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Compiled By: kristen_teach

Ideas and Activities to help your nutrition unit

Posted by: Kathy

We did this unit early last fall and had a great time with it. We did a lot of cooking--almost every week we made something to go along with the different food groups. The kids absolutely loved that--and wolfed down some really "healthy" foods that they probably wouldn't have touched otherwise.

From somewhere I got little workbooks called "Pyramid Cafe" with lots of neat activities. I had a tape with some songs--and made up some of my own. (I think I posted one of them on this board back in September or October.)

We had a contest for three weeks trying to get our "Five a Day." (Fruits and Vegetables) I sent home a chart for them to keep track of what they ate each week and they we recorded results on a class graph. One interesting side effect of this project is that two of my students (brothers)never brought their charts back. Yet that activity caused their mom to really look at the sugar level in some of the fruit drinks. I found out months later that she actually made some significant dietary changes as a result of that project. (And here I thought they weren't getting anything out of it!!)

I did relays with the four food groups where students would place the food picture on the correct part of the pyramid. We created a sample menu that included something from all the food groups. I made a huge pyramid and had the students make foods and paste them in the right spot. We did "tasting tests of new foods.

There are some good sites on the internet dealing with nutrition and digestion: Dole 5 a Day is one. Just plug: Nutrition and Kids into Google and you will come up with lots of sites. You can browse them and see what works with you.

That's all my tired brain can think of right now. Hope you have fun with this unit!!

Nutrition Labels
Posted by: SarahR

We start our year with Nutrition. We spend an hour and a half block in a circle discussion about food.

Each student brings in three items with the nutrition labels and we dissect the information on the labels. ...Serving size is a real eye opener on some items because the kids think they can eat the whole package, but it's really 2+ servings.

We discuss how a serving of cheese is the size of a die, a serving of meat the size of a pack of cards, and a serving of pasta is the size of your fist, etc. And we talk about the portions that restaurants are serving today.

This activity always brings a huge positive response from the parents...the students go home and start reading all kinds of labels and telling their parents what a serving is. AND, I see healthy snacks coming in after that!!

Posted by: Jennifer

Hi, Elizabeth,
I've done some nutrition activities with my students. I was surprised when I found out they didn't even know how foods were categorized (fruits vs veggies vs meat, etc.). Could you work from the food pyramid, and maybe do a day for each portion of the pyramid? You could read books (Look for Lois Ehlert's works--so good!), taste, graph, sort, and pattern. I also had a fun idea to cut out pictures from grocery store ads, paste them on sentence strips, and put them in a 3-ring binder. You could have the kids classify them by food type, or you could. I wanted to turn it into a shopping center--kids could buy foods from different portions of the pyramid--maybe put prices under each food and buy with pennies? Anyway, food! Yay! Do lots of reading and cooking, you'll be good! Have fun!

Nutrition lessons
Posted by: Judy

Another good source for nutrition information would be to contact your local hospital. Most have a dietician/nutritionist on staff. Our guest speaker came to my class for 1 hour and brought her "rubber, fake food" samples.

She also had a really fun workbook from the National or American Dairy Council(I don't remember which it was). We did a little play about the food groups. Their web site also has some lesson plans, food group bingo, etc. I don't remember the exact site ;-(

You could also see if your cafeteria "headperson" has any information.

I made a fun nutrition game...
Posted by: Ginger

I teach ages 3 through first grade in a multiage grouping at Children's House of Montessori in Madison, Alabama.My class not only learned about the food pyramid,but also how the various foods grow and even what they help you to do(health wise).I first drew the food pyramid on a poster board with colorful markers and covered it with clear contact paper.I then purchased a variety of plastic fruit and veggies,as well as collected toy plastic foods,and recycled small one size serving boxes of cereals.(much of this can be done by asking each pparent if they would like to donate something )To play the game I hold up a food and the class tells me what it is called(or where it grows, or why it is healthy, depending on the game)Then they get to place it on the pyramid.They learn and retain quickly using this hands on approach.

Posted by: Ty

Betsy....put masking tape on the floor in the shape of the food pyramid. Make several food cards using clipart or pictures glued onto index cards. Children take 1 card and fill in the spaces of the food pyramid. They have to look out...if they draw a food that has been filled in for the day with the daily suggestions, the student must move to a spot designated for the next day. Students learn what groups foods fit into, suggested servings, and variety. After a short discussion, teacher calls, "Fruit basket turnover," and they all put the cards back into the basket.
Followup by having students use a calendar at home (or school) for a month and tally each serving from a food group that they eat. The draw conclusions about eating habits and write a plan for improvement.

Posted by: tia

part of my nutrition unit involves learning how to read labels--before we read labels, though, we learn what all the nutrients do and why we need them. the students understand we need calories (but they shouldn't all come from fat) and we need fat (but not a lot of it.)

i bring in a bunch of foods that are similar--orange juice, orange punch/drink, and gatorade and we compare the ingredient lists and the nutrition information. i bring in prepared foods (boxed rice, mac and cheese, chili, raviolis and other crap-in-a-can) and have them focus on the amount of fat and sodium in these types of foods. i have them save their milk cartons at lunch--they are surprised to find that skim milk has the same amount of calcium as 1% and 2%. they are surprised that chocolate milk has more sodium... i also bring in different types of chips and crackers...all sorts of things.

