Simple Teaching Tools using Eat Right Cards

1. Pyramid Builders (15-25 minutes)

Objective to teach the 5 basic food groups, the general characteristics of each group, and samples of foods pertaining to each group.

Materials needed -  Eat Right Cards – remove the 10 “Combo” cards,  
Large diagram of food pyramid or equivalent (e.g. draw it on the chalkboard).

    Gather the kids in front of the food pyramid diagram.
    Randomly pass out the Eat Right Cards – one card per student.
    Tell the students to form into teams with those who have cards of the same food group (color coded: Tan=grains; Green=veggies; Yellow=fruits; Blue=meats; Cream=dairy; Red=junk).
    Starting with the Grains, have each team stand up in front of the class, point out where their food group is on the food pyramid and name off the foods on their cards. Ask them questions specific to their food group that will cause them to think about what they’ve learned. Some questions might be:

      -  Generally speaking, does one serving of your food group have more or less calories than another food group?

      -  What are some vitamins or minerals that are commonly found in your food group? (e.g. “protein” for meats, “calcium” for dairy, etc.)

      -  Do you think you could live a healthy life by eating 100% only from your food group? If not, what nutrients would you be lacking? d. What “junk” ingredients does your food group typically have? (e.g. junk ingredients are sugar, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol)

    Optional: allow the class to ask questions to the team about their food group (you can help them with the answers).
    Collect all the cards after the teams present their food groups. You’re done!

2. Build-A-Meal (15-30 minutes; 2nd-6th grade)

Objective - to teach kids how to build balanced meals.

Materials needed:  Eat Right Cards and a Poster of MyPyramid or equivalent

    Gather the class in front of the food pyramid and randomly pass out the Eat Right Cards. Let the kids know that you’re going to be building meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Ask the question, “What would you like to eat for breakfast?” Allow the students to look at their cards and make suggestions.
    Pick the food item that most kids want to eat and ask the student who has it to stand up next to the food pyramid and hold up the food card so all can see. Ask the students which food group it belongs to - point out that some food items, like cereal, have more than one food group.
    Teach the kids that our meals should have foods from many of the food groups and that we need more food items to make this meal balanced.
    Choose another student to join the first up by the food pyramid, then a third and fourth if needed. Each time you add a new food item to the meal, ask the students to classify it into the appropriate food group.
    Ask the students if they think the meal is balanced and complete. Point out if there’s too much of one food group or not enough of another.
    Also point out that our meals should stay within our calorie limits (usually between 1600-2000 per day for this age group). If the meal is greater than 1/3 of your daily calorie level, ask the students to replace a food item with one that has less calories. Each food card shows the total calories in the food item.
    When the meal is complete, congratulate the students.
    The same can be repeated for lunch and dinner.

3. I Spy (5-20 minutes; K-5th grade)

Objective - kids try to guess which food is being ‘spied’. Have fun with this and use the opportunity to ask the kids to share experiences of eating different foods.

Materials needed:  Eat Right Cards and a Poster of MyPyramid or equivalent

    Gather in front of the food pyramid and randomly pick one of the Eat Right Cards to start off the ‘I spy’ guessing game.
    Without saying the name of the food, give clues about it by saying, “I spy a food that is . . .” For example, if you picked tomatoes you could say, “I spy a food that is red, juicy, is a vegetable that’s sliced up and put on hamburgers, or chopped and put into salad, has lots of vitamin C.”
    When a student guesses correctly, have him/her come up and pick a card from the deck. Allow the student to give clues about the next food.
    Point out where the food belongs on the pyramid as well as certain health characteristics about the foods (i.e. vitamin or junk content).
    Play as long as you’d like.