K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Food for thought: Elementary lessons on nutrition and healthy living
Teaching children about the importance of a healthy diet and plenty of exercise creates a basis for a healthy lifestyle. These lesson plans for grades K-5 provide fun activities to get them started on this path.
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  • Tuning in to good nutrition: Advertisers use a number of strategies to get us to buy the foods they are selling. This lesson plan, from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum, asks students to think about these strategies, how they work, and how by understanding these strategies, they can make informed decisions when they make food purchases.
  • What's in my drink?: Dietitians have long known that sodas contain lots of sugar and are not a good beverage choice. Today, however, students are drinking more soda than ever before. This third-grade lesson plan, from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum, teaches students that milk and water are far better choices for them.
  • Water, water everywhere: Our bodies are fifty to seventy-five percent water by weight and to survive we need to replenish the water that our bodies lose during the day. This fourth-grade lesson plan, from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum, teaches students that we can replace water that our bodies need by drinking plenty of water and eating foods that also contain water.

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Dairy products aren’t the only foods that promote strong bones and teeth. This kindergarten lesson plan from the Food for Thought nutrition curriculum teaches students about foods that are rich in calcium.

Learning outcomes

Students will learn that by eating calcium-rich foods they will build strong bones and teeth.

Teacher planning


Teacher background information

Calcium: Build strong bones
Document courtesy of Virginia Cooperative Extension
Open as PDF (528 KB, 2 pages)



Food riddle calcium picture game
Provided by Nutrition Services Branch of the North Carolina Division of Public Health and published in the Food for Thought curriculum.
Open as PDF (134 KB, 1 page)


  1. Hold up an infant sleeper. Ask students if they remember when they wore one of these. Ask a student to come up front and hold the sleeper up against him or herself. Remind them how much they have grown in the past five to six years. Tell them we are going to talk about foods with calcium.
  2. Refer to the “Calcium: Build Strong Bones” teacher resource for more information. Calcium is needed for strong teeth and bones and to help our heart, nerves, and muscles. Our bodies cannot make calcium. We get calcium from the food we eat. Calcium-rich foods include:
    1. Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream
    2. Dark green leafy vegetables: broccoli, kale, turnip greens
    3. Calcium-fortified foods: orange juice, cereal, bread
    4. Dried beans and peas: pinto beans, black beans, lentils
  3. Read What’s for Lunch? Milk or From Cow to Ice Cream or another book that illustrates the process of milk from farm to store and the products that are made from milk. After reading the story, discuss the story with the students and ask them if they have ever visited a farm and what they saw on the farm. Ask them to name some foods that are made from milk. Tell students that milk and foods made from milk have calcium.
  4. Review the function of calcium in the body.
  5. Distribute the “Food Riddle Calcium Picture Game” handout. Tell the students to listen closely as you read the descriptions for each item on the next page. Do not read the bolded food name at the start of each description.
    Ice Cream
    This food is sweet and cold. It stays in the freezer.
    It comes in many different flavors.
    We eat it for snack or dessert. What is it?
    Draw a brown circle around this food.
    This food is smooth and creamy. It is not frozen.
    It is made with milk.
    Sometimes we make it from a box of powder.
    It comes in different flavors like chocolate or banana. What is it?
    Put a blue X on this food.
    This food helps us have strong bones and teeth.
    We eat it with a spoon. Sometimes we eat it with fruit.
    You could eat this food for breakfast or for a snack.
    It is made from milk. What is it?
    Draw a red circle around this food.
    This drink comes from cows.
    We drink it by itself or put it on cereal.
    Sometimes it is in different flavors, like chocolate or strawberry. What is it?
    Draw a blue square around this food.
    This food comes in chunks or slices.
    We eat it with crackers or cooked with macaroni. What is it?
    Draw a yellow square around this food.

    We have found foods that are made from milk and have calcium in them. Now we are going to see if we can find some foods that are not made from milk but have calcium in them.

    Pinto beans
    This food is special because it can fit in the vegetable group or the meat and beans group.
    It grows in a pod.
    It is round and reddish in color.
    We eat it with rice or in soup. What is it?
    Draw a green square around this food.
    Calcium-fortified orange juice
    This is something we drink for breakfast.
    It comes from a juicy fruit that grows on trees. What is it?
    Put an orange X on this food.
    This is a green vegetable.
    It looks like little trees. What is it?
    Put a green X on this food.


Assessment can be made from the completed “Food Riddle Calcium Picture Game” handout.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Kindergarten

        • K.NPA.1 Understand MyPyramid as a tool for selecting nutritious foods. K.NPA.1.1 Classify foods by groups in MyPyramid K.NPA.1.2 Recall foods and beverages beneficial to teeth and bones K.NPA.1.3 Recall activities for fitness and recreation during out of school...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Healthful Living Education (2006)


  • Goal 4: The learner will apply knowledge and behavior self-management skills to areas of nutrition and physical activity for healthy growth, development, and maintenance.
    • Objective 4.03: Identify foods and beverages that are healthy choices for teeth and bones.