Suzanne McMillan
Literature, Music, Health Education
Material Type:
Activity/Lab, Assessment, Diagram/Illustration, Game, Interactive, Lesson, Lesson Plan, Media Object, Reading, Teaching/Learning Strategy, Unit of Study
  • Food Groups
  • Healthy Eating
  • Lesson Plan
  • Nutrition
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    Eat Healthy, Stay Happy

    Eat Healthy, Stay Happy


    This is a lesson for preschool students. In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of eating healthy and how to make good food choices. They will learn about the five food groups and be able to categorize food into the correct food groups. This lesson follows the following core standards: Strand 4: Nutritions- Students will understand why food choices are important, Standard HE 4.1 Identify a variety of healthy foods, Standard HE 4.2-Identify healthy food and begin to categorize into food groups, Standard 4.3  Try new foods from a variety of food groups.

    Image Citation: food healthy flyer landscape by yellow bananas from Canva created by Suzanne McMillan


    This lesson is created for  Pre K-Kingergarten grade level.  This lesson will help students understand the importance of eating healthy and how to make good food choices to keep our bodies strong. They will learn about the 5 basic food groups, (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) from the USDA MyPlate and learn to categorize food into groups. They will learn about a variety of healthy foods and learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy food choices.  This will be a face-to-face lesson and will take approximately a 2-hour preschool classroom session.  The various activities may be broken down into several smaller lessons over a period of days.  This lesson will follow the Early Learning Standards for Healthy Education for 4 year olds and kindergartners.


    Background for Teachers



    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes

    Goals and Outcomes:

    This lesson will follow the learning outcomes from the core curriculum early learning standard 4: Nutrition. Students will learn why food choices are important for their health and how to make healthy choices.  They will learn about healthy eating and the 5 different food groups and be able to categorize food into the different food groups. Students will be able to recognize the different food groups. Students will be able to select a food and categorize which food group it belongs to.  They will learn about and be able to identify which foods are healthy and unhealthy choices.  The following are some of the core curriculum standards this lesson will emphasize:

    Strand 4: NUTRITION
    Students will understand why food choices are important for health.

    Standard HE 4 yr.4.1
    Identify a variety of healthy foods.

    Standard HE 4 yr.4.2
    Identify why eating healthy food is important and begin to categorize into food groups.

    Standard HE 4 yr.4.3
    With prompting and support, try new foods from a variety of food groups.

    Standard ELA 4 yr.1.4
    Describe attributes of familiar people, places, things, and events. (Food, for this lesson)

    Standard ELA 4 yr.1.5
    Use and talk about new vocabulary through rich texts, projects, guided conversation, and play.

    Standard ELA 4 yr.1.6
    Discuss how objects can be sorted into categories (for example, shapes, foods) based on commonalities and differences


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction


    Planning Instruction:

    In this lesson students should previously understand that our bodies need food to live and to function. They should realize that eating food is something we need every day.

    Teachers need to be sensitive to students in this lesson who may have food allergies, food sensitivities, food dislikes or medical or religious reasons for not eating certain foods.

    The activities in this lesson can be adapted for different skill levels and knowledge. Also, some of the resources are available in different languages such as Spanish. In the lesson plan there are suggestions to adapt the activity to your students and their skills and background knowledge.  You can add to the activity or decrease the skill set according to your individual student’s needs.

    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction


    Instruction: Lesson Plan

    Large Group Discussion:

    Teacher discussion during circle time or large group: 15-20 min.


                Our bodies require food to live, feel good and have the energy we need to do things.  The food we eat affects how our body functions and feels. The food choices we eat will affect if our bodies grow strong and healthy or feel sluggish and sick. Today we are going to learn about why making good food choices is important and what type of foods we need each day to be healthy.

    Healthy Food is divided into 5 different groups:

    ( Show Poster) 


    Five-food –groups-poster by

    These groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy.

    Show individual poster profile cards and discuss types of foods in each category. Ask students to name or choose a favorite food and see if they can determine which food group it belongs to as you discuss it with them. - Posters for each food group plus foods that may belong to each group to use as a visual.

    We need to eat food from each of these groups every day to be healthy.

