Common Core 




for the

Next Generation

A Food Education Project

Copyright © 2018 by The School Garden Doctor


Table of Contents

Introduction        3

Part 1: Building a Classroom Food Community        4

The Eat-Read-Talk-Write Approach        5

Food Education Themes        5

Theme 1: Trying New Things        5

Theme 2: Mean Greens and Unusual Fruits        6

Theme 3: Building Community through Cuisine        6

Theme 4: (Agri)Cultural and Historical Traditions        6

Theme 5: Geography and Origin        6

Part 2: Food Literacy Lessons        7

Lesson 1: Tomato Trifecta        8

Lesson 2: Please Pass the (Fresh) Peas        11

Lesson 3: Something from Nothing        14

Lesson 4: Baking the Sun        18

Lesson 5: Know Your Roots        20

Part 3: Becoming a Food Educator        24

Aligning to the Standards        24

Engaging Food Texts        25

Tips for Tasting with Kids        26

Culinary Arts Instruction        27

Classroom Cooking Equipment        27

Food Safety Resources        27

Growing Food        28

Timing Edible Harvests throughout the School Year        28

Sourcing Tasty Produce        29

Appendices        30

Appendix A: Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy        30

Appendix B: NGSS Topics Addressed by Grade        32

Appendix C: Lesson Planning Template        33


Schools are critical partners in improving students’ health through nutrition education, however, throughout the school day, eating and learning are often viewed as separate activities. In fact, most of students’ interactions with food at school happen during nonacademic times in the day, such as recess, lunch, or class parties.

Significant efforts have been made in the last decade to improve the quality of food being served on the lunch line (e.g., Farm-to-School, Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, etc.) and school districts all over the country have updated their wellness policies to reflect the growing concerns over childhood obesity and food insecurity. Despite the recent increased attention to cooking and gardening in school, food education efforts have excluded some of the most important partners: classroom teachers. Paper 2 Wordle (real).pdf

Classroom teachers are uniquely qualified to connect nutrition concepts to curricular standards, such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS; Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; Achieve, 2013). Making deep and explicit connections between food and core academic subjects increases the likelihood that classroom teachers can fit food education into their daily instruction. Nonetheless, not all classroom educators are equipped with the knowledge, tools, or permission to support food education at the classroom level. This resource guide provides support in all three of these areas.

Empowering Educators to

Support Food Education

by Aligning Instruction to Academic Standards

Part 1: Building a Classroom Food Community

Growing, harvesting, preparing, and enjoying food are fundamental human experiences that shape identity, communicate status, and express social, cultural, religious and family values. Food is such and important part of daily life that it seems unnatural to omit it from the curriculum. Cooking and gardening, specifically, are authentic tasks that teach far more than nutrition. Teachers who incorporate food education can attest to the power of food for building a robust classroom community.

Teachers who want to build a classroom food community do not need to be accomplished cooks or expert gardeners. They simply need to be interested in using food as a way to explore student’s backgrounds and connect learning in real and meaningful ways.

Sharing food as part of a classroom ritual builds food community, while turning food into an academic subject. This idea launched one of the oldest and most revered food education programs: The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA. Founded in 1995, one of the earliest goals was an appreciation of the role food plays in the school day. Since that time, numerous organizations have sprouted up to support the movement to make food a central part of formal education. In 2008, the Center for EcoLiteracy published a manual of “Big Ideas” to link food, culture, health and the environment. Likewise, the Food Literacy Center, based in Sacramento, has been inspiring kids to eat their veggies since 2010.

“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community,

from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.” 

Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

A core value all of these programs share is a love of fostering community around food experiences. Whether it’s tasing a single blackberry fresh off the vine or preparing a three-course Indian meal, no other school-based experience engages as many senses as cooking and gardening with kids.

These and other resources confirm that food literacy develops through a lifelong process of food socialization across multiple contexts. Why not make the classroom the primary setting for food education?

The Eat-Read-Talk-Write ApproachA Garden-to-Classroom Learning Cycle

As a curriculum designer, professional leader, garden-based educator, classroom teacher, and food education advocate, I believe that the most compelling way to integrate food education into the school day is to seamlessly embed cooking and gardening into standards-based curriculum. Based on best practices in literacy and science instruction, this guide describes a pedagogical approach uniquely suited to this purpose.

