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What's That Food? (pre-assessment)

Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.

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In this activity, which can be used as a pre-assessment of students’ knowledge about nutrition and food needs, students will observe and describe different food item, based on the food’s appearance and smell. Distribute a set of bags to each group, explaining that while students may recognize the food in their bags, they should not name it out loud. It will be a mystery food for other groups to identify, based on their observations and prior knowledge. 

Ask students to observe the food in their bags, using all their senses except taste. Encourage students to use their hand lenses for closer observation. Ask, How does your food feel, sound, look, and smell? Do you recognize this food? Do you eat this food? Do you think it is good for you? How much of this type of food do you need to eat daily? and Where does it come from? Have each student make a list of his or her observations and anything specific that he or she knows about the food being observed. However, students should not name the food. Students should share their observations within their groups. 

Each group’s Reporter should list of all group observations on construction paper. Have group members take turns giving one observation at a time for the Reporter to record. Once one student shares an observation, any other group member with the same observation should check it off his or her list. This process will continue until all, or at least most, of the observations are added to each group’s list. 

Have Materials Managers place their groups’ charts on the wall, where all students can view them. Students should view every chart and decide, based on the recorded observations, what food is being described on each. They also should add any additional observations or information they have about that food. 


Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932