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Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework - October 1999

Physical Health Strand

Physical Health includes those aspects of health that are often the most salient in our immediate lives and related closely to the natural progression inherent in human development. The knowledge and skills presented are the foundation for individual control over many of the factors related to a healthy lifestyle. The areas covered share common goals in their emphasis and focus on building and maintaining healthy habits.

The Strand of Physical Health includes:

Growth and Development addresses the study of the structure and function of body systems, including how body systems function as a whole and their interdependence, throughout the human life cycle.

Physical Activity and Fitness addresses physical development. Knowledge about how the body functions increases awareness of the benefits of physical activity and fitness.

Nutrition addresses the development of a healthy body composition through the balance of food intake and physical activity and the relationship between food sources and behaviors and growth, current health needs and chronic disease, and healthy behaviors.

Reproduction/Sexuality encompasses emotional and social elements with a focus on factual knowledge about physical development.

The Physical Health Strand is designed to provide a foundation for good health. The maintenance of the body is related to the development of positive health care behaviors and habits. The purpose of this Strand is to enable students to recognize decisions that all individuals will make with respect to their bodies in daily living and to identify the relationships among actions, conduct, and wellness.

Note: Selected examples are provided.

"How It Looks In The Classroom"
Suggested Activity for the Physical Health Strand

Middle school students walk into their physical education class in the gym and stare silently at an eight-foot wall. All at once they start chattering excitedly, "I've been waiting for this. So, this is what a 'Ropes' course is, where are the ropes?" Mrs. Cruz enters the gym, "Okay, everyone, your assignment today is to get everyone over the wall. We'll do this in small teams. I'm going to set some ground rules..." Afterwards, as students cool down from the physical exertion, Mrs. Cruz has them discuss what they've learned from the experience. "I learned I can do something I was afraid of." "I found I can do something difficult alone." "Some things take more than one person." "I learned you can come up with an answer when you work together." "You have to have a plan to make it happen." Mrs. Cruz paraphrases, "So, you learned about communicating and working together as well as individual achievement?" She asks additional questions to provoke more thought on the group effort at solving problems and teamwork, highlighting sensitivity to physical, mental, and emotional differences. Mrs. Cruz assigns each team the task of writing about their experiences for the school newspaper.

This activity can help students reinforce or achieve the following learning standards in this and in the other Frameworks:

Physical Activity:

  • movement concepts and game strategies
  • responsible conduct
  • interrelationships with emotional health and social environments

Mental Health:

  • decision-making

Interpersonal Relationships:

  • communication

History and Social Science: Civics and Government:

  • working effectively alone and with others

Growth and Development

Growth and Development addresses the study of the structure and function of body systems, including how human body systems function as a whole and their interdependence, throughout the human life cycle.

The study of Growth and Development provides understanding of the complex process of natural progression through the life cycle as heredity and the environment influence it. By recognizing that growth and development have a reciprocal relationship and each of the body systems contributes to the survival and health of the total system, students can better see the influence that behavior has on health and overall well being. Growth and Development are fostered by responsible actions and conduct related to health needs and health concerns. The concepts learned in Growth and Development can contribute to decisions about caring for oneself and others. Topics generally covered in Growth and Development include: Body Systems and Life Cycle.

PreK-12 Standard 1: Growth and Development

Students will learn the basic characteristics of physical growth and development, including body functions and systems throughout the life cycle, and will acquire skills to promote and maintain positive growth and development.

Learning Standards: Growth and Development


Body Systems
1.1 Name the external and internal parts of the body and the body systems (nervous, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, and excretory systems).
1.2 Identify behaviors and environmental factors that influence functioning of body systems.
1.3 Identify appropriate accommodations and aids for people with physical disabilities.

Life Cycle
1.4 Distinguish the characteristics of living and non-living organisms.
1.5 List the stages in the basic growth process of living organisms (fertilization, growth, reproduction, and death).


Body Systems
1.6 Identify the stages of the human life cycle (from prenatal through late adulthood).
1.7 Explain the function of human body systems and how body systems work together.
1.8 Describe the influence of health habits on growth and development.
1.9 Apply skills that increase immediate peak functioning of body systems (vigorous exercise, eating nutritious foods, adequate rest).

Life Cycle
1.10 Define genes and the concept of heredity.


Body Systems
1.11 Describe the impact of behavior and environment on failure of body systems (nervous, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, and excretory systems).

Life Cycle
1.12 Describe the growth patterns and body changes within human beings throughout the life cycle (from prenatal through late adulthood), including critical periods in growth and development.
1.13 Describe how both heredity (including congenital factors) and the environment influence growth and development.

