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Food n' Fitness Kid Connection: Great Grains, Complete Activities

Content by: NCES, Inc

Food n' Fitness Kid Connection is a comprehensive Lesson Plan for kids of all ages...

Food n' Fitness Kid Connection:  Great Grains, Complete Activities


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Grains provide the body with energy, aid in healthy digestion and a healthy nerve function. The goal is for half of your daily servings of grains to be from whole grains.

Long-term benefits of eating whole grains as part of a healthy diet include a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and other chronic diseases. Grains are a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, B-vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folate), and minerals like iron, magnesium, and selenium.

At the beginning of the lesson draw a circle on a piece of white paper and section it off into four quarters. Color the upper right section with an orange marker or crayon and place it on the wall. As you teach each lesson you can add the appropriate color until you have filled each section on the plate with the appropriate color for each food group.

How Grains Grow Activity:

Using wheat as an example, visually talk with the students about how grains grow.

● The farmer tills the dirt and plants the seeds, the seeds are watered, and the water and sunlight help the seeds to grow.
● After the wheat grows and turns yellow, it is ready to be harvested.
● Farmers use combines to harvest the wheat then it is carried to grain elevators in a grain truck.
● From the grain elevators it is shipped to a food processing plant where it is milled into flour and used in breads, cereals, and other food products.
● Bring visuals to illustrate the process – dirt, wheat seed, water, picture of sun, the finished sheaf of wheat, picture of combine harvesting wheat, flour, and a loaf of bread or cereal made with wheat.
● Find pictures of a wheat field, a combine during harvest, grain trucks and elevators.

Pasta Hustle Activity:

• Spaghetti Slalom: 2 lines of “spaghetti” (made from pieces of tape 5- 10 feet long) side-by-side about 2 feet apart (adjust for different ages). Students must crouch and “hop with two feet together” from side to side like they are slalom skiing.

• Spaghetti O’s: 6-10 Open circles (tape or small hula hoops) on floor to step in like tire run, alternating feet like in football training.

• Zippy Ziti: Use the four cones provided in your kit and place them diagonal from each other. Have students weave in and out of the cones, like dribbling a soccer ball or shuffle from cone to cone, like playing defense in basketball.

How to make rain activity:

● Have all students stand at least elbow length apart with room to run in place, preferably arms length apart.

ASK: What do all plants need to grow besides sunshine? RAIN!

What happens if it doesn’t rain? Plants won’t grow. I’m going to show you how to make rain so you can grow to be strong and healthy.

Step 1. Rain starts with a cool mist. (Wave fingers in the air lightly, raising arms up and down as you wiggle your fingers.)

Step 2: Then the first raindrops start to fall slowly. (Snap fingers quietly and slowly while moving arms up and down reaching up high and bring arms down in front of your body.)

Step 3: It starts to rain a little harder now. (Snap fingers loudly and quickly while moving arms up and down.)

Step 4: Then it starts to lightning. (Slap hands on legs – exaggerate motion.)

Step 5: Finally, a thunderstorm hits. (Students run in place while slapping legs. Do this part for ONE MINUTE! All other steps can be done for 20-30 seconds.

Step 6: The storm starts to pass and it is only raining now. (Students snap fingers moving arms up and down.)

Step 7: The rain is softer now, just sprinkling. (Soft slow snaps.)

Step 8: The rain becomes slower and turns to mist. (Wiggle fingers up and down in the air slowly and gently.)

Step 9: The rain stops.

Energize-me Intake Activity:

Using the Healthy Score Card, have students track their grain intake for a week. Encourage them to eat whole grains when possible. You may want to send a note to parents asking the whole family to participate. After they complete the activity discuss the different types of grains they ate and if they tried any new ones. You can also see if they are eating the recommended amount.

Bag-it Activity:

• Two bags (1 green bag for great grains and 1 red bag for sometimes grains)
• Food images

🌾 Using food models, pictures of food or empty boxes and bottles, have students separate and bag great grains in the green bag and sometimes grains in the red bag.

🥖 Remember the red bag contains once and a while foods, remind children that these are “sometimes” foods not every day foods.

🌾The great grains in the green bag are every day foods that help them stay healthy.

NOTE: Great Grains include whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, popcorn, spaghetti, macaroni and whole grain ready-to-eat cereals. Sometimes Grains also include sugary cereals, cinnamon rolls, donuts, cupcakes and cake.

Bread Basket Activity:

● Bring in small cubes of whole grain breads, such as whole wheat bread, pumpernickel, and multi-grain bread, to taste and compare.
● Have students rank and chart their preferences.
● Prior to beginning any food tasting activity, lead the children in washing their hands with soap and water.
● Explain why it is important to wash our hands before and after eating.

Popcorn Pizzazz Activity

● If possible use an air popper and have the students watch as it is popping.
● Instead of coating with butter or margarine, try parmesan cheese, chili powder, ranch seasoning, or mix with dried fruit, such as raisins for a tasty treat.
● Prior to beginning any food tasting activity, lead the children in washing their hands with soap and water.
● Explain why it is important to wash our hands before and after eating.

What makes popcorn pop?

Inside each kernel of corn is a tiny droplet of water. As the kernels heat up to make popcorn, the water inside turns to steam. The steam builds up inside creating energy, making the corn explode.

Did you know?

● Most of the popcorn consumed is grown in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, and Missouri.

● October is popcorn month.

● Popcorn was served at the first Thanksgiving.

● One of the ancient ways to pop corn was to heat sand in a fire and stir kernels of popcorn in when the sand was fully heated.

● Inside each kernel of corn is a tiny droplet of water.

●As the kernels heat up to make popcorn, the water inside turns to steam.

● The steam builds up inside creating energy, making the corn explode.


Today we are going to be discussing the Grain Group. Grains are seeds from plants. Eating grains gives your body the energy it needs to run, play and to think or study. Grains are also important to help you grow, to help you digest or use the food that you eat, and for a healthy nerve function. Nerves help your brain tell your body what to do, such as move your arm or smile. There are many grain group foods to choose from. You can pick bread, oatmeal, pasta, cereal, rice, popcorn or tortillas. Some grain group foods are healthier than others. Choosing whole wheat or whole grain breads and brown rice are better choices than white bread and white rice. Choosing a whole grain low sugar cereal is a better choice than a high sugar cereal. While these still fall into the grain group they are not recommended on a regular basis.

Foods like whole grain breads, oatmeal, whole grain pasta and cereals are the grain foods you should eat most often. White pasta, white bread, white rice, donuts and cinnamon rolls are all considered grains too but should only be eaten sometimes. How many grains do cool kids like you need every day?

Kids your age need…
● Children 6-8 years old need 4 to 6 ounce equivalents per day.
● Children 9-12 years old need 5 to 8 ounce equivalents per day.

Step 1: Show and tell children that 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cereal or pasta is considered a 1 ounce equivalent, or 1 serving from the grains group.

Step 2: Ask children how many grain group servings they think they need everyday for energy.

Step 3: Take a few guesses, then show children how many grains they need each day. You can use bread, dry cereal, cooked rice or pasta.

Step 4: Explain that when they eat a sandwich with two slices of bread that counts as two of their servings.

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