Red Food, Green Food

Play a modified game of Red Light, Green Light (Red Food, Green Food) to learn about nutritious food choices.

girls holding red, yellow, and green balls to make a stoplight

Key Message

Nutritious food choices are your body’s best fuel to go, grow, and know!


  1. Identify "food" as fuel for your body and brain.
  2. Identify fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, dairy, and water as nutritious food choices that give your body the most power to move and think.
  3. Apply a variety of motor skills and movement patterns to game play.


  • Safety: Allow enough space to move freely and minimize collisions.
  • Ensure equipment and materials are properly cleaned. 
  • Use cones or place markers to mark boundaries that are a safe distance from obstacles and walls.
  • Determine how you will group learners, using best practice guidelines from the Teacher's Guide.
  • Print several sets of food cards, then separate into smaller sets of 10 (five green-light cards and five red-light cards) for each group of learners.
  • Section play area into six to eight areas for the activity.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate fitBoost activity and fitFlow yoga.

Warm Up

Begin with a fitBoost.



Say: Show your choice for each “Would you rather?” question.

  1. You have a friend over, and you decide to eat a snack. Would you rather eat a vegetable or a fruit?  If you choose vegetables, reach down and grasp as if picking vegetables and place in an imaginary basket. If you choose fruit, reach high and grasp as if picking fruit from a high tree branch, then place in an imaginary basket.

  2. You are outside with your family. Would you rather have enough energy to move as fast as an antelope or little energy and move as slowly as a sloth? Move fast (in place) for an antelope or in slow motion for a sloth.

  3. You are thirsty after a soccer game. Would you rather drink milk or water? Move your arms like a cow's tail for milk or swim like a fish for water.


Food is your body’s fuel! The more nutritious your food choices, the better your energy to move and think. You can think of a stoplight to help you make nutritious food choices. 

Eat More: Green-light foods are best! They have the most nutrition for energy and growth and can be eaten anytime. Green-light foods are great fuel for your body and brain, so eat them often! Examples: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and lean meat.

Eat Some: Yellow-light foods do not keep you fueled up the way green-light foods do. They have more fat, added sugar, and/or calories than green-light foods. Eat yellow-light foods sometimes, but not for every meal. Examples: low-fat ice cream, pasta, fruit juice, fruits in syrup, cheese sauce, peanut butter, and white rice.

Eat Less: Red-light foods have the lowest nutritional value. Stop and think about your choice and eat the red-light foods least often. Examples: chips, candy, fried foods, cakes, donuts, and soda. 

The number one thing you need to know is that green-light foods give you the most nutrition! There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods, but eating green-light foods is always a fit choice for your body.

Today we are going to focus on identifying green-light foods and red-light foods while we play a game. This will help you know more about making nutritious food choices.



  1. Play Red Food, Green Food at three levels of difficulty. To maximize participation, groups of three to six players play simultaneously.

  2. To begin, announce a movement for learners to demonstrate while they are moving for green lights. Be sure to adapt the movement so that all students can participate. No movements are associated with the red lights.

  3. Play each level for 1 to 3 minutes. The teacher may serve as the leader to model each of the levels the first time through. 

  4. Alternate leaders for each level:
  • Level 1: No food cards are used. When the leader says “green light,” learners hop (or teacher-selected adaptation) toward the leader. “Red light” means don’t move. If a player moves for red light, they return to the starting point.

  • Level 2: Determine green-light/go movement. Learners take turns drawing cards (and may choose the movement). Learner draws a food card and says the food name along with the color. Green-light foods are go; red-light foods are stop.

  • Level 3: Determine green-light/go movement. Leader names a food (not on a card) and participants decide for themselves whether it is a green-light food or a red-light food.

       5. If time allows, rotate groups and repeat levels 2 and 3.

Note: For learners in grades 3-5, replace the activity portion of this game with the Stoplight Activity from fitClub. It has three categories of food choices (green, yellow, and red), rather than two (green and red). Additionally, the associated food cards give healthy eating tips.


Close the Lesson

  1. Partner learners.

  2. Select a fitFlow card and complete poses.

  3. While stretching, discuss green-light food/drink choices for snacks and meals. What are the learners’ favorite green-light foods?

  4. Discuss influencers of green-light and red-light food choices at home and at school.

  5. Assess understanding with the following questions:

    Q: How does the food you eat affect your body and brain?
    A: Healthy food choices give your body the best power to move and think.

    Q: What are some of your favorite green-light foods?
    A: Name specific fruits, vegetables, protein foods, whole grains, dairy, or water.

    Q: How would you explain the difference between green-light and red-light foods to a friend?
    A: Green-light foods give you the best energy to go, grow, and know.

    Q: What green-light foods will you choose at breakfast, lunch, snack, or your evening meal?
    A: Name specific fruits, vegetables, protein foods, whole grains, dairy, or water.

  6. Use the Assessment Rubric (see Teacher's Guide) as a checklist to assess understanding, skill development, and personal responsibility.


What is your favorite green-light food?

Health Education Standards

  • Standard 1: Core Concepts-Eat a variety of foods within each food group every day.
  • Standard 3: Access information
  • Standard 5: Decision-making
  • Standard 7: Practice health-enhancing behaviors
  • Standard 8: Advocate for health

Social and Emotional Learning Competencies

  • Responsible Decision-Making

Physical Education Standards

  • Standard 1: Motor skills and movement patterns
  • Standard 3: Health-enhancing physical fitness
  • Standard 5: Value of physical activity for health, enjoyment, social interaction

Extend the Lesson

Adaptations and Modifications         

  • For learners in grades 3-5, replace the activity portion of this game with the Stoplight Activity from fitClub. It has three categories of food choices (green, yellow, and red), rather than two (green and red). Additionally, the associated food cards give healthy eating tips.
  • Adapt locomotor skills and movement patterns to the needs, interests, and abilities of each individual student.
  • Modify game setup so that all children can participate.
  • Play a fit Workout video for activity warm up and cool down.


Take me to the full list of fitGames.

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