Eat-Read-Talk-Write is a classroom-tested pedagogical model that starts with a shared food experience that sets context for literacy and science lessons. The shared experience begins with a simple cooking or tasting activity that engages students in focused sensory exploration of food. Followed by reading high-quality text, participating in rich discussion, and writing for authentic purposes, this approach can be extended to include Planting-Growing-Harvesting activities that support science learning in the school garden.

Food Education Themes

The vision for this guide is to provide a backbone for teachers just starting out with food education. To that end, I’ve organized the instruction around five themes drawn from best practices in the field. Although these themes are not a road map for a sequential program, they do build on each other. If every teacher incorporated food into lessons just five times each year, every student would become food literate.

Theme 1: Trying New Things

Chances are, everyone has a food memory that greatly influenced their disposition toward being an adventurous eater. The way in which new items are introduced will determine how willing an eater is to try new things. Generally speaking, child development is a series of events in which individuals gain independence and agency. Food is no exception. More often than not, children want to have autonomy over whether to try something they are offered. Creating a culture around cuisine presents students with the option to try new things, but also reinforces some basic ground rules, such as never putting down someone else’s like (i.e., no “Mr. Yuck” face).

Theme 2: Mean Greens and Unusual Fruits

Multiple research studies report that students who are exposed to cooking and gardening are more likely to report preferences for a wider array of fruits and vegetables. The key to getting kids to try new produce is to gradually transition from the familiar to the exotic. If teaching in a context where students have never likely seen or tried beets, that’s not the first item to introduce. Many resources can offer tips about the most popular choices for children. Publications like the “State of the Plate” (2015) report that overall fruit and vegetable consumption has risen in the last 15 years, so the more times students have the chance to taste new and recurring items makes a difference. A freshly pulled carrot is, in my observation, the very best thing to turn kids on to mean greens and unusual fruits. 

Theme 3: Building Community through Cuisine

When, where, and with whom we eat is just as (if not more) important than what we eat. Offering tastes without ever experiencing a meal is like teaching letters without ever reading text. Learning the norms and practices for different meal times and types opens students eyes to just how diverse food is and provides an opportunity to build community through cuisine. Humans especially use food for more than fulfilling a biological need; this theme encourages peers to learn what common foodways they share.

Theme 4: (Agri)Cultural and Historical Traditions

As a fundamental invention of the human race is the ability to cultivate food from the Earth. The advent of agriculture is responsible for the rise of civilization and societies. Consequently, staying in one place (vs. living nomadically) lead to cultural and historical traditions influenced by unique climate and resources. The influence of the Americas on world cuisine is just one of the many instances of the factors that shape interactions with food.

Theme 5: Geography and Origin

Location, location, location is not just a tenet of real estate. Where food is grown is intricately tied to the cultural and historical traditions from which it grew (literally and figuratively). Global economies and industrial agriculture make it possible now to get a tomato year-round, but local food has made a comeback in the last decade. Studying geography and origin is an ideal way to explore the tradeoffs in food production and consumption. Tropical fruits, for instance, cannot be grown in every climate, but it can be shipped around the world. How does distance impact taste? Where in the world did corn originate? What is the meaning of “local”? These are just some of the questions this theme addresses.

Taken together, these themes provide a framework for developing food literacy, the food-related knowledge and skills that develop from direct and authentic experiences such as cooking and gardening. Each theme is illustrated in a different food literacy lesson that follows the Eat-Read-Talk-Write approach.

Part 2: Food Literacy Lessons

Food does more than simply nourish our bodies and sustain our energy to participate in other human activities.  Throughout my years researching food education, I found that most typical nutrition lessons focused solely on behavioral change, seeking to alter students factual knowledge, procedural understanding, or dispositions. Classroom teachers, on the other hand, tended to successfully capitalize on the sensory, social, and communal aspects of food.

Building a classroom food community that cultivates Food Literacy in students is best achieved through the following six components:

The lessons that follow are intended to help support teachers with Finding Time in the School Day to Teach Food Literacy.

September is Food Literacy Month in California![1]

Lesson 1: Tomato Trifecta

Theme: Trying New Things

Text: I Will Never, Not Ever Eat a Tomato

Grade Level: 2nd

Time Frame: Three, 30-45 minute segments

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS ELA/Literacy Correlations

NGSS Connection

Materials and Resources



Per Class

  • One large, ripe tomato
  • Three different types of tomatoes for cutting into pieces
  • 6 paper plates
  • Fork or pick
  • One copy of I Will Never, Not Ever Eat a Tomato
  • Small slips of paper and a basket or paper bag

Per Class

  • Produce scale
  • Chart paper

This lesson is easily conducted in an outdoor space, such as the garden.

