Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Catching a Balanced Diet

Cathy Burgess
Bay District Schools


Students learn the importance of balanced meals and select foods that make up a balanced meal by playing a fishing game.


The student understands positive health behaviors that enhance wellness.

The student classifies food and food combinations according to the Food Guide Pyramid.

The student understands that people need food for energy.

The student knows nutritional value of various foods (for example, fruit, cereals, dairy, meat).


-Pictures of food from the six food groups cut from magazines or store ads
-Paper clips
-Magnets, 1 inch
-Pencils for fishing poles
-Blue construction paper
-Paper fish pattern
-[Breakfast By Molly], Radlauer, Simon and Schuster, 1991
-Catching a Balanced Diet checklist
-Charts of "Easy as 1, 2, 3!," "Everybody Needs A Heart," and "A Shopping Song" (See Teacher Prep)
-Easy as 1,2,3 Heart Power, AHA, 1996
-"A Shopping Song," [Songs, Poems, And Fingerplays, Best Of Mailbox Magazine], The Education Center, 1998 (see Associated File)
-Paper plates
-Poster of Food Pyramid
-Happy, Healthy Me science journal


1. Cut out many pictures of the different food groups from magazines or store ads. Each child needs 6 pictures. Add to basket to use to practice classifying. Then use these pictures to glue on the fish.

2. Cut out fish patterns or use the Ellison machine. Each child needs 6 fish. (I usually have volunteers do this.)

3. Make fishing poles from pencils by attaching the string to them with tape and tying the magnets onto the string. Each group needs 2 poles, pencils (2 per group of 4 ), magnets (2 per group of 4), 12 inches of string (2 per group)

4. Gather supplies: glue and scissors (1 for each student), paper clips (6 for each student), blue construction paper (1 per group)

5. Have the book [Breakfast By Molly] ready to read.

6. Make sure the poem and song charts are assessable for the lesson.

7. Charts of "Easy as 1, 2, 3!" and "Everybody Needs A Heart" from lesson one, A Message From Your Heart. Also, "A Shopping Song" from lesson two, Investigating the Food Pyramid. (See Weblinks)

8. Duplicate Sleep Data Collection Form to be given out for homework. Send home as homework. The students need a full week to complete it. It must be returned to school by lesson eight on day ten in order to complete the activity for that day.

9. Poster of Food Pyramid from lesson two, Investigating the Food Pyramid. (See Weblinks)


*This is the third lesson, 3rd day, in the Happy, Healthy Me unit.

1. Review the Food Pyramid from the previous lesson by asking students who remembers what we talked about yesterday? Sing and read, "A Shopping Song" and "Everybody Needs A Heart." Also recite the poem "Easy as 1, 2, 3!" and do the motions. After that, pull pictures of different foods from the basket and ask students to classify them into the correct food group they belong to.

An example of positive feedback would be: “Yes, you are right! Green beans are an example of a vegetable.” An example of corrective feedback might be: “Are you sure potatoes are a meat? Check the Food Pyramid again and then give me another answer.”

2. Then tell students: Today we will learn to take the foods from the Food Pyramid and put them in a balanced meal. To maintain good health, it is important to have three balanced meals daily. A balanced meal is a combination of the correct types and amounts of food the body needs to be healthy. In order to function well, the human body needs energy that it acquires from food. Nutritional values of food are important to your body. You want to eat more from the breads and cereal group at the bottom of the food pyramid because they are energy foods. They are carbohydrates your muscles need to move, run and play. The fruit and vegetable group have calcium and protein to make bones strong along with the milk, yogurt and cheese group. The protein needed to grow bigger and stay in shape comes from the meat, poultry, and fish group. So, as you can see, each food group has a specific nutritional value for the body and balancing them is important so you can keep your body healthy.

3. Breakfast is an especially important meal because it provides a great deal of the energy needed by the human body to start the day. Tell students: While you were asleep, your body was fasting. You need fuel to get it going. Your body is similar to your car. What makes your car go? Gas is the fuel that keeps it going. Food is the same for your body. It keeps the body going.

4. Hold up the book [Breakfast By Molly]. Make predictions of what they think the book will be about. Read and discuss her meal. Ask: Does Molly know the nutritional value of the foods she fixed?

5. Pass out pictures of food from magazines or store ads. Ask students to find foods from each food group and glue the pictures to a paper fish and put a paper clip on it. One food per fish.

6. Next, divide the students into groups of four. Put a piece of blue construction paper on each group’s desk to represent a pond and give them a fishing pole. Put all the food fish into the pond. They will use the magnet-fishing pole to fish for foods to make a balanced meal. Remind them that a balanced meal is a combination of the correct types and amounts of food their body needs to be healthy. Refer to the Food Pyramid and the nutritional value of foods if students have problems while fishing.

7. Have students begin fishing. Students will take turns until everyone in the group has caught a balanced meal. Encourage them to throw back any fish they catch that isn’t part of the balanced meal. As students are working, walk around the room giving positive and corrective feedback.

An example of positive feedback maybe: “Yes, that is correct! I’m glad you threw that fish back. You already had one bread on your plate.” An example of corrective feedback may be: “Check that fish again! Are you sure about that one? Do you have a vegetable on your plate yet?”

8. Then, students glue the “catch” onto a paper plate. Display the Food Pyramid. Encourage students to compare the foods on their plates to those on the pyramid. Note any meals that are not balanced. Ask: "What foods could be added to help make it balanced?" (Allow students to identify missing food groups.) Ask: "What importance does food play to the body?" (The body needs food for energy.) Ask: "What foods should we eat the most of?" (bread & cereal, fruit & vegetable) "The least of?" (sweets or fat) "Why?" (to keep the body healthy.)

9. Now wrap up the lesson by asking students to make a journal entry on page 2 of their Happy, Healthy Me science journals. Title it: Catching a Balanced Meal. Students describe the balanced meal they caught and why it is important to the body. Depending on the time of year and the writing ability of your students, you may want to put a sentence starter on the board:

Today I went fishing and caught a balanced meal! I caught________________________
It is important to the body because____________________________________________

10. Display plates in the room or add to the Happy, Healthy Me portfolios.

11. At this time, make sure you have given out the Sleep Data Collection Charts for homework. It needs to be completed at home a week before it is to be used in class. See associated file.


The teacher will formatively assess the students' knowledge of nutritional value of various foods by observing the “catch of food” that they glued to the paper plates. Criteria the teacher is looking for are 1 or more from the bread and cereal group, 1 or more fruits, 1 or more vegetables, 1 milk group, 1 protein group and fats, oil, and sweets are optional. See checklist in associated file. Also see #7 in procedures for feedback examples.

The teacher will formatively assess the students' understanding that people need food for energy by observing students answers written in their journal entries. The teacher is looking for a statement describing their catch (at least 1 food from each group) and why it is important to the body (it gives energy).


1. This lesson can be extended into designing a balanced meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Talk more about serving amounts and sizes for those meals.

2. Use meat trays as fish coolers instead of paper plates.

3. Use the Ellison machine to cut out fish instead of using the fish pattern.

4. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, Associated Files. This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

Web Links

Web supplement for Catching a Balanced Diet
Kellogg’s Nutrition Camp

Use this link to obtain the charts referenced in Teacher Prep.
A Message From Your Heart

Use this link to obtain the materials referenced in Teacher Prep.
Investigating the Food Pyramid

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