GO, SLOW, WHOA
Early Childhood Health Lesson

Objective:

Learn the three We Can! food categories (GO, SLOW, and WHOA) and how to recognize foods that are the better choices for a healthy body.

We Can! Messages

GO foods should be eaten often; SLOW foods should be eaten sometimes; and WHOA foods should be eaten sparingly.
Limit the availability and accessibility of high-fat, high-density/low nutrient foods in the home.
Increase availability and accessibility of healthy foods in the home.
Balance energy in and energy out.
Limit the availability and accessibility of sugar-sweetened beverages.

National Pre-K–2nd Grade Health Performance Standards

Identify how the family influences personal health practices and behaviors.
Identify healthy behaviors that impact personal health.

Adult Message

Increase families’ daily intake of “GO” foods, while reducing servings of “SLOW” and “WHOA” foods.

Developing Preschool Readiness Skills

Learn to count, sort, and categorize.

Program Content

Themed lesson plans incorporating art, literacy, movement and music support a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching young children and adults.
Program Length: 70 minutes

Introduction/Discussion

Materials: Name stickers, markers
Welcome families with name stickers and “hello” song. Begin a discussion by highlighting the differences between how foods taste, smell, look, and feel. Explain that different foods provide us with different nutrients and that these nutrients fuel our body and help us to play, learn, and grow.

Ask the adults “What is a calorie?” Explain how food’s energy is measured in calories. The body needs calories/energy to perform basic functions (like breathing and digesting), but only a certain amount. GO foods are the lowest in fat and added sugar and are relatively low in calories, but are rich with nutrients. WHOA foods are the highest in fat and added sugars and are high in calories, with often low levels of nutrients. SLOW foods are in-between; they have nutrients but are higher in fat, added sugar, and calories than GO foods.

Ask children to name their favorite foods and help them discover if their favorite foods are GO, SLOW, or WHOA. Show examples of GO foods and discuss how GO foods are usually fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk, and whole grains. Discuss how GO foods should be selected most of the time for meals and snacks because they are so good for our bodies; they make us GO, GO, GO! SLOW foods should be eaten sometimes, and WHOA foods can be eaten only once in a while.

Visual References: Chart with GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods as images; and chart with text.

Key Teaching Messages

  • GO foods can be eaten anytime (most often)—they are lowest in fat, added sugar, and calories. Examples: fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, fresh and frozen fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • SLOW foods should be eaten sometimes (less often at most several times a week)—they are higher in fat, added sugar, and/or calories. Examples: 100% fruit juice, pancakes, and baked chips.
  • WHOA foods can be eaten only once in a while (least often)—they are very high in fat and/ or added sugar, and are much higher in calories. Examples: French fries, doughnuts, fried chicken, candy, and fried potato chips.

Art Activity: GO, SLOW, WHOA Stoplight Collage

Using a selection of GO, SLOW, and WHOA color-coded food images, children will create a collage that helps them learn to identify healthy food choices and GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods.

Materials: Oak tag paper with GO, SLOW, and WHOA stoplight image, popsicle sticks, cut out images of different GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods, glue, crayons/markers.

Set-up: Place the WHOA stoplight image at each seat. Use masking tape on all four corners to secure paper. Place the GO, SLOW, and WHOA cut out images in three different piles on the table. Help both children and parents identify and choose images from each group, and color them in before gluing them on the proper section of the stoplight collage. When children are finished with their collage, tape a popsicle stick on the bottom as a post. Have a marker in hand to write the children’s names on their artwork when they are finished.

Clean-up: Give children a 5 minute warning. Always let children know that you will be transitioning and ending the project soon. After the warning, sing a clean-up song to focus the children and encourage participation in the clean-up process. One example: “Clean up, clean up, one, two, three. I’ll help you and you help me. Clean up, clean up, one, two, three. I’ll help you and you help me.”

Physical Activity: Movement/Music

Weekly Structure: Warm-up, Active Play Time, Movement/Music (song/activity), Cool-down.
Children should do at least 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.

