AlertThe application for the 2017 United Airlines NYC Half is now open. Enter the drawing or claim your guaranteed entry today!

Foods on Five!

Students use their math skills to learn about healthy snack choices

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, lunch

Description: Counting aloud, students move around in a circle, substituting multiples of "5" with healthy lunch foods.
Objective: Students will identify the five food groupings and recognize the importance of eating a variety of foods for lunch.
  1. Ask the students to stand in a large circle with enough room between them to stretch both arms out without touching anyone.
  2. Next, ask them what food groupings are (categories of different types of foods based on what they provide for and how they affect our bodies).
  3. Then, ask or tell them all five food groupings (fruits; vegetables; grains; milk and milk products; and meats, beans, and nuts).
  4. Ask them why it’s important to eat a variety of foods from all the different food groupings every day (because different kinds of healthy foods provide different benefits for our bodies such as nuts, which give us energy, and fruit, which keeps our skin healthy).
  5. Explain that they are going to play a warm-up game. Tell the students they will jog (hop, slide) around the circle. You will pick one student to begin counting. That person should say "1."
  6. The group should continue counting clockwise around the circle one person at a time to 50 as they move.
  7. Any time someone is supposed to say a multiple of five—5, 10, 15, etc., that student should replace the number with a healthy lunch food. For example, 1-2-3-4-apple-6-7-8-9-yogurt.
  8. Explain that the object of the game is for the group to get to 50 without making a mistake.
  9. Play the game. Encourage them to mention healthy lunch foods from all five food groupings.
  10. If a student names a food or drink high in added sugar or fat, gently guide her or him to think of a healthier choice.

Activity Note

If you wish to challenge the class, randomly call out different food groupings and tell them to only name healthy foods within each grouping.


Children should be encouraged to eat foods from each of the five food groupings everyday. These groupings are:

  • grains (whole grains are healthiest)
  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • milk and milk products (low-fat milk and milk products are the healthiest choices)
  • meats, beans, and nuts

Healthy ("Go") Lunch Foods from Each of the Five Food Groupings

  • Grains—whole grain breads, tortillas, pretzels, English muffins
  • Fruits—bananas, apples, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, cherries, tomatoes, grapes
  • Vegetables—celery, broccoli, carrots, snap peas
  • Meats, beans, nuts—tuna fish, turkey, grilled chicken, hummus, cashews, almonds, pistachios, peanut butter
  • Milk and milk products—low-fat or skim milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese

Less Healthy ("Slow") Lunch Foods:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • white bread
  • pepperoni
  • pizza
  • cookies
  • potato chips
  • fried chicken
  • french fries
  • fried fish sticks
  • creamy soups
  • soft drinks

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.5.1, 1.5.2, 7.5.1, 7.5.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6
NM: NUM.3-5.2

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

Youth and Schools

New York Road Runners Mission