Target Grade Level / Age Range:
3 rd grade
Students will be able to identify how eggs can be a good source of protein in their diet. They will understand that eggs play a key role as an ingredient in a number of other foods.
- My Family’s Egg Farm book by Katie Olthoff https://www.iowaagliteracy.org/Tools-Resources/Publications/My-Familys-Farm
- MyPlate Protein Routine handout
- Computer with speakers and an internet connection
- Projector and screen
- Egg fact card (cut)
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
- Egg Nutrition Basics: https://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/egg-nutrition-basics/
- My Family’s Egg Farm: https://www.iowaagliteracy.org/Tools-Resources/Publications/My-Familys-Farm
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes https://youtu.be/h4eueDYPTIg
- MyPlate Protein: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods-group-food-gallery
- Egg fact card
Vocabulary (with definitions)
- Protein – a component of the human diet that can come from plant sources like beans or animal sources like meat or eggs. Protein plays a critical role in the body for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s organs and tissues like muscle.
- Lutein – a yellow pigment and vitamin that is found in plants and egg yolks that promotes eye health and brain development.
- Choline – a compound found in egg yolks and legumes that is important in the synthesis and transport of lipids in living tissues.
- Muscle – a bundle of fibrous tissue in human or animal bodies that contract producing movement in parts of the body.
- Vitamin D – a group of vitamins that are essential for the absorption of calcium and the prevention of diseases like rickets in children.
Background – Agricultural Connections (what would a teacher need to know to be able to teach this content)
Eggs are an all-natural source of high-quality protein and a number of other nutrients, all for 70 calories per large egg. Cost-effective and versatile, the unique nutritional composition of eggs can help meet a variety of nutrient needs of children through older adults.
Two important nutrients for brain health and cognition are found in eggs: choline and lutein. Choline plays a role in early brain development during pregnancy and infancy, particularly in areas of the brain that are used for memory and learning. Lutein has long been associated with eye health, but research has discovered lutein’s role in cognition as well.
Cardiometabolic health is a relatively new term that encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Collectively, such conditions are the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. They all share similar risk factors (e.g., overweight/obesity, elevated blood pressure) which can be modified by diet and lifestyle choices. The available evidence indicates that eggs, when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet pattern, do not affect risk factors for cardiometabolic disease. Recent recommendations from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and American Diabetes Association do not limit egg or cholesterol intake, a change from earlier guidance from these organizations. In fact, several global health organizations, including Health Canada, the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Australian Heart Foundation and the Irish Heart Foundation, promote eggs as part of a heart-healthy diet.
Protein contributes to the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and directly influences muscle mass, strength, and function in people of all ages. Skeletal muscle protein synthesis is optimized by consuming dietary protein and by considering three important criteria:
- Protein quality: The quality of dietary protein is determined by its amino acid composition as well as how well the body absorbs and utilizes the protein. Egg proteins, like milk and beef proteins, are readily digestible and contain all of the essential amino acids.
- Protein quantity: Post-workout protein is important for promoting recovery. Research indicates that eating 20-30 grams of protein sources rich in leucine, such as egg or whey, has been shown to promote muscle repair and glycogen resynthesis.
- Timing of protein intake: Consuming high-quality protein in combination with rapidly digestible sources of carbohydrate post-workouts can help refuel muscles and optimize recovery.
Obesity is a multi-factorial and complex health issue. Current guidance for weight management encourages physical activity along with consuming an overall healthy eating pattern which includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat and fat-free dairy products. A growing body of research suggests that dietary protein, specifically, can help promote satiety, facilitating weight loss when consumed as part of reduced energy diets.
Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating pattern doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.
One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories. While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:
- Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
- Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.
