Teaching children about their health and healthy eating is important. Children should know what types of food are good for them and what healthy eating looks like. I use a food pyramid and the food guide as the focus in our health classes.
This year, I teach a lot of health to many different grades. I always try to find interesting ways to get kids thinking about what they eat and making smart food choices.
Each country or area tends to have their own food guide that suggests smart food choices. For the following activity, I have used the food guide from my area, but make sure to follow the guide for where you live and alter my examples based on the suggestions from your guide.
When working on healthy eating and Canada’s Food Guide, I like to use as many real pictures (or real food) as possible. Food kids recognize and food that they, hopefully eat.
Our first activity is based on the recommendations on the food pyramid.
The food pyramid suggests what foods should be consumed the most at the bottom of the pyramid. The amount that should be eaten the least are found at the top point of the food pyramid.
Instead of making a triangular shape for the pyramid, we used paper plates and divided the plate to show the different groups and amounts.
The paper plates are also great, because it connects with what food, and how much, children should be putting on their plates.
This is a great activity to do in a classroom or at home with kids. The materials are really simple and inexpensive.
- Paper Plates
- Grocery Flyers / Advertisements
If you don’t have a collection of grocery flyers, you could print a variety of pictures of different foods, or children could simply draw food into each section.
Creating Your Food Pyramid Plate
Ahead of time, I drew on the paper plates and roughly divided each into the proportions suggested for each food group.
After we had talked about the food groups, I gave a collection of flyers to each child. They then cut out various pictures of food from each food group. Once cut out, they glued the pictures onto the correct food group section.
The plates serve as a great visual of how much from each group children should try to eat. It also helps children classify some foods that they may not know which group they belong to.
It is a simple activity, but the food pyramid is something they will continue to see for many years to come.
Once you have filled the plate, the food groups that you initially drew on will not be visible. You can draw over the lines on top of the pictures to show the food groups.
If you are using this activity in the classroom, it is also really easy to use to check if children understand the different food groups and if they can properly identify what group a food item belongs to. Does each of the plate sections include the correct foods?
This activity is a great hands-on activity to get kids thinking about nutrition and healthy eating. It is a fun way to teach and learn about the food groups and the final colorful plate that children create is beautiful!
Healthy Eating for Kids Activity
To go along with our food pyramid activity, we also tried this healthy eating activity that the children loved.
I started with a picnic basket full of different food from all of the food groups. I tried to use as much real food as possible, but you can use play food or even pictures.
Make sure to check if there are any allergies in the class if you are bringing in actual food.
In class, I placed two hula hoops on the carpet and had the children gather around them. I then put the labels, “Healthy Choices”, “Sometimes Foods” and “Unhealthy Choices” beside each section of the hoops.
You can use different labels if you want. You can even use several hula hoops and divide the food based on food groups. Either way, it is a fun and interactive way to learn about healthy eating and smart food choices.
I brought the food out of the picnic basket and we worked together to decide where each food item belonged.
For some items, such as the carrots, children quickly and unanimously agreed that it was a healthy choice.
Other items, like cold meat, we decided that we wanted it to represent a protein so we put it as a healthy choice.
In some food guides, dairy products have been removed as a food group. In others, dairy has simply been reduced to minimal servings.
The discussion that happens as you place the food is what is important. We had a great discussion about healthy eating for kids. The hula hoops worked really well to create a large Venn diagram on the floor.
For this lesson, and based on the food guide to healthy eating where I live, we talked a lot about the idea that there is no food that they should never eat, unless there is an allergy. However, there are some foods that are just sometimes foods. Foods that are okay to have in moderation.
I avoid telling kids to never eat treats because they are okay in moderation. Also, at this age children are not typically in charge what they eat, their parents make most, if not all of their meals and food choices.
If you are doing this activity in the classroom, you could reduce the amount of prep you need to do, by simply having each children choose one food item from their lunch to place in the hula hoops.
We ended up spending a whole period on this activity. There was a lot of great discussion! For example, yogurt is usually considered a healthy food, but I had a child bring up the fact that some yogurt has a lot of sugar in it and plain yogurt would be a healthier choice.
The Venn diagram is a great visual and an easy, hands-on activity to try to teach healthy eating to kids.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more activities and ideas to do in the classroom, or at home with kids, below are some of my favourite and most popular learning activities.
From school lunch ideas and mental health lessons to arts and crafts calming stones and escape rooms there are lots of things to keep kids busy and learning. Click image for activity description.