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The Food PyramidThe-Food-Pyramid

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): K-5
  • |
  • Duration: Two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will
  • Understand that a human body needs food to function properly.
  • Identify the food categories used in the USDA food pyramid.
  • Chart the foods eaten during one day and describe how well they adhere to the food pyramid i.


  • The Food Pyramid video and VCR
  • Paper and pencils
  • Computer with Internet access (optional)


  1. Hold a class discussion about food and its importance to the human body. A good way to review this subject is to watch The Food Pyramid .

  2. Ask students to talk about their favorite foods. In which categories do these foods belong? What kinds of nutrients do they provide? Are they healthful?

  3. As a homework assignment, ask students to chart the foods they eat during one day, starting with the foods they have eaten on the day of the lesson. Ask students for examples of a typical breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. Demonstrate how to chart each meal. (For example, if a student ate cereal for breakfast, write the header "Breakfast" on the board; below it write "cereal," "milk," and anything they might put in the cereal, such as a banana.) Talk about serving sizes: If a student ate bread, how much did they eat? Write the amounts of each food eaten on the chart. Give students some time in class to chart the foods they have already eaten that day.

  4. Returning to the lesson the following day, ask students to compare the foods they ate with those in the food pyramid. How many servings did they eat from the milk, yogurt, and cheese group? How many servings are recommended? How much bread and cereal did they eat? Does that meet the recommended amount? Students may use the food pyramid and the following Web sites to compare what they've eaten with the recommended intake:

  5. Then group students into pairs and have them discuss what they ate and how it compares the food pyramid. Ask volunteers to what they've learned. How well did they meet the requirements of the food pyramid? How much food did they eat from the group at the top of pyramid? What can they do to make sure they eat more healthfully?

  6. Have the pairs work together to create a healthful menu for one day that meets the guidelines in the food pyramid. They can include foods they eat as well as some foods they think would be healthful or fun to eat. Allow groups time to share their menu ideas.

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Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points: Students were highly engaged in class and group discussions; charted their food intake for one day with great detail; showed a great understanding of how their food intake met the guidelines of the food pyramid; and created a menu that identified healthful foods and correctly addressed pyramid guidelines.
  • Two points: Students were engaged in class and group discussions; adequately charted their food intake for one day; showed an adequate understanding of how their food intake met the guidelines of the food pyramid; and created a menu that somewhat identified healthful foods and somewhat addressed the pyramid guidelines.
  • One point: Students participated minimally in class and group discussions; did not chart their food intake for one day or created an incomplete chart; did not show an understanding of how their food intake met the guidelines of the food pyramid; and created an incomplete menu that did not identified healthful foods and failed to address the pyramid guidelines.

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Definition: Any of a large group of compounds that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen found in food that give energy
Context: Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for your body.

Definition: The foods that a person, animal, or community usually eats
Context: Your diet should include healthful foods in the recommended daily amounts.

Definition: The strength and vitality needed to stay active
Context: Eat well to gain energy to grow, think and study, and walk and run and play.

Definition: A substance essential for life and growth
Context: Food provides the nutrients people need to function and live healthfully.

Definition: Any of a group of organic compounds forming part of body tissues and making up and important part of the diet
Context: Foods from the meat group provide protein.

Definition: A quantity of food suitable for one person
Context: One slice of bread is a serving.

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National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences provides guidelines for teaching science in grades K-12 to promote scientific literacy. To view the standards, visit this Web site:

This lesson plan addresses the following science standards:

  • Science as Inquiry: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Personal health

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit

This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:

  • Science — Nature of Science: Understands the nature of scientific inquiry
  • Health — Understands essential concepts about nutrition and diet
  • Language Arts — Viewing: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media; Writing: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process, Gathers and uses information for research purposes; Reading: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

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