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Jessika Richter
Jessika Richter
(Lund - Sweden)

The short and sweet: I have been a passionate teacher since 2001.  I first worked with the National Park Service in Washington (state), then moved to Australia where I completed my DipEd at the University of Melbourne and then taught at Hailebury  ...

01:Introduction to Health



1.      Students will understand that health is not simply the absence of disease.

2.      Students will understand that emotional (mental), physical and social health are defined differently.

3.      Students will understand that there is a cause and effect relationship between our actions and our health.


Materials needed for this lesson

  1. True and False signs (provided)
  2. Construction paper (various colors)
  3. Glue
  4. Scissors
  5. Magazines, newspapers, or other materials that have pictures students can cut out.
  6. Poster board or over-sized paper
  7. Chalkboard or transparency


Background information and notes

Health is typically defined differently from person to person.  Children normally think that if you are not sick, you’re healthy.  It is important for children to understand all the aspects of health and to realize how our actions can be unhealthy. This lesson will help students look at some of the myths about health and hopefully change the way they define health.


After the content of the lesson has been presented, there are three activities.  The first two activities, What is health? and Stairway to Health are relatively simple to conduct.  The Learning Activity Extension, Health Concept Map, is slightly more difficult to facilitate.  The decision to implement this activity should be left to the discretion of the program provider(s).

Presenting the Lesson

This lesson is supposed to get kids thinking about health. To get their minds going in the right direction, they have to know the correct definition of health.  Our overall health is comprised of physical, mental and social health.  The definitions for all three of these are provided below. These definitions are meant for the program provider. A definition for the students is also below.

Definitions for the program provider:
Physical Health: the absence of disease and disability; functioning adequately from the perspective of physical and physiological abilities; the biological integrity of the individual.

Mental Health: May include emotional health; may make explicit reference to intellectual capabilities; the subjective sense of well-being

Social Health: the ability to interact effectively with other people and the social environment; satisfying interpersonal relationships; role fulfillment


Definition for the students:
Health: when a person is in a state of complete physical (bodily), mental (the mind and feelings) and social (interactions with other people) well-being.  Health is not simply the absence of disease.

In other words, a person is physically healthy if they are able to perform tasks that people their age can generally do. For example, children should be able to play on the playground for thirty minutes without having difficulty breathing.  Another way to determine one’s physical health is to look at the food and drink that the person puts into their body. Do they eat from all the food groups? Do they limit sweets and sugary drinks? Do they limit fattening foods like french fries and potato chips?

When a person is mentally healthy they are able to cope with the situation around them.  In general they are happy (Everyone has a bad day!).  They are able to function at the cognitive level expected of someone their age.

Children who are socially healthy are able to interact effectively with their peers. The child has friends and does not shy away from social situations. It’s certainly ok to have a shy personality, but one’s shyness should not interfere with his or her ability to communicate effectively.

After going over these concepts with the students, use the following game to get children moving and thinking about health.

Learning Activity: What is Health?

Explanation of Activity:

This game looks at various myths about health and helps the students clarify their definition of health.



  1. Have all the students stand in the middle of the center of the gym/classroom, moving all tables out of the way if necessary.  On one side of the room, hang a sign that states “TRUE” on the wall. On the opposite side of the room, hang a sign that states “FALSE” on the wall.
  2. Read the students a statement about health from the list provided.  They will decide whether they think the statement is true or false. They will have to quickly line up in front of the correct sign.
  3. Read the correct answer and give the reasoning behind the answer.
  4. Students will return to the center of the room and repeat the process for each question.


Questions for “Is that Health?”:

1.   Being healthy just means not being sick.

FALSE! There are many areas of health. Just because you do not have a cold or the flu or some other illness, does not necessarily mean you are totally healthy.

      2.   You have to be thin to be healthy.

FALSE! Health is about much more than just weight.  Some very healthy people are not thin and some thin people are not very healthy. What matters is what you eat and how much physical activity you get.

3.   The only way to get a good workout and be physically active is by playing 

      sports or doing exercises.

FALSE! You do not have to play sports or do exercises to be physically active

            and improve your health. You can also do everyday things in order to be

            physically active.  For example, doing your chores or playing with your friends


4.   You have to be good at sports to be healthy.

FALSE! You do not have to be an athlete or even like sports to be healthy.

      5.   What you drink affects your health.

TRUE! What you drink is just as important as what you eat.

