AlertThe 2015 TCS New York City Marathon application will open January 15 and close Februrary 15. Learn more about entry guidelines

Red Light Green Light

A fun physical activity that teaches students about how their bodies react to different lunch foods

Tags: nutrition activities, elementary school, lunch

OVERVIEW
Description: Students move or freeze depending on whether a healthy or unhealthy lunch food is named.
Objective: Students will distinguish between "go" (healthy) and "slow" (less healthy) lunch foods.
ACTIVITY
  1. Ask the students to stand against a wall facing you.
  2. Review what makes a food a "go" food vs. a "slow" food ("Go" foods help their bodies play and grow. "Slow" foods are high in added sugar and fat and can slow their bodies down.). Remind them that although sugar can make them feel excited at first, it will make them feel very tired after a while.
  3. Ask for a few examples of both "go" and "slow" lunch foods (see below for ideas).
  4. Call out some lunch foods listed below, switching between "go" and "slow" foods and ask the students to identify each.
  5. Once they have correctly identified some foods, play another game about "go" foods and "slow" foods called "'Go' Food/'Slow' Food."
  6. Tell them this time they will play with lunch foods.
  7. Call out the lunch foods again in a random order. Start the game with a "go" food.
  8. If the students think a food is a "go" lunch food, they should jog (skip or hop) toward you at the other end of the room. If they think a food is a "slow" lunch food, they should freeze in place. If a student moves after a "slow" food is called or freezes when a "go" food is called, they must go back to the start.
  9. If time permits, review some foods and their "go" or "slow" classifications with the class.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Although all foods can fit into a healthy eating plan in moderation, it is important to reinforce that healthier foods give the body more energy to play and grow. "Junk foods," (processed foods high in fat and added sugar), contain a significant amount of calories but add very little nutrition to kids’ diets.

It is important to connect kids with their food and get them thinking about food less in terms of "good" and "gross" and more in terms of "healthy" and "less healthy" (or "go" and "slow").

Healthy ("Go") Lunch Foods and Drinks:

  • baked fish
  • hummus
  • beans
  • salad
  • brown rice
  • skim milk
  • grapes
  • sandwiches
  • water
  • whole grain pasta
  • wheat crackers
  • low-fat yogurt
  • low-fat string cheese
  • carrot sticks
  • cucumber slices
  • baked potato
  • low-fat chicken burritos
  • 100% fruit juice

Less Healthy ("Slow") Lunch Foods and Drinks:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • creamy soups
  • white bread
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • potato chips
  • fried chicken
  • french fries
  • fried fish sticks
  • pepperoni pizza

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.2.1, 5.2.1, 7.2.1, 7.2.2
NSPSELA: E3b
NSPE: 1, 2, 5
NS: NS.K-4.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

Youth and Schools