Warm-up:

Marching Movement Song
We’re marching, marching, marching
We’re marching in a circle
We’re marching, marching, marching until it’s time to stop!

We’re jumping, jumping, jumping
We’re jumping in a circle,
We’re jumping, jumping, jumping until it’s time to stop!
(add hopping, stomping, running, tiptoeing, etc.)

In and Out Circle Song
Let’s go in and in and in
And out and out and out
And in and in and in and in
And out and out and out!

Active Play Time:

Do 5 or 10 minutes of each exercise

  • Playing Tag
  • Hopscotch
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Jumping (one foot, together then apart, front to back)

Movement/Music: GO, SLOW, WHOA Movement Game (based on red-light, green-light)

Children develop body awareness and listening skills as they play a game of red-light, green-light based on GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods.

When the educator calls out or shows an image of a GO food children run in place, when the educator calls out or shows an image of a SLOW food children walk in place, and when educator calls out or shows an image of a WHOA food children sit down.

Cool-down:

It is important for the body to cool down gradually.

  • Breathing–Place hands on belly or lower back. Inhale and fill the lungs. Feel the abdomen and ribs inflate. Exhale and empty the lungs. Feel the chest and abdomen relax.
  • Yoga Moves
    • Downward Dog–Have the children make a bridge with their bodies. From here you can kick one leg up at a time and start to stretch body long.
    • Tree Pose–Have the children balance on one leg, bending their other leg at a 90 degree angle, stretching their hands above their heads.
    • The Horse–Stand in place for 30 seconds with a wide stance and knees bent (like a halfway down squat position).

Group Storytime

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Sweet as a Strawberry by Sally Smallwood
Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat

Healthy Snack

Offer orange slices and whole grain low-fat rice cakes. An educator-led discussion will give children and adults the opportunity to discuss ideas and strategies for incorporating GO food snack choices into their daily diet. Encourage children to wash hands with soap and warm water before eating snack.
Hand Washing Strategy: Wash hands for 20 seconds to fight off all germs and then rinse well under running water. Sing the ABC Song while you wash.

Review Family Handout

Goal: List one to three GO foods you will eat each day.

Facts of the Week: GO foods give our bodies important nutrients and are lowest in fat and added sugars—should be selected most of the time for meals and snacks! A medium apple has 72 calories, 0 grams of fat (Information from: www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/foodapedia.aspx, February 15, 2013).

SLOW foods are higher in fat, added sugar, and calories—eat sometimes. A grab-size bag (2.1oz)
of pretzels has 228 calories, 2 grams of fat (Information from: www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/foodapedia.aspx, February 15, 2013).

WHOA foods are the highest in fat and added sugar, and many are low in nutrients—eat only
on special occasions and in small portions. A glazed doughnut has 226 calories and 13 grams
of fat (Information from: www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/foodapedia.aspx, February 15, 2013).

At-Home Strategies:

  • Serve a piece of fruit instead of cookies.
  • Serve water and fat-free and low-fat milk instead of soda or juice. (Bonus: Tap water is free!)
  • Remove tempting WHOA or SLOW snacks from the house (this includes regular soda, cookies, crackers, sugary cereals, etc.) Replace with healthy GO choices like water, fruit, and fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
  • Remember, if you eat sweets and snacks, eat small amounts and only once in a while.

Lesson Visuals

  • GO, SLOW, WHOA Stoplight
  • Five (5) pages of GO, SLOW, WHOA foods
  • The Hidden Sugar Truth

Lesson: GO, SLOW, WHOA

Early Childhood Health Lesson

Low Fat Milk - GO
Fruit Drink - WHOA
French Fries - WHOA
Low fat frozen yogurt - SLOW
Broccoli - GO
Hot dog - WHOA
Mashed potatoes - SLOW
100% orange juice - SLOW
Pears - GO
Pancakes - WHOA
Peanut Butter - SLOW
Baked potato chips - SLOW
Baked potatoes - GO
Soda - WHOA
Strawberries - GO
100% Whole milk - WHOA
Low fat yogurt - GO
Apples - GO
Pear - GO
Grapes - GO
Peaches - GO
Blueberries - GO
Cob of Corn - GO
Bananas - GO
Cherries - GO
Watermelon - GO
Orange - GO