Selected Examples: Growth and Development

1.3 Students tour the school to determine all wheelchair accessible features and create a map of the school with these features labeled that can be displayed in the school.

1.7 In small groups, students create a puzzle from a diagram of the body with systems represented. To receive a puzzle piece, students tell how that system works. Before connecting the piece with others, students tell how it is interrelated with any other systems (pieces) it will be touching

1.11 Students design a maze or circuitry system that represents the human body. Include both obstacles and enhancements to functioning.

1.12 Students design a dietary and/or exercise plan for each stage of life, giving a rationale for the choices.

Physical Activity and Fitness

Physical Activity and Fitness addresses physical development and wellness. Physical Activity and Fitness focuses on individual competence and versatility in movement skills, understanding movement concepts and body dynamics, and relating physical activity to lifelong health. Wellness captures the combination of activity and fitness and a healthy lifestyle.

Students can increase their awareness of the benefits of physical activity and fitness through knowledge about how the body functions. By identifying and experiencing the relationship of exercise to overall health, applying important social skills and safety in physical activity, integrating learning movement with other modes of learning, and practicing strategies to respond to stress, students can enhance their overall health and wellness. Topics generally covered in Physical Activity and Fitness include: Motor Skill Development, Fitness, and Personal and Social Competency.

PreK-12 Standard 2: Physical Activity and Fitness

Students will, by repeated practice, acquire and refine a variety of manipulative, locomotor, and non-locomotor movement skills, and will utilize principles of training and conditioning, will learn biomechanics and exercise physiology, and will apply the concept of wellness to their lives.

Learning Standards: Physical Activity and Fitness


Motor Skill Development
2.1 Apply movement concepts including direction, balance, level (high, low), pathway (straight, curve, zigzag), range (expansive, narrow), and force absorption (rigid, with bent knees) to extend versatility and improve physical performance.
2.2 Use a variety of manipulative (throwing, catching, striking), locomotor (walking, running, skipping, hopping, galloping, sliding, jumping, leaping), and non-locomotor (twisting, balancing, extending) skills as individuals and in teams.
2.3 Perform rhythm routines, including dancing, to demonstrate fundamental movement skills.

2.4 Identify physical and psychological changes that result from participation in a variety of physical activities.
2.5 Explain the benefits of physical fitness to good health and increased active lifestyle.
2.6 Identify the major behaviors that contribute to wellness (exercise, nutrition, hygiene, rest, and recreation, refraining from using tobacco, alcohol, and other substances).

Personal and Social Competency
2.7 Demonstrate responsible personal and social conduct used in physical activity settings.


Motor Skill Development
2.8 Use combinations of manipulative, locomotor, and non-locomotor skills to develop movement sequences and patterns, both individually and with others.
2.9 Demonstrate developmentally appropriate basic manipulative and advanced specialized physical skills, including throwing and catching different objects with both accuracy and force, hand and foot dribbling while preventing an opponent from challenging, and accurate striking proficiency.
2.10 Perform a rhythm routine that combines traveling, rolling, balancing, and weight transfer into smooth flowing sequences with intentional changes in direction, speed, and flow.

2.11 Apply basic principles of training and appropriate guidelines of exercise to improve immediate and long-term physical fitness.
2.12 Participate in activities that promote physical fitness, decrease sedentary lifestyle, and relieve mental and emotional tension.
2.13 Explain the personal benefits of making positive health decisions and monitor progress towards personal wellness.

Personal and Social Competency
2.14 Apply advanced movement concepts and beginning game strategies to guide and improve individual and team performance.
2.15 Demonstrate strategies for inclusion of all students in physical activity settings related to strength and speed.
2.16 Describe the purpose and benefits of sports, games, and dance in modern society.


Motor Skill Development
2.17 Demonstrate developmentally appropriate competence (basic skills, strategies, and rules) in many and proficiency in a few movement forms and motor skills (team sports, aquatics, individual/dual sports, outdoor pursuits, self-defense, dance, and gymnastics).
2.18 Demonstrate activities for warming up and cooling down before and after aerobic exercise.
2.19 Apply concepts about sequential motor learning and development, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports psychology.

2.20 Demonstrate exercises in strength training, cardiovascular activities, and flexibility training.
2.21 Identify the components of physical fitness and the factors involved in planning and evaluating fitness programs for individuals at different stages of the life cycle.
2.22 Conduct a personally developed physical activity program.
2.23 Meet developmentally appropriate health-related fitness benchmarks.

