These lesson plans have been developed so that your pupil’s will have the opportunity to learn about the Food Pyramid, healthy eating, the importance of partaking in regular physical activity, dental hygiene, dairy and the environment and the story of milk ‘from grass to your glass’. Junior lesson plans have been designed for pupils from 1st to 3rd class.

Lesson Plans


To develop pupils’ understanding of dairy products as one of the main food groups and as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)



Myself Taking care of my body Food and nutrition



Milk and products made from milk, such as cheese and yogurt.


Substances we get from our food which help to keep our bodies healthy e.g. vitamins and minerals.

Food Pyramid

A pyramid shaped display where foods containing the same type of nutrients are grouped together on the same shelf.

Balanced Diet

 Eating the recommended servings of food from a variety of different food groups.


Display the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid and indicate the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ shelf. Ask pupils to name some foods from this shelf. Then, using the Food Pyramid poster, discuss the following ideas about the shelf and record discussion points on the board.

Simple Food Pyramid Download

  • Recommended servings – it is recommended to have 3 servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day (between the ages of 9-18 years, 5 servings per day are recommended). An example of one serving includes 200ml of milk, 125g of yogurt or 25g of hard cheese. Reduced-fat and low-fat varieties are recommended.
  • Milk, yogurt and cheese are important as part of a healthy balanced diet – they are all excellent sources of calcium, as well as providing other important nutrients like protein and vitamins.
  • Calcium – needed for healthy bones and teeth, and supports muscle health.
  • Protein – helps muscle growth and bone development.
  • B Vitamins – Contribute to the health of our skin, eyes and our immune system.
  • Bone health:
  • Looking after our bones when we are younger benefits our bone health for life.
  • The type of foods we eat and our physical activity levels can affect our bone health.
  • As well as calcium, vitamin D is a key nutrient for bone health. It is found in foods such as oily fish (salmon), egg (yolk) and dairy products with added vitamin D.
  • Regular physical activities, which put the weight of our body on our feet and legs, are also really important for bone health. Some of these activities include dancing, running, gymnastics, tennis and basketball.


Ask pupils to chat in groups about their favourite foods from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ group and to discuss how they include them in their diet throughout the day. Ask pupils, as a group, to write a list of ways they include dairy in their diets. For example:

  • Starting the day with a bowl of warm porridge made with milk.
  • Drinking a carton or bottle of School Milk each day.
  • Including cheese cubes with chopped apple for small break.
  • Including natural yogurt served with chopped berries for school lunch.
  • Having milk in soups or sauces at dinner time.
  • Making a snack of melted cheese on wholegrain toast.
  • Including milk in scrambled egg or omelettes for dinner.
  • Having a cup of warm milk before bed.

Individual Activity

Photocopy the 5 A Day the Dairy Way activity sheet. Ask pupils to think of new ways they can incorporate the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group into their diets, recording their ideas on the activity sheet.


  1. Ask pupils to design a poster in groups with their 5 Top Tips for enjoying dairy. Display around the classroom or school.
  2. Carry out a class survey of favourite foods from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group. Which is the most popular food? Create a pictogram to represent this information.


Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the importance of dairy as part of a balanced diet. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. List the milk, yogurt and cheese products in their fridge.
  2. Ask an adult to help them design and prepare a meal for their family using the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group.
  3. Conduct a simple family interview – has their family been getting their recommended servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group every day? What are their family’s favourite kinds of dairy food – milk, yogurt or cheese? What is their favourite dairy recipe?


To develop pupils’ awareness of the importance of physical activity to their health.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)



Myself Taking care of my body Food and nutrition / Health and well-being



Milk and food made from milk, such as cheese and yogurt.


Hard tissue in our body which makes up the human skeleton.

Weight Bearing Exercise

Any exercise which puts the full weight of our body on our feet and legs, for example, running, skipping and most team sports.


A mineral (a type of nutrient) which is important for our growth. It helps our muscles and bones to develop and is important for our teeth. Milk, yogurt and cheese are sources of calcium.