Step-by-Step Instruction

Day One: Eat

  1. Start in a circle and set norms for participation. (e.g., one person talks at a time, the tomato is the “talking piece”).
  2. Model how to observe like a scientist. Review the five senses and make an observation about the tomato. Remind students to refrain from tasting (until later!).
  3. Pass the tomato around the circle and invite each student to say one observation aloud. [OPTIONAL: Ask, “Is the tomato solid, liquid, or gas?”“How do we know this tomato is made of matter?” Introduce the produce scale and explain that weight is evidence something is made of matter. Predict the weight and then place the tomato on the scale.]
  4. Poll the class, asking who has tried a tomato before.
  5. Introduce each type of tomato and call on a few volunteers to make observations of shape, size, color.
  6. Explain the procedure for tasting:
  1. Wash hands thoroughly.
  2. Take only one piece, using the fork or pick.
  3. Really focus on the taste of each.
  4. Vote on your favorite.
  1. Conclude the tasting by tallying the results and/or making a list of descriptive words about tomatoes (e.g., juicy, tart, sweet, etc.).

Day Two: Read

  1. Recall the tomato tasting conducted earlier.
  2. Introduce the book, I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat a Tomato. Think aloud about the plot. For example, say, “I think this book is about a kid who won’t eat certain kinds of foods.”
  3. Invite students to Think-Pair-Share (or use an alternate partner talk routine) about a time when they didn’t want to eat a food.
  4. Read the first few pages. Repeat the list of things Lola doesn’t eat, asking students to give a silent signal (e.g., thumb up or down) if they like or dislike that item. Ask, “If there are so many things Lola doesn’t eat, what will Charlie feed her for lunch?”
  5. Read the next several pages, discussing the parts of the story that are fantasy. Invite students to think about Charlie’s motive for tricking Lola by playing make-believe.
  6. Stop before the end and predict what will happen.
  7. After reading, discuss why Lola was such a picky eater.

Day Three: Talk & Write

  1. Recap how Charlie tricked Lola into eating her favorite foods. Make a brief list of the main foods she didn’t like and what they became in the story. You may wish to make a class chart, like the one below:


Orange twiglets


Green drops


Cloud fluff

Fish fingers

Ocean nibbles

  1. Ask students to recall their least favorite food that they shared with a partner on Day Two.
  2. Write the  name of each food on a slip of paper and place it in a basket or bag.
  3. Explain that students will practice writing fantasy food stories to trick someone into eating that food.
  4. Pull one type of food from the basket and conduct a brief shared writing activity, using the template:
  1. Lola: I don’t eat: ____________(name of food).
  2. Charlie: That’s not ____________. It’s _____________(make believe name).
  3. Orally tell a story.
  1. Give students to write and draw imaginary pages for I Will Never, Not Ever Eat a Tomato.
  2. Conclude the three-day lesson by explicitly connecting to the theme: Trying New Things.

Garden Extension: Plant, Grow, Harvest

Lesson 2: Please Pass the (Fresh) Peas 

Theme: Mean Greens & Unusual Fruits

Text: Night of the Veggie Monster

Grade Level: Kinder

Time Frame: Three, 30-45 minute segments

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS ELA/Literacy Correlations

NGSS Connection

Materials and Resources



Per student:

  •  1 fresh pea pod, 1 tsp of frozen and canned peas
  • rating chart

Rate the Taste

Per small group:

  • ½ cup of each kind of pea
  • Simple chart for note taking

Harvest of the Month Peas Educator Guide (Fresh, Frozen, Canned)

Per class:

  • Night of the Veggie Monster
  • sentence strips/vocab
  • graphing chart
  • handwashing station

Sneaky Spinach by Alexis Schulze

Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

Step-by-Step Instruction

Day 1: Eat

  1. Activate Background Knowledge
  1. Turn & Talk: What did you have for dinner last night?
  2. Who heard a partner name a vegetable?
  3. What vegetable was it? Did you eat it?
  4. What vegetables do you like the most?
  1. Show a picture of fresh peas. Take a silent poll, asking, “Who has tried peas before?”
  2. Introduce a sensory chart with taste, color, shape, and texture.

