Authors as Published

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

Age X  Children 7-10X Children 11-14 X Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 8.2, 8.6
Health 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 6.4, 7.2
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Learning the importance of colorful fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet.

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

  • Describe the benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Discuss the importance of eating a variety of foods
  • Define phytochemicals as plant chemicals that provide the pigment and colors to many foods
  • Understand that they should fill half their plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at every meal

Life Skills: Decision making, Planning Teamwork

Preparation Time: Time is needed to assemble a Jeopardy board and gather pictures of fruits and vegetables, if wanted. Otherwise, no time is needed to prepare for this activity.


  • Chalkboard or flip chart (You can also set up a Jeopardy board with the answers already written out, if you want)
  • MyPlate:
  • Fruits and Vegetables by Color Category:
  • Encourage Kids to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables:

Optional Handouts:

  • Food models
  • Pictures of foods from different food groups representing different colors
  • Activity sheets from There’s a Rainbow on MyPlate,
  • Can you Name these Worldly Fruits and Vegetables?
  • Share the following webpage with younger kids:


  1. Begin by doing the Color Jeopardy game, using the examples on the next page. In Jeopardy, the object is for a person to answer by saying, : “What is______?” to different statements.
  2. Distribute MyPlate to the entire class. Ask the students to describe and show where the different foods from Color Jeopardy appear in MyPlate, highlighting the fruits and vegetables group and the “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” message. As a class, talk about different reasons for eating colorful foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
  3. Many foods are classified in different ways for different reasons. Ask your class to think of different ways that foods could be grouped – such as by nutrient (food group), size, how they are grown or raised, what part you eat (root, leaf, nut, seed), and by colors.
  4. Tell the class that they are scientists whose mission is to classify as many foods as possible by color. Write the following colors from the rainbow on a chalkboard or flipchart: blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange, red.
  5. Divide students into 5 groups and ask each group to identify as many “natural” – not processed – foods as they can that represent the rainbow of colors.
  6. Give each group 15 minutes to do this then bring the class back together as a class. Starting with one group, ask them to provide as many ideas for one color as possible. Write these down on the board or flip chart.
  7. Then ask another group to add some. Go around the groups, allowing each group to start with a different color.
  8. Brainstorm or use food models and pictures of fruits and vegetables to highlight other fruits and vegetables that were not brought up by the groups.
  9. Ask the class to bring up ideas of why different foods have different colors, introducing the concept of phytochemicals and nutrients
  10. Finish up the activity by reinforcing why it is important to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables” and eat a wide variety of foods from MyPlate and each food group.
  11. Give each child the handouts and encourage them to take them home and talk to their parents about they learned.


  • Ask the students for other ideas for Jeopardy answers (and questions)
  • Differentiate between “naturally” colored foods and “unnaturally” colored or processed foods.

Color Jeopardy Question:

