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Protein Toss

Students learn protein-rich lunch foods with this lively game

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, lunch

Description: Students throw and catch a ball "SPUD" style while calling out various proteins to include with lunch.
Objective: Students will identify a variety of protein-rich foods they can eat for lunch.
Materials: One volleyball or beach ball
  1. Ask the students to form a circle around you.
  2. Ask them to review the five food groupings.
  3. Tell them today you will discuss foods in the meats, beans, and nuts and milk products groupings because they are high in proteins.
  4. Explain that proteins strengthen our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood, make us feel energized, and help us feel full so we know when to stop eating.
  5. Tell them turkey and grilled chicken sandwiches, and low-fat yogurt are protein-rich foods. Some greasy, fatty foods like hamburgers and fried chicken also contain protein, but should not be eaten too often because they are high in fat and salt.
  6. Ask the students why they think it is important to eat protein for lunch (because it gives you the energy to get through the day).
  7. Tell them they are going to play "ProteinBall."
  8. Assign each student a number between 1 and 10. Each number should be assigned to at least two students.
  9. Have the students begin to move around the room using a loco-motor activity that you name (skip, jog, etc). Call out a number between 1 and 10 as you throw the ball up in the air. The students assigned this number should come to the center and attempt to catch the ball.
  10. The student who gets the ball should name a protein-rich lunch food or meal, call out a new number between 1 and 10 as she or he throws the ball up in the air again, and continue moving around the space.

Activity Note

It is okay if some protein-rich foods are repeated, as it would be difficult for each student to come up with a new one. If a student mentions a food or drink high in fat and/or salt such as pork sausage or bacon, gently guide her or him to come up with a healthier choice.


Healthy ("Go") Protein-Packed Lunch Foods and Meals:

  • brown rice and black beans
  • grilled turkey, chicken, or fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
  • stir-fried tofu and vegetables
  • low-fat cheese and milk

Less Healthy ("Slow") Protein-Packed Lunch Foods and Meals:

Any of the above foods can be less healthy if combined with too much of a slow food such as butter, oil, cream, or sugar (e.g. chicken fried in oil).

  • hamburgers and cheesburgers
  • fried chicken
  • pepperoni pizza
  • pasta with creamy pasta sauce (e.g. alfredo)
  • whole milk

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 5.8.6, 7.8.1, 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