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


Senior Lesson Plans Dairy


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

Senior Lesson Plans Nutrition


Substances we get from our food which help keep our bodies working healthily e.g. protein, vitamins, minerals.

Senior Lesson Plans Food Pyramid

Food Pyramid

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

Senior Lesson Plans Balanced Diet

Balanced Diet

Consumption of food groups in the recommended servings.


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 poster, discuss the following ideas about the shelf and record discussion points on the board.

Simple Food Pyramid Download

  • Recommended servings – 5 servings per day are recommended between the ages of 9-18 years from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group (3 servings are recommended for all other age groups). An example of one serving includes 200ml of milk, 125g of yogurt or 25g of 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, iodine and vitamins B2, B5 and B12 – which all contribute to the normal functioning of many processes in our bodies:
  • Calcium – contributes to healthy bones and teeth, and to muscle function.
  • Protein – helps muscle growth and bone development.
  • Iodine – helps growth and brain function.
  • B Vitamins:
  • Vitamins B2, B5, B12 – help us to get energy from nutrients and to reduce fatigue.
  • Vitamin B2 – important for taking care of skin and eyes.
  • Vitamin B12 – important for 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 made by the action of sunlight on the skin, but is also found in foods such as oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel), egg (yolk) and dairy products fortified with vitamin D.
  • Regular ‘weight-bearing’ activities, which put the full weight of our body on our feet and legs, are also really important for bone health. Some weight-bearing activities include dancing, running, gymnastics, tennis and basketball.

Healthy Eating

Pair Activity

Ask pupils to chat in pairs about their favourite foods from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ group. Ask them to discuss how they include them in their diet throughout the day, for example:

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.

Personal 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 10 Top Tips for enjoying dairy. Display around the classroom or school.
  2. Carry out a school survey of favourite foods from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group. Which is the most popular food?


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 family survey – has their family been getting their recommended servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group every day? What are their family’s favorite kinds of dairy food – milk, yogurt or cheese? What is their favorite 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


Senior Lesson Plans Dairy


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

Senior Lesson Plans Excercise

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.

Senior Lesson Plans Bones


A living tissue which makes up our skeleton.

Senior Lesson Plans Calcium


A mineral which helps in the growth, development and maintenance of our bones. Milk, yogurt and cheese are sources of calcium.

Pair Discussion

  1. Begin by asking pupils as a class to recall how dairy contributes to maintaining a healthy diet from Lesson 1 (Dairy in my Diet). Inform pupils that physical activity is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Ask pupils to think about ways in which keeping active is important for our bodies. Ask them in pairs to share their ideas with one another and then to share with the class. Write a list of pupils’ key discussion points on the board.

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 guildlines 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 and development of our bones. Milk, yogurt and cheese are great sources of calcium. However, over one third of Irish children are not getting enough calcium in their diets
  • 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 cheese, e.g. Cheddar cheese.
  • Agreeing a time limit for ‘screen time’ (TV, computer, phone, tablet etc.) and sticking with it.
  • Ensuring your school is signed up for the Active School Flag –
  • Phosphorus and protein also play important roles in bone health. Milk, yogurt and cheese are good sources of these nutrients.
  • Vitamin D is also very important for bone health. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and vitamin D-fortified dairy products.

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:

  1. A list of more weight-bearing activities.
  2. A list of ways in which they can enjoy being active, for example:
  • Walking or cycling to school, or part of the way, where possible.
  • Playing outside with friends.
  • Taking part in after-school activities.
  • Agreeing a time limit for ‘screen time’ (TV, computer, phone, tablet etc.) and sticking with it.
  • Ensuring your school is signed up for the Active School Flag –


Remind your pupils that most of their time in school is spent sitting at a desk, so it is 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 Health and well-being / Knowing about my body / Food and nutrition


Senior Lesson Plans Plaque


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

Senior Lesson Plans Enamal


Enamel covers and protects your teeth. It is the hardest substance in your body.

Senior Lesson Plans Fluoride


A mineral that is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. Fluoride is found in drinking water and in toothpaste.

