Home and Career Skills

Active Teaching Strategies Guide






Home and Career Skills is a course designed to help middle level students live in a society of constant change and to improve their quality of life by preparing them to meet their present and future responsibilities as family and community members, consumers, home managers, and wage earners.  The goal is to educate early adolescents to think constructively, make sound decisions, solve problems, and manage resources.


Home and Career Skills is the vehicle through which the New York State Intermediate Level Learning Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences are delivered.  It also focuses on the New York State Intermediate Level Learning Standards in Career Development and Occupational Studies.  The Home and Career Skills course affords students multiple opportunities to read, write, and compute in the context of real-world situations that are relevant to early adolescents.


Home and Career Skills is organized around four process skills:  communication, leadership, management, and thinking.  These process skills are taught through 10 content topics:  community connections, career development, clothing management, consumer resource management, family/parenting, financial management, human development, interpersonal relationships, nutrition and wellness, personal environment management.  Home and Career Skills process skills and content topics align with the National Learning Standards for Family and Consumer Sciences.  In order for the full curriculum to be delivered, learning experiences must be designed to dovetail process skills with content topics.


The Home and Career Skills course is to be taught using a hands-on experiential approach.  Learning occurs in the context of real-life situations and repeated practice is encouraged.  It is recommended that the course be delivered in a laboratory setting and involve a minimum of 75 percent hands-on instruction.  The use of relevant tasks, laboratories, simulations, and community involvement is an integral part of the course as is the use of research, class discussions, and group activities.  Students are expected to be actively involved in learning in a participatory, supportive environment and to have the opportunity to practice and develop the process skills as related to the content topics.


This Home and Career Skills Active Strategies Guide is a compilation of teaching strategies organized around the ten content topics in Home and Career Skills.  The strategies are intended as suggestions for introducing a learning experience, for transitioning between classroom activities, or for concluding a lesson.  Teachers should feel free to modify them based on student needs and resource availability.






Over 200 Family and Consumer Sciences educators from across New York State contributed to the development of the Home and Career Skills Active Strategies Guide. Thanks to all who participated in the creation of this tool, which serves as a supplement to the New York State Family and Consumer Sciences Home and Career Skills Core Curriculum Guide. Teachers should refer to the Home and Career Skills best practices rubric and template for guidance on developing complete learning experiences.




Compilation and Editing Team




Constance Beever                    Kingston City School, Kingston


Marie Elliott                              Dover Middle/Senior High School, Dover Plains


Theresa M. Phillips                   Oneida Central School District, Oneida, retired





Career Development



Active students can…


  • survey local employers to find out what characteristics employers look for in an employee.  Report back to the class.


  • interview a guest speaker from a local business to determine how the business trains new employees in customer service.


  • apply for working papers as they turn 14.  Guidance has the forms needed and information on laws pertaining to teens working.


  • invite parents and other community members to speak about their careers and attributes that help them to be successful in their fields.


  • list all the jobs necessary to make and package a product and make it available to consumers.  Suggested products could be a can of soup, a pad of paper, a pencil, miniature candy, label, calculator, hat, etc. 


  • practice, in pairs, how to tie a necktie for a job interview.


  • evaluate two completed job applications provided by the teacher and decide to whom to offer the job.


  • assess a job interview role-play where the person is not dressed appropriately, not prepared, and using poor communication skills.  Contrast the role-play interview with good interviewing techniques. 


  • create and present skits illustrating good job interview techniques.


  • list the tangible and intangible rewards for a variety of jobs. 


  • write letters of application for  jobs of interest.


  • dress for success when they come to class for mock job interviews.


  • imagine their lives in 20 years as they take a guided-imagery field trip to envision their fantasy careers.


  • develop “Life Road Maps” that include where they’ve been (birth, childhood memories) and where they would like to go in the future.


  • write an essay summarizing their personal interests, values, workplace preferences, lifestyle expectations and other hopes for the future.


  • write one goal about a career,  list three resources needed to achieve that goal, and three things that might get in the way of achieving it.


  • name their favorite class period and list three reasons why.  Then brainstorm careers which utilize the “why factor.”


  • play Musical Careers (like musical chairs):  a student draws a card and reads a question related to student interests. For example, “Do you like science?” or, “Do you like to help people?” Students get up and switch seats if they answer the question yes. Later, discuss how interests relate to careers.


