In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students will use BrainPOP resources and an online health game to explore the principals of food safety. Students will learn the importance of washing hands before eating and cooking, understand the dangers of leaving food where bacteria thrive, and recognize that meat must be cooked to the proper temperature. During the game’s kitchen simulation, students will also prevent cross-contamination by cleaning plates and work spaces after prepping high-risk foods like raw meat and unwashed vegetables, and determine whether food is contaminated based on how it has been handled.
- Learn the importance of washing hands before eating and cooking
- Understand the dangers of leaving food in the food danger zone, where bacteria thrive.
- Prevent cross-contamination by cleaning plates and work spaces after prepping high-risk foods like raw meat and unwashed vegetables.
- Recognize that meat must be cooked to the proper temperature.
- Determine whether food is contaminated based on how it has been handled.
- Computers with internet access for BrainPOP
Preparation:This lesson plan utilizes a free online health game developed by New Mexico State University (NMSU) Learning Games Lab and is based work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture. The following game description comes from the NMSU Ninja Kitchen website: "Based on principles of food safety, Ninja Kitchen is an addictive restaurant serving game in the tradition of Diner Dash, simple and accessible in its early screens but fiendishly complex as you advance. Each level brings new challenges, but never fear: you're joined by washman Hayato, fellow student of your sensei, and the laconic Kenzo, a chopping madman when he sees a head of lettuce. Despite your dedication and skill, access to the final levels eludes you. Should you spend your accumulated tips to open the Trunk of the Master Ninja, and learn its secret?"
To prepare for game play, we highly recommend that you watch the two minute overview movie which clearly outlines how the Ninja Kitchen game works and the concepts it reinforces. You should also preview the movie topics in BrainPOP's Health Unit and determine which movies and related resources best support your lesson objectives.
- There are many ways to integrate Ninja Kitchen into your health instruction. You can provide background information on the game prior to allowing students to play it, or have students jump right in and explore it themselves first. The game can be played independently, collaboratively, or as a whole class ... or use a combination of methods. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Project the game's introduction for the class and familiarize them with the basic premise. You can also click on "Store" to show them the various items they will be able to buy later on in the game. Encourage students to predict how each item could be used to make food preparation more safe and efficient.
- Use the two minute overview video to provide students with the big picture and help them envision the end goal of the game. Afterward, review the basic tasks they will need to complete and food safety issues they will need to attend to.
- Have students explore the game with a partner initially and discuss game play strategies as they go, then play the game again on their own. Encourage students to pause the game (by selected "break" in the lower righthand corner) when they get stuck and talk about what's working and what's not.
- Highlight specific aspects of game play that correlate to your learning objectives, such as taking out the trash, washing hands, or cooking meat to the proper temperature. Encourage students to pay special attention to those tasks within the game. Why is the selected task so important? What can go wrong if the task is not carried out in a timely matter?
- Encourage students to continue playing Ninja Kitchen at home. If any students are able to advance through all the levels and beat the game, allow them to share strategies with the class. How could they tell if food had been contaminated once the contamination had been made invisible? Does the same thing happen when cooking in real kitchens? What precautions need to be taken in real life?
- Help students make other connections between game play and real life. You may want to have them reflect in writing on food preparation and safety techniques, or record a video or podcast of them explaining precautions that need to be taken.
- Have students work together to create a paper or digital brochure or a simple website explaining food safety precautions. Each student (or pair of students) can be in charge of one aspect of food preparation that was addressed during game play and compose a section of the brochure or web site that explains tips for proper kitchen safety. Allow students to brainstorm ways they can share their brochure or website with relevant community members to raise awareness about these issues.