Senior Lesson Plans Gum Diease

Gum Disease

Gum disease is caused by the build-up of dental plaque on the tooth surface and around the gums, generally because of poor tooth brushing. Gum disease often starts in childhood or adolescence.

Tooth Decay

When we eat or drink something that contains sugar, acids are produced in the mouth. These acids are produced by bacteria living in the dental plaque on the surface of the teeth. The acids start to break down the enamel surface of the tooth causing decay.

Class Discussion

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

As a class, discuss 1) why dental hygiene 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, which can affect self-esteem.
  • Good dental hygiene when you’re young means that you form good habits.
  • 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.

Explain gum disease (see words of the day for definition). Gum disease causes redness, swelling and bleeding when brushing and it can lead to the loss of teeth.

2. How to have good dental hygiene:

  • Eat healthy meals and snacks.
  • The best drinks for healthy teeth are water and milk.
  • Include foods that are sources of calcium and phosphorus as these help to keep teeth healthy. Examples include milk, natural yogurt and cheese (low-fat varieties recommended).
  • Avoid sugary snacks such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and sugary drinks, as snacking on foods which have lots of sugar can lead to tooth decay.
  • Clean your gums and teeth properly.
  • Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. This will help by making the tooth enamel more resistant to tooth decay and it is the most effective way of removing plaque.

Pair Discussion

Read aloud the following questions about dental hygiene and ask pupils to discuss in pairs, then come together as a class and discuss (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)
  3. How long should you brush your teeth for? (2-3 minutes)
  4. As well as using brushes, what else can we use to clean teeth? (Floss)

Outline procedure for brushing 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 pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste (at least 1,000 ppm) 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.

Pair Activity

Ask pupils to work in pairs. Give each pair a copy of the ‘Top Tooth Tips’ activity sheet,
asking each partner to take either section A or section B. The pupils must work together
matching the sentences from A and B, to complete each of the 8 sentences, writing the
correct sentences in their copies.

Top Tooth Tips

  1. Always brush your teeth twice a day, at bedtime and one other time during the day.
  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, about every three months.
  7. As well as brushing it is important to floss daily.
  8. When brushing it is important to clean every tooth.

Extension Activities

  1. Ask pupils to design a poster with a checklist for taking care of their teeth, which they can take home.
  2. Ask pupils to write a menu which includes tooth-friendly food and drinks.
  3. Play a game of Dental Bingo in the classroom: Dental Bingo

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 foods and drinks they have at home which contain tooth-friendly nutrients; and also list those that aren’t good for our teeth.
  2. For a week, record how often they brush their teeth and check how well they did.
  3. Explore the Dental Health Foundation website for more fun and factual tooth tips!


To develop pupils’ understanding of how food and dairy production impacts climate change, the importance of eating sustainably and to raise awareness of sustainable food choices.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)

Curricular Links


Myself and the wider world Developing citizenship Environmental care


Environmental awareness and care Environmental awareness and caring for the environment

Words of the Day

Greenhouse gas emissions

Gases, such as CO2, that trap the heat of the sun in our atmosphere, causing it to heat up (just like a greenhouse).

Climate Change

Due to excess greenhouse gas emissions, the Earth is heating up, causing the climate to change.

Food Production

How our food is grown, processed and packaged.

Food miles

The distance food travels from the farm to our plates. The further your food has to travel, the higher its food miles will be.

Grass-based Dairy Production

Ireland has a mild and wet climate which gives us rich grasslands. This is ideal for grass-based dairy farming. Grass-fed animals are those whose diet consists almost entirely of grass.

Sustainable Eating

Sustainable diets include foods that are nutritious, acceptable and affordable, while limiting the impact on the environment. To eat more sustainably, we can: Look to the Department of Health’s Food Pyramid for healthy choices; Opt for less packaging; Reduce food waste; Choose Local and Seasonal foods.

Group Discussion

1. Inform pupils that they will be learning about eating sustainably, how dairy is produced in Ireland and where it fits in a sustainable diet. Ask pupils, working in groups, to use the ‘words of the day’ section and discuss the following points, noting their ideas on a mind map:

  • How is food production connected to greenhouse gas emissions?
  • How can eating sustainably reduce climate change?
  • What do you understand about grass-based dairy production?
  • Why do you think Ireland is among the best in the world for sustainable milk production?
  • How can we tell if milk is farmed in the Republic of Ireland?

