In this lesson, the students will learn about the structure of the food pyramid. They will study which foods are healthy and which foods should be eaten in small amounts. Through reading and a variety of multidisciplinary centers, the students will recognize that they have to make choices about what they eat. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the food pyramid and to raise their consciousness about the need of all people to have nutritious food. The students will become sensitive to the fact that not everyone is able to eat a healthy diet every day.
Two and One-Half Hours (includes center time)
The learner will:
- define healthy food.
- recognize the food pyramid.
- sort a variety of foods into food pyramid categories.
- describe which foods they should eat more of (or less) than others.
- understand that healthy food is important to all people.
- distinguish wants and needs.
- develop a willingness to share with someone who doesn't have as much.
- Simple graphing materials
- Sudent writing journals
- Floor puzzle
- Toy food
- Read-aloud book about the food pyramid (see Bibliographical References)
Get the students thinking about healthy choices as they walk in the door. Post the following graph question and have the students mark their choice with a magnetic marker or colored block. (After some instruction, remove their markers or blocks and allow them to make their choice again.) Ask the students to define what healthy food means.
Which is a healthier food?
- Discuss the data collected on the graph. Encourage several students to explain their personal choice. Most young students will say things like, "Because I like it," or "I don't like green beans." The teacher should not comment on their responses at this point. Tell them that we are going to read a book about foods and then we'll talk about the graph again.
- Read a book about the food pyramid. (See Bibliographical References.) Ask the students to indicate the group on the pyramid of a food you name. Repeat with a variety of foods, including junk foods. Discuss how the pyramid helps people make choices about what foods they need to eat each day. Confirm that they understand that the top of the pyramid indicates less food.
- Give the students the option to change their choice on the graph.
- Allow the students to work individually or in groups in the following center activities:
- ART: Students illustrate choices from one food group by cutting pictures from magazines and making a collage.
- WRITING: Students draw a picture and write a sentence about the importance of eating healthy food.
- MATH: Students use toy food (or magazine pictures) to sort into categories.
- SCIENCE: Assemble a floor puzzle of the food pyramid (many different commercial puzzles available).
- DRAMATIC PLAY: Students play house and pretend to prepare and eat meals that are healthy.
- At the conclusion of center time, bring the children together to debrief what they have learned. Have individual students share some of their art or writing work. Lead students to reflect on the needs of all people to have healthy food. Help them to understand that food choices should be based on needs, not solely on wants. Name a food category and ask each child to name their favorite thing to eat from that category. Repeat for each category of the food pyramid.
- Ask students whether they know of any people who can't have the kind of foods that their body needs to be healthy? Listen to understand students' knowledge and/or experience with poverty. Ask students to think about a person eating only one type of food all the time, such as rice. What would life be like? How would that person feel?
- Ask students to speculate on what they could do for someone who was poor enough to not be able to eat well. Lead students to think of small things they can do to share goods and resources for the common good. What would they have to give up in order to share something (opportunity costs)? Generate excitement for giving to someone who is hungry.
- Tell them to pay attention to the types and amount of foods that they eat. Give them a homework assignment in which they have to record what they eat at one meal. (See School/Home Connection below.) Explain the assignment.
- Give students a blank outline of a food pyramid. Have them draw one food in each space to indicate what types of foods belong in each group.
- Observe student responses and participation in the discussions and assignments.
- Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
Give each student a paper plate to take home. Ask them to draw (or cut out and glue) pictures on the plate of the foods that they have for supper that night. Ask students to bring the illustrated plate to school the following day.
When students return their completed food collages, ask them to name the foods and indicate whether they ate a healthy meal. Discuss how the families obtained their food. Do they think the meal was expensive, medium-priced, or inexpensive? If they ate at a restaurant, what did they have to pay for other than the cost of the food? The goal is to help the children see that eating a healthy meal costs money and some meals are more expensive than others.
- Make peanut butter in a food processor or blender. Have students compare the tastes of homemade peanut butter with commercial brands. Read the label of a jar of peanut butter. Analyze how much a serving of peanut butter costs and compare it to a serving of another significant source of protein.
- Discuss appropriate manners at the table, proper table setting, and the importance of eating slowly.
- Berger, Melvin. You Are What You Eat. Massachusetts: Newbridge Educational Publishing, 1996. <www.newbridgeonline.com>
- Leedy, Loreen. The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Every Day. Scott Foresman, 1996. ISBN: 0823412334
- Rockwell, Lizzy. Good Enough to Eat. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. ISBN: 0064451747
Lesson Developed By:
St. Charles Community Schools
Anna M. Thurston Middle School
St. Charles, MI 48655
St. Charles Community Schools
St. Charles, MI 48655