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Review of:

Nutrition Essentials: Teaching Tools for Healthy Choices

Image courtesy of:
USDA/Food and Nutrition Service/Team Nutrition
Producer:USDA/Food and Nutrition Service/Team Nutrition
Date Produced:Jan 2007
  • CD-ROM
  • Booklet
  • Poster
  • Curriculum
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Web Site
  • Middle School (9-12 yrs)
  • High School (13-18 yrs)
  • General Nutrition
  • Physical Activity
  • Eating Patterns
  • Portion Sizes
  • Grains/Whole Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dairy
  • Protein
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • food labeling
Description:Nutrition Essentials is a series of lessons will help you make healthful eating and physical activity choices. It provides several tools which give you information you need to make educated choices. Nutrition Essentials contains 5 posters: Food for a Day, How Much Do You Eat, Move It, MyPyramid, and Read It. Nutrition Essentials also includes an interactive CD, NutritionDecision, with games and nutrition education information.
Cost:Available to Team Nutrition schools
Ordering Info:http://tn.ntis.gov/
Web Site:http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resources/nutritionessentials.html


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 appropriate for target audience and essential topics discussed in appropriate detail.

The materials assume that students have already been exposed to/learned about five major food groups and nutrition terms (i.e. vitamins, minerals, fats, cholesterol, and calories).
C. Purpose
Purpose of material clearly stated in title or introduction.

This resource will help you involve students in learning skills for making food and physical activity choices that will enhance their health today and throughout their lives.
D. Organization
Material well-organized and major points presented clearly.

The six lesson plans are short, sweet and to the the point, allowing the instructor to build in content as appropriate to supplement the discussion/activities. Each lesson starts with an overview and a what students will learn list and ends with a summary piece.
E. Accuracy
Information is accurate and recommendations current with content of MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
F. Learner Background
Material assumes that reader has some background information.

See response in B.
G. Learning Objectives
Learning objectives identifiable and met somewhat.

Knowledge based objectives are listed in each lesson. Sometimes they are met within the lesson, but there are some cases in which they assume the learner will have retained knowledge and apply it later.
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.
I. Objectivity/Sponsor Bias
Subject matter presented objectively and fairly. No brand name promotion or obvious sponsor bias.
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.

Simple and clear lesson plans that leave lots of room to elaborate. No evaluation component
K. Recipes (if included)
No recipes are included.
L. Recipes (if included)
No recipes are included.
M. Instructional Resources
Instructor resources included with some suggestions for enhancing the teaching process.
N. Credits, References and Resources (Including dates, publisher, etc.)
Current and complete credits, references, and resources listed.

The resource is a product of USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.
O. Summary
All major ideas summarized or reviewed to reinforce key concepts; summaries easily identified.

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

However, it would easy for the instructor to implement lessons out of sequence as seen appropriate. The six lessons are named:

1. Get the MyPyramid Amounts of Foods- for YOU (Review concepts of MyPyramid and discuss how daily needs vary based on gender, age, and level of activity)
2. Choose the Foods YOU Need (nutrient dense foods, but no discussion on foods at the top vs bottom of MyPyramid; ingredient lists)
3. Choose Foods for Their Nutrients (Using %DV and food label to choose foods)
4. Estimate Amounts of Foods (comparing serving sizes to common items/measures)
5. Pull it All Together - Food for a Day (comparing daily menu for 2,000 to what foods the participant might eat/needs in a day)
6. Move It! To Keep Your Health in Balance (Discuss types and levels of PA and the benefits to being active)

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.
C. Vocabulary
Vocabulary used is appropriate for intended audience. Minimizes use of technical terms and if used, are defined.

The resource also includes a vocabulary list.
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.

Electronic copies are included too on the two accompanying CD's that are bound within the leader guide.
E. Layout and Design
Color, design, and layout of material are attractive, and stimulate interest, without being too busy. There is good balance between print and blank space.

Color photos throughout; pages are not overloaded with text.
F. Visual Quality
Paper weight used is heavy enough so that print from one side cannot be seen on the other side. Text is written in a font size that is easy to read, and the main body is not written in capital letters.
G. Headings/Cueing Devices
Clear headings are provided for each topic area. Cueing devices (shading, boxes, arrows, etc.) are used to direct attention to key points.

Throughout the lessons there are cues to ASK students and POINT OUT certain points.
H. Approximate Reading Level
Reading level is at 6th, 7th or 8th grade level.

Audiovisual Materials

A. Concept Presentation
Audio and/or visuals are mutually supportive to presentation of concepts.

Two CD's accompany this resource:
CD 1 includes a PDF of the leader guide and supplemental materials such as a PPT overview that can be used with the lesson plans, teaching tips,enrichment materials, homework, a parent fact sheet, and MyPyramid charts for adults.

CD 2, 'Nutrition Decision' includes interactive games for students.The games have amusing sound effects, ethnically diverse cartoon students, and lots of animation. Games are intended to review concepts about serving size (matching common measurement cards like the game Memory), labels/%DV (Simon Says to 'copy' the sequence of nutrients highlighted, and messages that promote PA(students create their own e-poster choosing the theme/message, font, border, and clip art.

B. Pace
Presentation progresses at a pace that permits comprehension. Pacing of dialogue is appropriate for absorbing concepts presented. Blank time is provided.

Users have the ability to Skip instructions and must often click buttons to advance to the next screen. The five label games have to be played in order; each game played unlocks the next.
C. Auditory Quality
Speaker, voice and music are clear; sound is audible and has good quality.
D. Visual Quality
Visuals are clear and properly framed; graphics and titles are clearly visible; color, lighting, and editing enhance presentation of content.
E. Continuity
Continuity provides cohesiveness and smooth flow. Visuals in logical order. Auditory portion precisely matched with visual portion.

Overall Comments on Resource Reviewed

A. Positive Points of the Reviewed Resource:
The enrichment materials on the Nutrition Decisions CD give great ideas for elaborating on concepts within each lesson. These materials could easily be used in a variety of settings but educational content for each of the six lessons is based on learning outcomes that meet standards and competencies Family and Consumer Science Education and for Health Education.
B. Points that Could Be Improved:
C. General Comments
D. Overall Summary
There is a diversity of options for using this resource which includes interactive ideas to engage students in group work, class discussion, or computer games. The materials can easily be tailored to suit the level of comprehension of the group and comes with several supplemental pieces.

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.


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