    Download and Print “The Two Bite Club Story, - Story for “The Two Bite Club” to print and read to the class

    Read this story about food groups to the class, After reading see if they can name the 5 food groups.

    Show my exemplar film to the class and tell them that we will be making our own class moving about the food groups.

    Link to the movie:

    Hand out  5 cards with the 5 food groups, when the students hear a food group in the movie have them hold up the corresponding card.  Copy and paste one of each graphic below to print and cut out and give to each student. ( Holding up the cards can be optional it is just a way to promote if they are listening and understanding)  - graphic printout of all 5 food groups.  Individual graphics to printout are below.  dairy graphic to print out for as many students that you have in class.

      vegetable graphic to make a card for each student fruit graphic to make a card for each student grain graphic to copy and make a card for each student Vegetable graphic to copy and make cards for each student.  protein graphic to copy and make cards for each student.

    After the story and movie check for understanding of the 5 food groups and see if the students can identify some foods in each group.  For example, name a food and see if they know what group it belongs to, etc. or have them name a favorite food and see if they know which group it belongs to.

    Mention that not all foods fall into these 5 food groups. There are some foods that are unhealthy for our bodies with extra sugars and fats such as soda, candy, and chips fall into a sometimes group.  We should avoid them or only eat them sometimes because they are not healthy for our bodies to feel good and be strong.  Bring examples of healthy and unhealthy foods.  Have a student come up and pick a food to hold up.  If it is healthy have the students stand up.  If it is unhealthy, have the sit-down, or use thumbs up, thumbs down, etc.

    Small Group Activities:

    After circle time divide into small groups of 3-6 students each. These activities could be used how you like to reinforce and learn the concepts.  I divide the students up into small groups and each group will rotate through all activities. Each rotation activity should be about 15-20 min.

    Small Group 1 Activity:  15-20 min. 3-6 students

    Film-making- The class will create a mini film showcasing the student's teaching about what types of food go into each food category.  The teacher will film each student selecting a food, identifying what it is, and showing which food group it belongs to. The students can pre-select their food from the basket and practice how they would like to present it. If working on letter sounds or colors they may describe it as such, " This is broccoli, it starts with the letter B and is green, it belongs to the vegetable group. After they have been filmed for this portion, the students will each be filmed again, showing healthy and unhealthy food choices. The teacher will film the students choosing from a variety of foods. They will say what the food is and if belongs in the healthy or unhealthy food box. 

    Materials Needed for activity:

    • A variety of play food, real food or food cards to have enough for each food group for students to select from.  Attached is a link for food cards to print and cut if needed.
    •  Food Card images
    • A box, basket, or bag for each food group with a food group poster attached to each. These will be the containers the students put their selected food into showing which group their food belongs to.   If using food cards you may divide the board into five sections with the food group poster at the top of each. You would need tape or magnets for students to attach the cards to the board if using this option.  Attached is a link for the food group posters.
    • Healthy and Unhealthy food options in the form of play food or real food. Have enough fin each category for students to make a selection. 
    • 2 Boxes- One with a happy face and one with a sad face.  The students put their healthy choices in the happy box, and unhealthy options in the sad box.
    •  We the digital citizens by –1:38

    Activity Guidelines:


    Tell the students that they are going to create a mini-class film about the food groups and making good food choices.  

    • Tell them they will start using technology and need to make good choices about technology before they do.  Show the 1:38 sec. video about digital citizenship called We-The-Digital-Citizens. before filming the students.  We the digital citizens by –1:38
    • Briefly discuss good digital citizenship using the movie as a guide.

    The Students will be filmed by the teacher ( unless you feel comfortable enough for your students to film) as they choose a food or two and place into the correct food group category. They will practice choosing their food and what they want to say before they are filmed. Example:  This is tuna fish it belongs to the protein group. They hold it up while speaking and placing it into the correct box. ( If you are working on letter sounds or colors they could say what letter it starts with and what color it is. For example, This is broccoli it starts with the letter B, it is green and belongs to the vegetable group.

     After each student in the group is filmed categorizing food into the food groups, they will then be filmed about food choices. They will choose a food item from a box and if it is a healthy item it goes in a box with a happy smiley face. If it is an unhealthy item they place it in the box with a sad face. They will be filmed making this choice. They will hold it up, say what it is, and if it is healthy or unhealthy.

