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3rd Grade Curriculum Evaluation

Refining how 3rd grade students learn about nutrition + healthy eating

Best parts of the program were the hands on activities, interaction with the food group visuals, and that lessons were clear and easy to understand.


In 2018, Dairy Council of California updated its 3rd grade nutrition education program. Changes included condensing the nutrition lessons into five topics that can each be taught in one or two class blocks; aligning the lessons with Common Core State Standards, in part by providing more collaboration opportunities; and adding online components to the lessons. The initial 3rd grade evaluation report includes a description of the full evaluation from 2011.

A sample of 3rd grade teachers around the state implemented the updated lessons in their classrooms. This report provides a summary of the evaluation findings for the updated 3rd grade program.

Evaluation Summary

The 3rd grade nutrition program consists of 10 nutrition lessons filled with interactive activities, simulations, and reflections delivered by classroom teachers. The program is aligned with California’s Common Core Content Standards and the US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans and teaches students about healthy eating and physical activity choices. It also includes family activities allowing the classroom lessons to extend to families as well. An evaluation of our program has been published in the peer-reviewed journal of Public Health Nutrition.

Lessons Cover

Program Materials

Evaluation Design

Twelve California teachers from San Diego to north of Sacramento volunteered to teach the updated five lessons with their students. The evaluation consisted of the following methods:

Key findings from research evaluating the program


Student Results

The 3rd grade pre- and post-program surveys were made up of 25 questions each. There was a statistically significant improvement in the percentage of children who correctly answered the questions between the pre- and post-program surveys for all the questions except one (identifying the food group of grapes, which improved from 93 percent to 95 percent).

Teacher Results

Lessons 1 and 3 received the highest overall satisfaction rating by the teachers and were considered the easiest to teach. For approval of lesson length, teachers rated Lesson 3 (Breakfast Blast) the highest.

In addition, teachers found the updated lessons:


Teachers reported that the updated 3rd grade program was effective in teaching students about nutrition and that the lessons were successful in achieving student learning objectives. The program was successful as evidenced by the significant improvement between pre- and post-program surveys of student knowledge on healthy eating. With the results of this pilot, updates were made to the program prior to its 2019 release.

View 3rd grade program materials, including online resources for educators.

About our studies

The 3rd grade curriculum was developed, tested, and refined in the 2009-2010 school year, and an evaluation of the program was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California and Harder & Company Community Research, Inc during the 2010-2011 school year. Nearly 200,000 3rd grade students attending public elementary schools in California received the program that year. Fifty classrooms in California were randomly selected into either an Intervention or Control group in order to test whether the nutrition education lessons improved children’s nutrition knowledge, beliefs towards nutrition, and their healthy and unhealthy food consumption. Students were measured prior to participating in the program, after participating, and again three months later to test changes in important variables. 

Read the 3rd Grade Evaluation.

Why Nutrition Education is Important?

Kindergarten teacher, Sheryl Miller, explains why food literacy is important for students.

Watch here
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Ready to Teach?

Order the 3rd grade materials to be a nutrition education advocate to your students.