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Lesson Plan

Read that Label! by PBS

Course, Subject

Health, Physical Education, Health, Physical Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences

Grade Levels

Elementary, Intermediate, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


This lesson teaches students to be health conscious consumers and use product labels as a tool to improve their buying patterns and get the best buys for their dollar. This lesson is a simulation. Students will prepare and design a label for a new recipe that they want to market and get it approved by the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.


U.S. Food & Drug Administration Information for Kids, Teens, and Educators
Children’s Hospital for Teachers

Content Provider

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)


Children’s Hospital for PBS


Four or five 50-minute class periods


Students will:

  • Be knowledgeable and develop an awareness of the location and types of labels associated with being a health conscious individual.
  • Be aware of the propaganda techniques used in labels and packaging.
  • Become more aware of product distribution and the scientific methods and testing behind the products.
  • Read various labels and then construct labels.
  • Make an educated decision about the “best” food and best products to purchase.
  • Become familiar with reliable resources for obtaining correct information and becoming a good and health conscious consumer, how to make healthy purchases, and how to remain safe by reading and understanding the cautions on labels.


  • Pencil and paper
  • The board and chalk, an overhead and transparency, or another presentation device
  • TV and VCR
  • Computer with Internet access
  • LCD projector, or another type of computer projection device
  • Suntan lotion, vegetable cans, and other labels as needed

Step-by-Step Procedure

  1. The teacher will bring suntan lotion to school. Ask how many students use some type of suntan lotion. Encourage students to brainstorm how they know that it is safe to use all over their bodies. (Labels, organizations designed to protect people like USDA and Food and Drug Administration, the testing behind such products)
  2. Remind students that behind most products are people (scientists) whose jobs require that they do tests on products before they reach people. Discuss differing views on using animals for testing.
  3. Quiz students about the testing procedure that scientists follow. Explain to the students that scientists that do the testing follow the scientific method. Ask students to name the steps of the scientific method.
  4. Explain to students that they have just discovered a great food or other product to market. Testing must be done on this product or food. Have students write a paragraph describing what would happen in each of the areas of scientific method if their product were to be put through the testing.
    1. Observation and description (describe the test, the subjects, etc.)
    2. Formulation of a hypothesis (a statement, often taking a mathematical stance or relationship, as to what one believes)
    3. Using the hypothesis to predict what the outcome of an experiment would yield (What do you think?)
    4. Experiment (Results)
    5. Conclusion (What did you learn from the experiment?)
  5. Have students begin to think of the ingredients in their product or food. Have students list its ingredients. Have students think of the ingredients and the positive or negative reactions that may result as those ingredients are used by people or animals. Ask students to list some of these reactions (allergies, contamination, misuse, etc.). It is to avoid lawsuits and protect people that they must have any proper warnings on the packaging.
  6. The teacher will bring in several cans of vegetables. Ask students to sort them in various ways. First sort them according to price, then calories, and then number of fat grams. Ask students to sort according to vitamins or proteins.
  7. Ask students if they know how you know they are correct. Elicit the response that the label is the key to knowing all about products. Ask students to name some other products that have labels. (food, medicine, toys, clothes, markers, paint, etc.)
  8. Have students brainstorm where and why labels are put on food and other products. Have students describe a typical food label. Compare that to a label on one found on one of the vegetable cans.
  9. Discuss the measurement used to list the food. Review grams and milligrams with students.
  10. This web site has valuable information for teaching about reading labels carefully and learning from them.
    1. http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/label.html Food labeling and Nutrition
  11. Discuss the truthfulness of labels. Have students think of areas where people could be misled. Think of propaganda techniques to help sell your product.
  12. Allow students to brainstorm and discuss warning labels like that on alcohol, cigarettes, and spray cans. Elicit responses from the students.
  13. Students will work in pairs. Each pair will be told that they have discovered a food or product to be marketed soon. They have three tasks: A. Design the food or product and make sure that it is healthy. B. Ensure that all tests on the product have been completed. C. Design the packaging using a propaganda technique to “sell their product.” D. Place all labels on their packaging (food content and any warning labels).
  14. As a concluding activity, have students script, direct, and perform a drama of a court scene that is determining the legalities of a proper label.
  15. Group students in groups of 8-10 students. Have students research and determine the guidelines for legal labels.
  16. Students will then script a drama. Someone in the group has the wrong ingredients on the package. Someone has had an allergic reaction (or something else) and has chosen to sue the business (or advertising company) for medical expenses. Students will script the drama and then perform it.
  17. Be sure to give students definite dates for when all preparation must be completed and provide students with the "court date."

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