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K–12 Health Education That Works!

Lessons

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Lesson 1: Being Emotionally Healthy

Students consider what it means to be healthy and are introduced to the idea of different dimensions of health, including physical, mental/emotional and social health. They read an article that offers tips for living a great life, work with a partner to list characteristics of people who have good emotional health, and complete an activity sheet that helps them examine the role of these qualities in their own lives.

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Lesson 2: Building Healthy Relationships

In this lesson, students learn about the qualities and benefits of healthy relationships. After thinking about one of their own good relationships, they brainstorm a list of qualities found in healthy relationships. They discuss why it is important to be aware of one’s own and others’ feelings in relationships, and examine the benefits they get from their healthy relationships with both family and friends. An activity sheet helps them analyze the qualities and benefits of two of their own healthy relationships.

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Lesson 3: Respectful Communication

In this lesson, students explore how respectful communication can help them build healthy relationships. After discussing what it means to communicate, students read an article with tips for communicating respectfully and successfully. They practice applying what they’ve learned to analyze examples of communication problems young people may encounter, and then roleplay ways to improve the communication and keep it respectful.

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Lesson 4: Getting Accurate Health Information

In this lesson, students discuss the thoughts, beliefs and values that contribute to practicing healthy behaviors. They consider sources of information about health and learn about and practice asking key questions to evaluate online resources for the quality and usefulness of the information they provide.

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Lesson 5: Understanding Chronic Disease

In this lesson, students develop their understanding of chronic disease. After discussing the differences between infectious and noninfectious disease, they work in pairs to read about and research common preventable chronic diseases in preparation for teaching others about these health problems. Then students work in small groups to create a poster about the preventable chronic disease they studied and share their findings with each other. As homework, students have the option to conduct additional guided online research using reliable websites to learn more about some nonpreventable chronic diseases that can occur in children.

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Lesson 6: Protecting My Health Now and in the Future

This lesson helps students consider how lifestyle choices can affect health. After defining the concept of “lifestyle,” students review how common infectious illnesses are transmitted and the behavioral factors that can influence the development of chronic disease. They complete a survey to examine their own lifestyle choices that could affect their future health, and explore attitudes and values that can contribute to practicing healthy behaviors. They summarize their learning by making a simple plan they will follow to help prevent disease and promote lifelong health.

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Lesson 7: Understanding Bullying & Cyberbullying

In this lesson, students gain an understanding of bullying and cyberbullying. They begin with a writing activity to help them surface their own thoughts and feelings about bullying, and discuss the difference between teasing and bullying. They read stories about young people who are bullied and examine who is involved in the bullying situation. Then they read some more stories that explore reasons kids might bully others and discuss why bullying is always unacceptable and wrong.

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Lesson 8: Bullying: Feelings & Consequences

This lesson continues with the topic of bullying, by a focusing on the feelings it causes and other consequences. Students read and discuss an article that defines bullying and cyberbullying. They read about and brainstorm the feelings bullying can cause people to experience as well as other consequences for targets, bystanders and bullies. They revisit the stories about bullying from the previous class and analyze possible consequences for each of the characters in the story.

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Lesson 9: Preventing & Reporting Bullying

This lesson stresses the importance of reporting bullying to a trusted adult. Students review a story about a student who is bullied and work in small groups to consider different possible endings to the story and the pros and cons of each. They discuss actions bystanders to bullying can take and learn that the best thing to do if they see someone being bullied is to tell an adult. They consider why this can sometimes be difficult and discuss the “no tell code” that may prevent kids from reporting bullying. They create and share a class poster that identifies the beliefs and actions they can use to challenge that code, including reporting bullying to a trusted adult, and take home a family sheet to help them discuss bullying with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 10: Understanding Fights

In this lesson, students explore the reasons behind physical fighting. They complete an activity sheet that surfaces their thoughts and feelings about why people might fight, and read and discuss two articles about common reasons for fighting and good reasons not to fight. Then they revisit their earlier thinking about fights and complete an activity sheet based on what they’ve learned.

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Lesson 11: Fights: Feelings & Consequences

This lesson continues exploring physical fighting, with an emphasis on the feelings involved and other consequences. Students discuss feelings that lead to fighting and feelings young people may have during and after a fight. They read an article about fights and feelings and discuss how different groups of people, including parents, teachers and friends, might respond, and what some of the consequences could be. They consider how some peers might manipulate others into fighting and express intentions to not encourage others to fight.

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Lesson 12: Preventing & Avoiding Fights

In this lesson, students learn ways to prevent and avoid fighting. They examine 3 key ways to avoid or respond to fights, including not acting on impulse and getting help if a conflict escalates toward violence. They read a story about a conflict between friends and analyze how the 3 ways could have helped the characters avoid or respond to the situation. They discuss the difference between simple conflict that students could solve among themselves and serious trouble that requires adult help, and identify adults who could help if they experience serious trouble with someone. Then they work in small groups to explore how they could apply the strategies for avoiding and responding fights in their own lives. The teacher reinforces walking away from a fight as the strong and safe thing to do.