Sensory Chart for Pea Taste Test








  1. Explain the norms for trying new things if you haven’t already (e.g., no negative reaction to someone’s likes).
  2. Introduce each type of pea and model tasting it.
  1. Model how to shell a fresh pea pod.
  2. Wonder how frozen and canned peas get shucked.
  3. Discuss some of the benefits of having peas three ways.
  1. Have student wash or sanitize their hands.
  2. Group students in a logical fashion for their developmental level.
  3. Review the procedure and provide each group of students with a tasting tray. Encourage students to share their observations orally (e.g., “Fresh peas taste sweet.”)
  4. Conclude the lesson by regrouping students and asking them to describe each kind of pea. Record information on the sensory chart.

Day 2: Read

  1. Recall the pea taste test and poll the class, asking, “Who liked the fresh peas the best? Frozen pease? Canned peas?”
  2. Make a simple graph of responses and summarize the results (e.g., “Most kids in Rm. 3 like _______ the best.”)
  3. Introduce the Text, Night of the Veggie Monster: This is a story about a boy who does not want to eat his peas.”
  4. Set purpose for reading. Say, “As I read, think about how the boy and his parents are feeling. Listen carefully to the words they say and think about how it lets us know how they’re feeling.”

  1. Read the story with expression to emphasize how the characters feel.
  1. p.1 -- What could possibly be so terrible?
  2. P.2 -- what do you think he is forced to eat? How do you know he doesn’t like it?  
  3. P. 2 -- What do you think the dad means when he says, “Time for another fun-filled hour?”
  4. P. 5-6 -- What are his parents waiting for?
  5. P. 11 -- What do you think happens when he eats peas?
  6. P. 24 -- Why did George turn into a veggie monster? If you were George, what vegetable would turn you into a veggie monster?
  7. P. 25 -- Do you think his parents mean what they say in a positive or negative way?
  8. P. 27 -- What is terrible about Wednesday?
  1. Conclude the lesson with a discussion about the main idea and theme of the text.

Day 3: Talk & Write

  1. Explore reasons for food dislikes: Why do you think George didn’t like peas at first?
  2. Ask, “What is your favorite vegetable? Invite students to share out their favorite vegetable. Encourage students to use color, taste, texture, shape words.  Use the sentence starter: “The vegetable I like best is _________ because_________.”
  3. Model drawing a picture of what happens at dinner when your favorite vegetable is served. Add words to describe the vegetable.
  4. Give students sufficient time to draw and write. Encourage them to add details and sensory description in their drawings.

Garden Extension: Plant, Grow, Harvest

Lesson 3: Something from NothingImage result for stone soup forrest

Theme: Building Community through Cuisine

Text: Stone Soup

Grade Level: 3rd

Time Frame: Three, 30-45 minute segments

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS ELA/Literacy Correlations:

NGSS Connection:

Materials and Resources



Per student

  • One whole carrot with green tops on.
  • Pre-cut carrot coins (2 raw and 2 pre-cooked) for tasting; arranged in paper portion cups.
  • Raw vs. Cooked Poster
  • Handwashing sink

Additional carrot products (e.g., shredded carrots, carrot juice, etc.)

  • One package of baby carrots.
  • One package of frozen carrots.
  • One can of carrots.

Words that Describe Carrots Poster

Per small group of 4-6

  • 4 Stations: One ingredient to sample and prepare ; Feel free to add additional ingredients from the garden or to add another job station
  • 1 Station: Liquid ingredients to measure: water (1 qt.) cider vinegar (1 Tb.),
  • 1 Station: Seasoning ingredients to mix (salt, pepper, garlic, fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, dried herbs like basil, oregano, bay leaves)
  • Cutting boards, age-appropriate knives, small bowls
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Sample Recipe (e.g., 6 small red boiler potatoes, 1 medium onion, quartered, 5 carrots, 4 celery stalks); herbs; stock or water)

Recipe copymaster/printable

NOTE: 6-8 will have different ingredients (consult book for variations)

Per Class

Two copies of Stone Soup to compare

  • K-2: by Jess Stockham, Ann McGovern
  • 3-5: by Marcia Brown, Heather Forest
  • 6-8: by Ying Chang Compestine, Jon J. Muth

Crock pot or stock pot and hot plate/electric burner

Stone Soup: A Lesson in Sharing (Scholastic)

