“No, a tortilla with only cheddar cheese and sour cream is not a good choice! Let’s add some taco meat to it.”
“A fruit smoothie and an apple are not a good choice, let’s add a bagel”
Everyday I find myself coaching the kids on adding different food groups to their lunch. The only problem: we had never talked about what the food groups were. That means it’s time for teacher-mom to teach about the food groups. Thus, our inspiration for this Nutrition Unit Study! I did the unit study with 3rd, 2nd and PreK. We got some books at the library, made a lapbook, and analyzed every meal we ate for weeks. They still spend many meals comparing the Nutrition Labels on their Pop-tarts and juice to decide which one has more Iron!
LESSON 1: What are the Food Groups?
The first book we read was The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Everyday by Loreen Leedy. This book does a great job of giving an overview of what is in each food group. The story is of ordering food at a restaurant and the menu includes pages on each food group. It was a great visual of variety in each category. It’s also a Reading Rainbow book pick!
We decorated and labeled our lapbooks and wrote lists for each food group in our tabbed book. It was interesting to see what new foods each child added to their food group list. I was a scribe for my Pre-K student and my struggling writer did great copying his choices from the book. We would open to the spread on Grains and each choose what we wanted to add to our list before moving on. We were also practicing research skills, reading the book the first time as a story, and rereading the book to gather the information we needed for our project.
One of my favorite parts of homeschool is while the teaching may be for a short part of the day the discussion and learning happens all day long. After we introduced the different food groups, the kids kept talking about it at every meal. They would dissect was was on their plates. When they were still hungry they would evaluate their meal and see what group they had missed to find something else to eat.
LESSON 2: Variety of Food Means a Variety of Nutrients?
Yesterday we created a foundation of what was in each of the food groups. Our next book talked about why we need a variety. We read My Food Pyramid: Eat Right, Exercise, Have Fun published by DK. The book showed us how each food group gives us different nutrients that our body needs to be healthy. We added facts about each food group to our tabbed book/ For the Pre-K (not yet writer) I found a cut and paste food sort activity for him to do instead.
My Food Pyramid discusses each food group and discusses good, better and best choices for each one. Seeing their beloved cheeseburger listed as a not great choice pyramid on the Meat and Beans page let us discuss restaurant food choices. This book also includes an introduction to Reading Food Labels and how your food gets to your table from the field.
LESSON 3: Learning New Vocabulary
During our 3rd lesson we color coded out plates from MyPlate.gov and drew our favorite meal. We also used Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell to focus on some new vocabulary. We printed the Nutrition Vocabulary and Pocket from our Lapbook set. And searched for the words as we read the picture book, taking time to discuss each new word we found. This book covers what happens in your body when you eat, why you need to eat and what your body gets from food, including specific nutrients. The back of the book includes some fun recipes to try as well.
LESSON 4: Good Choices All Day Long
We had some Monsters help us look at the choices we make everyday as we read The Monster Health Book. In addition to reviewing that different nutrients come from different foods. We learned that at each meal has a purpose and the food we eat matters. The monster also taught us about wellness beyond our food choices, including exercise, self esteem and healthy habits.
In lesson 1 we made lists of the foods in each food group. During this lesson we added some journaling to our lapbook. We answered some questions on the prompt cards. With so much exposure to different foods during our unit it was fun to see some what everyone chose to write. We also took time to think about our snack time choices. Its easy to reach for the left over holiday candy but there are other choices as well. Each person filled out the Snack Choices Tri-fold with their favorite choices.
LESSON 5: How We Eat
For our final lesson we looked at what happens to all the good food we eat. The Usborne Big Book of the Body by Usborne Publishing has great fold out pages of the body systems. The four page fold out allowed us to all look together at the nearly life size diagram. As we talked through all the steps. We filled out the last section of our lapbook answering the “Where does Your Food Go?”
We did our lapbook over several weeks. Each week I paired a different book from our library pile with an activity from the lapbook materials. I picked each week’s activity based on what we could pull out of the picture book we read that week. Sometimes we would need to reread the book to find the information for our lapbook pages, which models beginning researching skills.
It’s been a yummy learning experience for everyone! I hope our plans can help your family find a fun way to learn together about the food groups and eating well. If you want to download your own lapbook kit visit our store to purchase it now!