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Red Light, Green Light: Food Edition

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Julia Sudnitskaya/123RF

Learning area: Health/PE
Time commitment: Quick (30 minutes or less)
Best for: Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6


This activity is a variation on the classic children’s game Red Light, Green Light, using movement to introduce the concept of healthy vs. unhealthy foods. Red Light foods should only be eaten once in a while, Green Light foods can be eaten anytime, and Yellow Light foods can be eaten occasionally.



  • copy of the script for the activity leader
  • copy of the food list for the activity leader



  1. Select a space that will let students to participate at the same time, with enough space per person to run in place. (If space is tight, you can split them into two or three groups.)
  2. Demonstrate three actions and ask students to do them, too. First, run in place quickly (“Green Light”), then run in place more slowly (“Yellow Light”). Finally, go from running in place to a complete stop and cross your arms in an X in front of you (“Red Light”).
  3. Explain what kinds of foods should be treated as a Green Light, Red Light, or Yellow Light food.
  4. Call out food items from the provided lists one at a time, giving students a chance to react with the appropriate action (running in place quickly, running in place slowly, or standing still with arms in an X) and term (“Green Light,” “Yellow Light,” or “Red Light”).


Activity Script

Red Light foods are things you should eat only every once in a while, like French fries or cake.

Green Light foods are healthy things you can eat often, like fresh fruit and veggies.

Yellow Light foods are foods you can eat sometimes, but not all the time, like peanut butter. It’s good for you, but if you eat too much of it, it can be unhealthy for your body.

I’m going to name a food one at a time, and you’re going to think about whether it’s a Red Light, Green Light, or Yellow Light food.

If you think it’s a healthy food, run in place quickly and say “Green Light!”

If you think it’s an unhealthy food, cross your arms in an X shape and say “Red Light!”

If you think it’s the kind of thing that’s OK to have sometimes, run in place slowly and say “Yellow Light!”

Everyone understand? Who’s ready to play?


Red Light, Green Light Food List

  • grapes (Green Light)
  • raisins (Yellow Light)
  • 100% fruit juice (any variety) (Yellow Light)
  • apple (Green Light)
  • canned fruit salad, light syrup (Yellow Light)
  • canned fruit salad, heavy syrup (Red Light)
  • banana (Green Light)
  • French fries (Red Light)
  • onion rings (Red Light)
  • mashed potatoes with a little butter (Yellow Light)
  • plain baked potato (Green Light)
  • carrot sticks (Green Light)
  • steamed broccoli (Green Light)
  • whole grain bread (Green Light)
  • cornbread (Yellow Light)
  • doughnut (Red Light)
  • oatmeal with fruit (Green Light)
  • oatmeal with brown sugar (Yellow Light)
  • pancake with syrup (Red Light)
  • low-fat cheese (Green Light)
  • low-fat milk (Green Light)
  • bacon (Red Light)
  • peanut butter (Yellow Light)
  • black beans (Green Light)
  • roasted chicken without the skin (Green Light)
  • fried chicken (Red Light)
  • hot dog (Red Light)
  • breaded chicken nuggets (Red Light)


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Originally posted 2021

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