JIFF Info. for Staff, Educators and Volunteers

March 31, 2015

Jump Into Foods and Fitness (JIFF): Information for Staff, Educators and Volunteers

Having fun with the serious business of teaching kids about healthy food choices and being physically active is built into Jump Into Foods and Fitness (JIFF), a research-based curriculum for adults and older teens to use with kids aged 8 to 11 (grades 3 to 5). "Jiff the Joey" sets the stage for each of the eight "Kangaroo Jumps" or sessions in JIFF. Fun nutrition, physical fitness and food safety learning activities are integrated into the program, which uses the MyActivity Pyramid and the MyPyramid for Kids.


You don't need to be a nutrition or fitness expert to work with kids on JIFF! You can learn right along with the kids in club, after-school, school and other informal educational settings! JIFF provides information about agencies, organizations and websites that offer up-to-date information on the topics covered in the book.

JIFF was designed with children's developmental characteristics in mind. The program encourages win-win situations and keeps kids active. The activities can easily be adapted for younger children age 5 to 7, as well as older children age 12 and up. The activities and movements may need to be adapted if they present a challenge for children in your group who have physical or health-related disabilities.

The earlier children begin to practice healthy lifestyle habits, the longer they are likely to practice them. Using the information in JIFF helps kids develop healthier lifestyles to improve their overall health and fitness level, and may reduce their risk of developing life-threatening illnesses later in life.

Jump Into Foods and Fitness Curriculum Components

JIFF features extensive introductory material that covers:

  • How children learn in general and how they learn health-related behaviors specifically
  • Principles for positive youth development
  • Using JIFF in various settings
  • The JIFF facilitator's role
  • Identifying other, appropriate resources for use with this age group
  • Adapting the JIFF materials for use with other age groups
  • Tips for working with children
  • Physical fitness and nutrition background information

Helpful resources and additional information on the topics covered in the sessions appear at the end of the book.

The eight "Kangaroo Jumps" (sessions) are designed for use in 60 to 90-minute meetings, though the individual activities can also stand alone. Each session includes:

  • Introductory Page 
    This overview includes the objectives and the learning and life skills that the children will learn in the jump. 
  • Background Basics for Fitness and Nutrition 
    This section includes research-based background information about the unit's content to help you feel comfortable with the material as you use the activities with children and answer their questions. 
  • Icebreakers and Attention Getters 
    These 5-minute introductory activities help focus the children's attention and introduce the lesson topic. 
  • Learning Activities 
    These 15- to 20-minute main activities teach nutrition and physical fitness concepts to children. The activity description lists the objectives and learning and life skills that help connect it with what the children will learn; the materials you'll need to run the activity; detailed steps for carrying out the activity; and processing questions to ask the group. 
  • Focus on Food Safety 
    This section offers brief information and activities on preparing, serving and storing food safely to prevent food-borne disease. 
  • Snack Suggestions 
    This section offers nutritious, tasty, low-cost, easy-to-make snack ideas that feature foods from the food groups or theme covered in the Kangaroo Jump. 
  • "Take Home News" Family Letter 
    This reproducible newsletter informs parents and family members of the food, nutrition and fitness concepts explored in each Kangaroo Jump the group has completed. Each newsletter also includes information about their child's growing needs, additional helpful resources and a recipe to enjoy with their child. 

Why Kangaroos?

Kangaroos are active, intriguing animals that fascinate kids of all ages. We hope that the curriculum's lively kangaroo theme will inject a little fun into the curriculum and will inspire kids to become as active as kangaroos! Baby kangaroos are called joeys. "Jiff the Joey," named after the "Jump Into Foods and Fitness" project, helps guide kids and facilitators through the materials in the book. Interesting facts about kangaroos are scattered throughout the book. Be sure to share these "K Files" with your group.

Linking JIFF to School-Based Health Education

In 2004, the Michigan State Board of Education adopted the “Policy on Comprehensive School Health Education,” which stated that “all students should be taught the essential knowledge and skills they need to become ‘health literate,’ making the healthiest choices available, and avoiding those behaviors that can cause damage to their health and well-being.” For more information, see the "Connecting Jump Into Foods and Fitness to the Michigan Health Education Content Standards" document.

Linking JIFF to Workforce Preparation

JIFF helps young people build career development skills through interactive nutrition and fitness activities. Hands-on nutrition activities help children to develop critical thinking skills, encourage cooperation through group work and build stronger decision-making skills. Physical fitness activities help youth learn teamwork skills, develop leadership abilities, learn how to positively deal with stress and develop planning and implementation skills. Employers tell us that all these types of skills are necessary for success in the workplace.

Documenting the Impacts of JIFF

Many people who offer programs like JIFF to children are very interested in learning whether their programs have an impact on the attitudes, knowledge and behaviors of the program participants. The JIFF guide includes a pre- and post-survey that can be used with program participants, along with an alternative evaluation method suitable for younger children.

JIFF Training Materials

  • Training Agenda
    This sample five-hour training agenda covers the basics of nutrition, food safety and fitness and provides time for participants to practice sharing a JIFF activity with the group. The agenda can be easily adapted to meet the specific needs of your group. Note that the agenda includes explanatory information in italics that can be deleted so you can print the agenda for your group.
  • Background Information
    JIFF presentation that has been used in trainings throughout Michigan can help participants look at example activities from each JIFF lesson plan. The Economic Cost of Physical Inactivity in Michigan presentation highlights the results of a 2003 study commissioned by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.
  • Recognizing Participants and Evaluating Training
    Use the Jump Into Foods and Fitness Certificate to recognize participants at the end of your training session. You can use the two-page Jump Into Foods and Fitness Training Evaluation Form to evaluate your training and determine if participants need additional information.
  • Job Descriptions
    Two key positions may help you recruit and support adult and teen volunteers to lead JIFF programs. The Adult or Teen Volunteer JIFF Facilitator works directly with children involved in JIFF programs. The Adult or Teen Volunteer JIFF Coordinator is responsible for providing support to teen and adult facilitators, helping them to prepare and teach JIFF lessons to children, and promoting health messages through activities at the local, county, regional or state level. Volunteers interested in either of these positions don't need to have a health education background. All you need is an interest in motivating young people to lead healthy lifestyles!
  • Program Planning
    The Program Planning Worksheet guides you through planning for eight JIFF lessons and outlines the steps you need to take to prepare for and complete each lesson.
  • Alternative Equipment Ideas
    If you’re programming on a limited budget or in a location without a lot of storage space, refer to Alternative Physical Fitness Equipment Ideas for creating inexpensive equipment to use for the JIFF physical fitness activities. You can promote your programs and activities with an instant health message that can be attached to anything you produce. Use the JIFF Jump Rope Tag Template from Jump Into Foods and Fitness to create an instant health message you can attach to jump ropes or other physical activity equipment.

Michelle Neff, Extension Educator

E-mail: hydemich@msu.edu
Phone: 989-539-7805

Jump Into Foods and Fitness. Copyright 2017 by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

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