Plant, Grow, & Learn: A Garden-Based Kindergarten - 5th Grade Nutrition Curriculum Restricted; Files & ToC

Ernst Beasley, Micah G. (2017)

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Background: Childhood obesity has become a global epidemic and worsening problem in America and many countries around the world that foster environments which increase the likelihood of obesity at an early age. Creating environments that promote healthy choices and behaviors for children is essential to combat childhood obesity. According to the CDC (2015), "Schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors." Thus, a school-wide intervention in which a nutrition curriculum was integrated into subject matter taught in each grade and complimentary gardens built to engage students through hands-on activities were used as tools to promote a healthy environment for children. This garden-based behavior change curriculum aimed at increasing consumption of nutritious foods and building gardening skills to help cultivate healthy communities and positive nutrition attitudes in elementary school-aged children was used as a strategy to reduce childhood obesity.

Curriculum: Plant, Grow, & Learn is a garden-based, kindergarten through 5th grade nutrition curriculum that was created through the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential (GCAPP) for partner schools in the metropolitan Atlanta area, which include: Hamilton (H.E.) Holmes Elementary School, Garden Hills Elementary School, William W. Boyd Elementary School and Perkerson Elementary School. This curriculum includes five weeks of two 30-minute lessons, totaling 10 lessons per grade. It was piloted in Spring 2016 at H.E. Holmes Elementary School to evaluate changes in students' attitudes towards fruits and vegetables and acceptability of the curriculum amongst teachers. Evaluation data revealed positive changes in attitudes and high acceptability from teachers with suggestions for improvement. There were significant revisions from Summer 2016 through Spring 2017, which included: theoretical frameworks, a logic model incorporating modified goal and objectives, intentional scope and sequence, as well as new and rewritten lessons.

Discussion: The revised curriculum aims to reduce childhood obesity among K - 5th grade students in Georgia by developing their ability to apply knowledge of gardening skills to grow and harvest nutritious foods, explain ways gardens yield fruits and vegetables, select healthy food options, and express positive attitudes towards eating fruit and vegetables.

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