Healthy Habits for Winter Teaching Tip

During the winter, when colds are plentiful and the absentee rate is high, reinforce appropriate healthy habits.

1. Have children use their dictionary skills to look up the word 'contagious.' Then use a thesaurus to locate synonyms and antonyms.

2. Brainstorm a list of contagious diseases and write them down.

3. Divide the class into groups for them to come up with suggestions to avoid getting sick or lessen the effects if they do. Each group will need a leader to make sure everyone participates and a secretary to write down all suggestions. Make sure they understand that no idea is too frivolous to be counted...stretch their thinking skills to think outside the box, so to speak.

4. As a class, write the list of all ideas without duplicating any. If habits you know to be healthy are left off the list, suggest some of your own and let the class vote for their inclusion. Some would be covering their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze, throwing away used tissues instead of hiding them in desks, frequently washing their hands, and using different towels at home when they are sick. Make a bulletin board or a class book for your library. Perhaps your students can do the typing and artwork.

5. As an Art project, have your children use paper plates, markers or crayons, yarn or construction paper, glue, and tissue. Draw facial features on the plates and glue the tissue on the tip of the nose to cover the nose and mouth. These would also make an appropriate bulletin board inside the classroom so the children will have a visual reminder of what to do.

6. Here is a warm recipe for a really cold day! It is taken from Macmillan Seasonal Activity Packs, Winter Wonderland, Macmillan Educational Company, 1986. This Cozy Cranberry Creation should make 24 5-ounce servings. Ingredients include 2 lemons, 1 gallon cranberry juice, 1 tablespoon honey, and, as an option, 12 cinnamon sticks.

a. Cut the lemons into small slices and put them in a large saucepan.

b. Add the cranberry juice and honey.

c. Bring them to just below the boiling point, over medium heat, and stir.

d. Cool until warm and serve in heat-resistant paper cups. If using the cinnamon sticks, break them into halves and place one in each cup for added flavor.

7. Follow up the art and cooking projects with sequencing activities. Relating this important skill to a real-life event will also help develop memory skills.

8. Older children may blow up a balloon and glue small balls of colored tissue paper on it to represent a virus spreading.

9. Have older students do extra research on specific diseases. What causes them? Does heredity play a part? Is there any known cure? What do experts say about vitamin and mineral supplements? Are there any foods experts recommend? Make a class book of these reports for your class library.

I hope these ideas have been useful and have ignited your own creativity. Here's to a healthy winter!

And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!!

About the Author

Freda J. Glatt, M.A., retired from teaching after a 34-year career in early childhood and elementary education. Her focus, now, is to reach out and help others reinforce reading comprehension and develop a love for reading. Visit her site at Reading is FUNdamental!