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Protein Toss

Students learn protein-rich breakfast foods with this lively game

Tags: nutrition activities, elementary school, breakfast

Description Students throw and catch a ball "SPUD" style while calling out various proteins to include with breakfast.
Objective Students will identify the five food groupings and some protein-rich breakfast foods.
Materials One vollyball or beach ball
  1. Ask the students to form a circle around you.
  2. Ask them if they know what food groupings are (a category of certain types of foods based on what they provide for and how they affect our bodies). Ask them if they can guess any of the food groupings (fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and milk products, and meats, beans, and nuts). Ask for examples of foods in each (see below).
  3. Tell them today you will discuss foods in the meats, beans, and nuts and milk and milk products groupings because they are high in proteins.
  4. Explain that proteins strengthen our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood, make us feel energized, and help us feel full so we know when to stop eating. Tell them eggs, beans, and low-fat yogurt are protein-rich foods. Some greasy, fatty foods like pork bacon and sausage also contain protein, but should not be eaten too often because they are high in fat and salt.
  5. Ask the students why they think it is important to eat protein for breakfast (because it gives you the energy to get through your morning).
  6. Tell them you are going to play "Protein Toss."
  7. Assign each student a number between 1 and 10. Each number should be assigned to at least two students.
  8. Have the students begin to move around the room using a locomotor activity that you name (skip, jog, etc). Call out a number between 1 and 10 as you throw the ball up in the air.
  9. The students assigned this number should come to the center and attempt to catch the ball.
  10. The student who gets the ball should name a protein-rich breakfast food or meal and then call out a new number between 1 and 10 as she or he throws the ball up in the air again, and continues moving around the playing space.

Activity Note

It is okay if some protein-rich foods are repeated, as it would be difficult for each student to come up with a new one. If a student mentions a food or drink high in fat and/or salt such as pork sausage or bacon, gently guide her or him to come up with a healthier choice.

Background information

There are five food groupings:

  •  Milk and milk products grouping--skim or low-fat milk, yogurt
  •  Fruit grouping--grapefruit, bananas, peaches
  •  Vegetable grouping--spinach, broccoli (in omelets)
  •  Meat, beans, and nuts grouping--peanut butter, turkey sausage, eggs
  •  Grain grouping--whole grain bread, bagels, cereals

Healthy ("Go") Protein-Packed Breakfast Foods and Meals:


  •  eggs
  •  low-fat or skim milk
  •  cottage cheese
  •  granola
  •  oatmeal
  •  peanut butter (on whole grain toast)
  •  chicken or turkey sausage
  •  nuts (in cereal or trail mix)
  •  low-fat or skim yogurt
  •  black beans (in breakfast burrito)

Less Healthy ("Slow") Protein-Packed Breakfast Foods and Meals:


Any of the foods listed in the above category will be less healthy if combined with too much of a slow food, such as butter or sugar (e.g. eggs fried in too much butter).

  •  bacon
  •  pork sausage
  •  whole milk

Less Healthy ("Slow") Protein-Lacking Breakfast Foods and Meals:


  •  coffee cake
  •  doughnuts
  •  high-sugar cereals like Coco Puffs or Frosted Flakes
  •  white toast with butter

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 7.5.1
NS: NS.K-4.6
NSPE: 1, 2, 5

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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