Group Discussion

Begin by asking pupils in groups to recall from Lesson 1 (Dairy in my Diet) how dairy contributes to maintaining a healthy diet. Ask groups to share with the class. Inform pupils that physical activity is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Prompts for discussion:

  • An active lifestyle* is important for healthy bones and muscles.
  • Keeping active is important for maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • ‘Weight-bearing’ exercises are important for helping to keep bones healthy.

*Inform pupils that it is recommended that children and young people (aged 2–18 years) should be active for at least 60 minutes every day (at a moderate to vigorous level) and should include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises three times per week.

The National Guidelines On Physical Activity For Ireland Download

Class Discussion

Now ask pupils to think about ways in which we can look after our bones.

Discuss the following points:

  • Our bones grow and get stronger during childhood, so it is important to look after them. We can help build strong and healthy bones by eating the right foods and by being active.
  • Calcium is important for the growth of our bones. Milk, yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium.
  • The ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group can be easily enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Three servings daily are recommended for children aged 5–8 years. Those aged 9–18 years are recommended to have five servings each day.
  • A serving includes a 200ml glass of milk, a 125g pot of yogurt, or a 25g piece of hard cheese, e.g. Cheddar cheese.
  • Vitamin D is also very important for bone health.

Pair Activity

Explain that weight-bearing exercises are any exercises which put all your weight on your feet and legs, for example, running, dancing, skipping and football. Ask your pupils in pairs to discuss and write / draw:

  1. A list of more weight-bearing activities.
  2. A list of ways in which they can enjoy being active, for example: I can…
  • Walk / cycle to school (or part of the way).
  • Play games outside with friends.
  • Create new outdoor games with my friends.
  • Take part in after-school activities.
  • Agree a time limit for ‘screen time’ (TV, computer, phone, tablet etc.) with Mum / Dad / adult at home.
  • Check my school is signed up for the Active School Flag – www.activeschoolflag.ie


Remind your pupils that most of their time in school is spent sitting at a desk, so it’s important to get up and stretch their muscles when they can!

Encourage pupils to make the connection between food and energy needs. Explain that they need to eat to help them to be active during the day.

Group Activity

In small groups, ask pupils to design a game based around weight-bearing exercises which are good for their bone health (running, skipping, jumping, ball-games).

For example – design their own hopscotch, invent a new skipping game, create a game which combines jumping and throwing etc.

Extension Activities

  1. Ask groups to teach the new game that they have created to their classmates.
  2. Hold a class sports day using the pupils’ own games as part of the activities.
  3. Do a History project about traditional schoolyard weight-bearing games and display in the school.

Bring it Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the importance of physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. Organise a family walk.
  2. Walk their own dog or a neighbour’s dog (with an adult).
  3. Play a team sport with their family.
  4. Keep a physical activity diary, recording the activities that they and their family do each week.


To develop pupils’ understanding of dental hygiene and the importance of a healthy balanced diet for good dental health.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)



Myself Taking care of my body Knowing about my body / Food and nutrition



A sticky substance that is made of up of the bacteria that cause tooth decay.


Enamel is the hard outer surface of the tooth which covers and protects the teeth.

Tooth Decay

When we eat or drink something that contains sugar, the enamel on our teeth begins to break down. This causes tooth decay.

Class Discussion

Inform pupils that you will be learning about dental care. Ask pupils what they understand by this term. Explain that it means looking after the mouth, teeth and gums. Ask pupils to indicate their gums.

As a class, discuss 1) why dental care is important and 2) how to have good dental hygiene. For example:

  1. Why is dental hygiene important?
  • Poor dental hygiene can cause toothache, tooth decay or sore gums.
  • Poor dental hygiene can cause bad breath.
  • Good dental hygiene when you’re young is a great start to having good strong teeth when you’re older.
  • Teeth are important for eating, talking and smiling.

Explain tooth decay (see words of the day for definition). Luckily, the mouth has its own in-built defence against tooth decay. About 20 minutes after eating or drinking something sugary, if no more sugar is taken, the acid begins to neutralise and the tooth surface is restored to normal. This is why it is important not to eat sugary drinks or snacks between meals.