Posted by: dg

Remember the old game called "Pick-up-Sticks"? I may have just revealed my age with that, but it was a popular game when I was a kid. You should have plenty to make up several game sets & have enough left over for other stuff.

How about a nutrition unit and they have to come up with "skewer-able" meal that's healthy, etc? They can work in groups & actually prepare a meal for parents, another class, or some brave teachers.
What about using them as unique units of measure. How many skewers long/wide is the classroom, the gym, the cafeteria? Of course, the ones used on the floor will be the ones you paint later.

Lay many skewers flat, side by side. Then weave colorful yarns, alternating over & under, through them. It makes a beautiful design, especially when lots of bright colors are used. I saw somthing like this done at a school & it was really neat! Check with your art teacher (if you have one). She/he may have some more ideas or uses for them artistically.

You can always "share the wealth" with your fellow teachers. Someone may have a brilliant idea & be looking for 1000 skewers right now!

Posted by: Tia

i teach 6th too! reading lables isn't in our curriculum, but i think it is so important for kids to know how and to see what is actually in food, i do it anyway!

i initially teach and have the students read information on the nutrients: vit, mins... and we look at how to read a label, what the %s mean and how ingredients are organized.

then i bring in many different foods--i try to group them: gatorade, fruit drink, real fruit juice

1% white milk, 2% white, chocolate, and skim (i collect the little cartons from their lunch

"fatty" chips, baked chips, grain crackers, "white" crackers, graham crackers

root beer, orange pop, pepsi

ready to heat and eat foods: chili, mac and cheese, peanut butter, cup of soup, cambell's chicken noodle, reduced sodium cambell's chicken noodle

the students are always astonished to see there is sodium in choc milk and that there is the same amount of calcium in all milks--just less fat

they're surprised to see that root beer has more calories than pepsi

i make sure they notice how high in sodium and fat the prepared foods are.

they really enjoy this activity.

i also borrow an excellent video from our teacher resource center--Nutrition in a Box--discusses the meaning of low-fat, questions the amount of a serving...

good luck.

Tossed Salad
Posted by: CL

This is a fun game where the kids all stand in a circle. Each person is an indgrediant in a salad. (Make sure that each person is something different). There is one person in the middle of the circle who calls out 3 or 4 ingrediants. Those people called, must find another spot (as well as the person in the middle). Whoever is left in the circle, calls out the next ingrediants. Obviously, those items like lettuce, cheese, etc. are called often so they should try and be creative. They can also say all meats, all vegetables, or tossed salad. In tossed salad, every body must move. Good luck! This can also be done with a Hero Sandwich, Fruit Salad, Supreme Pizza, etc. Also good for the nutrition unit in fourth grade!

Here's a couple.....
Posted by: meg

The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day, by Loreen Leedy is a witty tale that I like to use to help teach the food groups. During the "grand opening" of the Edible Pyramid restaurant, a cat maitre'd dressed in tails introduces the menu selections to various other animal diners, all the while explaining the nutritional aspects of the foods. Each two-page spread in the book is devoted to one of the food groups. The story and illustrations are engaging enough to hold the interest of younger children, and cover the subject matter thoroughly. Other titles I've found useful:
Good Enough to Eat, by Lizzie Rockwell
The Food Guide Pyramid (series), by Helen Frost
Eating the Alphabet and Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Elhert.

Posted by: Teach 2nd

Jamie, what grade do you teach? I do this activity in my 2nd grade class but it should work for others as well. My students create their own food pyramid using supermarket circulars. They cut out pictures for each food group and glue the appropriate amount of servings on their pyramid. In the past, I hav also had them create their own healthy, balanced meal. They again use pictures from the circulars and build their meal on a paper plate. As a wrap up, in the past the parents have gotten together and prepared a healthy meal for a classroom luncheon. They prepare a meal using the food groups and including a healthy snack. Hope these ideas helped.

Maybe this will help....
Posted by: Jessica

If you have taught the food pyramid, I would ask students to keep a journal of everything they eat for a week--breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. HAve students bring journals in at the end of the week and see if their meals fit into the proper amounts of daily servings according to the food pyramid.

OR another activity might be to have students pretend they are opening a new restaurant. Ask them to create different menu choices that are healthy and nutritious. Kids could actually make menus and add pictures of their foods. Might be a nice display also.

Just a thought ...
Posted by: teach4TX

What about focusing on an eating/exercise project? Students could research fast food restaurants (calories, fat, etc.), the food guide pyramid, and/or their favorite foods, as well as journal and then chart their exercise/activity minutes per day.

Students could create a graph to include in their powerpoint showing how much exercise they did over a two week (longer/shorter) time span.

They could survey their peers, family, friends, etc. about their favorite fast foods, and then research the calories and fat in those popular foods.

Students could then put all of their research, data, and charts/graphs into a powerpoint about living a more healthy lifestyle. You could also include the drug/alcohol component.

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Posted by: andrea

Maybe together as a class you all can rewrite the favorite Eric Carle story using his format but this time go through the food pyramid.

Fats, oils, sweets - use sparingly (there's your Sunday 1 sweet)

Milk, Yogurt, Cheese - 2-3 servings (there's your Monday 2 from this group)

Meat, Poultry, Fish, nuts -also 2-3 servings. (there's your Tuesday 3)

Fruits 2-4 servings Wed. 4

and just move down the pryamid.

it's an idea...