Helping Kids Learn About Food Labels

Read nutrition labels to know how much natural and added sugars are inside what we eat and drink.


  • Read a nutrition label to recognize snacks and drinks low in added sugars. 

Info to Know

Students should have the general understanding that the more nutrients in a food or a beverage, the better it is for your body and brain. The lessons in this unit present a fun and interactive way to learn about sugar content in snacks and drinks. Kids will increase their decision-making skills as they learn how to read a food label to tell if an item contains excessive amounts of sugar. They will plan and advocate for nutritious snack and drink choices that are low in added sugar.

Set The Stage

Have students turn and talk to discuss why it is important for drivers to follow road signs such as stop signs, traffic lights, and exit signs.

To use this with your students click here.


Signs are Everywhere!

Watch the slideshow and have your students share their ideas about what the silly road signs could mean. Help kids understand that reading a nutrition label is a lot like reading signs in everyday life. 

Let kids know that just like roads have instructions or warnings, so does your food!   


Label Lingo

Explain that nutrition labels are a lot like signs, they tell you what you need to know.

Nutrition labels give information. When you are choosing snacks and drinks, look at the sugar line. It will tell you about the natural and added sugars. “Added sugar” is any sugar that was added to the food at some point. Adding sugar to food does not make it more nutritious.

Snacks and drinks without added sugars give you a bonus! They are full of other nutrients like fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Teacher notes:

  • Keep your eye on the serving size, so you really know how much sugar you are eating. If a beverage or snack lists 2 servings, then the amount of sugars in the container are doubled!) 
  • If students are not familiar with grams, you can tell them grams are a unit of weight measurement. A gram weighs about the same as a paper clip. 
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, aim for less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children 2 years of age and older.

Check for understanding: What sign on your snacks and drinks tells you about the sugar inside? 


Sugar Dectectives

The previous lesson asked students to bring a nutrition label to school. Students are to find the sugar line on their label and identify total grams of sugar and grams of added sugar. Sequence labels by asking students to form a line showing least to most:

  • Total grams of sugar
  • Grams of added sugar
  • Grams of natural sugar (subtract added sugar from total sugar to determine natural sugar) 

For an added challenge, ask students not to talk during the activity!

Close the Lesson

Today we learned that a nutrition label will tell you how much natural and added sugars are in snacks and drinks. Next, we will take a closer look at drinks and learn more about healthy choices. 

Grade: 3-5

Time: 20 Minutes

What You'll Need


  • Slideshow
  • Nutrition Labels
  • Blank Paper
  • Markers
  • Poster Board or White Board

Health Education Standards

  • Standard 1: Core Concepts-Limit foods and beverages high in added sugar.
  • Standard 4: Interpersonal Communication
  • Standard 5: Decision-Making
  • Standard 7: Practice Health-Enhancing Behaviors
  • Standard 8: Advocacy


Social and Emotional Learning Competencies

  • Self-Management
  • Responsible Decision-Making

Extend the Lesson

View the fit Units and Lessons Scope and Sequence Chart.

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