3 - 5
Students will understand that all food has an agricultural source that has a geographic origin.
- MyPlate Activity Poster
- Pictures of various food items (a Food Models Kit is available for purchase)
- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
- United States Map
- Have a Hamburger and See the USA PowerPoint
- Build a Burger Fact Sheet
- Plastic eggs
- Pictures of Burger Ingredients
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Have a Hamburger and See the USA PowerPoint
United States Map
Pictures of Burger Ingredients
Build a Burger Fact Sheet
MyPlate: MyPlate: 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
Did you know? (Ag Facts)
- Ground beef is the most popular cut of steak in the United States.1
- One steer can produce 1000 quarter pound burgers.1
- A quarter pound (4 oz.) burger weights 3 oz. after cooking.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 as 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, 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. Each food group provides different nutrients, and no single food group can supply all the nutrients our bodies need. 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. Increasing activity increases health benefits.
Good health depends on good nutrition 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
- 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.
- 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 Choosemyplate.gov.
- 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: Build a Burger
- Read the book How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World aloud to the class.
- Tell the class that you have a slightly different story. You would like to make a hamburger instead of an apple pie, and you would like to get all the ingredients from the United States.
- Provide a United States Map to each student. Read the story from the Have a Hamburger and See the USA PowerPoint. Have the students locate each state mentioned in the story as it is read. They should write the name of each burger ingredient inside the outline of the appropriate state. Allow students to check their work by locating each state on a large United States map.
- Split the class into nine small groups. Give each group one of the following burger ingredients: bun, burger, cheese, mayonnaise, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, and onions. Groups should fill out the Build a Burger Fact Sheet for their assigned ingredient. They may consult reference books or appropriate websites to gather their information. Have groups report their findings to the class. Encourage the use of visuals and graphic organizers.
- Challenge the students to rewrite the story using different main ingredients. For example, replace beef with turkey or soy. Or challenge students to rewrite the story for another food item (e.g., club sandwich, chicken wrap).
- Work with the entire class on a logic lesson to determine how many different combinations of ingredients can be made for an individual burger.
Activity 2: Run the Rainbow Challenge: Burger Bunny Relay
- Share with the students that the number of calories contained in a hamburger is far greater than the number of calories in a tossed salad. Therefore, more physical activity is required to use the number of calories consumed with a hamburger than a tossed salad. For an overview of the number of calories burned while participating in a variety of activities, have students use an activity calorie counter such as caloriescount.com. By putting their information in, they can receive a personalized activity guide.
- 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.
- Have the students form teams of 4-6 members. Mark a running track that represents an appropriate distance for a relay race. Have teams line up at the starting line.
- Across the finish line scatter plastic eggs filled with laminated pictures of commonly used burger ingredients.
- The race begins with the starting signal. The first member of the team must run over to the egg line, pick up an egg, place it in a basket, and hop back to the starting line. Team members open the egg and note which ingredient is inside. Each member repeats this until the first team has built a complete burger. If a team member hops over with a duplicate burger ingredient, they must run back to the egg line and get another egg.
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.
- All food originates on farms through the efforts of farmers located around the country and around the world.
- Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
- For more information about the nutritional value of a hamburger, visit Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom’s Build a Burger lesson.
- Provide information for accessing the website Choosemyplate.gov. Have each student follow the directions on the website to obtain their personalized dietary plan, “MyPlate Daily Checklist.” Visiting the website can be a class activity, or information can be shared with parents to be completed at home. Individual nutrition needs, along with portion sizes, can be obtained for children and adults at this website.
- Read Issue 2 of Ag Today titled Food, Keeping us Fueled for an Active Lifestyle. This reader can be printed or accessed digitally. Learn about the healthy and tasty food that farmers grow to help humans maintain a healthy diet. Follow the process from farm to plate and learn about serving sizes, food safety, and USDA's MyPlate.
Suggested Companion Resources
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (Book)
First Apple (Book)
Farms Feed the World (Book)
Who Makes the Best Burger? (Poster, Map, Infographic)
The Power of Choice Bulletin Board (Poster, Map, Infographic)
MyPlate Activity Poster (Poster, Map, Infographic)
Eat Happy Project video series (Multimedia)
Eat & Move O-Matic (Multimedia)
Ag Today (Booklets & Readers)
Food and Farm Facts Booklet (Booklets & Readers)
How to Teach Nutrition to Kids (Teacher Reference)
Choose MyPlate (Website)
This lesson was updated and adapted by Utah Agriculture in the Classroom in 2016.
Louise Lamm and Ellen Gould
North Carolina Agriculture in the Classroom