Size-Wise: Healthy Eating Habits
Many parents and grandparents were raised with the adage “clean your plate.” That’s good advice only if the plate isn’t too full. How can we help children develop healthy eating habits?
Portion control helps children develop healthy eating habits, and measuring food is a great way to use dietary guidelines to help children learn fraction concepts.
Purpose: To introduce students to the concept of fractions (halves and fourths) as they divide portions or pictures of food.
Materials: Size-Wise Pizza student handout (PDF) with scissors, crayons/markers, and glue or various foods—such as nuts, chips, graham crackers, apples, and oranges—and paper plates.
Preparation: Make a copy of Size-Wise Pizza for each student. For younger students, you may want to cut out the pizza and toppings for them. Or, gather various finger foods—such as nuts, chips, graham crackers, apples, and oranges.
Procedure: As a class, talk about halves. It’s good to do this at snack or lunch time so that students can show you half of their sandwich or half of an apple. Ask students to show you how to make half of a half, or one-fourth. Graham crackers with their perforations are easy to break in half and then in half once again.
You also can use an even number of nuts or chips. Count the nuts or chips together. Then, ask how you can put half on one plate and half on another. Start dividing the items—one in this plate, one in the other plate—until all of the items are divided in half. Then, get two more plates and repeat the process to divide half of a half, or one-fourth.
Distribute the Size-Wise Pizza student handout (PDF). Have students cut out the pizza and toppings. Now, have them work in small groups or as a whole class, depending on their abilities, to fold the pizza in half, then in fourths, along the heavy dark lines and dotted lines. Now, using the creases and lines as dividers, help students divide each topping among the four quarters, gluing each topping into its proper quarter. For example, placing one pepperoni in section A; one in B; one in C; and one in D.
Repeat the process for the mushrooms and cheese. Have children count as they work together. Then, have children cut along the dotted lines to cut the pizza in half and then cut one of the halves into fourths.
Continue to practice dividing food portions during lunch or snack time. Help students begin to discuss and compare sizes of the portions of foods they eat. How often do they eat half of something? Who might eat a whole portion?
Extension: Bring in packaged foods and have students look at the nutritional information. How much is a serving size? Explain that a serving size is how much an adult should eat. Young children should eat about half that amount. Help students find their proper serving size.
Directions (for younger children): Color and cut out the pizza and its toppings. Glue the toppings on the pizza. Then, cut your pizza into perfect servings. [Keeping it simple for the young reader.]
Directions (for older children): Draw a large circle and label it “pizza.” Around the pizza, draw four small circles labeled “pepperoni,” four small mushroom shapes labeled “mushrooms,” and eight triangles labeled “cheese.”
Color and cut out the pizza and its toppings. Then, use heavy dark lines to divide the pizza in half and use dotted lines to divide only one of the halves in quarters. Place equal amounts of each of the toppings—pepperoni, mushrooms, and cheese—on each portion. Glue the toppings on the pizza. Then, cut your pizza into perfect servings.
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