Educator Resources: Eco-Theme #4: Food (with non-fiction PB titles)

Photo by John Lambeth


Food for Thought…

Winter is buzzing by! Time for my fourth blog post focusing on eco-themes for teachers/educators and pairing them with some of the nonfiction picture books I use with my students to highlight the material.

The eco-themes are based on the wonderful Sustainable Intelligence curriculum offered by EcoRise, an organization with a school based program aiming to empower youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. EcoRise offers engaging, ready-to-use, K-12 curriculum that guides students in building sustainability knowledge.





You can read my original post HERE, where I talk about my experience as a Teacher Ambassador for EcoRise.

The 7 eco-themes in EcoRise’s Sustainable Intelligence curriculum are water, energy, waste, food, air, transportation, and public spaces. All of these are centered around the important concept of sustainability.

Note: If you’re a teacher and would like information about sampling the EcoRise curriculum (or possibly gaining access through a grant in your state), send me a message and I’ll be happy to help you connect 🙂 

Photo by Trang Doan

This post will focus on Eco-theme #4: FOOD

In Jan/Feb, I spent time focusing on FOOD and healthy nutrition in my science classroom. My first grade students are currently immersed in an extended unit on the Human Body, so FOOD was a natural fit as we discussed the digestive system and healthy living. We explored questions such as, “How do we know which foods are healthy to eat?” “What is processed food?” and “Why should we care about a healthy diet?” Extensions led to discussions and research about whole foods versus junk foods and organic farming. The students learned from the EcoRise Sustainable Intelligence curriculum that foods that are closer to nature are healthier for us and the planet. One of their favorite lessons was The Good Food Game, which used a variety of food cards to prompt them to make choices about healthy, nutritious foods.

Here are some of the nonfiction books I used to help underscore the eco-theme of FOOD and spark questions & curiosity:


How Did That Get in My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food 

Written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti 


Publisher’s Synopsis: One of the best parts of a young child’s day is opening a lunchbox and diving in. But how did that delicious food get there? From planting wheat to mixing dough, climbing trees to machine-squeezing fruit, picking cocoa pods to stirring a vat of melted bliss, here is a clear, engaging look at the steps involved in producing some common foods. Health tips and a peek at basic food groups complete the menu. Back matter includes an index.

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Candlewick | Reprint: February 12, 2013 |ISBN-13: 978-0763665036

BeforeWeEatBefore We Eat: From Farm to Table 

Written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Mary Azarian


Publisher’s Synopsis: Milk doesn’t just appear in your refrigerator, nor do apples grow in the bowl on the kitchen counter.

Before we eat, many people work very hard―planting grain, catching fish, tending farm animals, and filling crates of vegetables. With vibrant illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian, this book reminds us what must happen before food gets to our tables to nourish our bodies and spirits.

The expanded edition of Before We Eat includes back-of-book features about school gardens and the national farm-to-school movement. Before We Eat has been adopted by the USDA’s Agriculture in the Classroom program.

Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Tilbury House | 2nd Edition: May 1, 2018 |ISBN-13: 978-0884486527


RightThisVeryMinuteRight This Very Minute: A table-to-farm book about food and farming 

Written by Lisl H. Detlefsen and illustrated by Renee Kurilla

Publisher’s Synopsis: What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? Then you need a farmer. You have the stories of so many right here on your table! Award winners Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renee Kurilla’s delicious celebration of food and farming is sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from – right this very minute!


Ages 5-7 | Publisher: Feeding Minds Press | February 5, 2019 |ISBN-13: 978-1948898003


PBJHoorayPB & J Hooray!: Your Sandwich’s Amazing Journey from Farm to Table 

Written by Janet Nolan and illustrated by Julia Patton

Publisher’s Synopsis: From peanut, grape, and wheat seeds to sandwich, PB & J Hooray! is all about how peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are made. The story begins with the kitchen and works backward to the shopping, delivery, production, harvesting, farming, and planting processes! In fun, rhythmic language, readers discover how peanuts become peanut butter, grapes are made into jelly, and wheat turns into bread.

Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company | September 1, 2014 |ISBN-13: 978-0807563977



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