An average of two percent of the population under age five develops an egg allergy. However, most children outgrow their egg allergy by late childhood. Despite the allergenicity of foods such as eggs, experts do not encourage avoiding these foods when introducing solids to infants. According to the 2016 National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine food allergy report, there may be “benefits of introducing allergenic foods in the first year of life to infants when a child is developmentally ready: around 6 months of age, and not before 4 months.” This is based on studies showing a possible decrease in the development of food allergies when food allergens are introduced at 4 to 6 months of age. This advice is consistent with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The term “Egg Products” refers to processed or convenience forms of eggs obtained by breaking and processing shell eggs. Egg products include whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks in frozen, refrigerated liquid, and dried forms available in a number of different product formulations, as well as specialty egg products. Specialty egg products include: pre-peeled hard cooked eggs, egg rolls or “long eggs,” omelets, egg patties, quiches, quiche mixes, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, and others.
Egg products are becoming increasingly popular in foodservice operations. That’s because they are convenient to use and provide a cost savings with regards to labor, storage, and portion control. Frozen, refrigerated liquid, and dried egg products are similar to shell eggs in nutritional value and most functional properties.
Interest Approach – Engagement (what will you do to engage students at the beginning of the lesson)
Most students will be familiar with the popular children’s song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes ( https://youtu.be/h4eueDYPTIg). Tell students that you will be leading them in a new version of the song. Ask students to stand up next to their desk. They will watch you complete the song with actions one time. On the second time through the song, ask students to join you. You may want to display the new lyrics on a screen or large writing surface.
Brain, muscles, heart and stomach, (point to head, point to biceps, point to heart, point to stomach)
Heart and stomach.
Brain, muscles, heart and stomach,
Heart and stomach.
And eyes, and ears, and mouth,
And bones. (point to finger bones or leg bones)
Brain, muscles, heart and stomach,
Heart and stomach.
You may want to go through the song multiple times so that they can remember the new words and practice the new actions. After completing the song, thank students for singing along. Explain that today we will be discussing how eggs are good for brain health, building muscle, maintaining a healthy heart, staying full longer after a meal, and even helping with good eye sight.
Pass out copies of the My Family’s Egg Farm book to students or display the digital version on the screen in front of the entire class. Read the book together as a class, assigning different students to read each page. Help students with any vocabulary that they may not be familiar with. More advanced readers can read the supplementary passages at the bottom of each page.
After students finish reading the book, ask for a show of hands on how many students like to eat eggs. This may or may not get every hand raised. Be more specific and ask:
- How many students like to eat fried eggs?
- How many students like to eat omelets?
- How many students like to eat hard boiled eggs?
- How many students like to eat cookies? (cookies contain eggs)
- How many students like to eat cake? (cakes contain eggs)
- How many students like to eat ice cream? (ice cream contains eggs)
By this time all students will likely have their hands raised and you can make the point that eggs are found in a lot of the foods that we eat. Eggs provide important nutrition in our diet (less so when found in the sweet treats that we enjoy for dessert).
Review with students what types of food are considered to be a high source of protein. (meat including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, bison, rabbit, venison, duck, goose; beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds, and seafood.) Jot the student responses down on a large writing surface. A helpful list can be found here: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods-group-food-gallery
Ask students to think about what they eat in one week. Ask them to jot down a diary in their notebooks of all the protein they’ve eaten this week. It might help if students write the days of the week and then under each day list breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then under each meal they can list the protein. Ask students to place a star next to any meal that included eggs.
Display the MyPlate Protein Routine document on a large screen or pass out copies to the students. Congratulate students who had multiple different sources of protein in their diets during the week. Recognize students who had eggs as a part of their diet this week with a high-five.
Explain that the media and things like commercials can affect our decisions about our personal health, our family health, and even our community health. On a large scree project one or more of the following egg commercials. The students might enjoy seeing the historical commercials and comparing them to modern day commercials.
- 1965: https://youtu.be/dEESnNFXMw0
- 1978: https://youtu.be/DkHsUSfqd1U
- 1995: https://youtu.be/Q5QE5QaREog
- 2000: https://youtu.be/6nFLecjWXG0
- 2014: https://youtu.be/RPKMMnlibiU
- 2015: https://time.com/3744031/kevin-bacon-egg-ad/
- 2019: https://youtu.be/vJYroAkA3Mo
Break students into seven or more groups. Give each group of students an egg fact card. If there are more than seven groups, then multiple groups may receive the same card. Have each group read their card and clarify any questions they might have. Instruct each group that they will write a script (and if time allows) create an advertisement for the nutrition of eggs that features their fact(s). They can model their commercial after the examples they saw, or they can create their own unique and original idea. Allow students time to work and monitor their progress. Once groups are finished working, have them read their script aloud to the class or act out the commercial. You may want to offer a few simple props that would be appropriate (egg carton, spatula, frying pan, etc.).
