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Eat the Rainbow!

An interactive game that teaches students the importance of eating a variety of healthy lunch foods

Tags: nutrition activities, elementary school, lunch

Description: Students move around the classroom suggesting colorful healthy lunch foods when they stop on the colored spots.
Objective: Students will recognize the importance of eating a variety of foods for lunch.
Materials: Five to ten sheets each of red, green, and brown construction paper and one to two sheets each of orange, yellow, and blue or purple construction paper for a total of one sheet per student
  1. Scatter the papers around on the floor.
  2. Ask the students to stand in a large circle.
  3. Tell them just as with breakfast, there are many healthy lunch foods to choose from. Ask a few students for examples of their favorite healthy lunch foods. Say, "Even though you might love, love, love that food, if you ate it all day long every day it wouldn’t taste good anymore. That’s our body’s way of saying we need lots of different kinds of foods, a variety of foods, to be healthy. Each food does something very special and very different for our bodies."
  4. Tell the students you are going to play "Eat the Rainbow!"
  5. Ask them what the rainbow would be without purple. Say, "We need all the colors to make a rainbow!"
  6. Explain that each piece of colored paper represents all healthy lunch foods of that color.
  7. On your signal, they should move around the room using the movement you name (walk, hop, skip, etc). When you say "LUNCH," they should find the nearest open sheet of paper and stand next to it. There should be one student per paper.
  8. Then ask all the students who are standing near a red sheet to name a healthy red food they can eat for lunch.
  9. Have the students move again, and this time when you say "LUNCH," ask the students who are standing near an orange sheet to name healthy, orange lunch foods.
  10. Continue until you have gone through all the colors.

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)

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

Healthy ("Go") Colorful Lunch Foods:

  • Red--apples, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, red peppers
  • Green--broccoli, spinach, cucumbers, grapes, pears
  • Brown--whole grain (wheat, rye) breads, potatoes, nuts
  • Orange--oranges, low-fat cheddar cheese, peaches
  • Yellow--bananas, pineapples, corn
  • Blue, purple--blueberries, plums, grapes

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.2.1, 7.2.1, 7.2.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.K-4.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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