  • try to identify career titles written on post-it notes affixed to their backs by walking around and asking others yes or no questions.


  • interview a parent, another adult in the community, three teachers and three peers to ask them what careers they think that student would be good at and why they suggested it.


  • brainstorm a list careers for each of the career clusters.


  • identify all the careers that might use an item pulled out of a prop box of career items, such as a calculator, an apron, a screwdriver, a ruler, etc.


  • complete a “Pieces of Me” worksheet with a partner. Each student is given a worksheet with a large circle divided like a pie. Partners fill in each labeled piece: skills, aptitudes, experience, personal traits, interests, and employability traits. 


  • develop a career graphic organizer by selecting information collected at a series of self-learning stations dealing with skills, interests, personality, values, etc. 


  • compile a career portfolio, including an autobiography, personal interest inventory, SCANS skills activity, job application, letter of application and resume.


  • view pictures of people’s faces and guess what careers those pictured might have.  Use this activity to introduce the concept of non-traditional careers.


  • ask a senior citizen to describe the kinds of technology they used when they were in elementary school.  Compare this with the technology students use now.  Discuss how new technologies will impact the workplace of the future.


  • enjoy a library research scavenger hunt. Student teams use a wide variety of library resources to find specific answers to career-oriented questions.


  • trace the outline of a gingerbread boy or girl on a large piece of paper and cut it out.  Write a job title across the torso and then add 5-10 job-related characteristics.  Figures can be decorated and posted around the school.


  • decorate a bag to reflect a career. The bag should contain five items or pictures related to the careers such as tools, uniforms, etc.  Students present their careers using their bags as visuals.


  • role-play their 20 year class reunion.  After completing the career unit, students pretend they are out of school for 20 years and attending their reunion.  As they mingle, students interview at least three classmates to find out answers to five different career questions.


  • apply and analyze the skills of the entrepreneur in a class activity:  to introduce entrepreneurship, spell out business on post- it notes; one letter per paper. Place one each on the backs of students.  (Not every student will have a letter.) Tell the class they are on their own to figure out what to do, and can only talk about the activity.  Have a dictionary conveniently nearby.  Usually a leader emerges fairly quickly and they realize it is a word and get people lined up accordingly. Try this again with the word entrepreneur.  Discuss the skills students used for this activity, such as cooperation, communication, leadership, and team building. How would these skills help an entrepreneur?


  • plan a business, working in small groups,  figuring out operating hours, staff needed, advertising strategies, etc.


  • interview working adults for suggestions they have for strategies to balance work and family.





Clothing Management




Active students can…


  • estimate the cost of all the clothing and accessories that they are wearing,  multiply by the number of people in their family, and then multiply by seven to get the approximate total family costs for clothing for just one week.  Use this activity to show the importance of studying clothing care and management.


  • write a story “Oops, My Button Fell Off” describing a situation when they lost a button and in the closing paragraph describe how to replace the button.


  • rotate through learning stations such as mending hems, sewing on buttons and snaps, stain removal, etc.


  • repair clothing to be donated to a shelter.


  • create puppets by hand, using four stitches and buttons.  Decorate the puppets to give them their own personalities. Use as book characters when reading to children in a child care unit.


  • evaluate the quality of a garment using baby or children’s clothing.


  • perform science experiments on textiles, such as wrinkle tests to show the difference between natural and synthetic fibers, the effect of bleach or fabric softener on fabrics, etc.


  • cut pictures of garments they like from catalogs.  Total the total cost per outfit.  Mix and match pictures in different ways to create new outfits and recalculate the new cost per outfit.


  • play Simon Says to review parts of the sewing machine.


  • earn a “Driver’s License” before starting a project using the sewing machine.


  • practice machine stitching around curves and angles using dot-to-dot coloring book pages.


  • construct a 1-inch ruler marking off: ⅛ in, ¼ in, ½ in, ¾ in, etc.


  • combine both construction skills and recycling, by

           making a locker caddy from old jeans;

           redesigning jeans, sweats, or an old jacket into a purse or carry-all;

           using leftover fabrics to make a nine block pillow;

           converting scraps into cat nip sacks or sachets;

           using an old sleeve to create a bottle bag;

           using a t-shirt to create a pillow. 