Stone Soup Recipe Template

Stone Soup Pinterest Board

Step-by-Step Instruction

Day One: Eat

  1. Introduce the carrot display you prepared and project the image Raw vs. Cooked (linked in the materials section of the lesson). Read and discuss information in the visual.
  2. Introduce the tasting activity: Each student will try a raw carrot and a cooked carrot. In pairs, they will brainstorm as many words as they can for the taste of each.
  3. Model and explain procedure. Take a raw carrot and observe it. Take a bite. Note the sound of the crunch. Taste each and record all observations. Compare observations with a partner.
  4. Instruct students to thoroughly wash their hands, gather materials, and begin.
  5. After students have finished tasting, take a quick poll of preferences, asking, “Who preferred raw carrots?” “Who preferred cooked carrots?”
  6. Preview Day Two.

Day Two: Read

  1. Introduce the Text, Stone Soup. Say, “This is a story about making a meal from whatever ingredients you have. Why do you think it’s called Stone Soup?”
  2. Set purpose for listening. Say, “As I read, think about how the community worked together to make soup.” Prompt students to listen carefully for the ingredients in the recipe.
  3. Read the story with expression to emphasize each person’s contribution to the soup. Include comprehension prompts that focus on point of view (sample below).
  4. Discuss the theme(s) of the book. What evidence communicates the theme?

Sample Prompts for Heather Forrest version of the story.

  • P.4 -- Why do you think the woman slammed the door in the travelers’ faces?
  • P.8 -- What do you think the travelers will do next?
  • P. 12 -- What is the special magical ingredient? [stones]
  • P. 20 -- What ingredient would you bring to put in Stone Soup?
  • P. 24 -- What was the real magical ingredient? [Sharing]

Day Three: Talk and Write

  1. Discuss the origin of soup as a simple way to use up ingredients and make ingredients more digestible. Recall the carrot tasting from Day One and ask, “Which carrot do you think is easier for your body to break down and get nutrients from?”
  2. Briefly read aloud a different version of Stone Soup. Recall and compare the ingredients used in each story.
  3. Make a list of vegetables the class would like to put in a soup. Remind them that even if they don’t think they like a certain vegetable, they might like it cooked and mixed with other vegetables.
  4. Preview the stations and assign groups their tasks. Model and instruct any skills or procedures your students may need to know when handling food.
  5. Prepare Stone Soup! Have each group in turn add their ingredients to the crock pot in the following order:
  1. Oil or liquid.
  2. Onion or garlic.
  3. Salt, pepper, seasoning.
  4. More liquid.
  5. Root vegetables (carrots, potatoes).
  6. Stems (e.g., celery) or fruits (e.g., tomatoes, mushrooms, if using).
  7. Leafy vegetables and fresh herbs.
  1. As the soup cooks, invite student to write to the prompt, “Why didn’t the characters in the story want to feed the strangers at first?” Encourage them to use evidence from the stories and their own experience.
  2. Share the soup together.

Garden Extension: Plant, Grow, Harvest

Lesson 4: Baking the Sun

Theme: Cultural and Historical Tradition

Text: Sun Bread

Grade Level: 5th

Time Frame: Three, 30-45 minute segments

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS Correlations:

NGSS Connection:

Materials and Resources



For the Teacher:

  • Background information for challah

Rosh Hashana’s Sacred Bread

Per Student

Per Group

  • Copy of Sun Bread Recipe

Per Class

  • enough premade sun bread dough (for teaching how to form) divided into 6 rounds
  • Ingredients for Sun Bread:
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 Stick butter
  • 2 pkg. Active dry yeast
  • 3 Tbs. lukewarm milk

Ethiopian Food (audiotext)

How to Make Challah (video)

Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven

Everybody Bakes Bread by Norah Dooley

Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris

Bread Comes to Life by George Levenson

Step-by-Step Instruction

Day One: Eat

  1. Present the challah and invite students to think about what it reminds them of. If students mention breads they have on special occasions, tell them the food literacy lesson for the week is the cultural and historical traditions associated with bread.
  2. Explain the cultural significance of challah (research this ahead of time). Invite students to try the bread and discuss how it tastes.
  3. Read aloud the book Sun Bread and ask students to compare sun bread to Challah.
  4. You may want to watch a brief video for making challah to provide background on the recipe.
  5. Present the premade dough and demonstrate how to shape it. Explain that they will work in teams to shape mini sunbreads.
  6. Instruct students to wash their hands thoroughly and then present each group with a clump of dough. Guide them to portion the dough and make their sun shape.

