Here’s an assignment to integrate sustainability themes into a Spanish 2 unit on health vocabulary. Grammar points=preterit and imperfect contrast, commands (formal or informal), future tense or future expressions (ir + a + infinitivo, etc.) and possibly present tense subjunctive.
Keep a healthy life journal-El diario para llevar una vida sana:
Prep: We began with the vocabulary presented in the textbook, but broke it down into three categories: dormir lo suficiente, comer comidas sanas y hacer ejercicio (o actividades sanas).
Students completed this activity about dormir-lo-suficiente with information that I summarized from an article.
The “Qué hay en tu plato” campaign from the USDA on making healthy food choices isn’t nearly as helpful as the previous mi pirámide campaign (that web site was recently inactivated). However, this graphic of the “plate” is a good visual resource to show the quantities of comidas sanas necessary to make-up a healthy diet. Generally speaking, half of each meal should consist of vegetables and fruits (of varying colors).
There is a direct connection between healthy environments and healthy people. To consider this idea in relationship to the food we eat, students read and responded to these consejos para comprar comidas sanas para el planeta y para mí that I condensed from the Spanish web site vidasostenible.org. To make the above activities communicative and practice critical thinking skills, students compared their responses with a partner, predicted the most popular responses in the class, rated the most helpful suggestions and defended their ideas. They could also modify suggestions and/or identify suggestions that are the most realistic/unrealistic for them.
Hacer yoga was on the textbook’s vocab list. I was lucky enough to be able to invite a Spanish-speaking yoga instructor into class. However, a simple activity like dar un paseo can have surprising health benefits and can inspire communities to protect or create green spaces. If you have a safe place to walk with trees, you could take students for a walk in which–just like in kindergarten, but now in Spanish!–they note the signs and sounds of spring. Here’s an article from the NY Times which explains the findings of a recent study: taking a walk among trees (for city folk) has a positive impact on memory and relieves stress and brain fatigue (I suppose you’d have to feel safe in the park, though…)
the activity: Students were assigned a two-week personal health journal. First they wrote a plan in which they identified 1-3 goals (future tense or future expressions). Each day they were required to write (in complete sentences using the preterit) two or three things they did para llevar una vida sana. They needed to include details related to their goals, for example “Comí comidas sanas.” would be insufficient. They would need to write something like “Comí 5 porciones de verduras y fruta. En el almuerzo comí una ensalada con lechuga, pimientos y zanahorias, para una merienda comí una manzana y en la cena comí espinaca y fresas.” Their goals could also be related to dormir lo suficiente o hacer ejercicio. They could also choose to follow one of the consejos para el planeta by buying produce locally, buying fair trade labeled products when possible or choosing packaged food with the fewest ingredients.
the follow-up: Students wrote a paragraph to describe how they felt when they did the activities and how they feel now (imperfect/preterit/present tenses). They made recommendations (positive and/or negative) for other young people based on their experiences (commands or subjunctive as softened command). They included whether or not they will continue to do the activities they wrote about (future). I made this assignment personal and they could turn it in on paper or digitally. Of course, you could also turn this assignment into a blog and have students comment or give encouragement to each other. (It would also be easier to track whether or not students were writing daily)
In my next post I’ll include some companion activities that can help students discover a few new vegetables, try some local edible “weeds” and plant edible flowers (from South America!) that can be grown in containers.