Submitted by: Renee Holden

Grade Levels: 3-5

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3 through 5, students use BrainPOP nutrition topics to identify healthy foods and portion sizes. Students then use the healthy eating food guidelines to create models and categorize different types of food.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify healthy foods and portion sizes
  2. Use the food pyramid to categorize different types of food



Create teams of four students. If you can, allow the teams to push their desks together for this activity. Hand out the Play-Doh and paper plates.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask the students to create a small model of a recent meal (last night’s dinner, this morning’s breakfast, today’s lunch) by using the Play-Doh. Remind students that it is okay if their model is a different color from the actual food, and to do the best that they can! Encourage them to include every kind of food from their meal if possible.
  2. When students are finished, ask them to put their “sculptures” on the corner of their desks (or you can have them bring the creations to a table so students they are not distracted by them during the movie).
  3. As a pre-assessment, give students the Nutrition: Vocabulary sheet. Using a colored pencil, ask them to fill in their answers to the best of their ability, and clarify that it is okay to guess. When they have finished, collect the Vocabulary sheets.
  4. Show the BrainPOP Nutrition movie.
  5. Group Activity: As a class, fill in the Nutrition: Classify It poster. This will help every student to see where different foods belong on the food pyramid and allow them to ask questions about why particular foods belong in certain areas of the food pyramid.
  6. When you are finished, allow students to have a “brain break” by going on a “walkabout” to look at their classmates’ Play-Doh creations. Be sure to emphasize a “hands-to-yourself” policy (so that the sculptures remain intact!).
  7. After students return to their seats, hand out the Nutrition: Graphic Organizer sheet.
  8. Ask students to fill in the sheet based on the meal that s/he created out of Play-doh.
  9. Return the pre-assessment sheet, Nutrition: Vocabulary, to students.
  10. Using a different colored pencil (students can trade with teammates), ask students to fill in any blanks that they had left and to make as many corrections as they need to.

Extension Activities:

This lesson can easily integrate multiple subject areas:

Physical Education Lesson

Teacher divides activity area into six zones. Each zone represents a different category of the food pyramid (the teacher can enlarge the BrainPOP Nutrition: Graphic Organizer sheet to create cards to identify the zones, if he or she chooses). Teacher calls out different foods, one at a time (start with easy foods to ensure that students are successful!).

Using different locomotor skills, (Walk, Run, Skip, Hop, Gallop, Leap, Slide), students must move to the zone that they believe is the correct answer. Remind students to look where they are going and to try to stay in “self-space”. Increase the difficulty by calling out lesser-known foods. (as students try to figure out something like “caviar”, this can get very silly, so the teacher may want to use a slower locomotor skill to keep everyone safe!)

Music Connection

Show the BrainPOP movie Percussion. Talk about the different ways that rhythms are created. Ask students if they know of any “percussion instruments” that they have with them at all times (hands for clapping, feet for tapping/stomping, etc.).

Sitting in a circle, ask students to name a type of food from a section of the food pyramid. Using the syllables of that particular food, create a clapping pattern. (If a student says “Pizza”, remind the students that pizza has ingredients from more than one of the food groups. Then ask the students to choose one of the ingredients in pizza and use that, if you like.)

Example: Teacher says “Fruits!” Student responds with “Bananas!” Teacher claps “Ba (clap) Na (clap) Na (clap) while saying it aloud. Students join in and continue clapping “Banana” until teacher calls out a new food pyramid category.

Repeat. Teacher can speed up tempos or add two foods together to increase challenge!

Art Project Ideas:

Show BrainPOP movie Graphic Design. Students create (individually or in pairs) food group collages from magazine pictures.

Show BrainPOP movie Sculpture. Class “Found-item” Food Pyramid model using packaging from foods, pictures, cloth and any other recyclable materials.

Show BrainPOP movie Drawing. Set up a (very simple!) still-life display of fruits and vegetables and ask students to use the concepts from the movie to help them draw the healthy foods.