·        combine construction skills and community connections, by

           creating teddy bears for the local fire department or Red Cross to distribute to children displaced by home fires or to give to a children at a hospital or a shelter;

           creating care bags from fabric and filling with travel size soaps, lotions, etc., to donate to a safe house or shelter;

           making cancer caps for hospice patients;

           creating appliqué postcards to send.

·        make a luggage tag or key chain or backpack tag by using a cookie cutter as a pattern on felt.  These can be stitched and stuffed.  Use thread or a chain or fishing line as a tie.


·        create a pillow that illustrates their personalities, using fabric, crayons, and unbleached muslin squares.


·        make clothing posters representing why we wear what we do (identity, to impress, etc.).


·        from catalogs and magazines, select pictures of appropriate clothes for a given event (interview, vacation, attending a wedding, etc.) and present their choices to the class to be evaluated.


·        develop a budget to “purchase” an outfit for an interview.  Include taxes and shipping charges in the budgeted amount. 


·        reorganize a closet or a dresser, then write a paragraph describing their experiences and what they learned. 


·        do laundry, then write a paragraph describing their experiences and what they learned. 


·        answer questions about laundry care products by conducting a label scavenger hunt utilizing detergent containers, dryer sheet boxes, stain removal products, etc.


·        utilize on-line resources to research how to remove different kinds of stains from textiles.


·        sort themselves for laundry loads by the clothes they’re wearing (t-shirts, top layers, jeans, etc.).

·        complete a stain removal lab.


·        guess which article of clothing a tag goes with based on fiber content and care instructions.


·        see the varying impact of bleach on fibers and learn the importance of reading labels by analyzing samples of fabrics that have been bleached.


·        practice ironing a dress shirt , trousers, and tie in preparation for a job interview.


·        create a campaign for teaching college students how to do laundry to prevent ruined clothing and broken machines.  They can create brochures, posters, public service announcements or electronic presentations.










Community Connections




Active students can…



·        host a diversity night when families or students prepare and share foods from various cultures.


·        prepare a public service announcement about the community-based initiatives of the class to present over the school public address system and the local public broadcasting station


·        conduct an internet search for the local community action coalition.  Many community agencies have programs for teens and are willing to present them to schools.

·        identify community agencies that could help with particular teen/family dilemmas described in teacher-prepared scenarios, case studies or Dear Abby letters.


·        choose a community agency and write a letter either asking for specific information or complimenting the agency on what they do to help the community.


·        organize a health fair and invite community organizations to provide resources for workshops, hand-outs, and displays.


·        plan an outing to a senior center with activities, such as music, dancing, bingo, games, snacks, etc.


·        invite parents and grandparents to share their expertise.


·        plan, prepare, and serve  a breakfast or lunch for seniors.


·        conduct a “Clean-up Day” to help community members with raking, window cleaning, etc.


·        volunteer at a local clothing distribution center after repairing and recycling clothes.




·              organize projects for a “Make a Difference Day” such as:

     making cookies for the home-bound;

     sewing sleeping bags out of old blankets for the homeless;

     collecting suitcases for children in foster care;

     cleaning up a park or other local area;

     collecting or making hats or mittens to be given away;

     making “Mugs of Love” for a local shelter by filling a mug with sample grooming products;

     collecting used eyeglasses to send to developing countries. Lions Clubs will send;

     decorating lunch bags or placemats for local senior nutrition centers

     making gingerbread houses to donate to a charity auction;

     having a canned food drive for the local food pantry;

     baking bread for a local soup kitchen;

     preparing “Goody Boxes” filled with baked goods, canned food, magazines, etc. to be delivered to the elderly and home-bound in the community;

     having a bake sale for the Relay for Life or other cause;

     collecting children’s books for a local day care center;

     preparing dog biscuits or sewing animal blankets to give to an animal shelter;

     making blankets or dolls for the Linus Project or Ronald McDonald House;

     making walker or wheel chair bags for a nursing home.


  • demonstrate healthy snack preparation at a local nursing home or preschool.


  • create brochures from MyPyramid.gov for different age and gender groups and distribute them to people who might not have Internet access.


  • develop a puppet show or games for the local preschool, nursery school or day care center.


