Contemporary health classes in schools address more than simply covering your mouth when you sneeze and hand washing. Students at all grade levels are faced with numerous choices about health that affect their personal health. Current health curriculum standards focus on helping kids learn to make informed decisions that improve their personal health, rather than memorizing rules and facts. Students need information about healthy choices related to bullying, inactivity, obesity, online dangers, healthy food choices and how to avoid dangerous substances.

Role-Play About Healthy Choices

One characteristic of an effective health curriculum is that it helps students build the skills they need to make healthy choices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A role-playing activity can help students learn about health, by giving them the opportunity to participate in critical-thinking and decision-making activities. Give your students some index cards that contain scenarios about various health-related topics such as food choices, activity choices, substance abuse and bullying. Have groups of students read the scenarios, and ask them to think about possible outcomes, and then tell them they should decide on a positive action related to the scenario to act out for the class.

Ideas for Saying "No"

Another element of an effective health curriculum is to give students opportunities to analyze potential outcomes to situations that involve peers and unhealthy choices such as risky behaviors. Have groups of students research various current events in print and in online media for situations where it is likely that children or teens engaged in activities by falling prey to peer pressure. On poster board, instruct them to attach copies of some of the news items they located. Students should brainstorm healthier choices for each situation and write text on the poster to represent ways that each person should have responded to the situation.

Health-Stars Scavenger Hunt Project

Successful health education promotes positive, health-conscious decisions in students. After discussing healthy choices related to eating, substance abuse, bullying and exercise for example, have students complete a neighborhood, family and/or school scavenger hunt for people that are making healthy choices. Provide students with ideas and opportunities for announcing and praising the actions of the Healthy Stars they located on the scavenger hunt. Students might announce the names and healthy actions on school announcements or on posters.

Personal Goals Project

Many children, teens and adults could make better choices about healthy eating. In the United States, there are National Health Standards that guide the types and amounts of foods that children should eat. After exposing students to healthy eating habits such as the appropriate numbers of servings for various food groups, foods to limit such as sugar and salt and the importance of staying hydrated, have students write personal health goals. Students should make a copy of these goals for home and one for school. Each week, have students reflect on the success they are having with reaching the goals.