The Food Groups, A Unit Study on Nutrition
“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, I found some lapbook materials online, and we 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!
Today we used pieces from Nutrition and Food Pyramid Lapbook I found on Teachers Pay Teachers. We decorated and labeled our lapbooks and wrote lists for each food group using the Food Group Flipbook. 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 parts of the food pyramid, the kids kept talking about it at every meal. They would dissect was was on their plates or in their favorite entree. 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?
We had created a foundation of what was in each part of the pyramid. 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 filled out a Food Pyramid Fact Book by Nothing but Non-Fiction and 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 the pyramid of Meat and Beans with their beloved cheeseburger on top let us discuss restaurant food choices and the importance of variety in their 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 colored a copy of the food pyramid. and labeled the different sections. Over the last several years there have been many visuals created for a balanced diet. We used the “old school” pyramid found in Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell. Doing this unit with both readers and non-readers I appreciated the visuals on the pyramid in this book which all my students could read.
We also used Good Enough to Eat 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
Monsters helped us look more a the choices we make every day 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 wrote about our favorite foods in each of the food groups. 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 used a matching activity to add to our lapbook.
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.