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Spinach (3-5)

9 minutes
Primary subjects: 
Health
Grade: 
3, 4, 5
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About

This lesson includes a discussion of spinach and identification of its nutritional benefits. At the end of this lesson, students should be able to identify that spinach is in the vegetable food group and other benefits of spinach. They will be able to explain how spinach is grown as well as the vitamins and nutrients found in spinach. Lastly, they will know the different ways to enjoy spinach.

Key objectives for students
Expose students to spinach, its nutritional benefits, appearance, and taste
Identify which food group contains spinach
Discuss how spinach grows
Discuss how spinach gets to the grocery store
List three main vitamins and two nutrients in spinach
Secondary subjects
Agriculture Science, Health and Nutrition
Topics
Healthy choices regarding food, Five food groups, Nutritional benefits of healthy food
Skills
Communication skills
Values
Curiosity, Optimism
Methods
Real-World Application
Background information for teachers

The majority of 9-Minute Nutrition Ninja lessons include taste tests of the day’s lesson. We have provided an allergy form. Please provide the allergy form to all students approximately one week before the tasting activities to allow ample time for parents/guardians to read, sign, and return to the classroom.

How to Serve

  • Wash spinach
  • Pass out 2-3 leaves of washed spinach served on small plates
  • Drizzle with ranch dressing
  • Ask questions such as "Do you like raw spinach with ranch dressing?", "Do you think you would like spinach with a different dressing or by itself?"
In Advance

One Week

Please provide a printed copy of the allergy form to all students approximately one week before the tasting activities to allow ample time for parents/guardians to read, sign, and return to the classroom. Check your school policies to understand how to handle food allergies and modify tasting activities for students with food sensitivities.

One Day

  • Purchase spinach (enough for 2-3 leaves per student)
  • Purchase ranch dressing
  • Use salad tongs for handling food
  • Provide gloves for those handling food
  • Use small plates
  • Use forks
Materials needed

Vegetable

  • Washed spinach (2-3 leaves per student)
  • Ranch dressing
  • Salad tongs for handling food
  • Gloves for those handling food
  • Small plates
  • Forks

Visuals
Spinach Handout, spinach leaves

Time Exercise Description
9 Minutes Discussion
Implementation

DISCUSSION

  • Hello Nutrition Ninjas!
  • Today we are going to talk about spinach (show spinach leaves)!
  • What food group is spinach in?
  • That’s right, spinach is in the vegetable group.
  • Spinach is a small dark green leaf that can be eaten raw or cooked!
  • Who has had spinach before? Was it raw like in a salad or was it cooked?
  • Spinach can be planted in the fall or the spring. It takes about six to eight weeks for spinach plants to grow from just a small seed to be ready for harvest, or picking.
  • Spinach is a very hardy crop and can grow in cold weather as long as it’s not freezing.
  • Do any of you have gardens at home? Do you know if you grow spinach?
  • Much of the spinach in the US is grown in California. So, it is very likely that the spinach you see at the grocery store was grown in California and traveled to your state. If you live in California, then you may be getting local spinach!
  • Spinach is extremely healthy for you, however, spinach is even better for you when it is cooked! Cooking the spinach will give you three times the nutrients that raw spinach will give you. This is because your body cannot break down some of the nutrients all the way so cooking helps your body break them down.
  • Spinach has vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
  • Vitamin A is good for your eyes!
  • Vitamin C helps prevent you from getting a cold.
  • And vitamin E keeps our heart healthy!
  • Spinach has potassium. Potassium helps you stay strong!
  • Do you know what other food has a lot of potassium? Bananas!
  • Spinach has much more potassium than bananas so eat your spinach and you will have strong muscles!
  • Spinach also has a lot of calcium, like milk, that gives you strong bones.
  • Let’s try some today!
  • I also have something about spinach for you to take home with you today (pass out Spinach Handout).
Assessment Opportunities

At the end of this session, each student should be able to answer at least 3 questions correctly. Questions can be as simple as “In the US, in what state is most spinach grown?”, “Does a banana or spinach have more calcium?”, and “Can spinach be eaten cooked or raw? Which is healthier?”

Standards assessment

Grades 3-5 Health and PE state-by-state standards

Grades 3-5 Science state-by-state standards

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science Grade 4
STRAND: NGSS.4-LS. LIFE SCIENCE
TITLE 4-LS1. From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
PERFORMANCE EXPECTATION 4-LS1-2.
Students who demonstrate understanding can: Use a model to describe that animals’ receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

Community connections

Students can discuss with family members what they learned about spinach and show them the Spinach Handout. Encourage students to share with their family members a new fact they learned, such as “Spinach leaves grow low to the ground and can be planted in the Fall or Spring” and report back if their family members knew this fact.