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Essential Nutrients and the 5 Food Groups

Teacher Guide by Oliver Smith

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Food Groups Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Food Groups Include:

A healthy diet is essential to a long and happy life, but what makes a diet healthy? It is recommended that we have a varied diet made up of food from each of the food groups. Different foods give us essential nutrients. It is important students have knowledge about nutrition and healthy eating so they can make sensible and informed choices about their diet.

Food Groups Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Food Groups


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Have your students create a graphic organizer of examples of the five different food groups, vegetables, fruit, grains, protein, and dairy.

Vegetables can be split up into five subgroups: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Food in the vegetable group can be cooked or eaten raw.


Fruit is a key part to a healthy diet. Fruits are often high in vitamins and minerals. Fruit can be eaten fresh, dried, canned, frozen, pureed, or even as fruit juice. There are a range of different fruits available from all over the world. Examples of fruit are berries, apples, and 100% orange juice.


Grains can be split up into two subgroups: whole grains and refined grains. It is recommended that half the grains that are consumed are whole grains. Examples of whole grains are whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, and brown rice. Examples of refined grains are white flour, white bread, and white rice.


Protein can come from both plant and animal sources. Examples are meat, fish, soybean products, nuts, and lentils.


Dairy is all liquid milk and foods made from milk. Examples of dairy are cheese, yogurt, and milk. Many dairy foods are good sources of calcium, which is a mineral needed to produce healthy bones.


For students that need more support, cut up the example storyboard and have students match the examples to the categories. To stretch your more able students, have them find examples of some of the subgroups listed above.


(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a chart with three examples of the different food groups.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Label each row with the name of a food group. Add cells as necessary.
  3. Use the internet, books, or your own knowledge to find three examples of each of the five different food groups.
  4. Write these examples in the titles of the cells in the storyboard.
  5. Search for images of these examples and include them in the cell.
  6. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Vocabulary for Food


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Have your students put key vocabulary into practice. One of the things students can find really difficult is using scientific vocabulary correctly and in the appropriate context. Using a visual representation or visual examples as well as a written one can really help students understand abstract concepts.


Example Food Vocabulary


Calorie

A unit of energy, often used to describe the energy in food. The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1° C is 1 calorie.


Digestion

Digestion is the process of breaking down food into substances the bodies can use, using mechanical action and enzymes.


Scurvy

Scurvy is a disease that is caused by a lack of vitamin C. Symptoms include sore arms and legs, feeling weak and tired, and brittle curly hairs.


Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is a diet that contains the correct proportions of the different nutrients including vitamins and minerals.


Obesity

The state of being so overweight that is has a negative effect on health is called obesity. A person is obese if their BMI (Body Mass Index) is over 30.


Other terms include:

  • Calcium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Diet
  • Eat
  • Enzyme
  • Exercise
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Fruit
  • Glucose
  • Growth
  • Healthy
  • Heart
  • Label
  • Lifestyle
  • Liver
  • Malnutrition
  • Minerals
  • Muscle
  • Nutrients
  • Protein
  • Repair
  • Vitamins
  • Vegetables
  • Vegetarianism

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of key scientific vocabulary by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose five vocabulary words and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary and write it under the cell.
  3. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to give examples of the words.
  4. Save and submit your storyboard. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Food Discussion Storyboard


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Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in Science. They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints without upsetting other students. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to elicit any misconceptions students may have.

At first, show students a discussion storyboard like the one below. Ask them to look at the problem on the discussion storyboard. It shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct.

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Assignment", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Read the discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. You are going to give your opinion on whom you think is correct and explain why.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Add another cell at the end of the row.
  3. Use text and images to explain whom you think is correct and why.
  4. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Essential Nutrients


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Have your students use storyboard that to demonstrate their knowledge of different nutrient groups by creating a graphic organizer.

Students will easily be able to find many photos of food using photos for class and put them effortlessly into their storyboard.

Students will look at the 7 different nutrient groups: carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, fiber, and water.


Nutrient Example Use
Carbohydrate Pasta, Bread, and Potatoes The body uses carbohydrates to provide energy.
Proteins Fish, Meat, and Eggs The body uses protein for repair and growth.
Fats Olive Oil, Butter, and Lard The body uses fats for energy, but can also store them to insulate for warmth.
Vitamins Vitamin A - Carrots
Vitamin B - Eggs
Vitamin C - Oranges
Vitamin D - Oily Fish
The body needs small amounts of vitamins to keep us healthy. Vitamin A is essential for good eyesight. Vitamin C helps us repair and regenerate tissue.
Minerals Calcium - Milk
Iron - Red Meat
Potassium - Bananas
Magnesium - Avocados
The body needs small amounts of minerals to keep us healthy. Calcium is important for bone growth. Iron is essential in the production of red blood cells.
Fiber Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, and Artichokes Not actually used by the body, fiber provides roughage to aid digestion and keep food moving through the digestive system.
Water Cucumber, Soda, and Water The body uses water for cells and body fluids.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

Create a graphic organizer to display information about different nutrients.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Label the rows as the seven different nutrient groups.
  3. Label the columns as examples and use.
  4. Use the internet, books, or your own knowledge to find examples of the seven different nutrient groups.
  5. Search for images of these examples and include them in the cell.
  6. In the use cell, use Textables to write what these nutrient groups are used for in the body.
  7. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Food Log


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Get your students to quickly produce clear and concise food logs. These can be great resources to then use in the classroom for students to think about their own diet. As well as using Photos for Class, students could also photograph their food over two days and upload these images into Storyboard That.

