Healthy Food Choices Activities for Kids

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Looking for fun ways to engage your students in conversations about healthy food choices? This lesson offers several activity ideas that are sure to grab students' attention and connect learning to the real world.

Healthy Food Choices: Start the Conversation Early

One of the most important conversations we can have with our students is about how to live healthy, productive lives. And discussions about healthy food choices are especially critical because they will bring these ideas into the way they think about food for the rest of their lives. It's important to start this conversation early in order to help students establish healthy food habits as soon as possible.

The activity ideas that follow are designed to get students thinking about their food habits in fun, engaging ways. Be sure to be sensitive to the fact that healthy food is not always easy to come by. Try to understand the socioeconomic realities in the area in which you teach in order to have more productive conversations.

MyPlate Discussion and Planning

The United States Department of Agriculture changed their healthy eating guidelines from the Food Pyramid to MyPlate a few years ago. The MyPlate guidelines (in which fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy are recommended in specific proportions) can help students understand portion control. This may be a good way to frame the conversations you have with students. Chances are your school follows the MyPlate guidelines, so you may even invite a food service professional to join in the conversation.

Nutritional Labels Activity

Have students bring in a variety of packaged foods from home (or simply have them pull out what they have packed for lunch that day). Alternatively, you can save up food labels from common foods and pull them out year after year for this activity. Have students spend some time reading their food labels, focusing on the amount of fat, sugar, and protein. Then, hold a conversation in which students place their label on a spectrum from 'healthiest' to 'least healthy.' This is a great way to engage them with a resource that is readily available on every packaged food.

Healthy Food Card Sort

Once students begin to understand some of the differences between healthy and unhealthy foods, engage them in an activity in which they sort various foods between the two. Provide them with a stack of cards with various foods on them. Then, have them create two piles (you guessed it: healthy and unhealthy). Students will then spend some time sorting the cards into their appropriate piles. For an added challenge, you can have them create a third pile: less healthy. This would be reserved for foods that aren't necessarily unhealthy, but that do not offer much nutrition.

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