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Module Checklist

MSC11 6145
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
2703 Frontier Ave NE
Research Incubator Building (RIB) Suite 120

Phone: (505) 272-4462
Fax: (505) 272-4857

Classroom Curriculum

The Child Health Initiative for Lifelong Eating and Exercise (CHILE) nutrition and physical activity curriculum was developed by a team from the University of New Mexico Prevention Research Center, along with Head Start teachers, directors, nutrition coordinators, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents about their children’s health and eating habits. It is designed to be carried out over the course of two years, then repeated. The purpose of CHILE Plus is to improve nutrition and physical activity behaviors through classroom meals, lessons and activities, supplemented by family educational materials and face to face family events.

CHILE Plus utilizes the CHILE curriculum, which has been carried out in Head Start centers across New Mexico since 2008. The curriculum is developmentally appropriate for children ages 3 to 5 years and is designed to meet Head Start Performance Standards. Every lesson addresses at least one Domain in the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework.

Research has shown that “food neophobia,” or an unwillingness to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is common among very young children, and that children may need up to 20 tasting opportunities to develop a taste for a new food. CHILE Plus is designed to offer 8 tasting opportunities for each fruit or vegetable in the childcare setting, allowing parent and caregivers to provide additional opportunities. It is comprised of eight modules with eight lessons within each module. Four vegetable lessons and four fruit lessons. Four come from the nutrition lessons, four come from the incorporation of the fruit or vegetable in meals and snacks, and hopefully up to an additional four more will be offered by parents and caretakers at home. There are three lesson types: Food Detectives, Taste Testers, and Let’s Get Cooking. During each lesson, children participate in experiential learning by taking on the role of a food detective, taste tester, or a chef and taste a fruit or vegetable in each lesson. As they take on these roles, they become active players in their own nutrition, health, and wellbeing.

CHILE Nutrition Curriculum includes:

Food Detectives activities introduce the children to a fruit or vegetable. Children participate in dramatic play and become food detectives by using their sensory skills, with the aid of a magnifying glass, to examine the food. Teachers engage the children’s senses by passing the whole fruit or vegetable around the room for all to see, touch, and smell. As children discover the food for what may be the first time, and are given the opportunity to taste it, teachers lead children in a discussion of the experience. 

Taste Testers activities expose the children to a fruit or vegetable for the second time. As they assume their role as “taste testers”, they compare two foods that are similar in some ways and different in others. For example, children taste both a yellow and green summer squash, a sweet potato and a yellow potato, raw broccoli and steamed broccoli, fresh pineapple and canned pineapple.  This gives children the chance to expand their tasting experience of the fruit or vegetable so that they may be more willing to try it in the future.

Let’s Get Cooking activities involve the children directly in the preparation of a recipe that includes the fruit or vegetable that they have been testing in previous lessons and in meals at the center. They participate in dramatic play and become “chefs” by wearing aprons, chef hats After examining and tasting the food for the past few weeks, they are now encouraged to get hands-on experience in preparing a meal or snack. For example, students may help with stirring, rolling, sprinkling, or even cutting using plastic butter knives. This participation gives the children a sense of investment in and ownership over their food.  They are now even more likely to try the fruit or vegetable as well as want to make and eat it again and again.

Guidelines from the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) state that preschool-age children should engage in 60 minutes of structured activity per day, AND 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of unstructured activity per day. Curriculum activities are used to add at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day to a usual recess and activity schedule.

CHILE Physical Activity Curriculum includes:

Move ‘N’ Groove activities promote movement through music and dance, and are designed to be used in the classroom to encourage children to shake out extra energy they may have. These activities are short and will work very well if included during times of the day when children are less active, like transition times. Move ’N’ Groove activities are ideal for children’s performances at family or other Head Start events.

Exercise Breaks are designed to be short in duration, and require a small space and little-to-no equipment. Exercise Breaks are a great way to transition children from one activity to the next and help them to be more focused throughout the day. Exercise Breaks can be performed in the classroom, outside, or in a large room such as a gymnasium or meeting room. Exercise Breaks can be conducted with center staff and parents during meetings. 

Game Time lessons are comprised of 4 parts: Warm-Up, Activity 1, Activity 2, and Cool Down. Game time lessons require teachers to lead games that have rules children must follow. Most Game Time activities require more space than an average classroom provides, so teachers are encouraged to teach Game Time lessons outside or in a large room such as a gymnasium or meeting room.