2. Ask each group to discuss their mind map with the class. Using the diagram above on page 15, consider where food production might be involved in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Expand on the ideas already explored in groups touching on the following points:

  • Food production uses natural resources such as land and water, and includes activities that can increase greenhouse emissions, such as agriculture and transport.
  • Irish dairy farms have some of the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. Grass-based dairy production is more sustainable for the environment than other dairy production methods. Due to our mild, wet climate, our cows graze outdoors on lush green grass on average 240 days each year!
  • Approximately 99% of water used in Irish dairy farms is supplied naturally by rainfall, which leads to almost zero impact on water stress.
  • Grasslands soak up carbon from the atmosphere, helping to partly offset some of the carbon emissions produced by agriculture farming.
  • Using locally grown or locally sourced seasonal food uses fewer food miles.
  • Using food with little or no packaging or biodegradable packaging helps to reduce waste.
  • The Farmed in the Republic of Ireland guarantee indicates that milk is sourced and processed in the Republic of Ireland and supports local jobs on dairy farms.

Class Discussion

1. Display a list of the following foods on the board: milk, yogurt, cheese, fish, potatoes, bananas, strawberries, avocados, pineapples, oranges, carrots and chillies. Discuss the following points:

  • Which items from this list do you think can be grown/produced in Ireland? ·Do you see a lot of variety or different brands of these foods in the market?
  • Do you recognise Irish brands (e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese)?
  • When do you think these foods are ‘in-season’ (grown naturally and at their freshest)?
  • Can you identify the origin of some of these foods? Where do you think we may import avocados from? pineapples? Etc.
  • How are food items imported into Ireland? What modes of transport might be used?
  • When you see these foods in the supermarket, how are they packaged? Do you pay attention to the packaging/labels?
  • Do you and your family usually eat all of the food you buy? How much is thrown away? How can we reduce our food waste?

2. Discuss the following points on balancing nutritional and safe dietary choices to minimise the impact on climate change:

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese, certain types of fish (like salmon and mackerel), potatoes, carrots and strawberries can all be produced in Ireland but many of these items are imported too. This is especially true when we buy foods that may not be in season or that are not frozen.
  • We have access to a large variety of Irish milk and dairy products. Remember that you can look for the Farmed in the Republic of Ireland guarantee. For other items, we may need to carefully read their labels. Look for Irish brands of cheese and yogurts when shopping. If possible, buy fish fresh and from your local fish monger. You can also look out for the ‘Responsibly Sourced Seafood’ logo. Always read the origin label on the foods you choose.
  • We can use Bord Bia’s ‘Best in Season’ calendar ( to discover which foods are in season. Apples for example, start coming into season in September and strawberries start in May.
  • Items may be transported to Ireland by plane, ship, and trucks. Imported foods can still be healthy foods that we may need as part of our diet; what’s important is that we try to choose local and in season when we can. By eating locally grown/produced food, we reduce our food miles and support Irish farmers.
  • Many foods in the market are packaged in plastic. We can avoid packaged foods by choosing loose fruits and vegetables and using reusable bags. This helps to reduce food waste.
  • One third of the world’s food is wasted every year by getting spoiled or uneaten. Considering the resources used to produce food, food waste is a major contributor to climate change.
  • Eating a balanced diet ensures that we consume the foods we need to grow healthy and strong and that we consume the correct amount, so that we do not overuse or waste resources. See Lesson Plan 1: Dairy in My Diet.

Pair Activity

Ask pupils to work in pairs and complete the Mindful in the Market activity sheet. Discuss the choices they made on their worksheet and if they were able to choose the most environmentally-friendly options.

Personal Activity

Design a poster for your local milk brand or your School Milk Scheme. Include the Farmed in the Republic of Ireland guarantee. Create a slogan and description that will convince people to buy local! Display your poster in the classroom.

