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    Mission: To improve the health, safety, and well-being of Texans through good stewardship of public resources, and a focus on core public health functions.
  • Texas 211

Illness and Prevention Grade Level: First Grade

Subject: Health Education


TEKS Correlation: This lesson will teach students about the different types of germs that cause illness and disease. It will teach them about common illnesses and diseases and their symptoms and explain common practices that control the way germs are spread. (TEKS for Health Education: 1.7.A-C)

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Overview: The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand what makes them sick and keeps them healthy, and how they can keep themselves healthy.

Rational:The student will benefit from this activity because it will help them understand the importance of good personal health habits in preventing illness.

Duration: 30 minutes

Instructional Objectives:

  • Students will be able to name types of germs that cause illness and disease.
  • Students will be able to identify symptoms of common illnesses and diseases.
  • Students will be able to identify common ways to prevent the spread of germs.


Books: Germs Make Me Sick, Melvin Berger
Germs! Germs! Germs!, Bobbi Katz


Procedure: Use the following questions to guide a discussion with your students.

What are Germs?

Germs are very small organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye. In order to see them we need a very powerful microscope. Germs are everywhere. They can cause sickness in people at any age, from birth to when we are 100 years old.

What kinds of germs are there?

There are two types of germs that usually cause us to get sick, bacteria and viruses.

Bacteria- tiny germs that are a made up of only one cell. That is really small! We are made up of millions of cells.

Common diseases bacteria cause:

  1. Strep Throat-infection of throat

    Symptoms: sore throat, fever

  2. Some kinds of food poisoning-infection of the intestinal tract

    Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

  3. Viruses- also one celled germs, but are much smaller than bacteria.

Diseases viruses cause:

  1. Chicken pox

    Symptoms: skin rash, fever

  2. Flu

    Symptoms: fever (usually 100 degrees or higher), chills, runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, and body aches or pains.

  3. Common Cold

    Symptoms: runny and irritated nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, general achy feeling.

How do we prevent the spread of germs to other people?

  • Hand washing
  • Covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze
  • Wash our dishes before we use them again
  • Keep food that needs to be cold in the fridge
  • Cook foods, especially meats, properly

Why do we need to wash our hands?

  • Hand washing is important because it reduces the spread of germs from one person to the next. By washing our hands, we prevent germs from getting into our bodies as well as passing them onto other people.
  • Because germs are everywhere it is important that we wash our hands so we don't ingest them when we eat or pass them on to someone else.

When is it important to wash our hands?

 We need to wash our hands before we do the following things:

  • prepare or eat food
  • treat a cut or wound
  • tend to someone who is sick

We need to wash our hands after we:

  • go to the bathroom
  • handle uncooked food (particularly raw meat, poultry or fish)
  • change a diaper
  • blow your nose
  • cough or sneeze
  • play with or touch a pet
  • handle garbage
  • tend to someone who is sick

What is the correct way to wash our hands?

  • Use warm or hot running water
  • Use soap (preferably antibiotic)
  • Wash all surfaces thoroughly, including wrists, palms, back of hands, fingers and under fingernails (if possible with a nail brush)
  • Rub hands together for at least 10 to 15 seconds
  • When drying, begin with your forearms and work toward your hands and finger tips, and pat your skin rather then rubbing to avoid chapping and cracking
  • Apply hand lotion after washing to help prevent and soothe dry skin

Have your students show you the correct way to wash their hands. Make sure they count out loud for 15 seconds. It seems like a lot longer than you would think!

Assessment: Have your students draw pictures about the methods to prevent the spread of germs.

Modifications: Click here for activities to use with this lesson.

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Last updated July 2, 2013