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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plan

The Farmer Grows a Rainbow: First Place Foods

Grade Levels

K - 2


Students develop an understanding that certain foods provide nutrients and energy for growth and healthy living while offering additional dental health benefits. Grades K-2

Estimated Time

1 hour

Materials Needed

Interest Approach — Engagement

Activity 1: Dental Health

Activity 2: Run the Rainbow Challenge: Building the Plate

  • Red, orange, green, purple, and blue hula hoops or poster board
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Vocabulary Words

hygienic: doing things that keep yourself and your surroundings clean in order to maintain good health

MyPlate: nutritional guide published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); icon depicting a place setting with a plate and glass divided into five food groups

Did You Know? (Ag Facts)
  • Kids in prehistoric times likely did not suffer with tooth decay. The American Dental Association says this is because sugar was not a part of their diet.1
  • Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body; because it's so durable, healthy tooth enamel protects teeth from cavity-causing oral bacteria.1
  • Tooth decay is actually classified as an infectious disease because it is caused by a particular strain of bacteria passed between multiple people.1
Background Agricultural Connections

MyPlate is a nutrition guide from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that serves as a reminder to eat from all five food groups­—fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Eating a variety of foods from all five food groups is suggested.

The MyPlate guide recommends that half of the food on your plate be fruits and vegetables. Include plenty of red, orange, and dark-green vegetables. Fruits should be used for snacks, salads, and desserts. Grains are foods that come from plants like wheat, corn, and oats and include bread, cereal, crackers, rice, and pasta. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains. Protein foods include seafood, beans, meat, poultry, eggs, and nuts. It is suggested that you eat a variety of protein foods, choose lean meats, and eat seafood twice a week. Milk and yogurt are examples of dairy. It is best to choose skim or 1% milk and water to drink instead of sugary drinks. Limit the consumption of foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium. These foods are also referred to as “sometimes” foods.

There are six main groups of nutrients that a body needs to stay healthy—carbohydrates, protein, water, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates give you energy. Along with providing energy, protein also builds muscle, skin, and bones. Water helps your body stay cool when it sweats and also helps your body move nutrients to where they need to go. Fats provide you with energy, healthy skin, and an ability to absorb vitamins. Vitamins can help you heal and maintain strong bones, good eyesight, and healthy skin. Minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and iron, build strong bones and teeth, keep your blood healthy, and help your muscles and nervous system function properly. Eating from all five food groups helps to ensure that your body is getting necessary nutrients.

A healthy lifestyle also includes physical activity. Children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Health benefits increase as more time is spent being active. Foods that are healthy for our bodies but may be problematic for good dental health include dried fruits and soft breads, which tend to cling to tooth surfaces. Foods containing high acid content, such as yogurt (good for the body) and soft drinks (not good for the body) may erode tooth surfaces when hygienic practices are delayed.

Good health depends on good nutrition, dental hygiene, and physical activity. Using MyPlate as a guide to identify healthy food and fitness choices will provide students with an awareness of how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Interest Approach - Engagement
  1. Ask students to name foods that are healthy and nutritious (or that adults say are “good for them”). Discuss why they think certain foods help them grow and stay healthy while other foods should only be eaten sometimes. Talk with students about nutritious foods and non-nutritious foods, making sure they understand that foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and energy are better for developing bodies, helping them grow healthy and strong.
  2. Show students the MyPlate Activity Poster and introduce them to each food group, noting the colors on the plate and how each one represents a food group. Information about each food group is available at
  3. Distribute the pictures of various food items to students, either individually or in small groups. Allow students to arrange the food pictures on the MyPlate poster according to food groups. Discuss the health benefits of the various foods.

Activity 1: Dental Health

  1. Share information about the importance of good dental health, including healthy teeth and gums.
  2. Provide demonstrations of the proper use of a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, etc. See the attached American Dental Hygienists’ Association Recommendations for background information.
  3. Ask students to use the various food items to form a large Venn diagram with overlapping hula hoops. In one hula-hoop, they should place foods that are good for our bodies. In the other hoop, they should place foods that are good for our teeth. Foods that benefit both physical health and dental health should be placed in the overlapping segments of the hula hoops. Discuss the fact that certain foods may be highly nutritious but tend to stick to teeth when eaten (e.g., dried fruits, certain breads). Nutritious foods that are high in calcium provide great benefits for teeth and bones.
  4. Foods that are placed in the intersection of the Venn diagram may be awarded Blue Ribbons by students to indicate both nutritional and dental health benefits. Challenge students to select “Blue Ribbon” foods for school lunch.
  5. Have the students write a letter to their dentist sharing why their permanent teeth will be healthy for life. Their letters should include information about the foods they eat, how they care for their teeth, and why it is important to visit a dentist regularly. They should also tell why healthy teeth and gums are important.

Activity 2: Run the Rainbow Challenge: Building the Plate

  1. Discuss the importance of physical activity. All children need at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Activity levels will directly affect the amount of food needed to maintain a healthy body.
  2. Using the MyPlate poster, review food groups and sample items from each food group with the students. Lay out colored hula-hoops or colored sheets of poster board in the shape of MyPlate on the floor. Place the titles of the food groups inside the hoops/boards, matching the food group colors (i.e., the orange hula-hoop should contain the title “Grains,” etc.). 
  3. Form two equally sized teams in lines and place half of the food pictures in front of each line. 
  4. At the signal to start the race, the first runner on each team picks up a food card, places it in the correct food group circle, tags the next runner and goes to the end of the line. Play continues until all food pictures have been placed in a food group circle. After all food items have been placed, make corrections for any items that were in the wrong food group circle.

Concept Elaboration and Evaluation

After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:

  • Some foods are more healthy and nutritious than others. A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from all five food groups.
  • Dental health is important, and you can maintain healthy teeth by choosing foods that are good for your body and your teeth. 

This lesson was updated and adapted by Utah Agriculture in the Classroom in 2016.


Louise Lamm and Ellen Gould

Organization Affiliation

North Carolina Agriculture in the Classroom

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