Authors as Published

Elena Serrano, Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. (


Age   Children 7-10X Children 11-14 X Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1
Health 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 8.4, 8.5
Math 3.5, 4.2, 6.4
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Demonstrating a healthy plate using MyPlate

Success Indicators: As a result of this activity children will be able to:

  • List the five different food groups of MyPlate
  • Describe different foods that belong in the different food groups, including healthier and unhealthier options
  • Explain the different proportions of foods of MyPlate
  • Draw or visualize MyPlate

Life Skills: Decision Making, Communication, Teamwork, Collaboration

Preparation Time: Gather Materials needed.


  • MyPlate:
  • Choose MyPlate 10 Tips to a Great Plate
  • Scissors
  • Markers or crayons
  • Paper plates or paper
  • Paper
  • Glue

Optional: magazines, food coupons, and other printed materials with foods


  1. Tell students they will be working on developing a healthy plate.
  2. Ask students to work in groups of two with the task of: “What do you think a healthy plate looks like?”
  3. They can draw foods on plates or cut out foods from magazines and glue them onto paper plates.  
  4. Once they have had time to do this, introduce MyPlate to the class by either drawing it on the board or showing the handout on MyPlate.
  5. As an entire class, review the MyPlate, including the five different food groups and the different foods that belong in the different food groups.
  6. Ask the class to react to MyPlate by sharing drawings and/or collages. Compare the plates they generated with MyPlate and have them “rate their plate.” What changes would you make to your plates?
  7. Talk about different choices you could make for each of the food groups. For example, what might be healthier choices within the vegetable group? fruit? grains? protein? dairy? And Why? Also discuss some of their favorite foods and how they might fit into MyPlate.  
  8. Hand out Choose MyPlate: 10 Tips to a Great Plate to take home to their families.

Other Ideas:

  • MyPlate Relay – Materials needed: 3 sets of laminated activity cards (jumping, skipping, hopping, leaping, running, etc.) and a bag to hold them; food pictures or models (a variety from each food group); and 3 paper plates that have MyPlate traced on them or 3 posters with MyPlate drawn on them. Organize children into 2-3 teams lined up behind a team captain. Give each line a bag with MyPlate cards and an activity card bag. Lay out food models or cards approximately 10-20 yards away. When game starts, the child in the front of the line chooses a card from each bag. The activity card will tell the child what exercise she must do when traveling over to the food pictures. The MyPlate card will tell her what food she must find to bring back to her line/plate. Once the child has found a picture that goes with her food group card, he/she must move back to her line doing the exercise listed on the activity card, put the picture of her food on the MyPlate (paper) at her line, tag the next person and the game continues. The first group to finish wins! Note: someone must check to be sure children have picked up the correct food group.
  • Ask students to generate healthy plates using foods from different cultures.
  • Use the MyPlate coloring sheet ( and ask them to draw foods that they like within each of the food groups or foods they think are the healthiest within each of the food groups.
  • Set up stations for the children with different food models and/or pictures of plates including a description of the “situation” and “task” at each table. You can create a number of situations, such as a bowl of cereal with milk, fast food super value meals, all-you-can-eat-buffet, and Thanksgiving dinner. In each case, the “task” could be: “How does this compare MyPlate to MyPyramid. How are they similar? different?


Ask the students to observe their own plates until the next time you meet.


  • What do you like about it?
  • What was difficult?


  • What did you learn from this activity?
  • How would you describe a “healthy plate” to another person?
  • What proportion of the plate is compromised of vegetables? fruit? grains? meats or beans?
  • What about dairy?


  • Why is it important to think about a “healthy plate”?
  • How could you use the “healthy plate” at a fast food restaurant or buffet to determine healthy portions sizes.
  • How does a sandwich fit into this “healthy plate” concept? What about spaghetti and meat sauce?
  • What do you think about super-sizes now?


  • When you go home tonight, what will you tell your parents about this activity?
  • Where else do proportions matter?
Choose sensible portions and a variety of foods at each meal.
Myplate is a way to visualize what and how much you should eat at meals
This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.  
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, disability, or political beliefs.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

December 14, 2011