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Lesson Extension 5
Around the World with Food

Objectives: Students understand cultural connections to foods, while also learning about the health benefits of some foods from around the world.

Overview: Students learn how foods can have their own "history" and how they are exchanged and adopted between cultures; discuss different ethnic foods they may already be familiar with; locate countries and cultures on a map; and complete a worksheet that provides information on different healthy foods from around the world.

Curriculum Areas: Social studies, geography, life skills, health, science, language arts

Time Required: 40 minutes

Materials Needed: Political map of the world, picture of pizza, copies of "Around the World with Healthy Foods" worksheet (PDF). Optional materials: foods to sample, samples of international music (from the Web).

What You Will Do:

  • To get students started with the lesson, bring in a picture of a slice of pizza. Ask students to raise their hands if they like pizza. Ask them if they know where pizza came from. Most will probably say that pizza came from Italy or the Italians. That isn't really the case. Review some of these facts about the history of pizza:
    • The ancient Greeks were eating a type of dough pie thousands of years ago. They topped their pie with herbs, onions, garlic, and dates.
    • There weren't any tomatoes in ancient Greece. Tomatoes are native to Central, South, and southern North America, and were first brought to Europe in the early 16th century by Spanish explorers of the "New World." The earliest written reference of tomatoes in Europe was in 1544; the Italians called them pomi d'oro, or golden apples (since yellow tomatoes were the first variety).
    • It was many years before people would even eat a tomato because they thought tomatoes were poisonous.
    • By the late 1800s, Italians (especially in the city of Naples) started adding tomato on top of their yeast flat breads, and the pizza as we know it was born.
    • Gennaro Lombardo, back in 1905, is credited with opening the first pizzeria in New York City, but the popularity of pizza with Americans grew after World War II. American soldiers stationed in Italy during the war got a taste for pizza, and wanted to continue eating it when they returned home.

  • Explain to students that, as with pizza, many foods are shared and adopted between cultures. Cultural exchange not only applies to food, it also applies to words, styles, games, activities, and all sorts of ideas related to a culture. Here are just a few items you can share with students to help illustrate this concept:
    • skiing comes from Norway
    • the idea of trial by jury comes from the ancient Greeks
    • safety matches are credited to Sweden
    • yo-yos and fireworks come from China
    • haiku poetry comes from the Japanese
    • the game of lacrosse started with Native Americans

  • Introduce students to the vocabulary word cuisine (noun): a style or manner of cooking food or presenting food; often related to a particular country or culture.

  • Have students brainstorm foods from other cultures. As a class, chart the name of the culture/cuisine related to each food (e.g., Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Italian, Chinese), as well as noting the country. Then ask students to give an example of a food from the different cultures mentioned. For example:
    MexicanMexicoTaco, quesadillas

  • Have students try to give a short description of the food. Encourage comments from any students who have sampled the food.

  • To tie in geography, have students locate the countries of the different cultures discussed on a political map of the world. Ask students to think of one or more facts they might know about the country or culture. Guide students to discuss particular features of each country, such as capitals, continents, bordering oceans, languages spoken, and religions.

  • Optional:
    • Bring in some ethnic foods for students to sample, such as pistachio nuts, pita bread, matzo, kiwi, tofu, and yogurt.
    • Hold an ethnic food festival in your classroom. Invite students to bring in ethnic foods from their own ethnic backgrounds, or foods they have studied in the lessons.
    • Sample music from countries mentioned in the lesson. The following sites have a number of music clips:
    • Search the Web for free video clips of live music and dance performances to share with students.

Worksheet: Distribute copies of the "Around the World with Healthy Foods" worksheet (PDF) for students to do as an in-class or take-home assignment. This worksheet contains cultural and historical information on a variety of healthy foods, as well as some nutritional information on the foods.

Worksheet Answer Key: Click here for answer key (PDF) to the worksheet crossword puzzle.

Summary: Have students make a graphic organizer such as a KWL Chart (What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned) for countries and/or cultures discussed, trying to identify at least three things they know about each country and/or culture. Have students also create KWL charts for the foods mentioned and the nutritional benefits of the food. Regroup as a class and have students share what they already know about the listed countries, cultures, foods, and nutrition. Afterward, have students add what they learned from the class discussion to the "What I Learned" column.


  • Discuss what benefits there are to learning about new cultures and countries.
  • Discuss what benefits there are to learning about different healthy foods.
Key Definitions:
  • cuisine (noun): a style or manner of cooking food or presenting food; often related to a particular country or culture.
  • culture (noun): the way of life (including ideas, customs, and traditions) of a group of people.
  • ethnic (adjective): relating to a group of people sharing the same national origins, language, or culture.
  • nutritious (adjective): describes foods containing substances that your body can use to help you stay healthy and strong.

  1. Introduce students to a game or activity from another country. The following links will provide some examples to share with students:
  2. Have groups of students research facts about countries from the lesson and share them with the class. Have research groups find 2-3 facts from each of the following categories:
    • Geographic facts about the country
    • Places to visit in the country
    • Famous people and their fields (e.g., politics, science, history, music, and sports), as well as notable accomplishments
    • Cool facts about the country (e.g., inventions, population, landmarks, events in history)
    • Native foods
  3. Make a "country poster" with students, and have them place information learned during the lesson on the poster. Have students share the information with the rest of the class. (Review oral speaking skills with students, including eye contact, volume, intonation, etc.)