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Keep it Up!

Students learn healthy food choices in this playful game

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, additional activities

Description: Students strive to keep a ball in the air while naming healthy foods.
Objective: Students will identify a variety of healthy foods.
Materials: One volleyball or beach ball for every group of four to five students
  1. Divide the class into four or five groups.
  2. Tell them you are going to review some healthy foods from all five food groupings (milk and milk products; fruits; vegetables; grains; meats, beans, and nuts).
  3. Remind them foods are divided into groups because each group provides our body with different, essential nutrients such as milk and milk products which provide calcium. Calcium keeps our bones healthy.
  4. Give each group a ball. Have them choose a number between one and fifteen.
  5. Explain that students are to keep the ball in the air using that number of strikes, taps, or bumps. For example if the group chose the number ten, they must keep the ball in the air for ten strikes, taps, or bumps.
  6. If the ball drops, they should start over. When they reach their chosen number, the next student to touch the ball should hold it and state one delicious healthy food and then pass the ball to their right.
  7. The next student should then name a healthy food and so on until they have gone all the way around the circle.
  8. If a student names a food or drink high in fat or added sugar, gently guide him or her to come up with a healthier choice.
  9. Once each student has named a healthy food the group should begin again.
  10. If time permits, ask a few students to share some healthy foods with the class.

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.

"Energy"/"Go" foods refer to nutritious foods which give the body the energy to go and grow. "Empty"/"Slow" foods refer to foods high in fat and added sugar which can slow the body down.

Healthy ("Energy"/"Go") Snack Foods/Drinks:

  • pretzels
  • grilled chicken
  • eggs
  • oatmeal
  • fresh fruits
  • turkey
  • hummus
  • tuna fish
  • low-fat yogurt
  • applesauce
  • water
  • whole grain bread
  • baked tortilla chips with salsa
  • air popped popcorn (without butter)
  • low-sugar granola bars
  • whole wheat pizza
  • fresh vegetables
  • low-fat trail mix
  • peanut butter crackers
  • 100% fruit juice
  • skim or low-fat milk
  • natural fruit smoothies

Less Healthy ("Empty"/"Slow") Snack Foods/Drinks:

  • soft drinks
  • cake
  • pie
  • bacon
  • doughnuts
  • potato chips
  • white bread and rolls
  • cookies (e.g. Oreos)
  • fried chicken
  • candy (e.g. Skittles)
  • high-sugar juice (e.g. Kool-Aid)

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 5.8.4, 5.8.6, 7.8.1, 7.8.2, 7.8.3
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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