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Review of:

Smart Foods Rock Curriculum 2nd and 3rd Grade

Producer:Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Date Produced:2007
  • CD-ROM
  • Curriculum
  • Elementary School (6-8 yrs)
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Professionals
  • General Nutrition
  • Eating Patterns
  • Healthy Eating Tips
  • Food Safety
  • Grains/Whole Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dairy
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
Description:The “Smart Foods Rock” Curriculum consists of eleven behaviorally focused lessons teaching children the basics of nutrition including learning about a healthy breakfast and healthy snacks. The sequence of lessons help children learn proper hand washing prior to handling food samples distributed in class as part of most lessons.

During the twelve weeks, children learn the importance of eating a healthy diet through interactive, behaviorally focused activities and discussion. The eleven lessons along with pre and post tests are grounded in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and the MyPyramid guidance system for kids.

The “Smart Foods Rock” lessons start with “Clean Hands” and then features a general lesson on MyPyramid followed by lessons on each food group including “Milk”, Grains”, “Vegetables”, “Fruit” and “Meat & Beans”. Then two lessons on “Breakfast” and “Healthy Snacks” along with two additional lessons on “Apples” and “Citrus” give children information on how fruits are grown and harvested, along with their nutritional value in a healthy diet. Emphasis is placed on liking and choosing healthy foods over those that are high in sugar, fats and calories. Kids receive reinforcement of food groups and food sources through worksheets that include puzzles, word searches, crossword puzzles, matching and identification of nutrients on food labels.

Lessons fit NJ Core Curriculum for 2nd up to 4th graders for 2.1 standards for Wellness including A. Personal Health B. Nutrition and D. Diseases and Health Conditions. Worksheets are categorized for 2nd, 3rd or can be used by both grade levels. Lessons discuss how healthy eating provides energy, helps to maintain a healthy weight, lowers risk for disease and keeps the body systems working. Lessons provide a minimum of 45 minutes of learning including tastings, demonstrations, creative work sheets and discussion that emphasize reading, writing, math, science, geography and literacy. The lessons include knowledge objectives, behavioral objectives, and life style skills to be learned. Each lesson explains how it is behaviorally focused. The lesson lists the supplies needed, tips for teaching, background information for the paraprofessional educator, pre-preparation needed for the educator, a list of activities within each lesson along with an explanation of each activity and how it is to be taught. Finally, a list of terms that need to be defined for the paraprofessional educator and the adolescents help the educator to prepare thoroughly before teaching.

The curriculum was developed to meet N J Core Curriculum requirements, the requirements of the “High Scope” educational method adopted by school districts in Union County, New Jersey and the NJ 4-H curriculum development requirements. All materials are on a CD for a cost of $ 20.00.

Cost:$ 20.00 for CD of curriculum with all lessons, activities, pre/post tests
Ordering Info:Karen Ensle EdD, RD, FADA, CFCS Family & Community Health Sciences Educator, Associate Professor Project Investigator, NJ Food Stamp Program, Union County Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, 300 North Avenue East, Westfield, NJ 07090 Phone: 908-654-9854 x 2234 Fax: 908-654-9818 e-mail: ensle@aesop.rutgers.edu
Comments:This curriculum has been used to teach over 1,200 youth yearly in the FSNE program in Union County the past six years. The curriculum was developed by the Family & Community Health Sciences Educator in partnership with the county FSNE staff including: Janet Brun, RD; FSNE Supervisor; Regina Eitel, Community Coordinator, Jane Daniel, RD, RPh; Ronnie Caravello, Administrative Assistant, Diane Scott, Secretary and Community Assistants: Ebony Braswell, Laura Igarteburu, Maureen Pyne and part-time educators Carmen Romero and Kathleen Malkiewicz. Thanks to Dr. Debra Palmer and Judy Giunta RD, for their input into the curriculum.


A. Use of MyPlate/MyPlate or the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Material based substantially on MyPlate or 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
B. Scope
Scope of information is a mix of appropriate and less than appropriate concepts.

Many of the concepts presented are abstract and not appropriate for children this young. Examples of concepts and terms that do not seem appropriate are: phytochemicals, discussion of specific nutrients in foods, fortification and enrichment, homogenization, lactose intolerance, and oxidation.
C. Purpose
Purpose stated in title or introduction is vague.
D. Organization
Material is organized but not all major points are easily identified.

Each lesson contains a lot of information and a mix of topics which can distract from the major points in the lesson. For example, in the Fruit Group lesson there is a lot of trivial information on kiwifruit and the parts of a fruit (exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp) which distracts from the main message of why we need to eat fruit.
E. Accuracy
Information contains minor inaccuracies.