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Lesson 13: When Friends Need Help

This lesson helps students identify signals and get help for friends who are in trouble. They read and discuss an article that covers warning signs that someone might be in danger of hurting self or others, and outline steps to take if they observe these warning signs in a friend or classmate. They take home a family sheet to help them discuss helping friends in trouble with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 14: Analyzing Media Messages & Violence

In this lesson, students analyze the influence of media violence and examine the idea of casual cruelty in media messages. They begin by responding to a roll call question about how media violence affects people. Then they read an article about violence in the media and consider how it applies to their own lives. After the teacher defines “casual cruelty,” students read an article about it, and use a series of questions to analyze casual cruelty in the media, its relationship to put-down humor and how it can influence the way people treat each other. As homework, they watch a TV show or some online videos, keep track of examples of casual cruelty they see, and draw conclusions about this aspect of media’s effect on people.

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Lesson 15: Taking a Stand Against Violence

This advocacy lesson encourages students to take a stand against violence. They review what they’ve learned about the effects of bullying, fighting and violence in the media and suggest things they can do to support others in preventing and avoiding violence. They learn steps for advocacy and then create a bookmark campaign with messages that educate others about bullying, fighting, media violence, or casual cruelty and put-down humor. They deliver their campaign to other students at their school.

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Lesson 16: Using the HealthSmart Guidelines for Healthy Eating

In this lesson, students learn guidelines for healthy eating. They read and discuss an article that outlines how to eat for good nutrition, then review the USDA’s MyPlate food groups and recommendations for amounts to eat from each food group for people their age.

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Lesson 17: Understanding Food Amounts

This lesson helps students recognize healthy food amounts. Students review a list that outlines how much to eat from each food group and recommended amounts for some common foods, while the teacher conducts a demonstration to help them accurately picture these amounts. Then students complete a survey to assess their personal eating habits, review their results against the guidelines for healthy eating, and suggest ways they could improve, if needed. They discuss how their nutrition and eating habits today can affect future health, and then complete an activity sheet to plan a day’s worth of healthy meals that will meet the MyPlate recommendations. They take home a family sheet to help them discuss healthy eating with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 18: Challenges to Healthy Eating: Junk Food

In this lesson, students learn about limiting consumption of foods with high sugar, salt and fat content. They read about why “junk foods” are unhealthy and interpret sample food labels from some common snacks to draw conclusions about the ingredients and nutritional content of these foods. They complete an activity sheet to analyze their own eating habits around junk foods and propose ways to limit their consumption of foods high in fat, added sugars and sodium.

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Lesson 19: Challenges to Healthy Eating: Fast Foods & Celebrations

In this lesson, students continue to examine challenges to healthy eating and eating in moderation by reading articles about celebrations and holiday foods, as well as ways to eat healthier at fast-food restaurants. They complete an activity sheet on how to make fast-food meals healthier to apply what they’ve learned.

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Lesson 20: Using the HealthSmart Guidelines for Physical Activity

In this lesson, students learn about how much physical activity they should be getting every day. They read about the benefits of engaging in different types of activities that help improve flexibility, endurance and strength. Then they complete an activity sheet that encourages them to write down the types of physical activity they like to do or would like to try.

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Lesson 21: Physical Activity: What's in It for Me?

In this lesson, students read two stories about young people their age and the amount of physical activity they get each day. They brainstorm different types of activity that will help improve their aerobic endurance, bone strength, muscle strength and flexibility. They create a list of barriers that get in the way of getting enough physical activity every day, and problem solve how to overcome those barriers. They finish the lesson by completing an activity sheet to evaluate their own physical activity patterns and identify ways to increase the amount of physical activity they get each day.

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Lesson 22: Healthy Eating & Activity: Setting a Goal

In this lesson, students learn the steps that are needed to set and meet a goal. They review their own eating and physical activity patterns and determine areas in which they could improve. They complete an activity sheet where they choose one physical activity or healthy eating goal and use the goal-setting steps to make an action plan for reaching that goal.

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Lesson 23: Tracking My Progress

This lesson helps students monitor and track their progress toward a healthy eating or physical activity goal. Students read about how to track progress toward a goal and review some sample goal plans. Then they monitor their weekly progress toward the eating or physical activity goals they’ve set for themselves, including identifying what’s going well and what could be improved. They share their results with a partner to offer encouragement and advice. Optional activity sheets support students’ work toward their goals with tips for getting enough physical activity and quick-and-easy healthy food recipes.

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Lesson 24: Consequences of Alcohol Use

In this lesson, students explore the negative physical effects of alcohol use. After brainstorming both things they can do and behaviors they should avoid to help keep their bodies healthy, students complete a worksheet individually and then work with a partner to identify the ways alcohol affects the body. They answer a series of questions to help them understand how alcohol can negatively affect the brain, harm the body and contribute to chronic disease. They discuss family, school and community rules about alcohol use by young people, review other negative consequences of alcohol use and define addiction and experimentation. To conclude, they consider how alcohol use could negatively affect the things they enjoy doing.

