The Crunch BunchJoin the CRUNCH Bunch, a new creative writing program offered at no cost to all K-5 classrooms, and help your students build their physical, mental, and creative writing muscles this school year! The CRUNCH Bunch, brought to you by CelebrateNJ, challenges your students to give creative expression to their knowledge of childhood health-related topics, bringing a focus to the importance of healthy living choices for students and their families.

CRUNCH stands for the CReative Understanding of Nutrition and Childhood Health. But it’s so much more. In addition to learning about the importance of making healthy choices, students may incorporate knowledge about being a good friend, the advantages of family exercise time, good hygiene, and safety while riding and on the playground into poems, skits, stories, and other creative works designed and performed by individual students or entire classes.

The program sets out to:

1. Engage New Jersey students in grades K-5 in exciting ways to learn about good nutrition, safety and healthy living options and behaviors.

2. Empower students through education to become a resource for family health, safety, good nutrition and fitness information.

3. Provide online resources that support K-5 required curriculum (language arts, health, science and technology) that are easily adapted to classroom activities.

4. Help students develop literacy, research, creative writing, computer/technology, and public speaking skills.

5. Provide teachers and students with valuable, no-cost classroom resources.

6. Inspire and educate parents and family members to learn about healthy lifestyle choices.

The purpose of the CRUNCH Bunch program is to help students learn about healthy living and inspire them to make healthy lifestyle choices while engaging their creativity, public speaking, and writing skills. We wanted to make the learning fun and lasting! Engaging children in a creative writing contest where students develop a poem, story, skit, song, etc. on these important topics can serve to cement the learning and ultimately create lasting impact over the course of their lifetimes.

CRUNCH program timeline

Online registration ends   Friday, Nov. 15 
Student work submission begins Friday, Nov. 4
Student work submission ends Friday, Dec. 20
Selections announced Friday, Jan. 26, 2014
Teaching artist visits (grades 3-5) February-June 2014
Celebrate NJ! assemblies (grades K-2) March-April 2014
Celebration event June 2014
Baseball events (for all CNJ students) June 2014

The CRUNCH Bunch program includes:

  • Classroom incentives and teaching tools: teachers who register their classes in the CRUNCH Bunch will receive a classroom poster, bookmarks for students and a host of teaching tools available on the CRUNCH Bunch website.
  • The contest: students will be invited to enter their completed creative work, as a class or as individuals, and have it judged on a grade-level basis by volunteer judges.
  • In-school presentations: community health and safety partners, such as Keep Middlesex Moving, offer a number of classroom programs on child safety. The CRUNCH Bunch website provides information about bringing presentations to your classroom.
  • Culminating health fair: all participants and their families will be invited to attend the CRUNCH Bunch Health Fair at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick next spring. This program will provide students with an opportunity to be honored for academic achievement  and may allow them to practice their presentation and public speaking skills at a public venue.
  • Class and individual prizes: awards vary based on grade levels.

The assignment and the resources

Students are asked to do a creative writing piece that is inspired by aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as exercise, healthy eating, bike safety, etc. The pieces can fall under any of these five areas:

  • Narrative — Students practice storytelling skills, developing a beginning/middle/end, describing settings, developing characters.
  • How-to — Students practice putting events into a sequence and explaining their ideas.
  • Poetry -- Students are challenged to write with format constraints and use their voice in a different way.
  • Personal narratives — Students practice retelling real life events providing their sequence and using a beginning/middle/end.
  • Persuasive essay -- Students practice sharing their opinions and using evidence to support their ideas.

Suggestions for grade appropriate projects that students can do as individuals or as a class can be found on the Assignment page at The projects are categorized based on the five areas listed above.

On the teachers’ page of the website you will find CRUNCH Bunch printables to use in your classroom. There are also a number of health-related links available for you and your students to use in their research.

Submitting student work

Each registered class may submit one class written and/or performed piece for judging. A class project represents the efforts of all students in the class. Submissions must be in written form; however, they may also be accompanied by a performance submitted through video. Projects may be submitted by teachers online through the Celebrate NJ! website. Instructions for submitting pieces are posted on the website and emailed to all registered teachers.

A maximum number of five individual pieces per registered class may be submitted by teachers online through the Celebrate NJ! website. Because it may be difficult for teachers to select the pieces themselves, we suggest involving the students to vote on the best pieces to submit. This helps all students to feel invested in the contest. The pieces received will then be organized, sorted by grade and made available for review to a group of volunteer judges.


There will be one class project winner from each grade. The winning classes will receive prizes based on their age group. Grades K-2 will receive special visits from the Celebrate NJ! team who will present them with free CRUNCH Bunch tee-shirts at a school assembly. Grades 3-5 will receive a free 10-week program with teaching artists from George Street Playhouse, to work with the students on their pieces. (Classes must meet the requirements to fulfill and receive the 10-week teaching artist prize— details will be provided on the CRUNCH Bunch webpage.)

Both class winners and individual winners will receive a special CRUNCH Bunch certificate at our end-of-the-year celebration to take place at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. At the event, selected students may be given a chance to share their work by reading or performing their winning piece.

Register today!

Registration for all Celebrate NJ! programs may be found at For more information, contact Heather Tedesco, program manager, at 908-393-2777 or Online registration ends on Friday, Nov. 15.