Science Strand

Grab for Something Healthy


Lesson Overview:

This lesson centers on introducing healthy and tasty snacks and foods to students. The introduction of the food will extend into concepts important to science - such as food classifications, the makeup of different types of foods and nutrition's effects on the body, helping you satisfy goals and objectives related to science and nutrition. With the help of a word scramble handout, students will learn about many of the important nutrients in food. Once that foundation is established, students will grab an index card from a bag/hat that lists a type of food on it. Then in small groups, students will try to come up with a healthy and tasty snack, side dish or entree that includes the item on the index card, ultimately sharing those ideas with the rest of the class.


Connection to Core Lesson:

The core lesson (It's in the Bag) stresses and introduces many different forms of physical activity, some of which are bound to appeal even to those students who are typically physically inactive. Similarly, this lesson stresses a variety of healthy foods. And like the core lesson, the goal is to introduce students to something new: healthy foods that they will enjoy eating. The grab bag/hat also carries over into this lesson strand.


Content Standards Addressed: 

Common Core State Standards

National Standards


Learning Objectives:

By completing this lesson, students should:

  • Better understand the nutrients commonly listed on food labels.
  • Relate the nutritional values of a serving of various vegetables and fruit to the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
  • Classify different food items into the correct food groups.
  • Identify a healthy and tasty snack, side dish and/or entree.
  • Present a menu orally to the class and be able to defend their selections.

Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the "odof abell" Scramble handout.
  • Grocery store circulars.
  • Index cards listing different types of foods.
  • Various foods to sample and use as illustration (optional).
  • Internet access (optional to help with identifying nutritional value of food ideas).

Background/Set Up:

Collect circulars from the newspaper that list weekly specials at area grocery stores. Grocery stores will often provide them, too. You will also need to create index cards that list different types of foods. Determine how challenging you want to make the activity. For example, you can simply list food groups, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, meats and dairy products. Or you can make it more challenging by listing specific items within the categories (e.g., vegetables: green beans, carrots, celery, cucumber; Fruits: apples, oranges, grapes, pears; grains: bread, cereal, rice, pasta; meats; beef, fish, poultry; and dairy products; milk, yogurt, cheese).

For the purpose of this lesson, it might be helpful to understand the significance of the government's dietary guidelines for Americans.  Visit Choose My Plate for details. Additionally, make sure you are familiar with the nutritional values typically found within each food group. Among other nutritional characteristics, fruits and vegetables are excellent sources for vitamins; dairy for Vitamin D and calcium; grains for carbohydrates; meats for protein and iron.


Suggested Lesson Steps:
1. Ask students to explain the meaning of "You are what you eat." As part of the discussion, ask them to give examples of "junk" foods and the reasons why they are considered "junk." Then discuss the importance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in providing essential nutrients to the body. As a result, students will begin to realize the value of some foods over others, especially in relation to nutrients.
2. Write "odof abell" on the board or overhead and pass out the "odof abell" Scramble reproducible. As you pass it out, challenge students to unscramble the two words in the title. Once they figure out that it is "food label," probe for prior knowledge of food labels. For example, what information is on them? What does it tell you? What are some specific terms mentioned on food labels?
3. As a class, read the introduction to the handout. Have students complete the word scramble individually or in pairs.
4. Once students complete the handout, go over the answers and definitions for each term. Review the five food groups and sources of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. The exploration of the food groups and the nutrients on the handout is an opportunity to go into the topic at a depth you and your students are comfortable with. For example, you could:
  • Identify the common sources of individual vitamins and the importance of those vitamins.
  • Identify more minerals than are listed on the worksheet.
  • Touch on the controversy around no-carb/low-carb diets.
  • Discuss the differences between green vegetables and starchy vegetables.
5. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students each. Pass out at least one grocery store circular to each group, and have each student in the group draw an index card from the bag/hat.
6. Explain to students they will brainstorm ideas for nutritious and tasty menu items that use the food items written on their index cards. (They can use the grocery circulars for inspiration.) Their menu items can be healthy snacks, side items or entrees. For example, one group draws the cards: whole wheat bread, tomato and milk. Their menu could consist of a tomato and cheese sandwich with milk to wash it down!
7. With the help of the word scramble handout, students should be able to identify some of the nutrients their menu ideas feature. (As in Step 4, this is an opportunity for you to modify the lesson to make it more challenging by asking students to go into greater depth in classifying and breaking down the nutrients within their ideas.)
8. Have each group present its ideas to the class, emphasizing the healthy and tasty aspects, noting which food groups their food items fall into, and discussing the nutrients in their menu items. (If possible, students can bring in samples of their snack for the other students to try during their presentation.)
9. After groups have presented their ideas, have a vote to determine the most popular idea within each category (i.e., within each food group and/or within snack, side dish and entree categories.) List the top three vote getters, and suggest students try them.


Academic Extensions/Modifications:

  • This lesson is a good opportunity to emphasize comparing/contrasting through visual means. Bar lines, graphs and Venn diagrams can all be used effectively.
  • Create a recipe book of ideas, and if possible, have students research the nutritional value and breakdown of the recipes.
  • As mentioned within some of the suggested steps, this lesson can be extended to include more information about the ways in which various nutrients benefit our health. For example, why is Vitamin A important? How does potassium help us?
  • In Step 6, you can increase the challenge by also asking students to brainstorm menu items that are simple to prepare and inexpensive to purchase.
  • To abridge this lesson, have each group draw only one index card from the bag/hat and come up with one idea for a snack, side dish or entree.

Related Links:

For a searchable database of the nutrition values of common foods, click here.
Assessment Criteria:
  1. Class and group participation.
  2. Creativity of ideas and presentation of ideas.
Answer Key to Student Handout:
  1. carbohydrates
  2. protein
  3. fat
  4. nutrients
  5. vitamins
  6. minerals
  7. sodium
  8. cholesterol
  9. metabolism
  10. calories