  1. Answer: This apple-like yellow fruit with speckles has varieties like Kosui, Shinko, 20th Century, Kikusui, Ichi Ban, and Niitaka.
    What is….. an Asian pear?
  2. Answer: A fruit high in vitamins A and C that gets its name from the Italian city of Cantalupo.
    What are….Cantaloupe?
  3. Answer: This purple vegetable that looks like a large egg was used by Chinese women to stain their teeth black, considered a fashionable color.
    What is …. Eggplant?
  4. Answer: Colors of fruits and vegetables
    What is …. Rainbow of colors? – all colors.
  5. Answer: This blue fruit is popular in pancakes
    What are… Blueberries?
  6. Answer: A food that is white, yellow, and has its own natural wrapping.
    What are… Eggs?
  7. Answer: This leafy green vegetable is love by Popeye
    What is… Spinach?
  8. Answer: These Carbohydrate-rich foods are usually brown or have speckles in them.
    What are… Whole-grain foods?
  9. Answer: In France, the tops of this popular orange vegetable were used to decorate hairstyles, hats, and other items of female apparel before the roots were ever eaten.
    What are… Carrots?
  10. Answer: This smelly white vegetable is used to flavor recipes and is also used to ward off vampires.
    What is… Garlic?
  11. Answer: These citrus fruits were used by sailors because they are high in vitamin C and prevented scurvy or gum disease.
    What are… limes, Lemons, and Oranges?
  12. Answer: A guide to healthy eating.
    What is… MyPlate?
  13. Answer: This “sweet vegetable is sometimes called a yam, although it’s not exactly the same thing.
    What is… Sweet potato?
  14. Answer: This is the most popular vegetable in America.
    What is… Potato?
  15. Answer: The different natural chemicals in plants, also called “phyto,” that give fruit and vegetables their different colors.
    What are… Phytochemicals?
  16. Answer: Sometimes called a “goober,” this popular light brown nut is a good source of protein and is made into butter.
    What are… Peanuts?
  17. Answer: There are thousands of varieties of this naturally white food that is made from milk. Some are slimy. One is called “string.”
    What is… Cheese?
  18. Answer: An average tree produces about 500 to 600 pounds of this sour citrus fruit every year.
    What are… Lemons?
  19. Answer: Scientists were able to straighten this fruit, but people like its long curved, natural shape more. This fruit is a popular fruit for monkeys.
    What are… Bananas?
  20. Answer: This orange vegetable can be carved into scary lanterns and made into pie.
    What are… Pumpkins?
  21. Answer: A popular red relish served with turkey.
    What are… Cranberries?
  22. Answer: This fruit is aptly names, since it is almost 90% water and quenches the thirst.
    What is… Watermelom?
  23. Answer: Small green vegetables that are popular in England and look like miniature cabbages.
    What are… Brussel sprouts?
  24. Answer: There are two different colors of this meat – light and dark.
    What is… Chicken? Turkey?
  25. Answer: The recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.
    What is… Half your plate?

Other Ideas:

  • To add some creativity and fun to this activity, talk about the three primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – and what happens when you mix them together to form secondary colors. What would happen if you mixed, say an apple with a blueberry? What color would you get? What fruit would you get? What would it taste like? Ask the students to work individually, in groups, or as a class to create “new” produce with “new” colors and new shapes.
  • Rather than having children break into groups, think of different fruits and vegetables, have children work independently. Then bring the class together once everyone is done and have all the students participate in writing down all the different favorite foods by color.
  • Consider other examples to use to explain why variety and diversity are important. For example, wouldn’t it be dull if: all houses were exactly the same color? Rooms? Clothes? Scenery? Paintings? Just like with those items, it can be fun to be colorful! Find an idea that resonates with the kids or have them think of other examples.
  • Order some fruit and veggie puppets to add some fun to the class.
  • Distribute blank pieces of paper to each child. First, request that each child write down his or her favorite color. Second, have each child write down as many foods as possible that are that color. Then, ask each student to draw his or her favorite food from that list. When all of the students have completed this activity, ask the class to tell you their favorite colors and foods. Then on the board, write down all of the different favorite foods by color, also asking the class for other possible foods by color.
  • This game can be played individually or in teams. If played individually, give each child a colored plate. Spread the food models on the floor in the middle of the group. Have each child select three foods that the child would eat to make the meal healthier. Team play: Divide the children and plates into 2 teams. Give each child on the team a plate. Have each child go to the pile and select a food of the color of the plate he or she has. When all the children have a food, take one plate and picks foods for one meal that includes four colors. Then take another plate and pick foods with three different colors. Talk about food choices and the importance of getting several colors of food at each meal.


  • What did you do in this activity?
  • What were some things you liked about this activity?


  • What did you learn from this activity?
  • What surprised you about this activity?


  • Why is it important to learn about the different colors present in foods? Why is MyPlate important?
  • If you were to choose one food from each color, what would it be?
  • What are some ways you can use color to plan a meal or a snack?


  • What will you tell your friends about this activity?

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