The world on a plate

Add to My Folder

This content has not been rated yet. (Write a review)

By Teresa Saunderseducation journalist and children’s writer_

Encourge children to embrace cultural differences – a fun and challenging project exploring food and customs around the world

QCA links


  • An island home
  • Where in the world is Barnaby Bear?


  • Living in a diverse world

When ancient travellers journeyed across the world in search of treasure, some of their most exciting and valuable discoveries were different types of food. As they travelled, they carried many of those products with them, introducing them into both their own countries and those that they visited. Did you know that the Chinese claim to have invented pasta, saying that it only became popular in Italy after explorers tasted noodles? Or that chillies, so important to Indian curries, were originally brought to Asia from Mexico? Or that Europeans first encountered chocolate in South America, where the Aztecs used it as a medicine?

Without food, we cannot survive. But food also plays a vital part in many important aspects of our lives – celebrations, rituals, religions, language and national identity. Food creates connections between different countries, communities and people – telling us about their lifestyle, landscape and climate. And, as globalisation increases, food is providing one of the most pleasurable links between nations. Such opportunities provide the perfect ingredients for a creative cross-curricular project for children at KS1, exploring aspects of science, citizenship and PSHE, geography and language.

Starter activities

  • Did you know that the human diet is based on grass? All over the world, different kinds of grasses provide people with their staple foods. The seeds of these grasses are called cereals, and include wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, millet and rye. The seeds are ground into flour to make the things that people eat every day, such as bread.
  • Look together at different examples of bread and match these with the countries from where they originate. For example:
    • Baguette (French)
    • Cornbread (America)
    • Naan (India)
    • Oatcakes (Scotland)
    • Pitta bread (Greece)
  • Talk about other foods from different countries, using a globe to point out where they are. Foods could include:
    • Paella (Spain)
    • Spaghetti (Italy)
    • Noodles (China)
    • Couscous (Morocco)
    • Tortillas (South America)
    • Boiled rice (Asia)
  • Invite the children to set up a survey to find out what country’s food is most popular in their school. They could include a list of some of the best-travelled foods for their schoolmates to choose from – curry, chilli con carne, stir-fries, noodles, fried rice, pasta, pizza, paella, tacos, tortillas and so on.
  • Invite a shop or restaurant owner selling different kinds of food – such as Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Italian, Caribbean, Spanish – to come into school to talk about the different foods they sell or cook.
  • The lesson activities over the page focus on the stories of three children from other countries – China, India and Mali. This month’s poster shows examples of foods from around the world. Ask the children to write a similar story about what they eat and their favourite foods. Alternatively, they could each tell their story to the rest of the class. Does everyone in the class eat the same things? Are there any similarities between their favourite foods and those of the children from the other countries?
Subscriber-only content

Scholastic Resource Bank: Primary - subscribe today!

  • Over 6,000 primary activities, lesson ideas and resources
  • Perfect for anyone working with children from 5 to 11 years old
  • Unlimited access – only £15 per year!