Personal and Social Competency
2.24 Identify life-management skills and protective factors that contribute to achieving personal wellness health goals, including researching, evaluating, and implementing strategies to manage personal wellness, monitor progress, and revise plans.
2.25 Understand how activity participation patterns are likely to change throughout life and identify strategies to deal with those changes, including a plan for life-long wellness.
2.26 Apply safe practices, rules, procedures, and sportsmanship etiquette in physical activity settings, including how to anticipate potentially dangerous consequences and outcomes of participation in physical activity.
2.27 Define the functions of leadership in team sports (increasing motivation, efficiency, and satisfaction).

Selected Examples: Physical Activity and Fitness

2.1 In pairs, students practice throwing and catching different objects, then hitting a target. Observe partner and use movement concepts to provide feedback.

2.10 Students create gymnastics or dance routines using objects (such as balls and flags).

2.11 Students select an exercise related to one component of physical fitness (such as using proper sit-ups to increase endurance and strength of abdominal muscles, swimming laps to increase cardiorespiratory endurance). Record and graph the progress made over six weeks.

2.15 In teams, students identify and try various ways for players of different abilities to participate fully.

2.16 Students choose and participate in a game, sport, or dance and trace its history and its place in contemporary times.

2.22 Students participate daily in any physical activity and keep a journal for one-month recording specifics (such as aerobic endurance, flexibility, and strength) and description of physical and psychological states before, during, and after participation. At the end of the month, summarize with personal recommendations regarding the amount and regularity of activity, as well as beliefs about future commitment to a daily or weekly schedule of exercise.

2.24 Students work with school health services to create personal risk profiles. After completing the forms, use research-based strategies to develop a plan to reduce risks identified. Implement the plan, determine points at which to monitor, do the monitoring, revise plan, and assess at a later point.

2.27 Students participate in an adventure activity in which they must work together to accomplish a group goal. At completion, based upon observations and student performance, self-report on contributions.


Nutrition addresses the development of a healthy body composition through the balance of food intake and physical activity. Nutrition includes many concepts, such as the relationships among food choices and growth, nutrition guidelines, food insecurity, current health needs, chronic disease, and a healthy lifestyle.

An adequate and healthy intake of food and nutrients is essential for students to take full advantage of the learning environment in school. Thus, students of all ages need the knowledge and skills to make wise food choices in the contemporary food environment and throughout their lives. Instruction in Nutrition includes evaluation of food promotion and media messages regarding realistic body size and shape, and consumer and nutrition skills needed to select appropriate foods in varied settings. Topics generally covered in Nutrition include: Improving Nutrition, Safe and Adequate Food Supply, and Social Influences.

PreK-12 Standard 3: Nutrition

Students will gain the knowledge and skills to select a diet that supports health and reduces the risk of illness and future chronic diseases.

Learning Standards: Nutrition

PreK -5

Improving Nutrition
3.1 Identify the key nutrients in food that support healthy body systems (skeletal, circulatory) and recognize that the amount of food needed changes as the body grows.
3.2 Use the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and its three major concepts of balance, variety, and moderation to plan healthy meals and snacks.
3.3 Recognize hunger and satiety cues and how to make food decisions based upon these cues.
3.4 Identify heredity, diet, and physical activity as key factors in body shape and size.

Safe and Adequate Food Supply
3.5 Identify the connection between food served in the home with regional food production.
3.6 Describe personal hygiene and safety measures used in preparing foods.

Social Influences
3.7 Describe how food choices are influenced by availability, individual and family preferences, media, and background, and identify healthy foods within various social groups.

6 - 8

Improving Nutrition
3.8 List the functions of key nutrients and describe how the United States Dietary Guidelines relate to health and the prevention of chronic disease throughout the life span.
3.9 Describe a healthy diet and adequate physical activity during the adolescent growth spurt.
3.10 Describe the components of a nutrition label and how to use the information from labels to make informed decisions regarding food.
3.11 Analyze dietary intake and eating patterns.

Safe and Adequate Food Supply
3.12 Explain factors associated with a safe food supply (food handling, production, food storage, and preparation techniques). Social Influences
3.13 Identify the behaviors and avenues of support for young people with disordered eating behaviors or eating disorders.

9 -12

Improving Nutrition
3.14 Describe the digestive process and how substances (alcohol, drugs, and chemicals) interfere with metabolism.
3.15 Explain the relationships among dietary intake (including nutritional supplements), eating behaviors, physical activity, and emotional health.
3.16 Describe the nutritional needs and outcomes associated with life stages (prenatal through late adulthood).

Safe and Adequate Food Supply
3.17 Identify the effects of food preparation techniques on the nutritional value of the food.
3.18 Identify common food-borne illnesses.
3.19 Identify and practice resource management skills needed to maintain and improve nutritional health.

Social Influences
3.20 Identify and analyze dietary plans, costs, and long-term outcomes of weight management programs.
3.21 Identify how social and cultural messages about food and eating influence nutrition choices.