Did You Know? (Ag facts)
- A single large egg provides 12 percent of the daily requirement of protein for 70 calories.
- Eggs contain the highest quality protein and are often used as a standard to measure the quality of other protein sources.
- Eggs also have the highest biological value of any protein, meaning that the essential amino acids they provide are used very efficiently by the body.
- Eggs also contain varying amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, B6, B12, folate, and a variety of minerals (particularly riboflavin, phosphorus, and iron).
- The yolk makes up just over one third of an egg. It provides three-fourths of the calories, all of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and all of the choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The yolk also provides most of the phosphorus, iron, and folate and almost half of the protein and riboflavin.
- The white (albumen) provides more than half of the total protein and riboflavin. Choline, an essential nutrient, is shown to be important for proper brain development in the fetus and newborn and may play a role in memory function throughout life and into old age. Lutein and zeaxanthin may prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly in the U.S.
- One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals all for 70 calories. At just 15 cents each per large egg, eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein and contain all nine essential amino acids. In addition to protein, eggs are a good source of other important nutrients like riboflavin and selenium. Eggs also contain the essential amino acid leucine (one large egg provides 543 milligrams), which plays a unique role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
- The nutrient content of eggs is similar regardless of color (white or brown), grade (AA, A, or B), or how they are raised (organic, free-range, and conventional). Although eggs are a natural nutrition powerhouse, feeding laying hens a diet enriched in specific nutrients like vitamin D or omega 3 can enhance that nutrient in eggs. Due to higher production costs, such specialty eggs are usually more expensive than generic shell eggs.
- Nearly half of the protein (just over 40%) is found in the yolk. Additionally, egg yolks carry fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D, E, A, choline, and the antioxidants lutein/zeaxanthin. Plus, the fat, which is mostly unsaturated and found in the egg yolk, aids in the absorption of these essential and important egg components.
Extension Activities (how students can carry this beyond the classroom)
- Challenge students to develop a recipe that contains eggs. Encourage students to have their parents help them cook it at home. Have students rate the taste of the dish.
- Have students keep track of how many times or how many total eggs they eat in a single week. Encourage them to read the labels on food packaging to determine if there are eggs or egg products in the food.
- Have students write a story about themselves about how they are able to use the nutrition from eggs to live a healthy life. For example, they use the protein to build muscle and become a professional athlete. Or they use the lutein in the eggs to develop good eye sight and become an optometrist (eye doctor).
- Provide two or more recipes that contain eggs. Ask students to evaluate which one is healthier. Ask students to describe why. For example, a cobb salad that contains eggs versus a chocolate cake that is made with eggs.
Suggested Companion Resources (books and websites)
- Book: From Egg to Chicken by Anita Ganeri
- The development of this lesson and the My Family’s Egg Farm book were supported in part by the Iowa Egg Council.
Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
- T3.3-5.a. Describe the necessary food components of a healthy diet using the current dietary guidelines.
- T3.3-5.g. Identify food sources of required food nutrients.
Iowa Core Standards
st Century Skills (Health Literacy):
- 21.3–5.HL.1. Obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health.
- 21.3–5.HL.3. Demonstrate critical literacy/thinking skills related to personal, family, and community wellness.
- 21.3–5.HL.4. Recognize that media and other influences affect personal, family and community health.
- 21.3–5.HL.5. Demonstrate behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society.
- National Health Education Standards:
- 5.5.3. List healthy options to health-related issues or problems.
- 5.5.5. Choose a healthy option when making a decision.
- 5.5.6. Describe the outcomes of a health-related decision.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.