Nutrition Activities for the Classroom
Healthy eating is a lifelong skill that needs to be taught and role modelled year round. Nutrition education helps students establish healthy eating attitudes and behaviours that extend into adulthood. Healthy eating also helps students concentrate and learn better in school.
Here are some ideas to help you incorporate nutrition concepts into your daily classroom activities. These ideas are adaptable to any division and may be used as the focus for a mini-lesson, challenges for early finishers, centre activities, and more.
Classroom games related to food may be used as a springboard for brief discussions on healthy eating. When discussing nutrition and food with your students, remember to promote trying new foods and the importance of eating a balance of foods from all four food groups.
Remember to focus on the positive: rather than reinforcing the bad-food/good-food paradigm under which most kids operate, emphasize foods that we should eat (e.g., nutritious food-group foods) rather than focusing on foods we should not eat.
Fruit or Vegetable of the Month
To encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, feature a fruit or vegetable each month in your classroom (e.g., starfruit, lychee nut, or orange pepper). Bring in samples for the students to taste and have them talk and write about the food. Primary students may record their responses using the linked worksheet in English or French. Junior and intermediate students could also write a descriptive paragraph and research the food (e.g., where it comes from, recipes, and nutrition information).
Brainstorm the name of a food for each letter of the alphabet (e.g., a = apple, b = berry). Extension: Have primary students classify the food group for each food item.
Add a Food
Assign consecutive numbers to each letter of the alphabet (e.g., a = 1, b = 2, c = 3 etc.). For primary classes, have students add the name of a specific food and name its food group. For late primary and junior classes, challenge students to make a healthy balanced meal (i.e., aim for 4 food groups) and find the sum of the meal. For junior and intermediate classes, challenge students to name a food according to a certain goal (e.g., highest sum, sum to a prime or composite number, or adds to a specific multiple). Have students explain strategies for finding answers (e.g., added final sum by making tens, working backwards, and making a list). Sample answers: egg (19) is a prime number; cheese (45) is a multiple of 5.
Food Guessing Game
Tape the picture or name of a food to each student's back. Students ask each other questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no" to determine their food. Have students form groups with other food that would make a healthy balanced meal (i.e., containing 3 to 4 food groups). These newly formed groups can now be used for your next class activity. Prompt older students to understand the benefits of starting with broad questions and moving towards more specific questioning. Variation: Choose foods from one specific food group to help teach the food groups.
For more great nutrition ideas from Ontario teachers, check out the Teach Nutrition Award innovative ideas.