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Food Detective

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

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, lunch

Description: Students move about quickly in this game to gather clues about the healthy lunch foods taped to their backs!
Objective: Students will recognize a variety of healthy lunch foods.
Materials: One paper or nametag per student, each with a different healthy lunch food written on it (see below for foods); Scotch or masking 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 lunch food written on it, and 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 (e.g. "Am I a vegetable?"; "Am I eaten cold?").
  5. 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!").
  6. 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.
  7. When the music starts again (or you say "GO!"), they should start dancing (or hopping, etc.) again.
  8. Once they figure out their label, they should take it off their backs and stick it on the front of their shirts.
  9. They can keep playing, only answering others’ questions, until everyone has correctly guessed their food.
  10. Ask them to state their healthy lunch foods and encourage them to eat nutrient-rich foods low in fat and added sugar from all five food groupings for lunch.

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.


Healthy ("Energy"/"Go") Lunch 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 bread, whole wheat tortilla, pretzel, rye bread, brown rice
  • Fruits and vegetables—peach, apple, pear, grape, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry (whole fruit) jam, grape juice (natural)
  • Meats, beans, and nuts—black bean, grilled chicken, turkey, tuna, peanut butter, almond, cashew, hummus

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 5.8.4, 7.8.1
NSPE: 1, 2, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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