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Healthy Body, Balanced Lifestyle #4: Fast Food, Food as Art

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students experience just how much fun healthy choices can be.  Using texts that feature food as art, kids get to “play with their food” in creating either a simple caterpillar (pineapples chunks, banana slices, and two chocolate chips on a skewer) or a racing car (cucumbers, a radish, and black eyed peas.)  Let your kids be inspired by Unit of Inquiry themed literature, then let them create healthy-to-eat pieces of food art!

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Make food art using simple, healthy ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions and recipes.  (AASL 4.1.8, “Use creative and artistic formats to express personal learning.”)

Suggested Time:

45-55 minutes, depending on how much preparation work you do before hand and how much assembly the children do on their food creations.

Success Criteria:

Each child will create one edible “food art” piece.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students that, in this unit, they are learning about making healthy choices.  Together, they have practiced forming questions with Oliver in Grandpa’s garden, focused on the concept of quality sleep with Gecko! from Bali, and even considered keeping their minds healthy through learning to be good listeners and observing the world around them.  Today’s lesson will be a bit different.  Today we’ll go back to working with healthy food, but we will be considering food as more than food, food as art!

Ask the children, “What is art?”  Ask the children, “What is food?”  Ask them if they can imagine anything in which the ideas of food and art combine.

2. Main:

Show the children pictures from whichever of the resources you have been able to gather.  I would use Fast Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers, just so that they get the idea that food can be used to create simple art.  Then, show them Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes or images of food art from Google Images.  Usually these pictures create a lot of excitement!  I’ve made recommendations for specific kinds of photos in the “Resources” section below.

Next, inform the children that they will get to make some food art today.  Choose a simple project.  In my opinion, the simplest project is a banana and pineapple chunk caterpillar on a short skewer with chocolate chips (pointy sides inserted into the banana) for eyes.  Use the rounded end of the banana as the caterpillar’s head.

The cucumber and radish racing car from Fast Food also looks easy, but it would require some advance preparation so that you don’t have to use knives with the children.  Choose a project for which you can find plentiful and inexpensive ingredients.  If you know a chef or restaurant owner in your neighborhood, ask for help!  It is even better if the children get to interact with an expert.

Organize the materials and ingredients so that the children can focus on assembly.  If you have the time and wish to extend the lesson, kids can also wash, slice, and put the ingredients into bowls for each table group.

Allow enough time for each student to complete a simple piece of food art and to photograph the child with his/her creation.  Let the kids take the food art with them either to take home or to eat at snack or lunch time.


Wrap-up by reminding the children that healthy choices will help them have better lives, that healthy food can be fun, and that healthy food can sometimes be used as art.  Challenge the students to see what else they can come up with using food as art.

  1. Fast Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.
  2. Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes by Carl Warner.
  3. Images of marzipan fruits, braided Ukrainian bread, chocolate artistry (from Google Images, optional).
  4. Small paper plates.
  5. Cucumbers, radishes, black eyed peas (dried) and toothpicks.
  6. Chopping boards.
  7. Extra helpers/volunteers on the day of the lesson.
  8. Plastic wrap.
  9. Several bowls.
  10. Paper towels or dish towels to clean up any mess.
  11. Bucket with water and a sponge to wipe down the tables afterwards

Try to photograph each child with her/his food art piece.  This makes a wonderful addition to the student’s portfolio.  They will be very proud and love to talk about what they have made.  I’ve never done this, but, if you need a writing extension, you can have them write a description of what they have made, or a procedural piece giving instructions for how to make the piece.

When I originally developed this lesson, I used the Eat Your Colors series by Lisa Bullard.  Specifically, I used Yellow Food Fun and had the children make the fruit caterpillars by alternating pieces of pineapple chunks and bananas on a short skewer.  Two chocolate chips form the eyes.  It is such a fast and easy recipe and every child can make the project independently.   There are a few sticky fingers from the pineapple juice, but the risk of failure with the fruit caterpillar is very low.  However, the books are out of print, and it may be difficult for you to get your hands on the Eat Your Colors series.  Do your best because the books are perfect for Early Years and Early Elementary Programs.  Each one has a simple recipe that is easy for children to follow.

Recommended books for this lesson:
  1. Fast Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers.
  2. Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes by Carl Warner.
  3. Yellow Food Fun by Lisa Bullard (out of print, use a third-party vendor).
  4. Other titles in the Eat Your Colors series by Lisa Bullard: Orange Food Fun, Red Food Fun, White Food Fun, Brown Food Fun, Green Food Fun.  (Some titles may be out of print.)
Key Terms:

Food, Photography, Food in Art, Artistic Photography