Don’t forget to make use of the Teaching Points at the end of the book.

Here are some additional ideas for using The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach in the classroom. Each idea can not only be adapted to any grade level from PK-3rd grade but also be combined to span the disciplines.

Science and Nutrition/Media

Fruit and Vegetable Vocabulary and Health Benefits:

Students choose their favorite fruit or vegetable to research (either in the library or online) and present to the class. They can make posters about the nutritional benefits of their fruit or vegetable and bring in samples to share with the class. Examples from the book include spinach, broccoli, carrot, mango, kiwi, and banana. Reinforce color-coding learned in art class.


Beans and Grains in an Estimation Jar:

Beans are among the world's most perfect foods. They are extremely high in fiber and another special carbohydrate called resistant starch. Resistant starch is a cross between a fiber and a carbohydrate, and it has unique health benefits. Beans fuel the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They are nutrient-rich and offer protection from weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Eat some beans every day.

Health Benefits of Beans

  • Most fiber of any food
  • Highest in resistant starch of any food
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Reduce risk of cancer

Whole grains are a valuable addition to a disease-prevention diet. They contain different fibers and phytochemicals than vegetables do and provide additional beneficial effects. They make a great breakfast cereal with fruits and nuts or a delicious dinner side dish. When eating grains, be sure to consume them in their whole form. In breads and other processed foods made with refined grains the caloric portion has been stripped of most nutrients and contains a much higher glycemic index.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

  • Rich in fiber (not as high in fiber as beans)
  • Rich in minerals such as magnesium and selenium
  • Contain bound antioxidants (glued to the coating)
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Reduce risk of cancer

Students can estimate how many beans are in the jar and discuss the concepts of estimating and, of course, counting. Teachers can fill several jars or containers with a variety of beans (such as pinto, turtle, navy, mung, adzuki etc.) or grains (such as brown rice wheat berries, barley, millet etc.) and teach children their names and health benefits.