Recently I visited David Livingstone Memorial Primary School in Blantyre with the Food For Thought programme, to help primary 6 and 7 pupils learn about health eating, body image, and the effects of food on how we feel.
The Food For Thought programme is led by Vivian Maeda, and run by the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and Business in the Community Scotland. It supports food education in schools, bringing volunteer businesses into the classroom to provide learning experiences around food and health, sustainability, careers in the food industry, and other aspects of food education.
We’ve been volunteering with Food For Thought for the last 2 years. In this session, we explored food and health, in relation to body image, the media and what influences our food choices. We used our Food, Mood and Health Game to initiate conversations and learning.
Pupils were divided into groups to play the game. In 2019, some might think that children won’t be interested in board games, given the high-tech entertainment options they are accustomed to – but you’d be wrong. The excitement when they discovered their next lesson involved playing a game was impressive, and the discussions that the game stimulated were really insightful.
As players move round around the board, the squares they land on determine types of questions the team will answer – from trivia, to picture activities, to discussion style questions. Pupils are encouraged to discuss their answers, explain their thinking and share experiences or knowledge with their peers. Questions in the game help them to talk about what influences their food choices, how they feel the media affects them and how food and mood affect each other.
After playing the game, a whole class discussion was held, where pupils could raise things they wanted to discuss further and learn a little more about the things they found important. After this, pupils were asked to create a campaign poster, featuring an important message they wanted to pass on to their peers in other classes who hadn’t been lucky enough to play the game. Campaign messages included:
“Be wise, watch your portion size!”
“Make a pledge: eat fruit and veg!”
“Stop changing to meet expectations.”
And my personal favourite on the topic of media influence, “Keep Calm and Be Yourself!”
The session at David Livingstone Memorial, and other primary schools I’ve worked with, shows just what can be achieved using an educational board game. In just a few short hours, the game stimulated discussions around vital health and wellbeing issues that can often be difficult to talk about – but using a game created a relaxed environment where pupils felt confident and comfortable expressing themselves.
Learning doesn’t have to stop when the game has ended – extend the learning opportunities through additional activities like class or group discussions, poster campaigns, balanced menu creation, cooking activities or exploring magazines to see the effect of the media.
Educational board games are a popular and useful way to learn - and this just goes to show that traditional games still absolutely shine in the world of headsets, VR and augmented reality!
If you’d like to learn more about the Food, Mood & Health Game, and download a lesson plan to support the game, visit www.foodmoodandhealth.co.uk
Check out some of the pupils amazing posters!