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A What?! (Vegetable Version)

Students learn about less common vegetables in this fast-paced game

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: This rapid action hand-off game lets kids create and repeat fun dialogues about vegetables.
Objective: Students will identify a variety of less common vegetables they can eat for dinner.
Materials: About five tennis balls, beanbags, or Koosh Balls; or pictures of vegetables or the vegetables themselves (see below for which vegetables)
  1. Ask the students to form two even lines facing each other at opposite ends of the room with their backs against opposite walls.
  2. Tell them it is important to eat vegetables because they keep the body healthy and strong.
  3. Explain that each vegetable has different vitamins and minerals, which is why it is important to eat a variety of them (e.g. spinach keeps skin healthy and peas keep bones healthy).
  4. Ask them to share some ways vegetables can be eaten for dinner (on their own or in salads, soups, sauces, etc).
  5. Explain that you are going to introduce them to some less common vegetables they can eat for dinner while you play "A What?"
  6. Choose a student to be the Leader. Give her or him a ball or beanbag or picture or vegetable and tell them it is a "turnip." Tell her or him the person directly across from them is the Receiver. They should run across the room to her or him and say, "This is a turnip."
  7. The Receiver should say, "A what?" and they should repeat, "A turnip." The Receiver should then say, "Oh! A turnip!" as they take it. Then, the Receiver should run across the room to the next person in line (at a slight diagonal from them).
  8. The Receiver is now the Leader and should speak the Leader’s lines, ("This is a turnip, etc.") to the new Receiver.
  9. Once the "turnip" has been passed along a few times, hand the original Leader a second "vegetable" and ask them to pass it, ("This is an artichoke"), so there are two in rotation. (See below for a list of vegetables.)
  10. Add as many balls or pictures or vegetables as the group can handle (up to five).

Activity Note

Be sensitive to the limitations of lifestyle, income, transportation, etc. Try to include uncommon vegetables, but not so uncommon they couldn’t find them in a local grocery store.

Activity Variation

If you brought them in, have the students try the vegetables after the game.


Vegetables provide carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and folate. (Folate helps the body form red blood cells which prevent anemia.) Most also provide high amounts of fiber, and some, especially dark, leafy greens, provide essential minerals such as potassium and iron. They keep the eyes, skin and blood healthy, help reduce blood pressure, protect against infections, heal cuts and wounds, keep teeth and gums healthy, prevent constipation, and help children maintain a proper body weight because when they eat vegetables they feel full on fewer calories.

In general, 7th graders should eat 2-2½ servings of vegetables a day. One serving of vegetables is about:

  • ½ cup non-leafy raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetables (such as spinach)

Less Common Vegetables:

  • turnip
  • chicory
  • eggplant
  • leek
  • parsnip
  • shallot
  • yam
  • artichoke
  • Brussels sprout
  • collard greens
  • fava beans
  • jicama (pronounced "hicuhma")
  • summer squash

Related National Standards

NHES: 5.8.6, 7.8.2
NSPE: 1, 2, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

Youth and Schools