  • write letters to soldiers over-seas or thinking of you letters to veterans in a VA hospital.


  • collect items to ship to soldiers overseas.







Consumer Resource Management



Active students can…


  • compare the nutritional claims made in food advertising with the nutrition facts provided on the label.


  • use menus from a variety of restaurants to “order” a meal.  Calculate tax and tip.


  • compare the manufacturer’s advertising claims for a specific product with test findings for the same product as reported in Consumer Reports.


  • videotape a preschool child describing the fruits in a breakfast cereal, such as Fruit Loops,  to illustrate  how young children are influenced by advertisements.


  • create a product and a TV commercial to sell the product.  Ask the class to identify the advertising technique(s) used in the commercial.


  • bring in an old toy or object that was a popular fad.  Discuss:  why it was popular,   with whom it was popular, where it was advertised, and why it is less popular now?  What happens to old fad objects?


  • create print advertisements for fruits, vegetables and other healthy snacks and post them throughout the school and in elementary schools in the district.


  • examine the influence of advertising by matching slogans and logos used by companies with the products they represent.


  • match a set of terms and definitions for consumer rights and responsibilities.       Share real life consumer situations and identify the right or responsibility for each.    


  • dial the 800 number on a cereal box to ask nutrition information questions or to request recipes or coupons.  Role play or practice a few of these calls.


  • invite a police officer in to class to discuss the consequences of shoplifting


  • write a letter of complaint or a letter of compliment to a company about a product or a service.


  • utilize company web sites to ask consumer questions.



  • complete four to six learning station activities, each focusing on a product that might be purchased by teens.  For example,  answering questions based on the use and care guide, understanding the warrantee, etc. 


  • investigate information available at various consumer resource web sites and report findings back to the class.


  • create a study guide to help classmates learn to use each of the parts of Consumer Reports magazine.


  • employ problem-solving strategies to figure out the meaning of FCC, FTC, FDA, and OSHA.


  • complete a cost analysis for the food products they prepare in lab. 


  • prepare a budget for a meal for a family of four and create a grocery list using store flyers.


  • read unit pricing labels and use them to compute the unit price for a serving of a variety of food items.


  • complete daily bell-ringer consumer math problems focused on unit pricing, taxes, tips, percent-off sales, etc.


  • use sales flyers, catalogues, and internet sources to “purchase” school clothes within a set budget.  Include tax, shipping and handling costs in the purchasing decisions.


  • conduct a blind taste test of name brands and store brands comparing for taste, ease of prep, appearance, preparation time, nutritional value, and cost. 


  • create a chart showing the information gained from an internet comparison shopping trip. Discuss safety issues when using the computer for financial transactions.


  • participate in a “Food Sale Scavenger Hunt” by shopping for selected items using a variety of store flyers for pricing.  Discuss how to decide where to shop as well as other ways to save money while shopping for food.


  • conduct a teen consumers challenge  by selecting a product, defining test criteria, conducting testing, and reporting the results via school news, PA announcements, school-wide display case, posters or electronic presentations.









Active students can…


·        review excerpts from popular television shows to identify the type of family shown,  parenting styles, conflict resolution strategies, etc.


·        create an alphabet book using childhood memories.  For example: D is for Dad who always came to my games.


·        list their multiple roles in the family.  Share these with the class to discover where there are similarities and differences among families.


·        decorate a bow tie or necktie design to show what ties a family together.  These can be used on a bulletin board for open-house night.


·        create a family coat of arms with each area signifying values, interests, heritage, family recreation, etc.


·        identify characteristics of different parenting styles.  Role-play different parenting scenarios and have students identify which each role-play represents.


·        invite guest speakers from community agencies to speak on issues that families face and help available for each issue.


·        form groups according to whether they are the oldest, youngest, middle, or only child in their families.  In these groups, identify the advantages and disadvantages of this role  Share with the class.

·        interview parents or grandparents on family life when they were growing up.  Compare and contrast to family life today.


·        plan and execute a family activity.


·        read and report on articles on parenting issues from various magazines. Create a parenting manual.


·        research the cost of raising a baby for the first year and the cost of raising a child to adulthood.


·        create a want ad for the job of parenting.  Include duties, hours, duration of the job, personal characteristics, and pay.