Extension Activities

  1. Invite a farmer to speak to the class about the importance of buying local.
  2. Grow your own plants in the classroom! Plant some herbs or vegetables with your pupils.
  3. Encourage pupils to try and reduce their waste by making the most of what they have in their fridge. Milk and yogurt can be combined with some fast-ripening berries/banana to make a delicious fruit smoothie. Wilted broccoli or soft tomatoes that you might normally throw in the bin, can be used in a tasty vegetable soup! Send your pupils home with our recipe template on page 25!

Bring it Home

  1. On your next visit to the market, identify 5 food items that are produced or grown in Ireland. Remember to look out for the Farmed in the Republic of Ireland guarantee on milk!
  2. Share your Mindful in the Market activity sheet with your family and test it further with some of the foods in your home. How far did these items travel? Make a family contract to shop local for more food items in your home.


To develop pupils’ awareness of the importance of dairy farming and their understanding of the life of a farmer and the processes involved in dairy production.

Duration: 30 minutes (approximately)

Curricular Links


Human environments People living and working in the local area / contrasting part of Ireland 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

Ask pupils to discuss their prior experience, if any, of dairy farming by asking the following questions:

  1. What types of farming can you name? (e.g. tillage, livestock, mixed farming, dairy).
  2. What is dairy farming? (It is the type of farming which produces dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese).
  3. Have you been to a dairy farm? Describe what you would typically find on a dairy farm (e.g. cows, a milking parlour, milking machines, silage, hay).
  4. Recalling Lesson 1, Dairy in my Diet, can you name any products that might be produced from a dairy farm? (e.g. milk, cheese, yogurt).

Pair Discussion

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

Prompts for discussion:

  • Farmers provide bedding for cows to sleep.
  • Due to Ireland’s climate, farmers can leave cows to enjoy grazing on fresh grass outdoors on average 240 days each year.
  • Farmers move cows from field to field so that they have enough grass to eat.
  • Farmers bring cows indoors to shelter during the cold winter months and make sure they have food like silage and maize to eat.
  • Farmers keep the cow sheds and milking parlours clean.
  • Farmers make sure that a vet visits the farm to make sure that the cows stay healthy.

Pair Activity

Begin with an initial class discussion by asking pupils to think about the process of producing milk in a dairy farm. Note key points on the board.

Then give each pupil a copy of the ‘From Grass to your Glass’ activity sheet. Ask them in pairs to look at the 8 stages of milk production ‘From Grass to your Glass’ and to 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 23).

Personal Activity

Ask pupils to write the correct sequence of milk production in their copies, writing each stage in their own words.

Extension Activities

  1. Ask pupils to imagine that they are expert dairy farmers who have just employed someone to work on their farm. Ask them to write instructions for working on a dairy farm to help their new assistant.
  2. Ask pupils to imagine they are dairy farmers and to design their own milk carton.
  3. Ask pupils in groups to create their own ‘From Grass to your Glass’ poster to display around the school.

From Grass to your Glass – The 8 stages of milk production

Stage 1 – Cows are fed on nutritious fresh grass.

Stage 2 – Cows are milked twice a day in the milking parlour. The milk collected is stored below 4° Celsius in a milk tank and is collected from the farm by refrigerated tankers every 2-3 days.

Stage 3 – Before collecting milk from the farmer, the driver takes samples to test the quality of the milk.

Stage 4 – When the driver arrives at the dairy, he pumps the milk out of his tanker into large, refrigerated container tanks. The tanker is then carefully washed inside so it is ready for the next day’s collection.

Stage 5 – The milk is tested again at the dairy, this time by a laboratory worker, for quality and purity.

Stage 6 – The milk is pasteurised to make sure there are no germs in it. Pasteurisation, invented by Louis Pasteur, involves heating the milk to a high temperature for a short time (72° Celsius for 15 seconds), followed by rapid cooling. Some milk goes a stage further and is homogenised.

Stage 7 – The milk is then filled into various containers. After that, lorries are loaded with crates of milk for delivery to the home or to the shop. Some of it is delivered straight to schools.

Stage 8 – So the next time you enjoy a delicious glass of milk, you can be sure you’re drinking a high quality, natural and nutritious drink.

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. Record how many litres of milk each family member has for a week. Compare.