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Snacking Up the Pyramid

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California WIC Local Agency Developed Lesson Plan –May 2004 Snacking Up the Pyramid

Snacking Up the Pyramid

Format: This is a Family-Centered Education (FCE) lesson plan. FCE helps children and parents interact with each other. It promotes the parent as the first teacher of the child and helps get children ready for school.


WIC participants with 2-5 year old children


Children need to have healthy “mini-meals” or snacks offered throughout the day in order to supply the fuel for their high energy needs.


30 minutes


Participants to sit in a semi-circle with children in the middle. Clear room of extra chairs and table(s).


By the end of this session, participants will have:

  • stated the role snacks play in their child’s daily eating;

  • created two healthy snacks using the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide.

Lesson Overview

  1. Welcome and Introduction 5 minutes

  • Introduce self

  • Conduct ice breaker and have families introduce themselves

  • Distribute handout packet for lesson

  • Note that class is for both adults and children

  1. Book Sharing: The Edible Pyramid 7 minutes

  1. Solving the Pyramid Puzzle 8 minutes

  • Participants learn and share about each of the food groups within the Food Guide Pyramid

  1. Physical Activity 3 minutes

  1. Planning Healthy Snacks 5 minutes

  • Using the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide, participants plan a healthy snack

  1. Recipe Sharing and Tasting/Evaluation 5 minutes


  • Music and tape player (from other lessons or instructor’s choice)

  • Food models representing all groups within the Food Guide Pyramid

  • Flannel board with food choices from the Food Guide Pyramid

  • Video: Smart Snacking for Children

  • Recipe ingredients (see recipe)

  • Blender and/or hand-held blender

  • Paper cups and napkins for tasting the recipe

  • Big color crayons

  • Incentives: Food Guide Pyramid Magnets (if available)

  • Handouts:

  • Pyramid Basics

  • Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children

  • Working Together to Eat Better

  • Snack Ideas from the Food Guide Pyramid

  • Love Is Happy Healthy Mealtimes

  • Butterfly Bites (instructions for Wacky Snack Activity)

  • Healthy Snacking Tips

  • Change Foods to Make Them Safe (parenting tip for lesson)

Getting Ready

  1. Review the book The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Everyday

  1. Gather all the necessary materials and props (see Materials List)

  1. Gather ingredients for the recipe and paper goods for sampling the recipe.

The book selected for this lesson is titled The Edible Pyramid: Good Eating Everyday by Loreen Leedy. It is a colorful book where the animal characters attend the grand opening of the Edible Pyramid restaurant. They learn to make healthy food choices and to eat a variety of food. The Food Guide Pyramid graphic appears throughout the book. Each one of the food groups is presented and serving sizes are introduced. Depending on time it may not be possible to read the entire book. The first 22 pages cover the food groups and should not take too much time to read.

the third Family Activity outlined in the lesson. Listening to what the parents are saying will provide insight that can be used to enhance the lesson.



Welcome and Introduction

Introduce yourself and tell families that the purpose of the class is to learn about the importance of snacks as part of a child’s diet. Explain that parents and children will join together to share a book, learn about the Food Guide Pyramid, and taste a healthy snack.

To begin, ask parents to pick a food model from the basket and share their name and a way they use the chosen food to prepare a snack. Start by reintroducing yourself and a snack you make using the food you selected.
Invite volunteers to share snacks they have prepared using any of the foods mentioned.
Invite the children to color snack sheets. If a table is not available use clipboards for a surface for children to color on.
Distribute packet to go along with the activities outlined in the lesson.

Book Sharing

Hold up the book, The Edible Pyramid, and read the title. Share that the book is about a group of animals who go to the grand opening The Edible Pyramid restaurant. While they are there they learn about the Food Guide Pyramid.

Invite participants to learn about the Food Guide Pyramid as you or a volunteer reads the book.

As the story is read show the pictures to the children and parents and take time to ask questions.

Sample questions:

  • How many different food groups are there on the pyramid?

  • Which food group is the biggest?

  • Which food group is the smallest?

  • What food groups are in between?

  • Describe what you see in the Milk group?

