Kick start the year with healthy habits

Image of school girl holding and apple and water bottle

A new year, a new class and a fresh start. Establishing classroom routines and rituals can include building healthy habits. Here are some tips on how to embed Crunch&Sip® and SunSmart practices from the start of the year.

Classroom layout 

  • Consider where students will keep their hats, water bottles and vegetables or fruit for Crunch&Sip®. Make them accessible for students, such as on desks, in trays, or on a designated table or basket.
  • Choose a central location for sunscreen that is easy for students to access before heading out to recess and lunch.

Communication with parents

  • Let parents know what to provide. A brimmed hat, sunscreen, water bottle (filled with water) and a serve of easy to eat veg or fruit should be included in their bag every day.
  • Remind parents to ensure sunscreen is applied before students come to school.
  • Make a rule regarding classroom birthdays or other ‘treats’ and communicate it early (otherwise, prepare for the cupcake/chocolate/candy cane onslaught every time there’s a birthday or at Christmas).
  • Communicate information and ideas/recipes for healthy lunchboxes or Nude Food days.
  • Make sure instructions are left in any classroom notes for relief teachers.

Rules versus routines

  • The aim of implementing school health programs is to develop life-long healthy habits. Spend time explaining to students WHY they have to wear a hat when outside, the benefits of sunscreen, and why eating veg and fruit and drinking water is good for you. Check out the lesson plans on the Crunch&Sip® or Generation SunSmart websites for classroom activity ideas.
  • Abolish the traditional “no hat no play” rule. Not only can it discourage physical activity, it makes wearing a hat a punishable rule, rather than a healthy habit.
  • Involve your students in developing Crunch&Sip® routines (consider time of day, permitted foods, hand washing and waste disposal). Some of these may be negotiable (e.g. time of day), some may not (e.g. permitted foods)

Start of the day

  • As students start trickling into the classroom, they need to know exactly what to do. What should they do with their homework? What do they need to take out of their bags? Include the things they need for Crunch&Sip® and to be SunSmart.
  • Use the time before the bell rings for the start of lessons to apply sunscreen (if they didn’t at home) or purchase their Crunch&Sip® from the canteen.
  • Allocate a classroom job of checking daily UV forecasts. Check out
  • Taking the roll or greeting students as they enter?Ask them to tell you what yummy veg or fruit they have brought for Crunch&Sip®!

Healthy schools need healthy role models

Research shows that children are more likely to practice healthy behaviours if they see staff and parents practicing healthy behaviours. So visibly slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat before heading outdoors, and pack some Crunch&Sip® to eat with your class. It’s good for your health too.

Crunch&Sip® tip - developing a routine

Only you will know what works for your classroom. If you have a long first session and your students are likely to get hungry and irritable you might like to break it up with Crunch&Sip. Or you might find that students need a few minutes to settle down after their lunchbreak and that time works better for you. Some other suggestions that you can try are;
  • Schedule Crunch&Sip during a lesson transition time
  • Include Crunch&Sip during silent reading or a news sharing session.

SunSmart tip – “Where’s your hat?”

Ideally, students should bring a hat from home every day to wear whenever the UV is 3 or above, including on their way to and from school and during out of school hours care. If reminders, parent communications, and incentives aren’t working, have some spare hats that are for students to wear. However, consider that some students may not have the means to provide their own hat. If that’s an issue at your school, speak to your P&C/P&F for assistance in providing hats for these students or contact Cancer Council WA.

SunSmart tip –applying sunscreen

The National Health and Medical Research Council advises that children who are able to apply their own sunscreen (under supervision) should be encouraged to do so. This fosters independence and responsibility. Most children should be physically able to apply sunscreen independently by the time they start Kindergarten. Timetable a lesson early in the school year to explicitly teach students how to apply it by themselves.

Crunch&Sip® tip – listen to your tummy

In the upper grades, discuss or negotiate with your students when they would like to have Crunch&Sip®. They will have a good sense of when they are hungry, their concentration is flagging and they need a healthy pick-me-up.

If you’d like more tips or support to implement Crunch&Sip® or SunSmart programs into your classroom, call 08 9212 4333, browse this website or visit 

What’s your favourite way to start the year? Email with your name, school name and answer by 13 March 2020 to go in the draw for a set of 10 classroom hats to use as spares and a slinky machine for Crunch&Sip® fun!