Financial Management



Active students can…


  • listen to a CD, with a collection of songs about money, playing when they enter the classroom.  Name other songs related to money.  Discuss why there are so many. 


  • discuss the meanings of familiar sayings about money, such as “money doesn’t grow on trees.”


  • invite a panel of representatives from local banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to discuss common financial problems people encounter and how to avoid them.


  • conduct research on the economics of staying in school and how school completion impacts earnings throughout a lifetime.


  • survey newspaper and magazine articles about debt incurred by college students. Discuss ways these students could better manage their debt.


  • list all fixed and flexible expenses for a family of four. Calculate the net income needed to cover these expenses.  Compute the gross salary needed.

  • prepare a budget based on a full-time minimum wage income.  Use ads from the newspaper to determine rent and other expenses.  Discuss challenges faced in preparing the budget.


  • investigate computer programs that have family or individual budgeting applications.


  • use the budgeting process to manage money for a class trip.


  • generate a budget based on the salary they “earn” as a result of the job they got from mock interviews during the career unit.


  • plan a day’s meals, including all taxes and tips, given a vacation budget of $40 a day.


  • brainstorm alternatives for flexible items in a budget.  For example, purchasing lunch from a restaurant, in the school cafeteria, or bringing it from home.  Compare costs for each option.


  • keep a spending log. Analyze spending patterns over time.


  • identify a spending goal and create a plan for reaching that goal.


  • categorize items, pulled out of a paper bag, as needs or wants.


  • model family budgeting through a family simulation project. Students formulate family groups, decide on the family type, choose where the family will live, and the jobs the family will have.  This becomes the basis for budgeting and financial decisions.


  • use “FCCLA Saves” to investigate the concept of saving and to develop projects to encourage saving.


  • determine how a person would open a savings or a checking account.


  • explain the process of using debit cards and how to keep track of debit card spending.


  • examine credit card offers to compare and contrast the different types available.


  • research the issue of identity theft.  Create brochures on ways to protect against identity theft and what to do if it does occur.





Human Development



Active students can…


  • create a bulletin board using baby photos from class members. Guess who is who, then discuss inherited traits.


  • use the mnemonic “PIES” to remember the modalities of  human development:  physical, intellectual, emotional, and social.


  • plot the typical physical, intellectual, emotional and social characteristics of human beings at each stage of life on a timeline.


  • augment a short case study about a stages of the life cycle.  In round robin fashion, add information detailing the needs, wants, values, etc. about the individual from the case study.  Include accomplishments, changes, and challenges typical for that life cycle stage.


  • participate in aging simulations such as trying to read wearing glasses covered in  Vaseline, trying to put on a shirt with splints taped to fingers, trying to hear with cotton balls in their ears, etc.


  • sort slips of paper that list developmental milestones.  Place them, one at a time, on a class bulletin board under the heading: Infants, Toddlers, or Preschoolers.  Discuss the difference between a developmental task and a developmental continuum.  Debate what might happen if a parent or caregiver had unrealistic expectations for a child.


  • select a topic to teach a child of a particular age.  Create a game, puppet show, storybook or other activity to do this.


  • make homemade play dough to illustrate how toys help the senses develop.  Use it with children invited to class, or donate it to a local day care.


  • invite preschoolers into the class for a breakfast, lunch or playtime.  Plan all of the     food and activities for the children.


  • evaluate a children’s book.  Read to a child.


  • earn Red Cross babysitting certificates through their Home and Career Skills class. 



  • view the scene from the movie Mary Poppins where the children sing about finding the perfect nanny.  In groups, develop a rating rubric for babysitters.


  • develop a plan on how to childproof the home. 


  • create a “Babysitter Survival Kit.” Include information about the family, pertinent phone numbers, and books, toys, etc., to use with the children.


  • analyze scenarios describing problem situations encountered when babysitting.   Work in groups to solve the problems.


  • play a true or false game on different aspects of adolescent maturation to understand changes as normal.


  • write an essay on the “Power of Choice” describing a time when they made a decision of which they were proud.


  • create a circle map.  Write their name in the center of a small circle.  Draw a larger circle around that and write characteristics or personality traits that describe themselves.  Draw a larger circle around that and write the people or events that influenced their development of their own traits.


