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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: Third Grade

 Illness and Prevention Grade Level: Third Grade

Subject: Health Education


TEKS Correlation: This lesson will enable students to identify health behaviors that prevent the spread of disease and avoid behaviors that cause transmission of disease. They will also be able to explain the body's defense systems and how they fight disease, explain actions to take when illness occurs, and explain how personal health habits affect self and others. (TEKS for Health Education: 3.1.A & 3.3.A, & 3.3.C)

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Overview: The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how germs are transmitted, how our body fights disease, and how to prevent the spread of disease to ourselves and others.

Rational: The student will benefit from this activity because it will help them understand the importance of good personal health habits in preventing illness. They will also learn the causes of illness, and our bodies defense mechanisms in preventing illness.

Duration: 30 minutes

Instructional Objectives:

  • Students will learn behaviors that prevent the spread of disease and avoid behaviors that cause transmission of disease.
  • Students will understand our body's immune system
  • Students will know what actions to take when not feeling well
  • Students will understand how their personal health habits affect themselves and others


Books: Germs Make Me Sick, Melvin Berger
Your Body's Defenses, David C. Knight

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

How does our body fight disease?

Our body has special defenses to prevent us from getting sick. These defenses are: our skin, our nose, mouth and throat, and special cells in our body.

Skin- provides a natural barrier to prevent germs from entering into our body. The only time our skin doesn't protect us from us from germs is when we have cuts. When we have cuts in our skin, it is possible for germs to enter our bodies. That is why it is important for us to clean out our cuts or abrasions when they occur.

Nose- helps fight germs because it is lined with tiny hairs. When we breath in the germs get caught in the hairs and when we breath out the germs are forced out.

Mouth- and throat also help fight germs. They are wet and sticky. Germs get stuck in our throat and mouth and don't go any further.

Fighting Cells- If the germ passes through our skin, nose, or throat and mouth and gets into our blood stream, there are special cells in our blood that fight germs. There are two types of fighting cells in our body, white blood cells and antibodies. White blood cells eat harmful germs. Antibodies attack specific germs that they have been in contact with before. For example, if you have had the chicken pox before your body has created antibodies to the virus that causes chicken pox. If you are exposed to the chicken pox again these antibodies will attack that virus. This is why you can only get the chicken pox once.

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 refrigerator
  • Cook food, especially meats, thoroughly

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!

If we do get sick, what can we do?

  • Tell your parents or an adult at school
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, soup and fruit juices
  • If you still feel sick and have a fever after a couple of days, see your doctor.

Assessment: Have your students draw pictures about our bodies defense system, underneath the pictures they can explain the way they can help their bodies fight germs.

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

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Last updated July 2, 2013