    They will then place the item in the correct box.

    After each group rotation has had a chance to complete this activity, the teacher will create a film from the footage to show to the class at a later time and have a discussion about healthy eating and food groups. Creating this film is a way for the teacher to assess if they understand the concept of healthy eating and the five food groups.

    •  (A variation of this is that students could draw a picture of something from each food group and then be filmed explaining their poster and the food they put in each group.  (This filming activity is more of an assessment for the teacher to determine if they understand healthy food and the five food groups.)
    • ( Another variation is that the students could create a script for a puppet show or an idea of how they could tell their friends and families about eating healthy and the five food groups. Preschoolers don’t read or write yet, so they could tell their ideas to the teacher that would write them down. They could also draw pictures to convey their ideas. The teacher would then help them carry out their idea and create a film of them presenting it. This would take more time than the 15-20 rotation to carry out. 


    Small Group 2 Activity: 3-6 students 15-20 min.

    Students will be given a MyPlate template, they will have grocery ads or magazines and look for food from each of the five food group categories. They will practice their fine motor cutting skills by cutting out the foods and gluing them on the correct group on their plate.  They will need to choose at least one food item from each group. This activity will show how well they understand the food groups.


    Small Group 3 Activity - 3-6 students 15-20 min.

    Emergent Reading and Coloring Activity

    The teacher will read the teacher version of the A MyPlate Meal to the students. They will then receive their own printed copy of the book.  The teacher will introduce the sight word has. The teacher will have the students follow along in their booklets as she reads a second time.  Each time the students see the word has, they circle it. After reading the book the students may color the pictures as time allows. The students may also try to recognize other words in the book.   The teacher can then ask each student what is their favorite food and which food group it goes into.  If they choose unhealthy food, tell them this doesn’t fit into one of the healthy food groups and that it is a sometimes food.  It should only be eaten sometimes and not every day. Students may also draw a plate with their favorite foods from each food group instead of coloring the emergent reader book. You could give them a MyPlate template.

    Materials: - teacher version of emergent reader books, choose the A MyPlate Meal to print out and read to the students. - Student version of emergent reader A MyPlate Meal


    emergent readers on the different food groups, individual book links below. -emergent read about where food comes from emergent reader about fruits emergent reader about vegetables emergent reader about protein. emergent reader about grains. emergent reader about dairy. Template of my plate for students to draw and color their own foods from each food group on.


    Music Time:  - Reach for the Sky

    Have students listen to the above song and follow along with actions as they listen about the 5 food groups. You may slowly start teaching them the words to this song over time.  -Alive with Five

    Have the students listen and dance to the above song as they listen and learn about the five food groups. You may slowly teach the words to the song over time.

    Music Video:  Once the students learn either or both of these songs, you could have them design a stage set, figure out props, and come up with actions for the song. Tell them they are going to create a music video about the 5 food groups to show to their families. Let the students be involved in how they should present these songs. The teacher will film and edit their performance. This would take place over several music time sessions.


    Snack Time:  Have a variety of foods from each food group for students to try. As they try a food see if they can determine which food group it belongs to. This follows the standard HE 4.3 core standard :

    Standard HE 4 yr.4.3
    With prompting and support, try new foods from a variety of food groups.


    Fruits: cut-up apples, grapes or bananas, etc. Vegetables: carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumber slices Protien:  lunch meat, boiled eggs or peanut butter on a cracker, Grains: crackers, bagel pieces, toast, Dairy: Cheese Sticks, yogurt, choc. Milk or milk- Choose any foods that you would like your students to try that belong to each food group.


    Extra worksheets and learning resources to use to enhance this unit:

    This completes a basic outline for a preschool unit on healthy eating and the five food groups. This lesson plan can be adapted for your students and your schedule. 

    Step 4 - Assessments

    To assess the students in this lesson the teacher will use observation skills. The students will be involved in a variety of activities in which the teacher can determine how well the students understand the five food groups and if they are able to categorize the correct food into each food group. The teacher will also observe if the student can identify which foods are healthy and unhealthy.  The teacher will also determine if the student is willing to try a variety of new foods as part of the core curriculum.  Due to the age of the students teacher observation works best to determine the students understanding for this lesson. 

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