Health education is one of the most important parts of schooling, but current techniques and curriculum tend to be a bit outdated — old books and even older information is being reiterated over and over, teaching the next generation dated science about how the body works.
Even when the info was current, these old teaching methods go in one ear and out the other for many in this generation — they’re immersed in technology from a very young age, often before they’re old enough to speak or walk. Health apps are the best high-tech way to teach kids about their bodies and how to keep them in shape. What are the best health apps for teaching K-12 students about health?
- Awesome Eats
Whole Foods is a great place to shop if you’re trying to make healthy food choices, and they’ve decided to use that power for good by creating an app for kids to learn about healthy choices. Awesome Eats lets kids sort and stack healthy foods to teach them about making good choices and how to balance their diets with fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
This is a very kid-friendly game, and, according to the app-store, is rated for kids 4+, so it’s going to be best for elementary aged kids, K-5. Older kids might have fun with it, but it’s definitely designed for the younger ones.
It can be hard to explain to kids where their food comes from — for most, it’s an abstract concept that starts at the grocery store and ends at their kitchen table. That’s why Johns Hopkins came up with Foodspan, a free digital lesson plan that can be used by teachers and parents to teach their students where food comes from, starting from the farm or field and ending on the kitchen table.
It’s a good tool for teaching students about every part of the food process, from how food is grown to how shipping can affect food quality. The lessons in Foodspan are designed for slightly older kids but can be adapted to work for any age group. It meets the national education standards for subjects such as science, social studies and health.
Eating healthy when you’re eating out can be tricky at the best of times, which is where apps like YumPower come in. This app is designed to help kids make healthier choices when eating out by consolidating the menus of local restaurants and listing the healthiest choices. It even has options for particular diet criteria, such as heart healthy or diabetes-friendly diets.
This app is good for kids and adults of all ages, though younger children might need some assistance in navigating the choices. Challenge your students to use the app to create the healthiest menu they would actually eat.
Sexual education is one of the most important parts of health, especially in high school, but it’s often overlooked or completely ignored as an awkward topic that no one wants to hear from a 40 or 50 something PE teacher.
That’s why apps like Juicebox have become such an invaluable tool — they allow students to do their own exploring while still learning accurate information about sex education and their own sexual health.
If you ever had a sex ed class where you put your anonymous questions in a box to be read and answered by the teacher, then you know how Juicebox works — teens can submit questions that are then answered by members of the American Society of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
NOTE: This app is definitely designed for older students, such as those in late middle school or high school, but it can be an invaluable tool for students of any age who are asking questions about sex or sexuality.
Health class should be about more than just healthy food and sex education — it should be about making the best choices to have a healthy overall life. KidsDoc can be a great resource to teach your students about injuries and diseases that affect the human body.
While the app is designed for parents, it’s backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is full of good information — from first aid to triage for different conditions and injuries. Just don’t let your students start diagnosing themselves and emphasize that, while apps like this can be a good source for information, they are no replacement for a trip to the doctor.
- Industry-Specific Games
Different food production industries will have a variety of online games and resources to teach kids about healthy eating, exercise and making good food choices. The Dairy Council of California has a site filled with games like MyPlate, which teaches portion sizes and the five food groups. There’s also My Very Own Pizza, which allows students to create a pizza while learning about the nutrition facts of their pizza toppings.
If you’re planning a lesson on a specific type of food or food group, do a quick Google search to see what resources are available online to assist your lessons.
It’s up to us to make sure this new generation of school kids learn to make healthy choices. A high-tech health class can be just the way to do that.