  • write an essay describing a person who has influenced their life in some way.


  • Evaluate the incidence of violent actions in a cartoon TV show.  Discuss how viewing this cartoon might influence the behavior of small children.


  • make a felt pennant depicting symbols representing culture, interests, role models, heredity and environment.


  • complete a “Your Strengths” worksheet.  On a list of personality traits and characteristics, circle the best descriptors.  Give an identical sheet to a friend and to a parent and ask them to circle the best descriptors for the student.  Compare and contrast the responses on the three sheets.


  • create a CD cover representing themselves. Include 10 song titles that describe their personal characteristics.


  • recycle a used t-shirts to create a “unique me” pillow.  Decorate with iron-on transfer sheets, fabric markers, or computer generated pictures to reflect their individuality.


  • create identity bags.  Personal image is shown on the outside.   The inside can be filled with pictures or words describing traits, values, goals, challenges, etc.



  • share information gained from reading magazine articles on teen issues.


  • develop public service announcements on Shaken Baby Syndrome, homelessness, childhood obesity, helmet safety, car seat safety or other issues that affect people across the life span.


  • write their name, four favorites, and their future goals on the back of their school photograph.  Place these in a time capsule to be opened when they are seniors.


  • work on a self-improvement project:  select a self-improvement goal and create a plan for achieving it. Work on this goal, recording daily progress.  After a set amount of time, evaluate goal attainment.


  • draw a picture of a clock. Use this as a pie graph to log time spent on daily activities.  Discuss time-management strategies such as setting priorities, making lists, grouping things together, organizing work spaces, and breaking down a large job into smaller portions, etc.  Set a personal goal related to time-management.


















Interpersonal Relationships



Active students can…


·        conduct a human treasure hunt:  find another student in the room who plays sports, is a good dancer, likes sweet potatoes, has been out of the state, is good in math, etc. Get that student’s signature on the treasure hunt form. Use each student’s name only once.


·        play “Peer-O.” Use the same format at bingo.  Students place the names of classmates in each square on their paper.  The teacher then randomly calls names. As people  are called,  they must stand up and tell something about themselves. Play until someone has Peer-O (five in a row).


  • write announcements recognizing classmates who have been contributing positively to the school or community and present on the school public address system.


  • create a word wall of  adjectives that can be used when commenting on a classmate’s presentation.


  • role-play a scenario of new student entering class.  Classmates write down impressions of the new student based on verbal and nonverbal cues.  Discuss the impact of first impressions.  List strategies to help a new person acclimate to the school.


  • role-play having a difficult conversation such as with the school principal, a store manager, a new friend’s parent, etc.  Discuss strategies for conversation starters in difficult social situations.


  • role-play giving and receiving compliments.


  • participate in a team cooperation and collaboration activity.  Each team is given an envelope containing paper clips, nametags, stickers, a sheet of paper and rubber bands.  Using only nonverbal communication, each team creates the longest possible object in 10 minutes.


  • work together to complete a puzzle without using the top of the box showing the picture.  Putting the puzzle together encourages interaction and helps group members appreciate different skills.


  • make service coupons to give to family members. For example, “This coupon is good for one night of doing the dishes.”


  • Participate in a simulation of a stressful situation.  For example, students are told that their class has been selected for a presentation to the Board of Education.  In a few minutes, the principal will be in and each will each have to give a short speech about what they have learned in middle school. After a few minutes of speech preparation time, students are asked to discuss how they are feeling. Discuss the symptoms people exhibit when under stress.


  • utilize the FCCLA “Stop the Violence” program on bullying.


  • create posters to increase awareness of bullying and bullying prevention strategies.  Post them around the school.


·        write “Dear Abby” letters about relationship problems.  Collect the letters and redistribute randomly for written responses.  Share advice with the class and discuss.


·        write a conflict story, with the theme of accepting differences, for children in grades 1-3.  Describe appropriate ways of handling conflict.  Illustrate and print the stories and send them to elementary classrooms.


·        compose an acrostic poem with the word “friend.”  Each letter’s word is a characteristic of a good friend.


·        write a “classified ad” for a friend that includes all the characteristics they would look for in a friend.


·        practice refusal skills, assertiveness, and other communication techniques by role-playing situations involving peer pressure.


