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Good Nutrition

Make Healthy Food Choices with MyPlate Lesson Plan

Students will learn more about the five food groups, and discover how to choose healthy options for snacks and well-balanced meals using MyPlate.

Children holding up sandwiches and smiling

Goals and Skills

STUDENTS WILL:

  • Explore the MyPlate icon and the five food groups
  • Name the five MyPlate food groups
  • Identify food choices in each food group
  • Create a MyPlate meal plan
  • Share what they have learned with others in the school community and at home

 

SUPPLIES AND PREPERATION:

 

*BACKGROUND FOR TEACHERS

Visit USDA’s website www.choosemyplate.gov to learn more about and download the MyPlate icon. You can print it out or use a projector. To learn more about healthy foods that belong in each food group, visit www.choose myplate.gov/food-groups

 

You can also download a two-sided and kid-friendly MyPlate poster here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/eatsmartposter.pdf

Instruction Steps

FAVORITE MEALS

Begin by asking students: What is your favorite meal? Distribute copies of the MyPlate Coloring Sheet and have students write down the various foods their favorite meal contains on the backside (have students fold the paper in half vertically and use the left side; they will revisit the activity as a reflection).

 

Invite a few of them to share with the class. Make a list of the foods on the board or chart paper. Next, ask students how they would organize or sort the foods listed. Allow students to share their suggestions, for example: color, shape, taste, texture, growing season, or mealtime. Take note if any students mention a food group.

 

DISCOVER MYPLATE

Display the MyPlate icon or poster, or have students turn over their MyPlate Coloring Sheet. Ask students if they recognize the icon. If they do, invite students to explain what it means or where they have seen it. Explain that just as we can sort foods by taste, color and by mealtimes, we can also sort foods into five food groups: Fruit, Vegetables, Grains, Protein, Dairy.

MyPlate infographic with sections of a plate and glass marked in color for fruits grains vegetables protein and dairy

The MyPlate icon serves as a reminder that a person should eat from each of the five food groups every day. Each food group has different nutrients, or ingredients, that are good for our bodies and help us grow, get strong, concentrate at school, and have energy to play. By eating from the five food groups, we give our bodies what they need!

 

Spend a few more moments letting students observe what they see on the icon. For example, fruits and vegetables make up half of the plate. So, what foods are in each food group? Invite students to share ideas. The next activity will help students uncover healthy foods in each food group.

 

MYPLATE SCRAMBLE

Play this fun and challenging word scramble game that will exercise your students’ spelling and literacy skills as they identify healthy foods and sort them into food groups.

 

Divide the class into 5 teams. Explain the premise of the game: A word will be written on the board with its letters scrambled. Give them a hint by telling them that all words are foods or beverages. One team will start and have 15 seconds to unscramble the word and make a guess. If they answer correctly, they receive a point. If they guess incorrectly, the turn goes to the next team. Teams have a chance to earn 5 bonus points by identifying the correct food group that the food belongs to

 

As the food words are unscrambled, have a volunteer record a running list of them on the side of the board or on chart paper for future reference. Start with the MyPlate Scramble list provided (Page 5 of the PDF). Play as many rounds as you have time for.

 

If this game is too challenging, play in food group categories, e.g., specifying that the next series of words will all be vegetables. For an extra challenge, leave a letter out of the scramble, and insert a “?” in its place.

Cartoon blackboard with chalk letters spelling "otstoame"

MYPLATE COLLAGE POSTERS

With students still in their teams, have them work together to create colorful collage posters. Assign each team one of the five food groups to focus on. Teams should start by brainstorming what healthy and colorful foods belong in their food group. If needed, use the foods listed on the Choose MyPlate website as a reference: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/

 

Once teams have thought about what foods they want to show, and how, have them think of descriptive adjectives that will promote and entice others to try their food group. Encourage them to think about taste, texture, shape, color, and combinations with other foods. Provide poster board and art supplies to teams.

 

Include grocery store circulars or food magazines with pictures of foods that students can cut out for their collages. When they are finished, collages can be displayed on hallway bulletin boards, in school halls, or in the cafeteria to promote healthy foods.

 

For an extra challenge, if you have more time, or if there are multiple teams with the same food group, have students explore the subcategories within their food group. For example, the vegetable group has 5 subgroups: “Dark Green,” “Starchy,” “Red & Orange,” “Beans and Peas,” and “Other.” Grains

 

could be divided into “breakfast grains” and “dinnertime grains,” and fruits could be categorized by “citrus,” “melons,” “berries,” etc. Teams can create a poster for each of the subgroups.

 

REFLECT

Have students revisit their “favorite meal” from the beginning of the lesson, written on the back of the MyPlate Coloring Sheet. Ask: What food groups are missing? What could they be eating more of? How can they change and “healthify” their meals to fit MyPlate?

 

Tell them that by “scrambling up” their usual meals, they can add in MyPlate foods to make their favorite meals even better… and healthier! Encourage them to revisit the words they unscrambled in the MyPlate Scramble as idea-starters for new foods to add to/enhance their favorite meals. (For example: Add nuts and/or diced kiwi as toppers to their favorite ice cream or cereal.) In addition to those on the list, what other healthy foods could they add? Invite students to write down the potential updates to their favorite meals on the back of the MyPlate Coloring Sheet (on the right side) and share these “new plans” with the class.

 

EXTEND THE LESSON

Pick a healthy food from each of the food groups to “feature” each week. Make it a goal for everyone in the class to try it. Focus on nutritious but commonly under-consumed foods (e.g., Dark Green Vegetables, Red & Orange Vegetables, Beans and Peas, Fruit, Whole Grains). For extra fun, invite other classes to participate; if possible, speak with the school dietitian to explore adding some of these foods to the school menu!

 

HOME CONNECTION

Have students bring home and share their new “My-Plate-ified” favorite meals with their families to discuss recipes and make a shopping list together. Parents/caregivers may be interested to discover what their child’s favorite meal is!