Incr-Edible Science: Cereal Lab


We have a new student joining us on a Friday for homeschooling.  Usually Friday is chore day and we do very little book work, but having another student gave me the momentum to do a bit of Incr-Edible Science and carry out a cereal lab.


  • To look at the food pyramid and be aware of what a healthy diet looks like
  • To understand where to look for the nutritional content on packets of food and how to read the ingredients list
  • To understands that nutritional needs differ from person to person and is to some extent determined by the developmental stage the person is in.
  • To create a nutritional cereal to suit personal nutritional needs
  • To design a cereal box, complete with name and nutritional information, to hold the home made cereal


  • A picture of the food pyramid to look at:

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  • A cereal lab sheet found here and information pertaining to what one is allowed to include on one’s cereal box in terms of words, pictures and nutritional claims:

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  • A marking scheme to help the children know what I was expecting from them, found here:

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  • A selection of cereals.  I tried to buy a wide selection to include healthy and non healthy varieties:

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  • A template for the cereal box found here:

cereal box

Pre-Lab Activities

  • Discussing nutritional content as found on the front of each cereal box.  I asked what the green, amber and red stood for:

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  •  They immediately knew it was linked to traffic lights of green for go and red for stop.  I asked which would be the healthiest looking at just this nutritional bar.  We discussed why the calorie content wasn’t colour coded and how everyone’s needs for calories was different so it would be hard to give it a colour.  I used T13 to demonstrate this point.  T jogs, cycles and walks everyday.  He works in the garden at his little part time job and is generally very active.  He is also male, tall and muscular.  This means his calorie intake needs to be much higher than the girls.  The girls go for a bike ride every day for an hour and L trampolines daily with lessons each week.  C would be the least active as she does not trampoline.  This means they have to be mindful of their calorie intake.  We discussed which cereal might be best for T (highest in calories and in protein and fibre) and which might be best for C (lower in calories).
  • We also looked at the ingredients list.  We learnt that ingredients were listed from highest amount to lowest amount.  We discussed how looking at the ingredients list could indicate how natural and therefore healthy something is.
  • Taste is obviously fairly important also.  If something is yukky someone is unlikely to eat it no matter how healthy it was.  I let them free with all the cereal to do taste tests or mix them all together and eat.  This activity was to get their creative juices flowing for their writing exercise.

Writing Exercise

  • I asked each of the children to think about what their perfect cereal would be.  They were to write an essay describing it and then I would mark the essay.  Each child would start out with ten points and for every grammar or spelling mistake one point would be deducted.  The winner was the one with the most points left after marking.  There were some very interesting combinations of breakfast cereals, none of which would have got the awards for most healthiest.  In fact, least healthiest comes to mind…..

Cereal Lab

I gathered together the following:

  • Oats for the children to roll themselves
  • Seeds
  • Unsweetened dried fruit
  • Glacier cherries
  • Unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • Honey
  • Olive oil

The children needed to design an oat based cereal which could be a granola, cooked or muesli type.  They needed to consider their own health requirements, likes and dislikes, as well as considering the marketing side of things in terms of the nutrition and health claims they could make:


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L12, C12 and K11:

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Each of the children chose to make a granola, so once they had mixed their chosen ingredients together they toasted them for 10 minutes turning every 3 minutes or so.  They each filled some small bags to slip into their home-made cereal boxes, for the tasting session later on:

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Next they decorated their cereal boxes:

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And filled in the nutritional information, possible allergens, bar codes and company address on the boxes:

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Presentation and Tasting Session

This activity had taken most of the day and I think the children had really enjoyed themselves, but we weren’t finished yet.  Oh, noooo.  They still needed to present their idea for their cereal and sell it to us.  Handily, we always get together with K11’s family each Friday evening, so there were four parents and a brother to present to.  The littles, who had joined in every step (A6 had even written her very own essay about her favourite cereal), would also be presenting to us all.  This would be their first presentation ever and they were very excited.

It was decided each child would present their cereal to the adults.  The adults would judge the cereal based on the presentation, cereal box design and its taste.

T13 went first:

Ribbet collagepresentationT

followed by K11 who did a fabulous presentation:

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A6 did a stirling job on her first ever presentation:

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and B4, who would have certainly got a prize for the cutest presenter:

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Next up was L12:

Ribbet collagepresentationL

Followed by her twin C12, who giggled the whole way through hers:

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And the winner?  After much deliberation and some excellent judging from K11’s dad, Andrew, the winner was L12:


Great fun had by all, I think!