Canada's New Food Guide: How to Teach It Part 2: Activities

Image result for flipp app
Applications such as Flipp provide the student with autonomy
to search for their own dishes and foods they want to eat and cook

Food Motivates

The food industry knows that food motivates. Using foods in classrooms as a motivating factor has always been a tool for teachers who have to provide lump sums of info to students within a daily 70-minute class. I will always remember learning mathematics with pizza when my grade 4 teacher would have us calculate fractions for the number of pizza slices we bought for pizza day. He used the proverbial "carrot in front of the horse" technique to lead us into performing mathematics, which worked marvelously. Those who got the right answer had their name placed into a hat where you could win more slices.

The pizza motivated us to complete mathematics and the reward was a mouthwatering slice of pizza providing "nourishment" to our starving bodies. In retrospect, pizza had little or no nutritional value other than the cheese and tomato sauce providing fat and protein younger students need to develop as well as a small serving of vegetable being provided by the sauce (we won't count the pepperoni either). I can also mention that the new food guide only recommends dairy products in sparing quantities due to the saturated fat content found in many dairy products.
Pizza can provide nutritional benefits, go light on the cheese and
sneak in some veggies and use cauliflower (flour) or quinoa flour
to build your crust. Try using tortillas to build them as well!
(Image by Gursevak Kasbia)

As a student teacher, I wanted to be healthy and would reward my kids with a celebration of learning involving fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately in the middle of a Canadian winter while teaching, fruits and vegetables are pretty expensive for a teaching candidate. It would be my dream in a physical education health unit to provide my kids with apples, avocados and bananas to meet their daily fruit and vegetable requirements. If you have a budget and would like to do this with cheaper foods, such as baby carrots, bananas, apples etc., this can provide a good way to end the unit and have everyone show up for their test as well.

If you are teaching in a lower socioeconomic income area, providing fruits and vegetables are very important. In Winnipeg non-profits such as Winnipeg Harvest may provide fruit and vegetables if they have them in stock. Do not be shy as a teacher, as donations from non-profits and school fundraisers can help feed more children to grow healthier and be more active.

Have Your Students Plan Their Meals:

Menu exercises are a great way for students to plan for when they will eventually have to cook for themselves. Having taught students and worked with programs where children have had to grow up fast, being refugees or new immigrants or pursuing school off reserve, this exercise can make a world of difference to many students. Foods programs still exist in Manitoba, but some other provinces reduced or stopped programs in "shops" and "home economics" decades ago. Many proponents will argue that the removal of foods from the curriculum may have contributed to part of the obesity problem as this is where students learned about how to eat healthy and prepare meals within a budget (or at least I did). A recent lancet article highlighted how in Britain home economics classes have garnered even greater emphasis due to rising rates in childhood and adolescent obesity (  Human ecology can also expose many to careers in culinary science and food industry careers which employ 1 out of every 8 Canadians (

Menus can be created as though you would be eating in a restaurant or they could be created in a spreadsheet format with costing information included. Both numeracy and literacy would be used

Let's Go Shopping:

An example of a student created menu with estimated costs (Images created by Gursevak Kasbia)

Students may not know the true cost of their groceries and an idea of what to expect when they have to live on their own at some point in life. Eating right is important for our health and doing it within a budget is one of life's most important lessons. If I think of the amount of money I have wasted on junk food over my lifetime I could have saved myself a lot of havoc.



Assignment Marking Grid:

10 Marks- Content of Menu and Pricing

Does the menu plan contain costed ingredients and items in a manner that is easy to understand with links to the websites and grocers used for pricing for the items to be consumed. Show the mathematics you used to obtain your serving sizes, for instance if you were to eat beans, chicken and rice for dinner 


Vegetables and Fruits to Compose 50% of your Plate:

1/2 Plate: No Name Baked Beans - Tin Cost (1.25) - Each tin is roughly 250 grams. If you ate half the tin of beans how much would this cost? (1.25/2=62.5 cents). 

1/2 Plate: Baked Potato: 2.99 lb - 1 Potato is about 1/2 pound- (2.99/2-1.50)

Meat/Cheese/Nuts- 25% of Plate

Chicken Breast- 25% of Plate- 4.99 lb- 1 chicken breast is about 1/2 lb - (4.99/2=2.50)

Grains 25% of Meal

Brown Rice- 6.99 per pkg price (2.5 kg pkg Uncle Bens) An amount that would constitute a quarter plate would be about 1/4 cup or 125 ml according to

To determine the size of portions a great tool to use is:


Students can use the following if they are stuck and do not want to shop online:

Statistics Canada Monthly Estimate Food Cost

5 Marks-  Variety of Foods

We all know that students may not have time to eat in the mornings or prepare food for themselves but this is a part of this menu challenge. Have you thought about what you are going to prepare or what your family prepares on a daily basis? Have you taken into account anything new you would like to try to eat? Please list the web resources you used to find out. I like to use Food Network or to help me in my search for new interesting dishes

5 Marks- Creativity

How did you create your menu, what software did you use? Did you take pictures of food you created? Did you use web images? Were they referenced? 

Total of 20 marks for the assignment

Go on a Field Trip!: Tour the Grocery Store

Certain companies such as Loblaws offer culinary classes right in store. However, these can be costly and are often not available to large school groups. Further, if this were an exercise in culinary talent, a cookoff under the direction of foods teachers at your school may be a better idea :) Grocers such as Save on Foods offer tours to small groups and even classrooms with a registered dietician guiding the way

An example of how grocers are contributing to nutritional education ( Image Courtesy Save on Foods)

If you can't tour the grocery store click on the link below. It was created for new immigrants coming to Canada to learn about the approximate costs for food in Toronto. You can even add a component to your lesson so as to compare food costs in different cities using the tool Numbeo. Numbeo compares aggregate data from consumers who enter the data into this shared data set regarding food prices in various cities.

Video Courtesy: Life in Canada on Youtube

As an eye opener if you would like to see what costs of food are like in our Northern communities the CBC's marketplace takes us through an interesting journey:

Video Courtesy CBC Marketplace

Bringing it All Together

A celebration of learning provides the opportunity for students to assess their learning after the exercise. I love using Quizlet to be able to quiz students at the end of classes or a unit so they can use their tech in a responsible manner. I find using Microsoft of Google forms to be a great way to be able to create quizzes so students can complete them in digital format. To differentiate you could add diagrams and pictures to make identification of foods easier. Moghadams language framework is key to helping students with english as an additional language.

Kahoot Canadas Food Guide Quiz

Oasis Canada's Food Guide Quiz for High School Students

Tools for Your Teaching

I like to use powerpoint and discussion, try using Mentimeter or Poll EV to survey your students, Flipgrid to let your students discuss in their words the new food guide and what it could mean to them, along with questions they have about their food from farm to fork.