Are you old enough to remember the food pyramid? I know I am, and I definitely didn’t eat enough vegetables as a kid. Gone are the days of the food pyramid. It has been replaced by MyPlate which is the USDA’s new(ish) nutrition guide for Americans of all ages. Are you teaching middle school or high school nutrition? Read on for 5 MyPlate activities for your nutrition class including free downloads!
MyPlate Activities Using the MyPlate Website
The MyPlate website is actually pretty cool and easy to use. What students like about it is you can take a quiz of sorts and find out how much of each food you should be eating. They also give suggestions for what foods to eat and how many calories. Here are 5 MyPlate activities that may help you in your teaching!
1- This free MyPlate activity has students creating meal plans for people of different life stages and matching their meals with their ages. Additionally, it is a great activity to use as a sub-plan or as a review of MyPlate meal planning.
2- This Nutrition Label Digital Escape Room is a great way to reinforce MyPlate and reading food labels. Not surprisingly, It’s fun for students to crack codes, and is a no-prep option for your class for a busy week! Interested in reading more about using digital escape rooms in the classroom? Here’s our blog post about that!
3- A Vitamins and Minerals Webquest is an interactive way to get kids to explore essential nutrients. This is a tough and somewhat dry topic to teach so this Webquest can help make it more exciting and has students studying the CDC, USDA, and other websites for information.
4- Nutrition Bell Ringer Journal…my favorite! I am a huge fan of starting each class with bell ringers or bellwork, especially bell ringer journals. They are such a great way to create a routine in your classroom that will alleviate many issues with students settling down when the bell rings and it helps them start thinking about the subject you teach. These get the kids thinking about MyPlate, careers in nutrition, cooking healthy meals, vitamins and minerals, and a lot more!
5- Research Assignment– Have students research the effects of an unhealthy diet and create a slideshow or advertisement promoting healthy eating. Students have fun creating their own ads either in video form or as a poster to encourage others to eat healthily with statistics and facts. This is a great way to sneak in some Project-Based Learning (PBL) into your curriculum.
Free Nutrition Digital Escape Room
Students love cracking codes and searching clues which are why these nutrition and family and consumer science digital escape rooms are a hit! Check out this free one with 4 clues that have students learning about the sugar content in their favorite foods!
Another idea is to invite a dietitian into the classroom to discuss with students what is best to eat daily and how to create a healthy eating meal plan. If they can’t come in person, you can invite them to speak remotely to the class and students can prepare questions ahead of time to ask them during the class.
Here are other ways to incorporate My Plate Activities and nutrition into your class:
Healthy Snack Taste Test: Bring in a variety of healthy snacks that fit into the MyPlate guidelines (e.g. apple slices, carrot sticks, yogurt, cheese, etc.) and have students taste and rate each one. As they taste each snack, discuss the different food groups that they represent and how they fit into a healthy diet. You can also talk about the benefits of snacking on healthy foods rather than junk food, and how snacking can help provide important nutrients throughout the day. This activity can help students understand the importance of making healthy snack choices and encourage them to try new foods.
Healthy Recipe Competition: Divide the class into small groups and challenge them to come up with a healthy recipe that incorporates foods from each MyPlate category. Provide them with a variety of ingredients and cooking utensils. Each group can present their recipe to the class, explaining how it fulfills the MyPlate guidelines and the nutritional benefits of the ingredients used. You can even turn it into a friendly competition and have the class vote on the most creative and nutritious recipe. This activity encourages teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking skills while reinforcing the importance of balanced meals.
Hopefully, these lesson plans will be a great way to incorporate MyPlate, Nutrition Guidelines as well as nutrition into your middle and high school classes. Students will take away information that will last them a lifetime and will benefit them for years to come!