Day Two: Read

  1. Introduce the article,  A History of Rosh Hashanah and set purpose for reading (to learn more about the Jewish New Year holiday).
  2. Instruct students to read the text alone or in pairs or following whatever classroom routine you already have established.
  3. Prompt students to highlight all the unfamiliar words in the text.
  4. Discuss the author’s purpose for writing the article.

Day Three: Talk & Write

  1. Review/summarize the main components of the Jewish New Year holiday traditions. Next, reread the parts of the article that tell about foods.
  2. Present students with a graphic organizer, like the one below, and record idea in each box.
  3. Invite students to talk with a partner about traditions they have for the New Year or another holiday. Brainstorm different holidays and record them on the chart. Then, assign each group one tradition and have students brainstorm foods associated with the tradition. Focus on types of bread, if possible.
  4. If your students are digitally proficient, have them research the meaning behind different foods. Give them time to complete the graphic organizer.





Jewish New Year

Apples & honey


Garden Extension: Plant, Grow, Harvest

Lesson 5: Know Your Roots

Theme(s):  Geography and Origin

Text: Carlos and the Cornfield

Grade Level: 4th

Time Frame: Three, 30-45 minute lessons

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS Correlations

NGSS Connection

Materials and Resources



Per Student:

  • One cup popped corn
  • One paper bag

Corn seed(s) for observation

Different varieties of dried corn on the cob

Per Group :

  • Recipe card for popcorn flavoring, plus all ingredients
  • Mixing & measuring utensils

Popcorn Nutrition Information

History of Popcorn

Per Class:

Images of corn products (cornmeal, chips, tortillas, popcorn, etc.)

Corn plants with roots intact.

Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin

How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Step-by-Step Instruction

Day One: Eat

  1. Project the article, The Science Behind Popcorn. Read the article with the class, discussing interesting ideas.
  2. Tell the class that not only is popcorn an old crop, but it is also eaten all over the world!
  3. Project the Continental Corn infographic and discuss the different preparations for corn on the cob.
  4. Explain that popcorn can also be flavored. Tell students that each group will be mixing different flavors to try on popcorn.
  5. Show the materials students will use, already set up in stations. Provide additional instruction if needed.
  6. Divide students into groups and have each group randomly select one of the recipe cards.
  7. Instruct students to wash their hands and then work together to create the flavoring.
  8. Give each group six cups of popped corn in a larger paper bag. Have them pour their flavoring onto the popcorn. Let each student take a turn shaking the bag vigorously for ten seconds.
  9. Allow students to taste test the different kinds of popcorn. You may want to tally the preferences on a simple chart or post-it note bar graph.
  10. Hand out a smaller paper bag to each student and invite them to fill their bag with their favorite flavors.  Explain how to use measuring cups to equal one cup total (e.g., if they take two flavors, they should only take ½ cup each).
  11. Conclude the lesson. Challenge students to experiment at home with different popcorn flavors.

Day Two: Read

  1. Introduce the book, Carlos and the Cornfield. Initiate a brainstorm to list as many different preparations for corn that students can think of, such as popcorn, corn on the cob, tamales, or tortillas. Add to the list some foods with which students are less familiar, such as polenta, cornbread or succotash.
  2. Read the story aloud, emphasizing character development throughout the book. For example, you might prompt students to think about:
  1. P. 1 -- What kind of person is Carlos? How do you know?
  2. P. 4 -- What kind of person is Carlos’ father? How do you know?
  3. P. 6 -- What do you think about Carlos’ decision to plant the corn differently?
  4. P. 9 -- What other characteristics would you use to describe Carlos?
  1. Near the end of the story, ask students what they predict Carlos will do?
  2. Finish reading the story. Ask, “Do you think Sr. Lopez told Carlos’ father about the corn seed?”
  3. Discuss the theme of the book and the examples of how Carlos learned that we “reap what we sow.”

Day Three: Talk & Write

  1. Introduce the terms “sweet” and “savory.” Compare the popcorn seasoning mixes and categorize them based on the ingredients.
  2. Discuss the nutritional benefit of popcorn as a snack. Ask if students would be more likely to eat popcorn instead of chips if it was flavored with one of the seasonings.
  3. Prompt groups to discuss their seasoning mix and brainstorm ways to persuade others that popcorn is a healthful snack.
  4. Give students time to design a front and back label for their seasoning mix. Remind them to include nutrition information.