2. How to have good dental care:

  • Eat healthy meals and snacks.
  • Eat dairy products like milk, natural yogurt and cheese (low-fat varieties recommended) as they are great sources of calcium, which helps to keep teeth healthy.
  • Avoid sugary snacks such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and sugary drinks. Snacking on foods which have lots of sugar can lead to tooth decay.
  • Clean your gums and teeth properly.
  • Brush your teeth twice daily.

Pair Discussion

Read aloud the following questions about dental care and ask pupils to discuss each question briefly with a partner, then discuss as a class (answers in brackets below)

  1. How often do you think you should brush your teeth every day? (Twice a day)
  2. How should you brush your teeth? (Procedure outlined below)
  3. How long should you brush your teeth for? (2-3 minutes)

Outline procedure for brushing teeth:

  • Get help to brush your teeth.
  • Brush two teeth at a time (width of the toothbrush head).
  • Count to ten for every two teeth you brush.
  • Brush gums and teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste in a gentle circular motion. (see pictures)
  • Brush top and bottom teeth.
  • Brush outside of teeth and gums, inside of teeth and gums and biting surface.
  • Spit out after brushing – no rinsing.

Group Activity

Ask pupils to work in groups. Give each group a copy of the ‘Top Tooth Tips’ activity sheet, asking them to match the sentences from A and B, completing the 8 sentences. After some time, discuss as a class.

Top Tooth Tips – Solution

  1. Always brush your teeth twice a day, at bedtime and one other time during the day. Clean every tooth.
  2. Use a soft / medium toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth.
  3. Brushing your teeth properly should take 2-3 minutes (about the length of a song).
  4. Spit, don’t rinse.
  5. Never eat or swallow toothpaste.
  6. Change your toothbrush when the bristles are worn.
  7. Get help with brushing. You will need help brushing your teeth just as you need help tying your shoes or washing your hair.
  8. When brushing it is important to clean every tooth.

Extension Activities

  1. Ask pupils in groups to design a poster with a checklist for taking care of their teeth.
  2. Ask pupils to write instructions for brushing teeth using a comic book style.

Bring it Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the importance of a healthy balanced diet for good dental health. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. List the food they have at home which is good for teeth.
  2. For a week, record how often they brush their teeth and check how well they did.


To develop pupils’ understanding of the relationship between weather, the environment and farming.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)

Curricular Links


Myself and the wider world Developing citizenship Environmental care


Natural Environments Weather Environmental awareness and care Caring for my locality

Words of the Day


Everything living and non-living around you, including the air.


The climate describes the usual weather in a place over a long period of time.


It describes the atmosphere in a place at a particular time, for example, how hot or cold and how wet or dry it is.

Food miles

It takes energy to grow, to make, to move and to store food. The further your food has to travel, the more energy is needed and the higher its food miles will be. Food miles is the distance food travels to get from the farm to our plates.

Climate change

Humans have been doing a lot of activities that make gases which are gathering in the atmosphere. These gases act like a blanket causing the earth to slowly heat up. This means that climates are changing around the world.

Group Discussion

Ask each group to discuss the following questions and to then share with the class. Note key points on the board

  1. What is ‘weather’?
  2. What is ‘climate’?
  3. What is ‘climate change’?
  4. Can you think of any signs of climate change?

Expand on the ideas explored in groups by discussing climate change further as a whole class, using the ‘Words of the Day’ section and the following points:

  • Using locally grown / sourced seasonal food uses fewer food miles.
  • Using food with little or no packaging helps to reduce waste.
  • A carrot from South Africa travels 6,000 miles.
  • Walking to the shop for food rather than using the car reduces food miles.

Class Discussion

Discuss the following points about the relationship between dairy and the environment:

  • Due to where Ireland is on the planet we have a cool, temperate climate.
  • Having this climate means that our cows can graze outdoors on lush green grass for up to 300 days a year (nearly a year).
  • Due to our mild, wet climate, the dairy produced in Ireland uses up to 20% less water than most European countries.