  • What are some foods that are at the tip of the Pyramid?

End the book sharing by recapping the basic concepts of the Food Guide Pyramid.

Activities (continued)


Solving the Pyramid Puzzle

Invite participants to take a closer look at each one of the food groups by solving the “Pyramid Puzzle.” Turn the flipchart to the page title: Solving the Pyramid Puzzle.
Have participants get into groups of two or three.
Distribute a Pyramid puzzle piece to each group. Ask them to refer to the Pyramid Basics handout in their packet.
Invite participants to read the box on the Pyramid Basics handout that matches the puzzle piece they have. Ask them to circle the information in the box that they see as most useful to them. They have 2 minutes to complete this task. Ask: What questions do you have?
Next, have participants work in their assigned group and write the information they learned about their assigned group of the Food Guide Pyramid on the puzzle piece. Post it in the appropriate place on the flipchart.
Invite volunteers to share the food group they were assigned and the information they found useful.
Compliment the participants on their knowledge of the Food Guide



Physical Activity

Invite parent and their children to take part in the physical activity called I See, I See.

Educator can go first and demonstrate how the game is played. Start by saying “I see, I see.” Participants respond with you, “What do you see?” Create fun and different possibilities. Begin easy and then get more creative. For example: “I see giraffes walking tall.” I see butterflies fluttering by. I see horses galloping. I see monkeys walking and scratching their bellies. I see turtles slowly crawling by. The movement the participants engage in corresponds to the action being described.

Activities (continued)

Planning Healthy Snacks

Explain to the participants that because children have small stomach and high energy needs it is important that have snacks in between their meals. Healthy snacks will help meet their energy needs while making sure that they don’t come to the dinner table overly hungry.
Refer participants to the handout Snack Ideas from the Food Guide Pyramid. It important that snacks, just like meals, are planned where it’s the parent job to decide which foods to offer and the child’s job to decide how much she/he will eat. Also, putting some effort into planning snacks will prevent grabbing snack foods that are convenient in those cute packages and bags and providing little nutrition.
Share that a healthy snack should consist of foods from at two-three of the groups of the Food Guide Pyramid. Think of them as mini-meals containing protein, starch, some fat, fruits and/or vegetables.

Invite parents to create a healthy snack using two-three felt food models. To begin, the educator models the activity by sharing a healthy snack she/he created using the felt food models.

Invite participants to share their creations. As they share their snack have them or other group members identify the food groups the foods belong in.

Recipe Sharing and Tasting

Share with the participants that the snack that they will be tasting today is made up of foods from several of the groups within the Food Guide Pyramid.
Explain the smoothies are an easy snack to prepare especially if you have a hand held blender. Besides being quick they are nutritious as well and can be made with what fruit and fruit juice you have on hand.
Time permitting, demonstrate how to make smoothies. If there is not enough time make up a batch before the start of the class and keep in the refrigerator.
Thank everyone for coming and participating in the class.

Background Information


Kids tend to eat what they are offered. As parents it is our job to decide what foods to offer our children at snack and mealtimes. It is the child’s job to determine how much he/she will eat. In order for them to be successful with eating, children must come to dinner

hungry but not starving.
Since their stomachs are small it does not take much for a child feel full at mealtime. But, children also have high energy needs. It is important for children to eat often throughout the day. This is where snacks come in. Offering children something nutritious every 2-3 hours will allow them to meet their energy needs and keep them from being overly hungry at mealtimes.
When planning snacks for children consider them as mini-meals. Making sure they contain protein, starch, some fat, fruit and/or vegetable. Also, think “outside the bag”—that is, out with foods that are sold as snacks in those cute packages and bags.
Building on the knowledge parents already have, this lesson provides information on using the Food Guide Pyramid as a guide to planning healthy, tasty snacks.

Readiness Skills

This lesson plan addresses the following school readiness skills:

  • Literacy (reading a story)

  • Math (counting, measuring, shapes, sizes)

  • Physical Activity (art, cooking together, movement)

  • Science (classification of food groups, discovering, predicting)

Mendocino County WIC Program Page

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