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Lesson 25: Alcohol & Feelings

This lesson explores the different feelings that can contribute to alcohol use. Students read some stories about young people who experiment with alcohol and analyze the feelings involved in each situation. They list feelings that could lead someone to use alcohol and suggest healthier alternatives for dealing with these feelings. They complete an activity sheet to apply what they learned about alcohol and feelings.

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Lesson 26: Alcohol & Peers

In this lesson, students analyze the influence of peers on alcohol use. They read some stories about how peer pressure affects some young people’s decisions about alcohol, and identify potential negative consequences in each situation. They discuss how peers can offer support for being alcohol free and review a series of questions to help them think about the peer influences on alcohol use in their own lives. They then complete an activity sheet that allows them to apply what they learned about peer pressure and how to resist it.

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Lesson 27: Alcohol & the Media

In this lesson, students analyze media influences on alcohol use. After brainstorming different types of media, they read and discuss an article about how alcohol use is portrayed in advertisements and other forms of media, including how ads are designed to appeal to young people. They then create their own alcohol-free advertisement, using the advertising techniques that they learned.

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Lesson 28: Saying NO to Alcohol

In this lesson, students learn and practice refusal skills. They read an article that outlines techniques for resisting pressure and identify how these refusal skills were used in some example scenarios. Then they work in small groups to outline ways to say NO in specific pressure situations, including the words, tone and body language that could be used to resist the pressure, and create roleplays based on these scenarios. They demonstrate their roleplays for the class and receive feedback on their use of refusal skills.

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Lesson 29: My Alcohol-Free Choice

This lesson helps students apply what they have been learning about alcohol and the decision they will eventually make about using alcohol. The learn the steps of how to critically think about making a serious decision and then have the opportunity to practice these steps as it applies to using alcohol.

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Lesson 30: My Alcohol-Free Connections & Road Map

This lesson helps students summarize and apply what they have been learning about alcohol connections to their own lives. They complete a survey to analyze the influence of consequences, feelings, peers and the media on their own choices about alcohol use, and identify the things that will most support them in staying alcohol free. Then they complete an activity sheet to help them review the things they can say and do to stay alcohol free and the people, skills and knowledge that can support them along the way.

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Lesson 31: When Friends & Family Use Alcohol

In this lesson, students explore how alcohol use by family and friends can cause difficulties for young people. They read some stories about kids who are affected by others’ alcohol use and summarize key points. They discuss the feelings young people may have when others drink, and read a second series of stories about different ways to get help for problems caused by others’ drinking. They list resources in their community that people can go to for help, then practice what they could say if they needed to approach one of these resources for help. They take home a family sheet to help them talk about adult use of alcohol with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 32: Old Me, New Me

In this lesson, students consider physical, emotional and social changes that are part of puberty. They begin by reading some journal entries about the feelings different fifth graders are having as they grow and change. They brainstorm a list of other feelings young people might have as they go through puberty, and complete an activity sheet to help them think about their own feelings. They discuss how a person’s body, thoughts and relationships change as well, and complete an activity sheet to illustrate an important way they themselves have changed over the last few years.

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Lesson 33: Understanding Puberty & New Responsibilities

In this lesson, students learn more about the changes and new responsibilities that accompany puberty. A reading sheet presents facts about puberty. Then students review some questions young people might have and apply information and key points from the reading to answer them. They take home a family sheet to help them talk about puberty with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 34: Understanding a Boy's Body

This lesson helps students learn how boys can protect their sexual health. A reading sheet presents facts about basic male anatomy and things young men can do to stay healthy. Students complete an activity sheet to match definitions to body parts and respond to questions about the changes of puberty for male bodies.

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Lesson 35: Understanding a Girl's Body

This lesson helps students learn how girls can protect their sexual health. A reading sheet presents facts about basic female anatomy and things young women can do to stay healthy. Students complete an activity sheet to match definitions to body parts and respond to questions about the changes of puberty for female bodies.

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Lesson 36: Gender Roles & Expression

This lesson emphasizes the importance of respecting self-expression in oneself and others. Students read stories about kids their age and discuss whether they think the character is a boy or a girl or unclear and why. They learn terms related to gender roles and expression and discuss why it is important to respect the different ways different people may express themselves around gender. After revisiting a story about a child who is bullied due to gender expression, they create a text message campaign to encourage peers to accept and respect diversity.

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Lesson 37: Choosing Sexual Abstinence

This lesson introduces the concept of abstinence. Students learn the definition of abstinence, then read various viewpoints about it written from the perspective of kids their age and discuss the benefits of abstinence shown in each story. They complete an activity sheet to identify which benefits would be most important to them personally and the people who could support them in their choice. They take home a family sheet to help them discuss abstinence with their parents or guardians.

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Lesson 38: Seeking Information & Support

In this lesson, students learn about the importance of getting trustworthy support and accurate information as they go through puberty. They complete an activity sheet that features examples of difficult or confusing situations kids might face, by identifying the emotions and needs in each scenario, suggesting where they would go to get information and support, and explaining how they know that source is trustworthy.