On the LearnEnglish Kids website you will find many activities to practise the topic of food. The topic covers the vocabulary areas of basic foods, fruit and vegetables as well as cooking, recipes and healthy eating.

These can be practised using downloadable worksheets, a simple song, a story, quizzes and interactive games. Go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-topics-food.htm. On this page you will find suggestions for exploiting and using the materials in the classroom.

Introducing the topic/Learning vocabulary
You could use the flashcards to introduce the different lexical sets in the topic of food. Make sure you introduce a limited number of items at the beginning (e.g. 10) and then build in revision of these items and extend vocabulary in subsequent lessons. You may wish to add other more culturally common items in the fruit and vegetable lexical sets. Practise vocabulary by playing games with the flashcards. For example, stick ten flashcards randomly on the board. Put your class into two teams and call out sentences about the food you like. (e.g. I like pizza and chips.) One child from each team runs out to the board to touch the correct items. This game is good played with fly-swatters!

To consolidate written forms of basic food vocabulary you could use the simple food vocabulary worksheet containing a matching exercise, a wordsearch and a picture to complete: britishcouncil.org/kids-print-food.pdf.

Other simple vocabulary games are the food wordsearch (with clues): http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-gameswordsearch-food.htm and the simple category matching game of fruit and vegetables

Skills building
For very young learners the song ‘Pizza and Chips' provides very simple lyrics and a catchy tune which is easy to sing. Vocabulary is very limited and also covers days of the week. Use the follow-up worksheet to practise pizza ingredients. Then ask your students to design their own pizzas using their favourite ingredients. Or ask them to draw a large circle and design a ‘pizza face' and label the ingredients in English.

To develop reading and listening skills at a higher level you could use the ‘Greedy Hippo' story poem. http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-stories-greedy-hippo.htm. Warm up for the story by asking the children to predict what a greedy hippo might eat (this could follow on well from Exercise 3 on the simple food vocabulary worksheet). Use the activities on the worksheet to check comprehension (ticking the correct food and
re-ordering sentences from the story). You could use the interactive gap-filling game as a further check.

As follow-up work you could ask children to prepare a horrible recipe for a new hippo pie (and send them in to the website!). Or you could ask children to draw a picture/poster of the greedy hippo with all the food it eats, labelled in English, or invent another greedy animal.

Cross-curricular work
The topic of food has cross-curricular links with health education and you may like to focus on the area of looking after your body, fitness, healthy diet and nutrition.

You could use the simple worksheet ‘How healthy are you?' to introduce this topic focus and ask students to complete the questions in pairs or groups before doing class feedback and using the questions as a basis for discussion on what is healthy. See: britishcouncil.org/kids-print-healthy-eating.pdf.  You could use the food quiz (or the questions from the quiz) as a class quiz: http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-quizfood.htm. Put your students into teams and award points for the correct quiz answers.

At a slightly more difficult level you could do the same with the healthy-eating quiz: http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-multiplechoice-healthy-eating.htm. For this quiz you will need to teach the vocabulary of food groups e.g. cereals, proteins, fats etc. This could form the basis of further written and creative work. For example you could ask students to design a ‘Healthy Eating' poster showing the different food categories and types and why they are important. You could do this in pairs, groups or even as a homework task.

Practical activities
All children like cooking and learning to cook! Exploit this interest by teaching them some basic cooking vocabulary. Use the worksheet ‘Let's cook' to pre-teach the vocabulary of cooking equipment: britishcouncil.org/kids-print-cooking.pdf. Use the visuals to help you. Then move on to some basic recipes. At primary level these must be kept very simple - such as the ‘boil an egg' instructions on the worksheet. Complete the recipe together and then mime the actions. Ask your students to join in. Concentrate on teaching imperatives and instructions such as put... take... add... You could use the banana milkshake re-ordering game to do more practice on instructions: http://www.britishcouncil.org/kids-games-reordering-recipe.htm

If you feel ambitious you could make something simple to eat in class - for example a fruit salad. Bring in the equipment and the ingredients and ask children to identify words and food items first. Write the steps of the recipe on the board as you do them. For example: 'First, cut up the bananas, apples and oranges etc.' You could ask individual students to help you with simple steps such as: put in... add... mix... etc. but take care with knives and sharp objects.

