Kathryn Bree Sheppard Kathryn B. Sheppard
CSU, Chico/Department of Education

Fantasy Food Groups Fun Land

Lesson Subject: Visual Arts/Language Arts/Nutrition
Grade Level: 2nd/3rd
Planned Lesson Duration: One-hour periods over five consecutive days, for a total of five hours.


A visual arts lesson that will encourage students to use their imaginations, as well as to review the six food groups learned during the previous Nutrition Unit. With crayons, markers, cotton balls, buttons and scraps of fabric, the students will exhibit their artistic skills by creating a picture of an imaginary land made up of foods from the six food groups.

It is important that students have the freedom to use their imaginations to express their individuality, and visual art is an excellent tool to do so. Also important is the students’ understanding of nutrition so that they can maintain healthy and balanced lifestyles. This activity allows the students to exhibit their understanding of the food groups as well as to be imaginative and creative with very little direct instruction from the teacher.

Creative Expression/Aesthetic Valuing

The goals for this lesson are to have students review the food groups while utilizing their own imagination in the creation of a unique piece of visual art.

Creative Expression:
Each student will demonstrate his unique creative process by constructing his own Fantasy Food Groups Fun Land picture using a variety of media, including colored crayons, markers, cotton balls, buttons and scraps of fabric. Each student will think of his Fantasy Food Groups Fun Land on his own, referencing only the food pyramid posted in class. Each student will include at least one food from each food group in his picture.

Aesthetic Valuing: During the last two class sessions, students will share their Food Groups Fun Land pictures with the class, pointing out the different art materials and methods used to create their pictures, as well as the food groups represented in the picture. Students and teacher will be involved in a "positive" critique. Their pictures will then be hung on the wall for the parents to admire during Back to School Night.

A combination of class inquiry and guided discovery will be utilized with minimal direct instruction.

Fantasy: a creation of the imagination; not true, an imaginary or ideal place
Mixed Media: when artists combine different materials together to create a piece of art

The students will have already studied the food groups and the food pyramid as part of a month long unit on nutrition. To introduce this particular lesson, the teacher will read aloud the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett. As the story is read, the teacher should stop to ask questions about the different food groups that the foods in the story belong to. The class should discuss whether or not this story could be true or made up. After reading the story the teacher will introduce the term "fantasy," explaining that the book is a fantasy. The teacher will then explain to the students that they are going to create their own "Fantasy Land" using the food groups studied earlier. Teacher will show the class her picture of her Fantasy Food Groups Fun Land and explain the materials used to create it. Teacher will explain to students that this is their opportunity to express the food groups in any way they want. Tell students this is their opportunity to create their own "food land" to show what they have learned about health so that the students will know why they are doing the assignment.

Activity Sequence:
  1. Review as a class the food groups and some examples from each of them.
  2. Brainstorm some ideas for locations of their Fantasy Food Groups Fun Lands and list on board.
  3. Explain that they may use any of the materials available on the art table and that the only requirement is that they include at least one food from each of the food groups in their picture. Explain what mixed media means.
  4. The students will have a half an hour the first day, and an hour each the next two days to complete their pictures.
  5. After answering any questions, the teacher will hand out to each student a 16 x 20 piece of white paper. They have their own crayons in their desks.
  6. The students may share a class sets of markers, cotton balls, buttons and scrap fabric available on the back table.
  7. Each student should independently create his own Fantasy Food Groups Fun Land.
  8. The teacher should scaffold students by having them think about their favorite and least favorite foods, referring them to the food pyramid on the wall as needed for reference to the food groups.
  9. The teacher should also encourage the use of the variety of materials available — crayons, markers, fabric scraps, cotton balls, and buttons.

Closure: During the last two class sessions, the students will share their pictures with the class, identifying the materials they used, as well as the foods and the groups they’re in. This format ensures that each and every student will be actively involved in presenting and valuing the pictures created. The class presentations will take place in the format of a small class circle in the reading area. This space is chosen because it is more comfortable and less intimidating for students to present here than at the front of the class with all the students sitting at their desks. Students will be asked to point out all of the good things they see in the picture being presented. After the presentations, students will be asked to set personal goals to try to eat the daily recommended amounts of food from each food group. Students will then record their goals in their journals.

Approximately 5-10 minutes will be set aside for clean up of materials used to create the Fantasy Food Group Fun Land pictures. Students will be held accountable for the class set of markers, cotton balls, scrap fabric and buttons. They will also be required to return their own boxes of crayons to their desks. At the end of each work session, students are to store their pictures on the back windowsill. Upon completion of their presentation, the teacher will exhibit them on the wall for students and parents to enjoy on Back to School Night.

As part of a month long Nutrition Unit, the students created their own picture of a Fantasy Food Group Fun Land. The students used mixed media-crayons, markers, cotton balls, buttons and scraps of fabric to complete their tasks. The teacher can assess the success of the completion of this project by evaluating whether or not the students included at least one food from each food group in their pictures, as instructed. The teacher may conduct this evaluation during an oral interaction with each student during his class presentation of his picture and by assessing visual evidence of the concepts in the completed work.

Aesthetic valuing may be evaluated during the presentations while students are making their positive comments about the picture during the group critique. Teacher will listen for use of materials and techniques in creating their pieces.

  1. The book, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett.
  2. 16 x 20 piece of white paper for each student.
  3. A box set of crayons for each student.
  4. A class set of markers, cotton balls, buttons and scrap fabric.
  5. A journal/pen or pencil for each student.
  6. Glue sticks for each student in class.
  7. Scissors for each student in class.
In an effort to reach these goals, students will be asked to keep a daily journal, identifying the foods they have eaten over the course of two weeks. They will be required to list the food, the group it is part of and the amount consumed.

Adapted from:
Bruen, Karie Linda; "What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?" http://www-new.csuchico.edu/educ/cguenter/FourArts/VA/Vagrowup.html (October 9, 1999)