·        invite a school social worker or school counselor to class to discuss healthy relationships, strategies to evaluate relationships, and ways to address unhealthy relationships.


  • participate in a team cooperation and collaboration activity:  The Straw Tower. Each group of four or five students is given a large bundle of straws and a roll of making tape.  Their goal is to build a five-foot tall freestanding tower.  For the first five minutes, there is no talking; then the next ten to fifteen minutes to complete the task, talking is optional. Follow-up questions should revolve around verbal and nonverbal communication, leadership, management, and thinking skills.





Nutrition and Wellness



Active students can…


  • compete in a scavenger hunt for kitchen equipment.


  • color in a paper thermometer to show the safe food handling temperatures.


  • experiment to illustrate effective hand-washing procedures.  Six volunteers rub oil and cinnamon on their hands to simulate the oil in our hands. Two volunteers wash their hands in cold water; one with soap, one without.  Two volunteers wash in warm with water; one with soap, one without.  The last two volunteers wash in hot water; one with soap, one without. Compare the results.


  • demonstrate the correct length of time to wash hands by singing the alphabet or the happy birthday song, twice.


  • emphasize the importance of adequate hand washing and safe food handling procedures by growing bacteria from samples collected from various surfaces   (i.e., door handles, counter tops, desks, etc.) around the school.


  • create flyers on safety tips for handling, cooking, and storing a variety of foods, such as turkey. Send flyers home or distribute them through the school cafeteria or local grocery stores.


  • work in lab groups to review fractions, and measuring techniques.  Given a card with measurements on it, such as, “¾ c—three different ways” students show three ways to measure ¾ c and tell when it would be appropriate to use each.


  • highlight all cooking terms used in a recipe and write definitions for each.


  • practice halving and doubling any recipe used in class.


  • illustrate the importance of recipe directions.  Write the directions for preparing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Randomly choose one student recipe.  Read the recipe aloud, one step at a time. Select a student chef to follow the directions, as read.  Discuss the results.


  • prepare and sample blender drinks after a teacher demonstration on blender safety.  Discuss the nutritional benefits of smoothies.


  • invent a recipe to use an apple and other ingredient options selected from a teacher-prepared list.  Prepare the food product. 


  • conduct a tasting lab using small amounts of 10-15 new, unusual, or cultural foods.  Discuss why we choose to eat the foods we do.


  • determine where a variety of foods originate and locate those geographical areas on a world map or globe.


  • research foods from other cultures and prepare examples to share.


  • research typical food patterns from other cultures or countries. Discuss how these diets differ from what they typically eat.


  • consider a bag of potato chips.  Determine how many chips would typically be consumed in one snack.  Calculate the number of calories in that snack.  Consider a bag of fresh cut vegetables, such as carrot or celery sticks.  Determine how many sticks would typically be consumed in one snack.  Calculate the number of calories in that snack.  Compare the results.  Figure out how many sticks would equal the same number of calories as the chips.


  • compare nutritive contributions of cereal bars to a servings of similar cereals and graph the results.


  • use a computer program to analyze the nutrient contributions recorded on a three-day diet log. Then, select one nutrient deficiency and develop a plan for getting 100 percent of that nutrient.


  • line up in order of who ate the “most nutritious” breakfast that day.  Discuss why the line order developed as it did.  Define “nutritious.”


  • create public service announcements on adolescent nutrition for the school public address system or news show.


  • work in a group to build a puzzle using pieces prepared by the teacher. When the puzzle is put together it forms a human body and shows how the body uses nutrients.  For example, the eyes say vitamin A, teeth say calcium, etc. 


  • read aloud a list of ingredients from a food label.  Classmates try to identify from what food the label came.  Challenge classmates to bring in labels from home to try to stump the class.  Discussion topics include: how ingredients are ordered on the food list, how those with food allergies or food sensitivities can use label information, how to find meanings for scientific terms, etc.


  • show how large a portion is typically eaten by asking volunteers to pour that amount of cereal into a bowl.  Then measure out the actual serving size.  Compare.  Use CD cases, a deck of cards, tennis balls, matchbooks, etc. as portion-size models.


  • visit www.mypyramid.gov to create an individual food pyramid.


  • make a refrigerator magnet by gluing pictures from food ads to construction paper to illustrate individual food pyramids.  Laminate and add a magnet.

