The games Pyramid Pile up and Lunch Crunch are two computer games that teach the essentials on the 5 food groups: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Milks, Meats and Oils. The games are a great way for kids to learn their food groups while having fun. I enjoyed both games and even learned something new - Almonds belong in the meats category! The great thing about these games are they can be done in the privacy of your own home or in a classroom! The games have different levels which start easy and get more challenging as you go on to ensure children don't get bored. Even though children are having fun and playing a game on a computer, food groups are actively being taught and children are benefiting from them.
The first game, Pyramid Pile Up is especially helpful because it starts off with the basics of food and what groups they belong in. The first level you simply have to drag the food into the pyramid, the second level there are no color hints or words and the third level there are Chompies which can eat your healthy food. Not only are there different challenges in the levels, but different foods. You have to differentiate between light fruit syrup and heavy fruit syrup, pizza crust is included and even almonds are expected to be in the meat category! This is great because children get to know what common foods are healthier or what group they may fall in!
Lunch Crunch is similar to Pyramid Pile Up and teaches about food groups, but if an extremely different way. Lunch trays go by and you must fill the tray with healthy choices. You can throw away unhealthy food if you run out of healthy. This game also has different levels with different foods and variety. This game is also great because it is in a classroom setting where children do have the choice to pick their foods. With the congruent visual they will know what to pick next time they are faced with a choice in the lunch line- hopefully they will chose the healthier one!
Both games are helpful in their own ways and truly do teach children about food groups and what foods belong in which group. After playing both of these games I thought to myself how I could incorporate the game into my physical education curriculum and really expand on the unit with my students. I came up with a lesson plan and activity sheet that I could implement into my classroom. I would try to team up with another teacher (possibly health) and try to incorporate this game into the classroom so the students could play at school and if at home if they wanted. This way I could build a lesson off of them already had played the game on their own.To work off the game and in the topic of food groups I came up with an activity (see lesson plan) that would challenge the students to make their own pyramid with given foods. Depending on how knowledgeable or new the students were to the topic, I have task progressions so everyone is learning! The activity would involve students getting a blank pyramid and having to run around the gym to find different foods that they would place where they belonged (different obstacles could be placed in their way to ensure physical activity). After the students completed their pyramids they would then have to match their foods with characteristics as to why they are in a certain group.
As a final activity (see activity sheet) and to check that the students understand the importance linked to a healthy diet and physical activity, I came up with for the students to identify typical meals and what consists of each food in the meal. For this they will create a mock 3 course meal and be asked to identify each food within the meal. Each category should not exceed the proper amount (they will be able to refer to their pyramid for this). The students will then be asked to come up with a proper exercise for their diets. Depending on their meal their exercise must be congruent: the healthier a meal the easier their exercise. This way students understand why it is so important and how to stay healthy and fit. Everyone is entitled to have an unhealthy meal at some point in time and this gives them the knowledge of how to cancel out that meal. The activity will be followed by 4 questions and an answer key will be provided for corrections.
Eating healthy and staying healthy is something society is battling more than ever. Children may not have the knowledge of how to do this, or could simply not have the motivation to learn. Through Pile Up Pyramid and Lunch Crunch, children are able to learn while having fun. It is also important to connect it with the classroom because even though they are learning, they are still sitting at a computer. Some options to fix this could involve more activity engagement. Technology could come into play and the options would be endless. I have experienced excergaming (see previous blogs) and it would be the perfect option to get children off the computer and engaging in activity. A game may require the student on a treadmill running from Chompies (see pyramid pile up). Healthy foods could be bonus points while unhealthy foods may speed up or slow down the tempo. The options are limitless but unless we take initiative to get students informed and exercising nothing will get changed! Pyramid Pile Up and Munch Crunch are amazing games to teach food groups, but they are also just the beginning to something great!
To see more pictures of the games and me playing click here!