Eating healthily is an important part of being a good student who is ready to learn. This is something you can impart on your students as you work with them throughout the year. Knowing what foods are healthy, why they are healthy, and why healthy foods are important can help a child be more likely to voluntarily choose healthy foods over sugary and/or overly processed foods. The story Energy to Play from iStoryBooks is a great kick-starter for a lesson on healthy eating, energy, the food chain, and lots more.

After reading the story to your students, ask your students to draw and label a picture of what was in their lunchbox that day (or what they had for school lunch). Talk about the main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and proteins. Ask them to go back to their drawing and categorize each food. Then ask them to consider whether or not they have eaten a balanced meal. Explain that a balanced email will have a little from each of the food groups in order to get the benefits of each one. Discuss what students can do to make their lunches more healthy.

Next talk about eating sugary, oily, or overly processed foods. Explain that over-processing is when the item is so far from its natural state, perhaps having a lot of unpronounceable chemicals and artificial colors or flavors in it. Explain how these are actually bad for your body. They may give quick energy, but then you feel yucky after a while. These have been so altered from their natural state that there’s not much good energy left, like when you eat fresh fruits or healthy meats.

This story can be used in conjunction with a science lesson on how digestion works and how energy is obtained from food, or a lesson on the food chain and how energy goes from the sun to plants to animals and eventually to us, as explained in the story. It can also be used for younger students as they learn about what living things need to survive.