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Colors for Lunch

Students get moving and learn the importance of eating a rainbow of lunch foods

Tags: elementary school, lunch

Description: Students get moving and jumping while learning to eat a rainbow of foods.
Objective: Students will recognize the importance of eating a variety of foods for lunch.
Materials: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple, pink, brown, white, and black construction paper (one per student)
  1. Ask the students to stand in a large circle.
  2. Tell them just as with breakfast, there are many healthy lunch foods to choose from. Remind them it is important to eat lots of different kinds of foods every day because each food does something very special and very different for our bodies.
  3. Ask them to call out the colors they are wearing today. Bridge this discussion to the different colors of food. Emphasize that eating a variety foods every day will help their bodies stay healthy and strong.
  4. Tell them to "Eat the rainbow!" Ask them, "What would the rainbow be without purple?" After some responses, say, "It wouldn’t be a complete rainbow anymore! We need all the colors to make the rainbow, just like we need all different colors and kinds of foods to be healthy!"
  5. Explain that you are going to play "Colors for Lunch."
  6. Tell them you will call out a color and everyone wearing that color should jog to the center of the circle. If your students wear a uniform or are not wearing colorful clothing, you can distribute the construction papers and call students up by the color of their papers instead.
  7. Explain that the students in the center should work together to name as many healthy lunch foods the same color as the one they are wearing, or as the paper they are holding, as possible (see below for ideas). You can help them brainstorm.
  8. The students on the outside of the circle should jump up and down five times every time they hear a food they have eaten before.

Activity Note

If a student names a food or drink high in added sugar or fat, gently guide her or him to think of a healthier choice. If there is confusion about naturally colored foods and dyed foods, explain that dyed foods, like colored candy, are "slow" foods and should not be eaten too often.


Children should be encouraged to eat foods from each of the five food groupings everyday. These groupings are:

  • grains (whole grains are healthiest)
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • milk and milk products (low-fat milk and milk products are the healthiest choices)
  • meats, beans, and nuts

For this age group, it is more effective to encourage variety through color rather than food grouping.

Healthy ("Go") Colorful Lunch Foods:

  • Red--cherries, apples, raspberries, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, beans
  • Orange--oranges, mangoes, low-fat cheddar cheese, carrots, peaches
  • Yellow--bananas, peppers, corn, pineapples
  • Green--string beans, lettuce, spinach, kiwi fruit, broccoli, apples, pears
  • Blue or purple--blueberries, corn, eggplant, cabbage, plums, grapes
  • Pink--grapefruit, fish
  • Brown--wheat bread, bagels, pasta, rice, peanut butter, potatoes, turkey, oats (granola)
  • Black--black beans, blackberries
  • White--low-fat milk, low-fat mozzarella cheese, coconuts, yogurt, fish

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 7.5.1, 7.5.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.K-4.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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