Fun and motivation!
Finally you could use the Trolley dash game just to have fun and motivate your students. This is a competitive shop against the clock vocabulary game which children find fun and exciting. You can start at a simple level and move to more difficult ones. Children can compete against each other to see who can shop the fastest.

By Sue Clarke

When you have used some of these ideas, why not come back to this page and leave a comment below to tell us how your class went. Let us know too if you have any additional ideas! 

Tips sheet - food305 KB
Average: 3.6 (348 votes)


branna's picture
Submitted on 8 March, 2009 - 11:21

Hello! I read this article with great interest and it inspired me to use some of the ideas with my students. I played the game with flashcards in which the teacher sticks them to the board and talks about the food he/she likes, and the students are expected to point to the right picture. My students found the task really enjoyable and asked me to play the same game during the next lesson. Thanks for that brilliant idea! 

I would also like to suggest some other ideas which could make flashcards really useful to teach food products.

1) The teacher sticks the flashcards to the board and asks students to look at them for 30 seconds. Next, students close their eyes and the teacher takes one or a few cards away. Students have fun trying to recall the names of the products shown in the cards that have “disappeared”!

2) The teacher covers the flashcard with a blank sheet of paper. While the card is being slowly uncovered, students are trying to guess what is in the picture.  There is also a nice project-work activity that I use with my 10 or 11-year-old students so as to practise the names of food products as well as have some cross-curricular work done. Students work in groups (4-6) and create a large poster. Their task is to plan a “Healthy menu for the school canteen” with breakfast, lunch and dessert for the days of the week Monday to Friday. Below the menu chart they write about the group’s likes and dislikes (“Our favourite vegetable / fruit / snack is…, We don’t like eating… , We would like to have …. for lunch today” etc). Children love that activity because it is different from what we usually do in class, it makes them cooperate with their peers and make use of their creative and artistic skills. I really recommend this task to all teachers working with primary school learners of English as a foreign language.  Greetings from Poland!

Agnieszka Maciejewska

daji's picture
Submitted on 25 March, 2009 - 19:05

I've read the article. Food is a subject of general interest so my students also got interested. I would suggest an activity that my students liked:

  • I divide the class into groups of 4-5.
  • Each group has a flashcard with some food picture on front and sentences on how to prepare it on the back. The sentences should be brief and clear but they are jumbled up.
  • Students have to arrange the sentences in logical order and at the end of the activity the group presents the recipe to the whole class.

The objectives: At the end of the activity students will know cooking verbs such as peel, add, mix, chop, slice, grate, squeeze, beat and others. They also try to pay attention to word order.

Neli Kukhaleishvili's picture
Neli Kukhaleishvili
Submitted on 3 April, 2009 - 16:57

Hi Sue! Interesting and exciting activities. I would like to share my activity with you.

  1. Students are shown a picture of a dish
  2. Then I tell them the name of the dish.
  3. Students are asked to predict the ingredients.
  4. They write the recipe of the dish.
  5. Students read out their recipes and compare with the actual one.

Neli Kukhaleishvli

sidder's picture
Submitted on 16 May, 2009 - 15:37

I think this is a very good way to teach our kids about food if they learn young which foods are good for them maybe they will grow up more healthy.

suzy-jenkins's picture
Submitted on 15 June, 2009 - 14:10

I think this is a great way to teach kids not only about food, but HEALTHY food. It's sad that my nephew who is a little over two years old is just about done learning his alphabet, but he knows the logo's for nearly all the fast food restaurants. Using this strategy with healthy foods and instiling that in the child at an early age can't be a bad thing (but I wonder if it really helps with all the commercialism they are bombarded with everyday, and how much EASIER it is to get tastyunhealthy food rather than healthy food?)

kathbaird's picture
Submitted on 9 January, 2013 - 05:55

I teach at a Kindergarten in Hong Kong and have used Memory Game with some success in my K2 class (4-5yrs). We didn't use flashcards, we used toy veggies and fruit. I asked the children to look carefully, covered up the food, then asked individual children to remember what was there. after that, went to more specific questions e.g 'How many green vegetables?' This was good because you could really tell who was listening/understanding and who was just repeating, parrot-fashion.

I have found 'real' objects (mostly plastic fruit/veg from early learning centre or soft toy veg from ikea) very effective with kindergarten-especially the soft toy ones as we can toss them to each other and say the vocabulary as we catch.

I like the word whacker concept and have my fly swatter ready, just a bit nervous about hitting stuff in class!