Garden Extension: Plant, Grow, Harvest

Popcorn Seasoning Recipes

Cinnamon Sugar 

2 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt


1½ Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 Tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ tsp salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

Cajun Spice

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbs salt

½ tsp. Black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Coconut Curry 

1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

½ tsp curry powder

¼ tsp salt

Savory Herb & Cheese

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp dried dill

½ tsp dried chives

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

1 Tbs dried parmesan cheese

Part 3: Becoming a Food Educator

Schools in the United States feed more than 30 million children every day,1 however, food education is rarely a significant portion of the institutionalized curriculum. The sheer number of meals prepared and shared as a part of the school day represent a de facto and hidden curriculum, one which forms and fosters student relationships with food. For example, limiting the time children have to eat lunch teaches that mealtime is less important than learning time (or recess time).

Imagine if schools could organize lunch in a way that allowed students to verbalize their food choices, try something before putting it on their tray, or actually finish (or fully chew) their entire meal. As teachers endure ongoing waves of standards implementation and curricular reform, the need for food education remains constant. Incorporating food literacy into the school day in ways that elevate the importance of food is an enduring goal of this guide.

Separating food education from academics not only limits a school’s potential for improving children’s health through nutrition, it also overlooks the ongoing, lasting impact teachers have on students. As few as nine garden-enhanced nutrition education lessons could increase students’ preferences for certain fruits and vegetables[2]. I believe the mantra: every educator a food educator! 

Aligning to the Standards

Taking a standards-based approach ensures that policy-makers, administrators, and classroom teachers are aligned in their commitment to student wellness. The lesson examples in this resource guide correlate to the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking and connect to the Next Generation Science Standards. Because the food literacy themes are intended to be integrated into already existing instructional sequences in English/Language Arts (and/or Science), the sequence and coupling of lessons is completely flexible.

The key to planning a shared food experience that supports the Common Core CCR Standards is to literacy outcomes that pair well with the experience. The first step to designing a Common Core Cooking lesson is to select a high-quality text.

Selecting Texts for Food Literacy Lessons

Although there are many texts that convey food messages, many are not rich enough to really reinforce comprehension tasks expected with the CCR Anchor Standards. Likewise, some texts portray outdated food norms or reinforce negative perceptions of food. Sometimes these texts can be useful for confronting food preferences, but it’s critical to choose text that fulfills dual purposes of making food as a central feature of the text as well as lending itself to a shared tasting or cooking experience. Below, I’ve highlighted texts that have been analyzed for the following criteria:

Theme 1: Trying New Things


Theme 2: Mean Greens & Unusual Fruits

Theme 3: Building Community through Cuisine

Theme 4: (Agri)Cultural & Historical Traditions

Theme 5: Geography & Origin of Food

Tips for Tasting with Kids

  1. Establish classroom norms for tasting, if you haven’t already. It’s helpful to elicit ideas from students and make a chart for future reference.
  2. Introduce the items on the tasting plate. Name and describe each food in detail.
  3. Model how to taste. Take a small bite and chew, making a thoughtful face showing that you are considering.
  4. Remind students that no one can taste what they can, so if they truly don’t like something, they can politely decline.
  5. If you are using a recording sheet, explain how to fill it out.[3] 
  6. Give students ample time to taste each item and consider, discuss, or record their reactions.
  7. Always provide closure to the taste test. You may wish to have students rank (most to least favorite) or tally (count how many liked each item).

Culinary Arts Instruction

Cooking is on the rise. More cafeterias are reverting to scratch preparations and kid-friendly cooking kits are now available through subscription services. Emerging evidence suggests that cooking may be a faster, more effective for turning students on to healthy eating. A few basic supplies and food safety tips and you’ll be on your way!

Classroom Cooking Equipment

Sourcing cooking equipment need not be a monumental task. In fact, the lessons in this guide can be conducted with minimal equipment. Donations from families or restaurants, thrift shops or garage sales, and discount stores (e.g., Home Goods, Grocery Outlet, etc.) often have reasonably priced tools. The lessons in this guide can all be taught with the equipment listed below.