Discuss the following points about the impact of climate change on farming:

  • During extremely snowy weather, animals need to be kept in shelters during times of the year when they are normally outside.
  • In bad weather, dangerous road conditions affect deliveries and collections of milk.
  • When cows are unable to be outside on the grass, farmers have to give them extra food.
  • Very dry weather conditions and less rain affects the amount of grass (food) available for the animals.
  • Droughts and floods can reduce the size of a farmer’s crop and can even destroy a crop.

Pair Activity

Complete the Dairy and the Environment cloze passage.

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to imagine they are farmers and to write an account of daily life as a dairy farmer. How do they care for the cows? How does weather affect life on the farm? How has extreme weather affected their life?

Extension Activities

  1. Invite a farmer to speak to the class about how climate change has impacted his / her farming.
  2. Ask pupils to write about it. Ask pupils in groups to think of ways that they can reduce their food miles.
  3. Encourage pupils to bring their School Milk cartons or bottles home to recycle.

Bring it Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the impact climate change has on the environment. As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. List locally grown food they have at home.
  2. Make a family contract to reduce food miles.


To develop pupils’ awareness of the importance of dairy farming and their understanding of everyday life on a farm.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)

Curricular Links


Human environments Living in the local community People at work

Words of the Day


Animals, like cows, feeding on growing grass.


The heating of milk to a high temperature for a short time (e.g. 72 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds) and then cooling it really quickly.


When the cream particles in milk are spread evenly throughout the milk so that the cream doesn’t rise to the top.

Milking Parlour

A building on a dairy farm which is used for milking cows.

Class Discussion

Pass the Beanbag – Ask pupils to share their prior knowledge / experience of dairy farming by passing a beanbag around the class. Pupils who have the beanbag share with the class.

Prompt Questions:

  1. What is dairy? (It is food like milk, yogurt and cheese).
  2. What is dairy farming? (It is the type of farming which produces dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese).
  3. What animals do you think you would see on a dairy farm? (Cows).
  4. Have you been to a dairy farm? Describe what you might see on a dairy farm, (e.g. cows, a milking parlour, milking machines, silage, hay).

Pair Discussion

Ask pupils to think about how farmers take care of cows on a dairy farm, discuss their ideas with a partner and share with the class.

Prompts for discussion:

  • Farmers have bedding for cows to sleep on.
  • Farmers can leave cows grazing on fresh grass outdoors for around 300 days a year!
  • Farmers move cows from field to field so that they have enough grass to eat.
  • Farmers bring cows indoors during the cold weather in winter.
  • Farmers make sure cows have food to eat.
  • Farmers keep the cow sheds and milking parlours clean.
  • Farmers make sure that a vet visits the farm to keep the cows healthy.

Pair Activity

Begin by asking pupils as a class to think about how milk gets from a farm to a glass on the kitchen table. Note initial discussion points on the board. Then give each pupil a copy of the ‘From Grass to your Glass’ activity sheet. Ask groups to look at the 8 stages of milk production ‘From Grass to your Glass’, to discuss and then number them, sequencing in the correct order. Discuss the correct sequence as a class, talking through each of the stages in the milk production process. *(Correct sequence outlined on page 21).

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to write about how milk gets ‘From Grass to your Glass’ in their own words.

Extension Activities

  1. Ask pupils to imagine they are dairy farmers and to design their own milk carton.
  2. Ask pupils in groups to create their own class / school ‘From Grass to your Glass’ poster.

Bring it Home

Encourage your pupils to take home the message of the importance of dairy farming.

As a homework activity, you can ask your pupils to:

  1. Look at dairy products in the fridge and identify where they were sourced from. For example, was anything sourced from a local farm?
  2. Does milk in their fridge carry the NDC ‘Farmed in the Republic of Ireland’ guarantee?
  3. Do they know a local dairy farmer?
  4. Ask them to find out how many litres of milk each family member has for a week. Compare.

Classroom Activites


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