1. Building on prior knowledge

Your pupils need to know what foods are best for them, but just telling them is not enough. Here, we look at more interactive ways to help them learn and understand.

Importantly, they may already have some ideas about the topic. To find out what these are, you could start your lesson by:

  • introducing the topic and asking them ‘What can you tell me about … ’ and noting down their ideas;
  • organising them into pairs or small groups to talk about the topic and giving them some open-ended questions to guide their discussion;
  • asking them to give their responses, and listing the key ideas you want to take further.

Having found out your pupils’ prior knowledge, your planning – and therefore your teaching – will better match their needs. See Key Resource: Using questioning to promote thinking [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   to help you think of questions to guide their discussions.

Case Study 1: Finding out what pupils know about good nutrition

Mrs Shivute, in TaboraPrimary School in Tanzania, found that her class liked talking about food, so she asked them to list all the foods they liked.

She asked them where the foods came from originally – plants or animals. In groups, they cut pictures of food from old magazines that Mrs Shivute had collected and kept in her classroom and sorted them into different food groups (see Resource 1: Healthy living practices).

They discussed the food types that are good for you and the food types that may taste nice, but are not as good for you.

Mrs Shivute talked of some other foods that they did not mention and asked them to include these in their sorting. She explained about eating a balanced diet if possible and eating more fruit and vegetables and less sugar. The children drew pictures of the different foods.

She asked if they knew why meat and fish are good for them. They had lots of ideas: one boy said meat and fish help children to grow. Mrs Shivute was very pleased and told them about how these foods helped build their muscles.

They talked about the fact that when money is short, they have to eat what their parents can afford and this is not always what they like to eat or what is good for them. They realised that some food was better than no food.

Activity 1: Food group activities

Before you start, you may want to read Resource 1.

  • Ask the pupils what they like to eat. They can draw pictures or find pictures in old magazines if you have them.
  • Ask the pupils, in small groups, to share their ideas about what types of food are better for them than others.
  • Ask each group to share one idea and list these on the board.
  • Using their ideas as a starting point, explain the different food groups and how each helps us. See Resource 3: Local foods for pictures of some more localised foods to use in this activity.
  • Ask pupils, in their groups, to match pictures to food groups. Ask them to discuss why the different foods are good for them and what they provide.
  • Ask each group to write five questions about different food types. Have a class quiz – each group asks their questions in turn and others answer.
  • Finally, ask the groups to make food group posters or displays, using their drawings and pictures. You could also use samples or empty food packets. Leave these in the classroom for all to see. (See Resource 2: Ideas for classroom displays.)

Section 3: Exploring pupils’ ideas about healthy living

2. Organising group discussions