Inspire Healthful Reading Using Unconventional Texts

K - 2
Lesson Plan Type
Estimated Time
One 30-minute session
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Though the use of environmental print has historically been used in the prekindergarten, kindergarten, and grade 1 classrooms for prereading strategy development, it can also be used to encourage young students to be critical consumers of healthful eating choices. In this minilesson, students first learn to locate nutrition labels on various foods and then compare and contrast a healthy snack and a special treat.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Using environmental print for instruction can be motivational for students who are early readers and can inspire reading confidence.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Materials and Technology

  • Computers with Internet access

  • Interactive white board, dry-erase board, or chart paper

  • Shelf-stable and refrigerated foods for display

  • Magnifying glasses




  1. Visit and bookmark Kids Health: Figuring Out Food Labels and the Venn Diagram on your school or classroom computer(s).

  2. Download, read, and print, if desired, Spot the Block: Tween Tips, Spot the Block for Snacks, Food Facts: A Key to Choosing Healthful Foods, and Eating Healthier and Feeling Better Using the Nutrition Facts Label.

  3. Personalize and print the Inspire Healthful Reading Objective Checklist.

  4. Preselect foods for display in this lesson. Your selection should include a healthy sweet snack and a corresponding special treat. Some examples are strawberries and strawberry pie, an apple and apple pie, and a carrot and carrot cake.

  5. Visit Self Nutrition Data: Know What You Eat to select food labels for printing. Creating an account isn’t necessary; simply enter the name of your food in the upper right-hand corner search box that says “Enter food name,” and click “Search.” If you’re searching for a common food, such as an apple, you may need to select the exact description of that food from a list.

  6. Print the labels that correspond to the foods you have chosen for display, and attach the labels to the foods if none are already included on the packaging.

  7. Place a colorful variety of prepackaged, shelf-stable, and refrigerated foods on a table, and cover the arrangement with a tablecloth so you can surprise students with them at the onset of the lesson.

  8. Collect enough child-safe magnifying glasses for pairs of students to share. Place them in a basket or box on the table with the food items.

  9. Specifically prepare apple, apple pie, strawberry, strawberry pie, carrot, and carrot cake containers.

  10. Preselect pairs of students for independent practice during the lesson.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to read basic information from nutritional labels by differentiating between healthy snacks and special treats

Instruction and Activities

Note that student assessment using the pass/fail Inspire Healthful Reading Objective Checklist is ongoing throughout the lesson.

  1. Tap background knowledge by asking students, “What is a treat? What is a snack?” Jot their ideas on an interactive white board, dry-erase board, or chart paper for future reference.

  2. Engage active participation by asking students to raise their hands if they like apples, strawberries, and so on. Tally the totals on your interactive white board, dry-erase board, or chart paper. Discuss the differences and similarities in totals between fresh fruits and vegetables and the matching dessert, or special treat.

  3. Show a fruit and a corresponding dessert, such as a strawberry and a box for a strawberry pie. Discuss with students which is a healthy snack and which is a special treat by explaining that there are several ingredients (such as fat, fiber, and salt content) in a food that help us determine if it is truly a healthy snack or a special treat. For example, while apples have approximately 15 grams of sugar, this is natural sugar. Apple pies indeed have the sugar of apples but also included “added” sugar. Added sugars increase the likelihood that the food item is a special treat instead of a healthy snack.

  4. Model critical thinking about food for students, asking how much sugar is in a fruit such as an apple. Use the magnifying glass to look for a nutrition label. If none is found, show students how to look online for nutrition labels at Self Nutrition Data: Know What You Eat, and compare the amounts of sugar in an apple versus apple pie.

  5. For guided practice, select students to repeat the process of examining nutrition labels for a carrot and carrot cake. Have them use the magnifying glass to search for the word “sugar” and the total grams of sugar in each food.

  6. For independent practice, place students in their preselected pairs. Ask one student per pair to retrieve a magnifying glass and the other to retrieve two foods from the display table. Have each pair examine the foods to determine the total amount of sugar in each and whether the food is a special treat or a healthy snack.

  7. Reunite the whole class at the interactive white board, dry-erase board, or chart paper so that the pairs can report back about their foods. Ask them which are healthy treats and which are special snacks. If necessary, review one piece of information to look for (that is, sugar grams) to determine the difference between a healthy snack and a special treat.

  8. Ask students, “What is another ingredient in food that helps us know whether the food is a healthy snack or a special treat?” Give prompts to help them list other ingredients they have heard their parents or caregivers mention, such as fat, calories, or salt.

  9. As a class, fill out the Venn Diagram interactive and use it to review the differences and similarities between “healthy snacks” and “special treats.”


Student Assessment / Reflections

Circulate around the room with the Inspire Healthful Reading Objective Checklist. As you observe students communicating with their peers and manipulating the foods and corresponding labels, place a plus sign (+) by the objectives that you have witnessed individual students being able to accomplish without assistance and place a minus sign (-) by the objectives that individual students do not seem able to accomplish at this time. If you are unable to witness an individual student’s accomplishment of an objective, call upon that student separately to demonstrate their food and nutrition label reading skills, as dictated by the objectives.

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