Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

5 Ways to Make Healthy Fun

(On our Chinese blog, we’re trying to make peace between children and their teachers/parents, from a variety of perspectives, including diet and exercise.)

Food Art

1. Set the right goal.

The first way to make healthy fun or rather to keep it from becoming un-fun is to have the right goals. The purpose for eating well and exercising regularly is not to be thin. If a child is thin but not eating right or exercising regularly, then s/he is still not healthy. Moreover, with all the pressure in their lives, children don’t need the added emotional burden of being told they should look a certain way. Some children will never look thin no matter how healthy they are. Equating healthy eating with body size and body size with beauty can lead to emotional stress—poor body image and low self-esteem.[1]

What’s the goal then? To be healthy and take care of our bodies.

2. Do it together.

An ancient proverb reads: Two together keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? Being healthy together makes the process easier.[2]

A few weeks ago, we talked about negotiating behavior expectations together as a class or family. A set of health standards can also be negotiated. Once the standards are set, then you can work toward them together. Of course, parents/teachers, this means you need to be willing to make changes to your habits right alongside the children. (Exercise more, quit smoking, etc.)

Eating meals together as a family may also make healthy more fun. As each of you takes a turn telling a funny experience from your day or sharing a high and low, your enjoyment in each other’s company may become more important than the food. You may also slow down to listen and so eat less.

3. Make it art.

Word art: When I was a child, my parents got my sisters and me to eat a noodle with poppy seed dish by calling it Bug Noodles and a lentil dish by retelling a well-known story. We were intrigued to be eating the same lentil soup that a main character cooked and then used to steal his brother’s birthright.

Picture art: See the pictures in the 3rd link below for ideas about how to turn eating fruits and vegetables into an art. [3]

4. Make it a game or a competition.

One family I know turns their after dinner walk into a race or a game of chase. They’ve even made up their own silly family rhyme as part of the chase. Another family used to go outside after dinner and have jump rope competitions. In a class, everyone could work together so that each student’s minutes of exercise combine toward the overall class goal of 2500 a week (or whatever is appropriate for your class). Then, reaching the goal is rewarded with…10 extra minutes of recess on Friday afternoon…or…?

Turn trying out new vegetables into an investigation. Everyone rates each vegetable’s color, taste, and texture. Then, family/class favorites are chosen. For children who like math, let them read food labels and look up nutrition information in order to figure out how healthy the foods are that you’re eating. Then, have them design and keep a family/class chart to track progress.

For other ideas about how to make healthy eating a game, see number 7 in the 4th link below.[4]

5. Praise rather than shame.

I think sometimes we forget how powerful words are, for good and bad. Try an experiment with the children in your life this week. Instead of shaming them into being healthy, praise them into it. Then, let us know what happens.


[1] Wendy C. Fries, “Mom, Dad, Do I Look Fat?,” webmd.com, November 21, 2011,  http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/mood/weight-self-esteem?page=1.
[2] “Obesity in Children and Teens,” aacap.org, April 2016, http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Obesity-In-Children-And-Teens-079.aspx.
[3]  Angela Lemond, “Four Fun Food Art Project that Encourage Kids to Eat Healthy,” mykidsadventures.com, September 10, 2013, http://www.mykidsadventures.com/food-art-projects.
[4] “Win over Picky Eaters,” pbs.org, accessed May 3, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/parents/food-and-fitness/eat-smart/win-over-picky-eaters.

Further exploration

  • If you’d like to read the Chinese version of this post, click the link below. (Please send your Chinese friends to this site. Master Teaching is usually blocked in China.)
    健康娱乐的五种方法
  • 6 Steps toward a Healthy DietThis post was written with a Chinese diet in mind, buWeChat QR Codet it’s also applicable to other eating cultures.
  • If you or a friend would like to join our WeChat page, you can scan the QR code.

What’s your perspective?

We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.

  • What do you do to make healthy fun with your children/students?
  • Do you know children who need an advocate? How do you tear down walls for them?

Post Author

Melissa K. Smith


Photo Credit: Beth LeBlanc and Tyler LeBlanc

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2016 by in education as justice, health, LEAPAsia on WeChat, Melissa K. Smith.

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