Protein and Amino Acids




Learn about protein and amino acids and how they relate to PKU.



After completing this activity, children will be able to:

  • state that phenylalanine is a part of protein
  • state that they need protein for growth, repair, and energy
  • state that the right kind of protein for them is low in phe and found in their formula



Distribute the Protein Fact Sheet.

Lead a discussion about protein and it's functions. Ask questions such as:

  • What is protein?
  • Why is protein important for people?
  • What is protein made up of?
  • What are the small "building blocks" of protein?

Discuss how people with PKU get protein. ( Mainly from formula, because other foods high in protein are also high in phenylalanine.)

Snap-Lock beads
Use the snap-lock beads to demonstrate points such as:

  • Protein is made of building blocks called amino acids.
  • Phenylalanine is an amino acid. (Use purple bead to indicate phenylalanine.)
  • Protein in formula looks different from protein in food.
  • The amount of phe in regular protein is too much for people with PKU.
  • The amount of phe in formula protein is just right for people with PKU.

Assemble "foods"
Distribute a set of recipe cards and snap-lock beads to each group of children. Have each group use the beads to make the "foods" on the recipe cards. Foods with a lot of protein (and phenylalanine) will be longer than foods with little protein.

Play "Protein Jeopardy"
Each question is worth one point--keep score on a chalkboard. If one team answers a question incorrectly, the other team can answer it. (Collect the Protein Fact Sheets prior to the game; redistribute them after the game is over.)





You can continue this discussion at home with your child by having him/her build protein out of blocks or pop-beads from necklaces. Designate one particular color of block as phenylalanine and ask your child to build one protein with phe (from food) and one protein without phe (from formula). Talk about the differences.


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