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March 7, 2018

Have you considered ways that you could integrate health lessons into your Spring and Summer instruction plans? A little foresight and planning can help you work valuable health topics into your teaching plans and daily routines. As we approach the time of year when kids start to spend more time outside, one topic you may want to consider is sun safety.

Did you know that at least ONE blistering sunburn in childhood can double the lifetime risk of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer? You can help reduce skin cancer risk by teaching your students how to practice sun safety at an early age.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center created and developed Ray and the Sunbeatables®: A Sun Safety Curriculum to make sun safety a fun and engaging experience for children. Sun safety lesson plans and activities can be easily integrated with instruction plans across age groups and core subjects. Here are some recommendations to bring fun and impactful sun protection lesson plans into your classroom or childcare setting.

Incorporating Sunbeatables activities into your existing curriculum and daily schedule:

  • Communicate with parents about sun safety in class emails, newsletters, blogs or bulletin boards. Encourage them to practice sun safety behaviors for them and their children.
  • Complete the Are Our Shadows Long activity for a fun outdoor activity and to teach children when the sun’s rays are directly overhead and most harmful .
  • Complete a science experiment like Serena’s Sunscreen Experiments during whole group instruction time or circle time to demonstrate how easily sunscreen washes off our skin when we swim or sweat.
  • Complete an art activity like Draw a Sun Safety Superhero during centers or seat work time to demonstrate importance of protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.
  • Incorporate music by singing one of the Sun Safety Songs during transition times such as getting ready to go outside.
  • Play the “Where Is the Shade?” game during outdoor play time to get physical activity while practicing an important sun protection behavior.
  • Perform a Puppet Show or incorporate sun safety messages into read aloud books during story time.
  • Implement sun safety policies at your site such as adding “Apply Sunscreen” to your arrival procedures (e.g., wash hands, go to the bathroom) to remind families to be sun safe.

The Sunbeatables team recommends teaching all the lessons during the Summer if you are in a year-round program, or before Spring or Summer break if you follow a school year calendar. Repeat some activities more frequently, such as singing sun safety songs during circle or transition times or while preparing to go outdoors.

By protecting children from the sun, you will have a long-term, positive impact on their health!

Written by
Abby Rose and Payal Pandit Talati

Abby Rose is a national trainer for SHAPE America’s Let’s Move! Active Schools Physical Activity Leadership initiative as well as a member of the SHAPE America Physical Activity Council. Previously, Abby was a School Wellness Specialist in the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). 

Payal Pandit Talati, MPH is a Program Manager with the Cancer Prevention & Control Moon Shot™ Platform at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Payal co-developed Ray and the Sunbeatables®: A Sun Safety Curriculum and has served as key contributor to youth sun safety education initiatives at MD Anderson. Her prior experience includes leading national health communications campaigns and developing, implementing and evaluating public health programs.