      6.   If you want to be healthy, you never eat “junk foods” or snacks.

FALSE! Foods with minimal nutritional value, often referred to as junk food, should be in eaten in moderation.  The important thing is that you make sure you eat foods that have many nutrients the majority of the time and that you are physically active.

7.   You need a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment to get the best     workout.

FALSE! You do not need anything except your body to get the best workout! If you prefer to use equipment, you can use everyday household items instead of buying expensive equipment.

       8.  It is easier to develop healthy habits now as a kid rather than as an adult.

TRUE! It is much easier to start healthy habits when you are young than to try to

break unhealthy habits when you are older.

      9.   Being healthy will help you reach your goals.

TRUE! Any goal that you have is easier to achieve when you are healthy.  For example, when you are healthy, it is easier to get good grades, go to college, get better at sports, play an instrument well, become an artist and make more friends. When you are healthy, you can achieve your dreams.  The sky is the limit!

      10. You can always tell by looking at someone whether or not they are healthy.

FALSE! You can’t tell by looking at someone whether or not they are healthy. (Don’t judge a book by its cover!) Health is usually something going on inside our bodies and is not visible.

      11. Everyone can improve their health.

TRUE! Everyone can dramatically improve their health by making healthier choices, such as eating from the five food groups, getting plenty of physical activity and not using tobacco products.

      12. If other people do something, you should too.

FALSE! You should think about what other people are doing and decide for yourself if it is healthy or not.  Not everyone makes good decisions.


Learning Activity: Stairway to Health

Explanation of Activity:

Building a Stairway to Health will teach students about how to go about achieving health.  They will choose five actions they think are the most important for reaching the top stair (the goal: Health).



You will need colored construction paper, markers, glue, scissors, old magazines, newspapers, or other materials with pictures that students can cut and use, poster board or a large sheet of construction paper. You may want to pre-cut steps for the stairway.  You or the student will need rectangles that get progressively longer (or shorter). 


  1. Be sure each student places the word health along with a definition of health at the top of the stairway.  The definition should be one that you provide or that the class has determined collectively to ensure that the students have grasped the concept of health.
  2. To make this activity more creative and enjoyable, have the students cut out pictures from magazines or old newspapers of people doing healthy things (drinking milk, riding a bike, etc.). They can glue the pictures around their stairway. 
  3. The students can then present their stairway to the class.  Have each student discuss why they think their pictures and concepts are healthy. See the sample stairway for more assistance.


Sample Stairway to Health


Learning Activity Extension: Health Concept Map

Explanation of Activity:

The purpose of the concept is to help students define health.



  1. See what students already know about health. Write down all the suggestions and/or comments made by the students.  Strive to touch on all areas of health (physical, mental, social). 
  2. Students should give examples of actions and feelings (moods) that may relate to health.  Refer to the list of prompts and concepts if the students have difficulty brainstorming.
  3. Ask the students if their responses are directly related to health. Are there any misconceptions that need to be addressed? (Students should not associate health with weight or being thin. At this age, it is inappropriate for students to consider weight as a factor of health.) What concepts need to be clarified? Example: A student might say: “being able to lift heavy weights.”  It is important that students recognize that they can lift heavy weights because they have built strong muscles.  So, clarify his or her statement by saying:  “You are able to lift heavy weights because you worked hard to develop strong muscles.”
  4. Draw lines from the center of the concept map to those concepts/actions that relate directly to health.  See the model concept map for more clarification.


Activity Debrief:

These questions will help to summarize the activity:

            1. Does health include your physical, mental and social well-being?        

            2. How do our actions affect our health both in the short-term and the long-term? 

            3. Can you determine how healthy someone is by looking at him/her?


Health concepts and prompts for the concept map:


1.   What does a healthy person do?

2.   How does a healthy person feel?

3.   What doesn’t a healthy person do?

4.   What do healthy people eat?



1.   Don’t smoke

2.   Eat foods with many nutrients

3.   Limit “junk foods” or foods with minimal nutritional value.  It is okay to have special treats every once in a while.

4.   Able to focus on schoolwork and give their best effort to everything that they do

5.   Drink water

6.   Be physically active every day

7.   Feel energetic

8.   Get plenty of rest (10 to 12 hours per night is recommended for children ages 5 to 12)

9.   Eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables

10. Limit drinking pop

11. Good Hygiene (bathing/showering/brushing your teeth)

12. Have a good self-image/have high self-esteem


Sample Concept Map