Silverthorne Elementary third-graders get nutrition lesson from Summit County Public Health |

Silverthorne Elementary third-graders get nutrition lesson from Summit County Public Health

Kelsey Fowler
Students in Ms. McFarland's third-grade class at Silverthorne Elementary guessed how much sugar was in some of their favorite drinks during a visit from Summit County Public Health.
Kelsey Fowler / |

Milk is an obvious healthy choice over soda, but the third-graders at Silverthorne Elementary School know by exactly how much.

After a recent lesson from Summit County Public Health, students learned there are 10 cubes of sugar in one can of Coke, for example, and only three in a glass of regular milk.

Third grade teacher Liz McFarland said studying nutrition is just one part of a larger strategy focused on practical education.

“We’re trying to learn about what it means to be healthy — mentally, physically and emotionally,” she said.

McFarland said they began learning about health early in order to put that knowledge into practice for the rest of the school year. That could mean reading nutrition labels at home, she said, or bringing in healthy snacks.

Last Wednesday, Summit County Public Health director Amy Wineland donned a giant foam head and a superhero suit, dressing up as “Buster” for the two third-grade classes. Buster, she said, helps teach kids to make healthy choices from hand washing to nutrition.

“We want to improve the health of our whole community,” Wineland said. “That starts with our kids.”

Joined by Whitney Smith, director of the Public Health Women, Infants and Children program, the two led the classes in half-hour sessions where every student had to guess the amount of sugar in common drinks using sugar cubes.

“Nutrition and exercise always go together,” Smith told the classes at the start.

The class took turns rolling dice to add up how many warm-up exercises to do. After 14 toe touches or nine sit-ups, the class got to start guessing how much sugar some favorite drinks might have.

Smith told the classes that as third-graders, they should be having less than 10 sugar cubes every day.

“Sunny D has a lot of sugar,” one student said, adjusting his total sugar cube count to seven for the fruity juice drink.

McFarland also plans to take a trip to the nearby Target store, walking there so her students can get some exercise, and then reading labels on common foods they eat to learn more about what’s a healthy choice or not.

The third-graders learned about yoga two weeks ago, and McFarland is also planning to start a before-school yoga program for the school.

Both classes correctly named water, with zero sugar cubes attached to its name, as the healthiest drink choice.

Smith said the sugar cubes give students a good physical representation of how much sugar they are actually consuming.

In the next few weeks, McFarland plans to teach her students more about proper breathing, as well as journaling. She hopes this new healthy knowledge is something her students can take home and share with a parent or sibling.

“We want to teach the kids how to solve problems and be successful making healthy choices every day,” she said.

For more information about making smart nutrition choices, visit

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