Trying New Things

Citrus juicer, cutting boards, paring knives, nesting bowls


Mean Greens & Unusual Fruits

Can opener, vegetable peeler, apple wedger, box grater, spiralizer, mandolin or chopper, teacher knives, mini strainer/colanders


Building Community Through Cuisine

Crockpot/slow cooker, ladle, handled colander/mixing bowl,


Agri(Cultural) and Historical Traditions

3 stainless steel bowls (sm., med., lg.), measuring spoons & cups, whisk, baking sheets, potholders, spatulas, stand/hand mixer (if appropriate)


Geography and Origin

Scale, covered bowls, spice box, etc.



Food Safety Resources

Cooking and gardening with children poses little risk, however, certain precautions should always be taken to avoid foodborne illness or contamination. The first step to food safe practices is to teach students to wash their hands properly using warm water and soap. Additional tips can be found in the state, regional, national, and international organizations linked below.

Growing Food

Garden-enhanced nutrition education is a growing area of researched interventions for developing healthy development at school. Nutrition interventions that connect to gardening show even more promise for improving fruit and vegetable consumption and widening preference for such foods. The following resources provide background and guidance for creating or maintaining a school garden.

Timing Edible Harvests throughout the School Year

School gardens do not need to only grow in the summer! Although most fruit or seed crops (e.g. tomatoes, corn) do need the warmth and day length of summer, the school garden can be harvested year round by planting cool-season plants like leafy greens and root crops. These are often the fruits and vegetables students are least familiar with. The following resources can provide guidance with planting calendars.

If you are going to grow in the summer, it’s helpful to time the harvest to coincide with other events in the academic calendar. For example, August is busy with establishing classroom routines, so maybe you want to incorporate gardening into those routines. Alternatively, you may not want extra work of harvesting your entire crop at the beginning of the school year. This blog post, Backward Planning for a School Garden Salsa Harvest, shares tips for timing the school garden harvest.

Salsa Garden Planting Calendar





Harvest Tomatoes

Remember to save seeds!

October 31st

Plant Garlic

Pair with Halloween

February 14th

Start Tomatoes from Seed

Pair with Valentine’s Day

April 15th

Earliest Planting for Tomatoes

Select varieties that take 100+ day to mature

May 15th

Latest Planting for Tomatoes

Host a work party!

June 15th

Sow Cilantro Seed

Select a warm, partially shady location. Keep moist.

July 4th

Feed Tomatoes

Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer.

Sourcing Tasty Produce

If starting a school garden is not realistic, you can still bring fresh, raw, whole produce into the classroom. Many grocery stores will donate to schools. A monthly produce box, like those provided through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, can be delivered to your classroom for as little as $25 per month. Local food pantries are stocking more fresh produce as well. If your school serves economically disadvantaged students, you may qualify for produce donations from local organizations. Finally, fundraising can help offset the cost of buying produce from the supermarket.

Happy Cooking & Gardening with Kids!

Suggestions, revisions, comments, or questions should be directed to Carrie Strohl, The School Garden Doctor, at 


Appendix A: Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy

Anchor Standards for Reading

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas. [Lesson 2]

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. [Lesson 5]

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. [Lesson 1]

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text. [Lesson 4]

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. [Lesson 3]

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. [Lesson 3]

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences. [Lesson 1]

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5: Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor Standards for Listening and Speaking

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. [Lesson 2]

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3: Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. [Lesson 5]

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6: Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. [Lesson 4]

Appendix B: NGSS Topics Addressed by Grade



Sample Lesson


LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms: All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow.  

Lesson 2



PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter: Different kinds of matter exist and many of them can be either solid or liquid, depending on temperature. Matter can be described and classified by its observable properties.

Lesson 1


LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior: Being part of a group helps animals obtain food, defend themselves, and cope with changes. Groups may serve different functions and vary dramatically in size.

Lesson 3


LS1.A: Structure and Function: Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.

Lesson 5


PS1.B: Chemical Reactions: When two or more different substances are mixed, a new substance with different properties may be formed.

Lesson 4

Appendix C: Lesson Planning Template

Lesson Title:



Grade Level(s):

Time Frame:

Food Literacy Outcomes

CCSS Correlation(s)

NGSS Connection

Materials and Resources



Step-by-Step Instruction





Plant, Grow, Harvest


[1] Food Literacy Month Toolkit

[2] Morris, Koumjian, Briggs, & Zidenberg-Cherr (2002).