Selected Examples: Nutrition

3.3 Sponsor a potluck lunch in the class and ask students to select and eat servings one at a time so that they eat slowly until their appetite is satisfied. Ask them to pay attention to their feelings of hunger and satiety. Students discuss their experiences.

3.5 Students interview a person in the home who prepares food to determine how food choices change according to season.

3.8 Working with school food services director, students develop a menu that meets the requirements of the Federal School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children for different ages.

3.11 Using diet analysis software, students input a sample diet of an adolescent, review key nutrients, and write a list of recommendations to improve the diet and eating behavior of the adolescent.

3.15 Students develop an exercise schedule and plan and prepare a menu for a meal that includes foods for people who need to gain or lose weight.

3.19 Working within a budget, students plan a week of nutritious meals for a family of four. Prepare one of these meals and evaluate for nutritional value, taste, and aesthetic appeal.

3.21 Students develop and deliver a presentation to the school health advisory council on the links promoted by the media to teens between smoking and nutrition choices, such as weight management.


Reproduction/Sexuality involves physical development, emotions, and social elements. Instruction incorporates aspects of biology, psychology, sociology, literature, the arts, and philosophy.

The study of Reproduction/Sexuality provides young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed choices. It addresses decisions about abstaining from and postponing sexual intercourse. Knowledge about how to avoid sexually transmitted infections that endanger one's health and well being as well as that of a partner is an important component of instruction. Communication skills can support such decisions. Addressing Reproduction/Sexuality in an appropriate and factual fashion leads to informed young people, increasing the likelihood of students making healthy decisions. It is particularly important in Reproduction/Sexuality to consider developmental appropriateness. Topics generally covered in Reproduction/Sexuality include: Development and Wellness.

Note: Please see parental notification law in Appendix B, p. 69.

PreK-12 Standard 4: Reproduction/Sexuality

Students will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to make effective personal decisions that promote their emotional, sexual, and reproductive health.

Learning Standards: Reproduction/Sexuality


4.1 Identify the components, functions, and processes of the reproductive system.
4.2 Identify the physical changes as related to the reproductive system during puberty.
4.3 Define sexual orientation using the correct terminology (such as heterosexual, and gay and lesbian).

4.4 Recognize that diet, exercise, rest, and avoidance of risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and other substance use contribute to the health of a mother and fetus.


4.5 Recognize the emotional and physical changes as related to the reproductive system during puberty.

4.6 Explain the benefits of abstinence, postponing sexual behavior, and setting limits on sexual behavior.
4.7 Describe short- and long-term consequences of sexuality-related risk behaviors and identify barriers and supports for making health-enhancing decisions.
4.8 Describe behaviors and methods for pregnancy prevention, including abstinence.
4.9 Define the types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS, and how they are prevented.
4.10 Identify sexual discrimination and harassment.


4.11 Identify the stages of the male and female reproductive systems over the life cycle.
4.12 List the signs of pregnancy.
4.13 Describe the effectiveness and consequences of various pregnancy, HIV, and STI prevention methods, including abstinence.
4.14 Identify possible determinants of sexual orientation and analyze the weight of each in light of available research.

4.15 Explain the importance of examination of both genders for HIV and STIs before conception and the risks and precautions of delivery when HIV and STIs are present.
4.16 Describe proper prenatal care and identify types of birth defects.
4.17 Explain the importance of communication and setting limits in a sexual relationship.
4.18 Identify and distinguish among types and degrees of sexual risk (pregnancy, sexual assault, STIs, including HIV/AIDS)
4.19 Evaluate the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community, medical resources, and family.
4.20 Identify resources available for treatment of reproductive health problems.

Selected Examples: Reproduction/Sexuality

4.1 Students label the functions and/or systems of the reproductive system on a blank diagram.

4.2 Invite the school nurse or a health care professional who specializes in children to discuss the changes that take place in boys and girls at puberty.

4.4 Students write short answers to define the types of sexual orientation.

4.7 Students discuss consequences around sexuality decisions. Determine and role-play steps that improve decision-making (such as with whom to consult, information overlooked).

4.9 Students report on the policies of various states and countries regarding STIs prevention among youth.

4.10 Students use current events or media portrayal to discuss the consequences of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

4.13 Students identify ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Interdisciplinary Objectives: Reproduction/Sexuality

9-12 4.a. (Law and Policy. Connects with History & Social Science: Civics & Government) Identify and explain laws about reproductive services.

9-12 4.b. (Law and Policy. Connects with History & Social Science: Civics & Government) Explain the laws and relevant court rulings concerning rights about consensual sexual relationships and reproduction (e.g., Roe v. Wade, Bowers v. Hardwick).

Last Updated: October 1, 1999
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