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Wheat, Barley, Rye, GO!

Students get active and learn about whole grains in this spirited game

Tags: nutrition activities, elementary school, snacks

Description In this wacky version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors," students strategize and chase each other while learning about whole grains.
Objective Students will identify a variety of whole grain foods they can eat for snack.
  1. Have the studends form a large circle.
  2. Ask them to raise their hands if they eat whole grain foods for snack (e.g. crackers, bread, etc). Explain that grains are carbohydrates, the body’s main source of energy. Tell the class that whole grains are usually brown and are healthier than white grains because they have more vitamins and nutrients, which give the body more energy to run and play.
  3. Then, ask them to share a few specific whole grain foods they eat. (If a student mentions a processed, "white" grain such as white bread, tell them it is okay to eat foods like white bread once in a while, but they should eat whole grains more often. Can they think of a whole grain food to replace the other?)
  4. Divide the class into two groups and have them stand at opposite ends of the room.
  5. Explain that they are going to play a familiar game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" with a twist. The name of the game is "Wheat, Barley, Rye."
  6. Have the class create one full-body pose (as opposed to hand sign) for each grain. Have the students practice the movements as you call out the grains so they become familiar.
  7. Tell the class, "In the game, wheat wins over barley, barley wins over rye, and rye wins over wheat, but in real life all three whole grains are equally healthy."
  8. Both groups should choose a grain to represent in the first round and a student to go first. That student from each group should come to the center of the room. Right after you say "Wheat, Barley, Rye, GO," each student should strike the pose of their chosen grain.
  9. The student who "wins" should chase the other across the room. (If there is a tie, you should arbitrarily choose which student chases the other.) The student being chased should try to make it back to their group without getting tagged.
  10. Anyone who is tagged must join the other group

Activity Note

If possible, bring in pictures of wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, quinoa, or other less common whole grains, products made from whole grains, or samples of the whole grains themselves to show to the students.

Background information

Whole grains are terrific sources of energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In general, K-4th graders should eat 5-6 oz a day at least half of which should be whole grains. 1 ounce is about:

  •  1 slice of bread
  •  1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta
  •  1/2 cup of oatmeal
  •  3/4 cup of cold cereal

Healthy ("Go") Whole Grain Foods:

  •  whole wheat, rye, or barley bread, bagels, or crackers
  •  whole wheat pizza crust
  •  brown rice
  •  whole grain oatmeal
  •  whole wheat pasta
  •  buckwheat muffins or pretzels
  •  bulgur

Related National Standards

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

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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