  • create 3-D food pyramids with names of the groups on one side, serving sizes on another, and food examples on the third


  • make a giant outline of the food pyramid on the floor using masking tape.  As classmates walk into the room, give each a picture of a food.  Place the food picture in the appropriate place on the pyramid.


  • calculate the calories, fat, sodium and calcium in a typical menu purchased at a fast food restaurant. This information is available on-line. Compare these amounts to the Recommended Daily Values. 


  • list all the words that represent sugar on a food label.  Read some actual labels to discover the amount of sugar there.


  • create an orange soda using food coloring, 10-12 tsp. of sugar per cup and seltzer.  Discuss empty calories and which foods have the most.  Show an alternative to the orange soda prepared using orange juice and seltzer.


  • prepare a poster of facts on nutrition contributions of a whole grain.  Select and prepare a recipe utilizing the whole grain featured on the poster.  Taste the foods as posters are presented.


  • plan and carry out an FCCLA Student Body project. The goal is to encourage people to eat right, to feel good about themselves, and to get exercise.


  • create a project that will teach a target audience (teens, preschoolers, elementary children, athletes, dancers, seniors, etc.) about the importance of healthy eating.  Projects could include videos, newspaper articles, interactive games, brochures or workshops.


  • select a recipe that features an unusual fruit or vegetable.  Prepare it for a class presentation and taste testing.  Post favorite recipes on the class web page or in the school/district newspaper.


  • brainstorm ideas for “portable breakfasts” making sure to include as many nutrient groups as possible. The best idea is made the next day in class.


  • compare ready made, processed and scratch products for flavor, texture, nutrition and cost.


  • work in groups to plan a day’s menus.  Exchange with another group for analysis and comments.


  • modify a menu to reflect a specific dietary guideline.  For example, low fat, lower sugar, lower sodium, high fiber, etc.

  • plan, prepare, and clean-up a meal at home. Family members complete evaluation forms.


  • compare historical military food, such as hard tack from the Civil War, to today’s military MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) to introduce careers in food science and food technology.












Personal Environment Management



Active students can…


  • develop a roommate agreement for sharing a room.


  • design a study space that will foster a good learning environment.


  • read the children’s book, Sally’s Room by Mary K. Brown, to the class.  List the consequences of having a messy room.


  • take a “before” photograph of their locker or room.   Create a plan for organizing the space.  Complete the plan and take an “after” photograph.


  • make use of environmentally friendly cleaning products such as vinegar and water to wash window or baking soda to clean a sink.


  • invite  a local firefighter to class to teach how to use a fire extinguisher.


  • evaluate whether emergency responders would be able to see house numbers. Stand across the street from home and see if the house numbers can be read from there.  If not, they discuss options for improving visability, such as trimming a shrub, painting the numbers, moving the numbers, replacing missing numbers,etc.


  • develop an EDITH (Exit Drills in the Home) plan.  Make a rough floor plan. Use arrows to show two ways out of every room in case one exit is blocked.  Also prepare EDITH plans for homes in which they baby-sit.


  • do a safety inspection of the home using a safety checklist provided by the fire department.


  • develop a campaign to promote recycling in the school.


  • brainstorm ways to recycle used household textiles such as blankets, sheets and curtains.  Select a project to complete.


  • create and distribute a pamphlet on energy conservation in the home. 


  • learn how to read electric and gas meters.  Practice conservation efforts in the home and compare conserved energy usage with previous usage, as recorded on the utility bill.


  • set a conservation goal and carry out a plan to achieve it

  • explain how to read and use an Energy Star label.


  • discuss ways to adapt an environment to help persons with disabling conditions.


  • construct neck pillows to help with comfort and safety.


  • analyze a floorplan and redesign the space to accommodate a special need, such as for a toddler.


  • investigate recycling and renovation ideas for converting used clothing and accessories into home decor.  Select one idea to make an item for the home.


  • write a description of the “perfect” room.  Brainstorm free or low cost ways of creating that space.


  • investigate organizational strategies for storage areas. Plan a closet, basement, or attic organizational layout.  Present ideas to the class.


  • brainstorm ways to improve the environment at school. Select something to accomplish, create a plan, and then obtain administrative permission to carry out the plan.