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Kid Heroes Use the Heimlich Maneuver


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Three youths made headlines last month by saving kids who were choking on food.

Anticipation Guide

Write the words Heimlich maneuver on a board or chart. Invite students to tell what they know about the Heimlich maneuver. Write what they know on a sheet of chart paper. Then share this video demonstration of the Heimlich:

Alternate videos:
The Heimlich Maneuver (for younger kids)
The Heimlich Maneuver (for teens)

After viewing the video, ask students what they learned about the Heimlich maneuver that they did not know before they saw the video.

Some Important Facts About the Heimlich Maneuver

  • The Heimlich maneuver should never be used on a child under 1 year old.
  • Experts say a choking person can lose consciousness within three to five minutes unless the air passage is cleared. Unless the obstruction is freed, a lack of oxygen to the brain for longer than five minutes could cause brain damage or death.
  • Some people refer to the Heimlich hand motions as a J stroke" because the hands first move downward and then up (like the shape of the letter J).
  • News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: thrust, uncomfortable, performed, almond, paramedic, and basics. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • If you are going camping, a tent, sleeping bag, and first aid kit are the _____ that you will need. (basics)
  • The stand-up comedian seemed _____ on stage until he heard the first sounds of laughter. (uncomfortable)
  • Aunt Judy made cookies with an _____ filling. (almond)
  • Much to the senators dismay, his personal life had been _____ into the headlines. (thrust)
  • The Red Sox _____ poorly in the last weeks of the season. (performed)
  • The _____ was well trained in first aid and CPR. (paramedic)
  • Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Kid Heroes Use the Heimlich Maneuver.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Before her third-period class, teacher Judy Rader needed a snack to get her through to lunch so she popped a few almonds. One lodged in her throat and caused the Cypress (California) High School teacher to start choking. Lucky for her, one of her students, Sam Barrera, 15, knew what to do. He put his arms around his teacher's abdomen, felt for her belly button with his finger, went up two inches, clasped his hands together and pulled in and up. On his third thrust, Sam literally lifted Rader off the ground and the almond popped out.
  • A blocked airway will lead to death. It's great that he didn't hesitate," Capt. Greg McKeown, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority, told the Orange County Register. He showed huge leadership and his efforts definitely helped this teacher survive."
  • Rader put in a call to Sams mom because she wanted the family to know how thankful she was. I got home and told my mom what I did," Barrera said, and she was like, What? No you didn't. I told her, Check your phone." She was so proud of her son that she began to cry.
  • September 10 was declared Basilio Rocha" day at Walnut Grove Middle School in Midlothian, Texas. The day honored the 13-year-old boy who helped a classmate, 12-year-old Cristian Espinoza, who was choking on a muffin. I was in shock at first," Cristian told the Dallas News, but then about a minute afterwards, I realized Basilio had saved my life."
  • Basilio had learned the Heimlich last year in his sixth-grade health class.
  • In Kersey, Colorado, 13-year old Gabe Valentine was honored at Platte Valley Middle School for administering the Heimlich maneuver to a friend. Gabe had learned the skills two years ago when he took a course for 11-13 year-olds at the North Colorado Medical Center.
  • Use the News

    Print out this weeks Use the News printable activity page for students. Or use the questions on that page to check student comprehension.

    Use the News: Answer Key
    Vocabulary Builder: Synonyms
    Accept reasoned responses. Some possible responses appear below.
    1. bites: munches, nibbles, chews, chomps, mouthfuls, tastes
    2. thrusts: pushes, forces, shoves, presses, jabs
    3. surprising: amazing, astonishing, inspiring, incredible
    4. uncomfortable: embarrassed, nervous, ill-at-ease, uneasy, awkward
    5. ran: raced, dashed, hurried, flew, sprinted
    6. scared: frightened, terrified, panicked
    Main Idea
    You never know when the Heimlich maneuver might come in handy.
    Working With Words
    1. 2, 2. 2, 3. 5, 4. 1, 5. 2, 6. 3, 7. 1, 8. 2, 9. 3, 10. 3, 11. 2, 12. 3, 13. 3, 14. 2, 15. 4, 16. 2, 17. 3, 18. 1, 19. 1, 20. 2.

    Think About the News
    Do you agree with what Sam Barreras grandfather said below?

    I feel like every student should be learning the Heimlich maneuver and learning how to react in an emergency," Sam's grandfather, Luis Castillo, told the Orange County Register. You never know when you'll need it."


    Use the Use the News activity (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or above.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NPH-H.K-4.2 Health Information, Products and Services
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NPH-H.5-8.2 Health Information, Products and Services
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NPH-H.9-12.2 Health Information, Products and Services

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.
    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
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