Target Grade Level / Age Range:

6th-8th grades


Three 50-minute class periods

Virtual Learning:

Use this document to convert the lesson into a virtual learning module for your students. Use the steps outlined to create the different elements of a Google Classroom or other online learning platform. You can also send the steps directly to students in a PDF, present them in a virtual meeting, or plug them into any other virtual learning module system. 


Students will explore food groups and healthy food choices


Suggested Companion Resources (books, websites, etc.)

Vocabulary (with definitions)

  • Nutrition – is the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food. 
  • Calories – are just a measurement tool, like inches or ounces. They measure the energy a food or beverage provides.
  • Presentation – is the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.  
  • Balanced diet – A diet that contains the proper proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water necessary to maintain good health.

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Have students read Iowa Ag Today Issue 2: Food Health & Lifestyle individually at their desks. Select 2-3 of the Think & Discuss questions and have the class discuss as a whole.

Background – Agricultural Connections (what would a teacher need to know before teaching this lesson): 

Five food groups, correct portion sizes, variety of fruit and vegetable choices, the nutritional value of foods, where a variety of foods are grown

Procedures (outline the main points, step by step activities, and the full content to be presented to students)

  1. Review the MyPlate Food Guide with students, asking students to share a food item that would be in each food group.
  2. Break students up into groups of 3-4, and give each group a menu. Direct students to look for descriptive writing meant to entice patrons to try the menu items. Then, have students highlight foods with the color of the food group they belong in. For example, milk would be highlighted or colored over with blue, pasta would be highlighted with orange.
  3. In their groups, students should create and share a Google Doc and brainstorm some ideas on the name of their restaurant – unique and clever!
  4. Groups should then work together to create a healthy choice menu for their restaurant. Students may reference the links from Live Healthy Iowa for resources and help on defining and creating a healthy meal.
  5. After creating 4-5 menu options, group members should write about their options in a descriptive way using adjectives, adverbs, and specific nouns to entice the customer. They should mention color and presentation of the items as well. Explain how humans need to eat and get energy from the food that they eat.
  6. Create a menu – either on the computer or hand drawn– to present the dishes created. Students should make sure to estimate the cost using the approximate prices from other menus in the classroom.
  7. Student groups will present their menus to the class. The students will vote on the menu they think includes the most nutritious items.
  8. Have students reread an article in Iowa Ag Today and take the publication home for further reading.

Extension Activities (how can students extend learning outside of the classroom? This could include assignments they do outside of class.)

  • Find the calorie count of the selections on the menu, research benefits of foods – what do they prevent – health information.
  • Have students research and present about a career in food production and science. Examples could include: food scientist, dietitian, farmer, chemist, etc. 
  • Have a school nurse or school nutritionist visit with students about making healthy food choices.
  • Skype with a dietician at Hy-Vee to explore careers and healthy food options at the grocery store.


  • JoAnn Blair

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes

  • T3.6-8.g. Identify agricultural products (foods) that provide valuable nutrients for a balanced diet
  • T3.6-8.i. Identify sources of agricultural products that provide food, fuel, clothing, shelter, medical, and other non-food products for their community, state, and/or nation


Iowa Core Standards

  • 21st Century Skills:
    • 21.6–8.HL.1 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Demonstrate functional health literacy skills to obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family and community health.
    • 21.6–8.TL.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using interactive technology.
    • 21.6–8.TL.3 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Plan strategies utilizing digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
    • 21.6–8.ES.1 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Communicate and work productively with others, considering different perspectives, and cultural views to increase the quality of work.
  • Literacy:
    • RST.6–8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide and accurate summary of a text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
    • RI.7.IA.2 Read on-level text, both silently and orally, at an appropriate rate with accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
  • National Family and Consumer Science Standards
    • Analyze sources of food and nutrition information, including food labels, related to heath and wellness.
    • Analyze nutritional data.


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