Make Your Calories Count | Student Notes for FDA Nutrition Label Reading Resource

Free student notes to accompany FDA nutrition label reading resource presentation notes

When I first started teaching I found this great resource from the Food and Drug Administration (Make Your Calories Count – Use the Nutrition Facts Label for Healthy Weight Management) that guides students through reading a nutrition label. At the time it was a little too basic for my high school students. Now that I teach middle school I have added it to my nutrition curriculum.

My students liked the animation and sound effects but the presentation works just fine muted too.

I have learned pretty quickly that middle schoolers need tools to stay focused so I made notes to help students through the presentation. I also made a practice section to their notes so they can apply what they learn on their favorite snack foods.

A few days before this activity I assign each student to bring in a label from a favorite snack food.  Here is a link to my student notes. You may want to adjust the formatting to suit your needs. I print the document two sheets to a page and two sided so the students are left with a two sided half-sheet document. I’m a pro paper saver.

After every step of the presentation I have students practice using the information using their nutrition label.

We do this presentation with notes as a class. It initiates great conversation. In a pinch it could be used as a web quest but I think it is best to have a teacher close by to remind students of the overall picture of health. I always caution middle schoolers against counting calories and encourage overall good habits instead.

Fad Diet Evaluation | Family and Consumer Sciences, Home Economics, Health, Nutrition Activity

Students research fad diets and create a plate to illustrate how un-balanced it is. Great Family and Consumer Sciences, Health, or Nutrition activity to go along with MyPlate

Nutrition is one of the most difficult topics for me to teach, but also my favorite. It is hard to sort through all of the diet messages that our students get every day. Instead of teaching them the exact way to eat I hope to teach them to be thoughtful consumers of information.

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Oven Baked Fries “Fast Food” Lab


This term I added a lab component to our discussion on “healthy” fast food. Students made oven baked fries and compared them to fast food fries according to taste, time, nutrition, and cost.

I don’t use a recipe for this because it’s so easy. But here goes:

  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Measure a teaspoon of oil per student onto a baking sheet.
  • Scrub and cut one potato per student into 1/2″ sticks.
  • Rinse and dry potatoes.
  • Toss potatoes with oil.
  • Add seasonings. Students may use whatever they like but are limited to 1/4 t total on salt and salt products like Lawry’s.
  • Toss again.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until tender, turning once.

The students loved the “fries” and many students made them over the weekend.

Just for fun, you can fold your own takeout container as well: