Food Observations

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SWBAT identify and describe the physical characteristics of food samples.

Big Idea

Foods can be grouped or classified by their physical characteristics.

Warm Up

10 minutes

To introduce the topic, I ask the students to consider foods that they eat for the three meals of the day. I provide each student with a copy of the food chemistry Venn diagram. Since my students are not typically familiar with a 3 circle Venn diagram, I display the diagram on the document camera and review my expectations. I color code (using primary colors for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and secondary colors for the spaces where the circles overlap) each of the three circles to help students identify where to place each food on the diagram. I then provide students with some independent work time to complete the Venn diagram. 

After each student has had the chance to complete their diagram, I provide time in which students can share their lists with the whole class. As students share the foods they enjoy, I create a class list which I display in the classroom throughout our food chemistry unit. When creating the class chart, I record any foods that we test in the unit in a different color marker. This helps students to make connections to the foods that we test in the unit.

Independent Practice

30 minutes

Prior to this lesson, I prepare a food materials bag for each student group. Each bag contains eight labeled food containers each holding a small food sample, tweezers, a ten-section test tray, a hand-lens, eight numbered spoons, and a dropper bottle of water. These food materials bags contains everything needed for food tests in the unit. Each bag holds materials for 4 students. 

I provide each student with a copy of the food observations record sheet and a materials bag. I ask students to use the numbered spoons to place a small sample of each food into the corresponding section of the test tray. I ask students to observe each food sample using their senses of sight, smell, and touch. I encourage students to use the hand lenses to enhance their visual perception. I encourage students to record specific observations on their record sheet.

A video of my students engaging in the observation process can be found here. Samples of a student's completed record sheets can be found here and here.


10 minutes

I end the lesson by asking student groups to explore similarities and differences between the eight foods that they sampled. I ask them to sort foods into categories based on similarities. This activity serves as a quick formative assessment for me. When observing students in their sorting activity, I can gain a better understanding on what students already know about foods. This activity also helps students begin to see connections between foods.