The Tumbling Tower-Making Good Food Choices

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Students will be able to discern healthy and unhealthy foods by participating in a simulation.

Big Idea

Students will love this lesson that includes the game Jenga to help them make good food choices.


7 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need a piece of chart paper or another way (white board, SmartBoard) to record the students' responses. I gather the students in front of my big chair and I say to them, I am really hungry when I get home from school each day.  I like to have a snack.  Do you have a snack when you get home from school?  What types of things do you like to have as a snack when you get home from school each day?

I record the students' answers on the chart paper.  I want them to make a connection between this lesson and their own world.  Often times, children think, "I don't need to worry about food choices because my parents make them for me." But there are often times that children are put in the position of making food choices and I want them realize that they do have control over some decisions.

After I record their responses, I tell the students that we will be revisiting our chart a little later in the lesson. 

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SmartBoard.  If you have a SmartBoard, the file Tumbling Tower can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a PDF of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.  Click here to access them:  Tumbling Tower PDF of Smartboard Slides.

I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.  This helps me spread response opportunities across my entire classroom and eliminates any unintentional bias.

I open the first slide (SmartBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques (Click here to learn more about SIOP). I read these objectives aloud for my students and then we continue with the lesson. 

Content Objective
I can identify the characteristics of healthy foods.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend what type of food would be a healthy snack.

Slide 2:  There are so many different foods that we can choose to eat.  Some are healthy.  Some are not.  But what makes a food healthy?

Slide 3:  Healthy foods are low in added sugar.  This means there is not a lot of sugar used to make the food.  Which food do you think has more sugar?  Why?

Slide 4:  Healthy foods are low in added fats.  This means there is not a lot of fat added to the food when it is made.    Which food do you think is lower in fat?  Popcorn is a healthy choice if there is not a lot of butter added.

Slide 5: Healthy foods are full of vitamins and minerals (like calcium) to help us stay healthy.  Healthy foods help the structures in our body function the way they should.

Slide 6:  Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains are all good choices for healthy snacks.

Slide 7: Sort the foods.  I invite students to come up to the SmartBoard and sort the foods as to whether they are healthy or unhealthy.  We talk about why a food goes into a certain category.

Slide 8: 

It is now Turn and Talk Time.  During Turn and Talk, my students practice their conversational and academic language in a structured format. 

I ask them to hold hands with their assigned Turn and Talk partners and raise their hands in the air.  This allows me to check that everyone has a partner.    I then say to them, Tell Your Friend, what is a healthy snack you would like to have when you get home.     I give them time to talk to their partner and when it is obvious that they have completed their discussion, I call on student to share their response. I repeat the student's response as a complete sentence, "I would like to have string cheese."  We then move to our work stations.

Guided Practice

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need two game sets of the game Jenga.  I assemble two Jenga towers on separate tables before the start of the lesson.  I instruct the students not to touch the towers. 

You will also need the Healthy-Unhealthy Food Randomizer included as PDF with this lesson.  If you do not have a Smartboard, you could print pictures of foods that are healthy and unhealthy to use for the lesson. 

I say to the students, I want you to take a look at the tower of blocks on your table.  We are going to pretend that this tower is a model of our body.  Our body is made up of all different kinds of structures that help us do the things we do each day.  If we do not take care of our body, some of these structures might not work the way they should.  So we are going to see what might happen if we do not make good food choices. 

We will take turns coming up to the SmartBoard and touching the button.  It will pick a food and we need to decide if it is a healthy or unhealthy food.  If it is a healthy food, you do not need to take out a block.  If it is unhealthy, you need to remove a block.  Remember, the block cannot come off the top, so you need to carefully take a block from further down the tower.

I invite a student from the first table to come up and tap the randomizer button.  We talk about whether the food is healthy or not.  If it is not, the student has to return to the table and remove a block.  I then have a student from the other team come up and do the same thing.  We do this until one of the tower tumbles (See Video).  I then talk to the students about how the number of unhealthy foods had a negative impact on the tower, just like it would on our bodies.  I want them to make the connection between the simulation and what really happens in our bodies. 

We clean up and then we move back to our tables for independent practice.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need the Healthy Food Sort included as a PDF.  You will need one copy of the first page for each student.  The second page can be cut apart so you will need one copy for every two students.  I distribute the activity sheet to the students and have them write their names at the top of the paper. 

I say to the students, We are going to see how much you have learned about making healthy food choices.  You are going to cut apart the foods and sort them by whether they are healthy or not.  If they are healthy, you will put them on the grocery bag on your paper.  If they are not healthy, you will put them on the garbage can.  When you have all the foods sorted, raise your hand and I will come to your table to check your work before you glue it down. The students begin working and I circulate around the room to observe their progress and ask guiding questions as needed. 

After the students have completed their work, I partner them up with another student.  I explain to the students that they can give their parents ideas for healthy foods to purchase when shopping.  I have the students work with their partner to write or draw three things that they would like to purchase when they are shopping that are healthy.  The partner "checks" to make sure they are healthy.