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Three Healthful Meals:
A Practical Food-Guide-Pyramid Activity


Teacher Lesson


  • Language Arts
  • Literature


  • 2-6

Brief Description

Plan a day of healthful eating based upon serving guidelines in the food guide pyramid.


  • activate knowledge of the food guide pyramid and the basic food groups in order to plan nutritious meals.


Food groups, food, pyramid, health, nutrition, meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, health, nutrients

Materials Needed

  • magazines
  • glue
  • scissors
  • markers
  • three paper plates per child
  • a copy of the newFood Guide Pyramid (introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2005), one per child; Sources: this one includes useful information; this one is large and easy to read; or this ready-to-color one for kids.
  • computer access to clip art (optional)

Lesson Plan

Pass out copies of the food guide pyramid or have one displayed in the classroom. (See sources in Materials Needed section above.) Explain to students each part of the food guide pyramid. Discuss the number of servings of each food group that should be consumed daily in order to receive the nutrients that are part of a healthful diet.

Provide each student with three plates. Have students write breakfast on the back of one paper plate, lunch on the back of another, and supper on the back of the third plate.

Explain to students that they will be planning three meals for one day. Their meal plan for the day must reflect the following guidelines from the food pyramid:

  • 2 servings from the meat group
  • 3 servings from the fruit group
  • 3 servings from the vegetable group
  • 4 servings from the milk and cheese group
  • 6 servings from the bread and cereal group
    You might share with students some information about the new food pyramid introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2005.

    Draw students' attention to the fact that some foods might include ingredients from more that one food group. For example, a slice of pepperoni pizza would include a serving from the bread group (crust), the milk group (cheese), the meat group (pepperoni), and the vegetable group (tomato sauce).

    Distribute glue, scissors, and markers.

    Students will collect a handful of food images from magazines and glue them to the appropriate plates. Then they will return to the magazines to find other images that could help fill up their plates.

    You might set up another table with art supplies. Students could actually draw, paint, or use colored paper to create additional items for their plates.

    If your students have access to computers, they might use clip art sites that offer illustrations of food items. Following are a few good sites where students might find food art:
  • Clipart Guide: Food
  • Food Clipart
  • IconBazaar: Food Clipart
  • Food Clipart
  • Food Clip Art
  • Webweavers Free Clipart: Fruit
  • Free Clipart Pictures: Fruit
  • Vegetable Clip Art Index
  • Classroom Clipart: Vegetable Clipart
  • Food and Cooking Clip Art Index

    Students might use Google Image Search to find additional images.
  • Allow plenty of time for the students to complete the activity (20 to 30 minutes). At the conclusion of the project, students will be responsible for recording the number of servings from each food group and identifying the foods. They should include foods they actually would eat for each meal. Collect students' plates, or have students present their work to their classmates. Display the plates on a classroom bulletin board.


    Check each student's finished project to see that all items are included. Deduct five points from a grade of 100 for each missing item. Each project should contain two servings from the meat group; three servings from the fruit group; three servings from the vegetable group; four servings from the milk and cheese group; and six servings from the bread and cereal group.

    Submitted By

    Mandy Logue, Alcorn Central Elementary School in Glen, Mississippi

    Originally published 03/20/2003
    Last updated 01/18/2010

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