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Food Detective

Student detectives get moving and gather clues to figure out their healthy dinner foods

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: Students move about quickly in this game to gather clues about the healthy dinner foods taped to their backs!
Objective: Students will recognize a variety of healthy dinner foods.
Materials: One paper or name tag per student, each with a different healthy dinner food written on it (see below for foods), tape, and optionally, a boombox or radio
  1. Ask the students to form a large circle.
  2. Tell them you are going to play "Food Detective."
  3. Go around the circle and place a label on each of their backs. As you do, explain that each label has the name of a healthy dinner food written on it, and that the object of the game is to try to figure out which food they are without looking at their label.
  4. Explain that they can only ask "yes" or "no" questions. Tell them when you turn on the music (or say "GO!"), they should start dancing (hopping, sliding, jogging) around until you pause the music (or say "STOP!")
  5. Then they should find a partner (the person nearest to them), and one partner should ask the other a "yes" or "no" question about their label (e.g. "Am I a vegetable?"; "Am I eaten cold?").
  6. When the music starts again (or you say "GO!"), they should start dancing (or hopping, etc.) again.
  7. They can keep playing, only answering others’ questions until everyone has correctly guessed their food.
  8. Ask them to state their healthy dinner foods and encourage them to eat nutrient-rich foods low in fat and added sugar from all five food groupings for dinner.

Activity Variation

If time permits, you can challenge the students to group themselves by food grouping: milk and milk products, vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats, beans, and nuts.


Eating dinner is important because it refuels the body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Dinner is also a social event, and it can be quality time spent with family members. Frequent family meals are associated with better grades, a lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using marijuana, and a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

Foods for Labels:

  • Milk and milk products—low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat mozzarella cheese, low-fat cheddar cheese, cottage cheese
  • Grains—whole wheat pasta, rye bread, brown rice, whole-wheat tortilla
  • Vegetables—carrot, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, baked potato, salad, squash, eggplant, corn
  • Meats, beans, nuts—black bean, grilled chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, peanut, hummus
  • Fruits—peach, apple, pear, grape, strawberry, raspberry

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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