To stretch some of your more able students, have students decide whether the log represents a healthy balanced diet or not. Then get students to suggest ways to improve their diet, potentially in pairs or small groups.

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)


Student Instructions

You are going to use Storyboard That as a graphic organizer to log the food you’ve eaten over two days.


  1. Click "Use this Template" from the assignment.
  2. Label the rows as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Label the columns as day one and day two.
  3. Either take photos of your food over two days and upload them to Storyboard That, or use images on Storyboard That or Photos for Class to find images to represent that food that you have eaten.
  4. Underneath the cell write a short description of the food you have eaten.
  5. Save and submit the assignment. Make sure to use the drop-down menu to save it under the assignment title.


(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)





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Essential Nutrients and 5 Food Groups

It is important that your students have the knowledge to make healthy and informed decisions about their personal nutrition. A varied and balanced diet involves students understanding a wide range of concepts in nutrition. After we’ve eaten food, it is broken into smaller molecules that our bodies can use; our bodies use organic catalysts called enzymes to do this. For example, complex carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, and proteins are broken down into amino acids.

There are five different food groups: vegetables, fruit, grains, protein, and dairy. It is recommended that you eat food from all of these food groups, as your body needs a wide range of different macro and micro nutrients. Vegetables are split up into five further subcategories: dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Examples of vegetables are broccoli, carrots, and lettuce. Fruit is an important category as we get many vitamins and minerals from them. Grains are a good sources of carbohydrates. Governments recommend that half of the grains that we consume are whole grains, like brown rice. We can get protein from many different sources such as meat, fish, and nuts. The last food group is dairy, examples of which are foods like cheese, milk, and yogurt.

Nutrients in food are very important and all have different uses. The main nutrient groups are carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. Each one of these groups is used for different things inside the body and is essential for good health.

Carbohydrates are molecules that consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. There are two types: starches and sugars. Starch is found in foods such as flour, potatoes, pasta, rice, and cereals. Sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, honey, and milk. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is used in respiration for energy for the body.

Proteins are used by the body for growth and repair of all cells in our bodies. They are not only found in foods like meat and fish, but can also be found in soybean products and nuts. Proteins are broken down into amino acids.

Fats are important part of a healthy diet; they can provide the body with a lot of energy. Fats can also be stored in the body to insulate us. There are two main types of fat: saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats are normally solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats are liquid. Saturated fats normally come from animal sources, such as butter, but there are some plant based sources like palm oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in plant sources like olive oil. While fats are an important part of a healthy diet, too much fatty food can be bad for your health.

Vitamins are needed only in small amounts. Vitamins are needed to keep our bodies healthy. Vitamin A is used by the body to maintain the immune system and good eyesight. Vitamin A can be found in many sources such as eggs, cod liver oil, and pumpkin. If we don’t get enough vitamin C, we can develop a disease called scurvy. This was a big issue for early sailors who did not have access to sources of vitamin C when they were travelling on long voyages. Other vitamins include B, D, E, and K.

Minerals are also needed in small amounts to keep the body healthy. Some examples of minerals are calcium, iron, and potassium. Calcium is needed for the production of healthy bones, iron is needed to produce red blood cells, and potassium is needed for heart function. Too little iron can cause anemia.

Fiber is not actually digested by the body, but it provides roughage to aid digestion. It is found in many fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Water is essential for the production of many body fluid and cells. A high percentage of the body is water. We don’t just get water from drinking water; water can be found in many different drinks and even food.

A balanced diet is one that is varied with the correct proportions of all of the major nutrient groups. The amount that is needed from each food group depends on many different factors such as sex, age, height, metabolic rate, and the amount of physical activity.


Essential Questions for Food Groups

  1. Why do we need to eat?
  2. What is a balanced diet?
  3. How can we improve our diet?

Additional Food Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Students make visual recipes of their favorite healthy meals.
  2. Students create a narrative storyboard of someone making unhealthy food choices and suggest ways for that student to improve their diet.
  3. Students research food from all over the world and make a T-Chart to highlight the differences between two countries' cuisines.

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•   (English) Food Groups   •   (Español) Grupos de Comida   •   (Français) Groupes D'aliments   •   (Deutsch) Lebensmittelgruppen   •   (Italiana) Gruppi Alimentari   •   (Nederlands) Voedselgroepen   •   (Português) Grupos de Comida   •   (עברית) קבוצות מזון   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) مجموعات الأطعمة   •   (हिन्दी) खाने के समूह   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Группы Продуктов Питания   •   (Dansk) Fødevaregrupper   •   (Svenska) Matgrupper   •   (Suomi) Ruokaryhmät   •   (Norsk) Mat Grupper   •   (Türkçe) Besin Grupları   •   (Polski) Grupy Żywnościowe   •   (Româna) Grupuri Alimentare   •   (Ceština) Skupiny Potravin   •   (Slovenský) Skupiny Potravín   •   (Magyar) Élelmiszercsoportok   •   (Hrvatski) Grupe Hrane   •   (български) Хранителни Групи   •   (Lietuvos) Maisto Grupės   •   (Slovenščina) Food Groups   •   (Latvijas) Pārtikas Grupas   •   (eesti) Toidugrupid