The Hidden Sugar Truth

Corn Puffs Cereal

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 3/4 cups

Teaspoons of Sugar=3

Grams 12 g of Sugar

Calories 100

Fat 1.5 g

Ingredients: Cereal: Corn Flour, Sugar*, Oat Flour, Brown Sugar*, Coconut Oil, Salt, Niacinamide, Yellow 5, Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide, Yellow 6, Thiamin, Mononitrate, BHT (A preservative), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid

The words marked in asterisk refer to added sugar. Added sugar is the sugar added to processed food and drinks while they are being made. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as milk, fruit, vegetables, and some grains.

Blueberry Muffin

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 Muffin

Teaspoons of Sugar=11

Grams 44 g of Sugar

Calories 480

Fat 15 g

Ingredients: Muffin: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron as Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Enzyme, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar*, Blueberries, Water, Eggs, Soybean Oil, Contains less than 2% of the following: High Fructose Corn Syrup*, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Aluminum Sulfate), Modified Corn Starch, Soy Protein Isolate, Salt, Whey (a milk derivative), Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Sorbitan Monostearate, Polysorbate 60, Gelatinized Wheat Starch, Natural Flavor, Propylene Glycol; Topping: Sugar*.

*The words marked with asterisk refer to added sugar. Added sugar is the sugar added to processed food and drinks while they are being made. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as milk, fruit, vegetables, and some grains.

Family Health Handout

GO, SLOW, WHOA

Benefits of learning GO, SLOW, and WHOA foods:

  1. Simple and easy way to recognize healthy food choices.
  2. Families learn strategies for making healthy choices.

Farmers Market or Green Cart Shopping List

Get your GO Foods! Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables at your local market!

Family Goal

Goal: List 3 GO foods you will eat each day!

Monday:

1.

2.

3.

Tuesday:

1.

2.

3.

Wednesday:

1.

2.

3.

Thursday:

1.

2.

3.

Friday:

1.

2.

3.

Saturday:

1.

2.

3.

Sunday:

1.

2.

3.

WHOA!

SLOW!

GO!

Fact of the Week

Foods that give our bodies important nutrients and are lowest in fat and added sugars—eat almost anytime! Foods that are higher in fat, added sugar and calories—eat sometimes. Foods that are the highest in fat and added sugar, and may be low in nutrients—eat only on special occasions.

Health Tip

Replace WHOA foods with GO foods in your home.

Surprising Fact

Regular soda is a WHOA food!

Strategy

If you eat sweets, eat them only once in a while and in small amounts.

At-Home Tools

Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Sweet as a Strawberry by Sally Smallwood

Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat

New Food Words to Use

  1. Fresh
  2. Go
  3. Slow
  4. Whoa

Did you know…

Some examples of GO foods are: fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. SLOW foods are: 100% juice, pancakes, baked potato chips. WHOA foods are: french fries, fried chicken, doughnuts, and fried potato chips.

Physical Activities

Get Moving Together!
Sing and dance to Grand Old Duke of York, Shake Your Sillies Out, or Hokey-Pokey. Follow exercise with a hydrating, nutritious smoothie: blend ice, strawberries, and fat-free or low-fat milk.

Cookie, Cookie, Cucumber!
Based on “Duck, Duck, Goose,” use your nutrition knowledge to think of a WHOA food and a GO replacement. Remember: Healthy choices give you more energy to run around the circle! Follow with a glass of cold water and apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon.

GO Recipes

Breakfast
Add blueberries to oat cereal in fat-free or low-fat milk.

Snack
An apple and a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.

Dessert
Fat-free or low-fat yogurt with strawberries and bananas.

Source: Adapted from CATCH: Coordinated Approach to Child Health, 4th Grade Curriculum, University of California and Flaghouse, Inc., 2002.

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NIH Publication No. 13-7818
April 2013

Last Updated: November 8, 2013

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