Healthy eating habits are an important lesson for children to learn. Games can increase interest in the subject matter and will also ensure that children remember the facts they learn so they can apply them to their lives. Stephen J. Virgilio notes in his book, "Active Start for Healthy Kids: Activities, Exercises and Nutritional Tips," that games are a powerful educational resource that will get children excited about learning and will create a way to constantly review the information through play. "Food Race" can help you start building nutrition concepts with children.
To be successful with this game, the children will need basic background information about food choices. Start by asking each child to list his favorite food and talk about why it is nutritious or not. Encourage children to brainstorm different foods and decide whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Use this time to also discuss what specific characteristics, such as sugar or nutrient content, make a food healthy or junk because this will provide students with a starting point when playing the game.
Materials and Preparation
Cut out pictures of different foods from magazines. Make sure to have some foods that are nutritious and some foods that are considered junk food. Prepare several large pieces of paper, since the children will be divided into teams. One piece of paper should be labeled with the word, "healthy" and another piece will be labeled, "unhealthy." Gather glue bottles for each team and a timer for game play.
Divide the children into teams of no more than three or four children. Provide a stack of magazine pictures to each group. Tell them that they have two pieces of paper and will divide the pictures into two groups: healthy and unhealthy. Show the students how to glue each picture to the appropriate piece of paper. Time them for four or five minutes. The winning team is the one that correctly glues the most pictures to their paper. Discuss each poster and talk about what foods are considered healthy and what foods are not. Ask students to share ways to eat each food and have them identify what group their favorite food belongs to.
For variety, assign two team members to the healthy page and two to the unhealthy page. See who can assign more foods to their page in three minutes. You can also use this game as a way to test students at the end of your healthy eating habits unit. Have students divide a large piece of paper into two halves. Show them how to label one half with "healthy" and the other half with "unhealthy." Encourage them to draw or write as many foods as they can think of for each half in five minutes. Use the results to gauge the success of the game and the unit. Drawing can be used during game play instead of magazine pictures. Playing the game more than once will reinforce the concepts and help children retain the information for application to their own lives.