can help you feel prepared and organized no matter how engaged the audience is. It can help you have less work to teach the lesson again and makes it easy for someone else to teach the same lesson.

If you need ideas to round out your lesson plan with activities here are some fun ideas. 

6 tips for writing an engaging nutrition lesson plan for your health class

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