The curriculum includes outdated information on the importance of combining incomplete protein foods. The breakfast lesson states there is a breakfast rule that breakfast needs to include a serving from the Grain Group, Fruit/Vegetable Group and Milk Group. Although choosing foods from multiple food groups at breakfast is a good idea, MyPyramid does not have a Breakfast Rule. Another minor inaccuracy that is not related to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the statement that Wisconsin is the leading producer of milk and cheese. (California surpassed Wisconsin in milk production several years ago.)
F. Learner Background
Material assumes that reader has some background information.

There is some background information for the educator included in each lesson.
G. Learning Objectives
Learning objectives identifiable and met somewhat.

There are learning objectives for each lesson. Not all objectives are met in each lesson. For example, in the Grains Group and Fruit Group lessons one objective is "Explain what information can be found on food and product labels" but there is nothing in the lesson on food labels.
H. Learning Activities, Projects, or Interactive Learning Tools
Material includes a variety of stimulating and interesting learning experiences, questions, projects, or suggestions for further action that will involve the reader.

Some lessons include interesting learning experiences such as grinding wheat berries to make whole wheat. Lessons also include activities such as word searches or cross word puzzles that are not as stimulating and interesting.
I. Objectivity/Sponsor Bias
Subject matter presented objectively and fairly. Company name may be mentioned but product name is not contained in text or illustrations.

Brand names are mentioned in several lessons and pictured in one lesson but it does not appear that there is promotion or bias toward these products.
J. Inclusion of learning objectives, learner activities, instructional aids, lesson plans, evaluation component, identification of required instructional materials, web site with additional materials.
Material includes five or more of the above.
K. Recipes (if included)
Overall, recipes are compatible with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The one recipe included in this curriculum is compatible with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
L. Recipes (if included)
Recipes do not include any nutrient analysis.
M. Instructional Resources
N. Credits, References and Resources (Including dates, publisher, etc.)
Credits, references, and resources current but incomplete.

It does not appear that there are credits and references for all materials such as handouts.
O. Summary
No summary or review is included.

A. Role Models
Not applicable.
B. Multi-cultural Representation
Material does not include any outright negative stereotypes concerning racial, religious, or ethnic groups.
C. Different lifestyles and food patterns
Material does not address a variety of values, practices, and/or food patterns representative of different lifestyles, cultures, and socioeconomic levels.

Material appears to be targeted at middle to upper socioeconomic levels.

Print Materials
A. Writing Style
Main ideas are clear, but sequence of information may not flow smoothly in all sections.

Lessons with a lot of information and mix of topics do not flow smoothly. For example, the vegetable lesson does not flow smoothly as it covers the following topics: 1) favorite vegetables, 2) vegetable colors, 3) why vegetables important, 4) from planting seeds to being shipped to the grocery store, 5) vegetables as parts of plants, 6) different ways of eating vegetables (raw, cooked), 7) eyes on potatoes, 8) how carrots "get fat" (store energy), 9) vegetable riddles and word games, 10) reminder of hand washing, and 11) tasting carrots.
B. Writing Approach
Material is easy to read but does not personally involve the reader. Limited use of negative wording (e.g., “Don't eat”). Active voice is used most of the time.

The lessons use a question and answer format. Most questions are directed at what children know rather than how the content relates to them personally.
C. Vocabulary
Excessive use of unfamiliar words or undefined technical terms.

Many lessons contain too many technical terms for this target audience (2nd and 3rd grade.) For example, the Fruit lesson included the terms exocarp, mesocarp, endocarp, phytochemicals, and potassium.
D. Supportive Illustrations
All of the illustrations contribute to the material and are on the same page as their textual references. Tables and graphs are as simple and easy to read as possible. All information needed in graphs and tables is provided in a form requiring no further explanation.
E. Layout and Design
Color, design, and layout of material are adequate but do not stimulate interest.

Handouts for children are attractive and include white space. Lesson plans are adequate but have limited design.
F. Visual Quality

Not applicable since information is on CD.
G. Headings/Cueing Devices
Few or no topic headings provided. No cueing devices included.
H. Approximate Reading Level
Reading level is at 6th, 7th or 8th grade level.

Overall Comments on Resource Reviewed

A. Positive Points of the Reviewed Resource:
The lessons include messages from MyPyramid for Kids.
B. Points that Could Be Improved:
Focus each lesson on just a few key concepts that are most appropriate for this target audience. Include hands-on activities and open-ended questions that help children explore the lesson content and connect it to their lives and behaviors.
C. General Comments
I suggest omitting the extraneous topics within lessons (e.g. parts of fruit) and materials (e.g. word searches), and keeping lessons focused on content that most 7-9 year olds will understand and can relate to in their lives.
D. Overall Summary
This 11-lesson curriculum covers hand washing, the MyPyramid food groups, breakfast and snacks. Each lesson covers multiple topics within the main topic. Many of the concepts in the lessons seem too abstract or complicated for this target audience.

Reviewer Rating
Any opinions expressed about any resource in this web site (either expressly or implied) are solely and completely the responsibility of the reviewer and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Not Recommended

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