Search form


Kids Can Lower
Their Flu Risk


Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Visual Arts
--Our Bodies
--Life Sciences
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

Two simple pieces of advice can go a long way to preventing the spread of flu viruses.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write the word flu on a board or sheet of chart paper. Ask students to share what they know about the flu, how it spreads, and how it can be transmitted. Write down the facts that students know.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students' printable page: advice, prevent, virus, effective, transmitted, droplets, and vaccine. 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:

  • People can ____ many house fires if they stay in the kitchen while they are cooking. (prevent)
  • Using a nicotine patch has proven to be an ____ way to quit smoking. (effective)
  • Stan had to buy a new computer because a ____ destroyed his old one. (virus)
  • Oliver was soaked by hundreds of ____ that sprayed from the waterfall. (droplets)
  • I always go to my aunt when I am looking for good words of ____. (advice)
  • UNICEF is working to prevent whooping cough by shipping ____ to many countries in Africa and Asia. (vaccine)
  • Signals ____ to satellites in space enable a GPS device to track exactly where you are. (transmitted)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story Kids Can Lower Their Flu Risk.

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

For the most current information about the flu, see the CDC Web site.

  • The three best ways to prevent the spread of the flu virus are
    1) wash hands regularly, and for at least 20 seconds, to stop the spread of germs;
    2) cover coughs and sneezes to prevent virus-bearing droplets from spreading; and
    3) stay home from work or school if you are feeling feverish or have other signs of illness.
  • Studies prove that hand-washing dramatically reduces the spread of infection and is even a lifesaver. Even before the outbreak of swine flu, the World Health Organization reported that regular hand-washing -- after using the toilet and before eating -- could save more lives than any other medical intervention.
  • The flu virus is most often spread by contact between the germs (often on hands) and the mouth, eyes, or nose. People touch their faces a lot -- 16 times an hour for adults and more than 80 times an hour for children under age 2, according to Charles Gerba, a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona.
  • Wearing gloves is not a deterrent to spreading the flu virus. Gloves can spread the flu virus too. People who wear gloves often inadvertently think they can skip hand-washing.
  • Using a paper towel to protect your hands from picking up the virus on faucets, knobs, and handles could help stem the spread of the flu.
  • Symptoms of the flu include fever of at least 100.5 degrees, cough, runny nose, sore throats, vomiting, or body aches. However, presence of such symptoms is not a guarantee of the flu. Those symptoms can be signs of many other things too.
  • The incubation period for the flu is about one to four days, Martin Blaser, former president of the Infectious Disease Society of America, told USA Today. But people are most contagious when they're coughing.
  • Young children are vulnerable to flu complications because their immature immune systems aren't efficient at fighting off germs, said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, pediatric infectious diseases director at the University of Chicago. Also, young children have small airways that can swell when flu hits, predisposing them to pneumonia and fluid accumulating in the lungs, he said.

    Flu Information for Adults

  • According to the CDC, more than 20,000 children younger than age 5 are hospitalized each year because of seasonal flu. In the 2007-08 flu season, the CDC received reports that 86 children nationwide died from flu complications.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following advice for coping with the flu and preventing its spread: --- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    --- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
    --- Put used tissues in the trash.
    --- Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing. Wash with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand cleaner.
    --- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    --- People cannot get swine flu from pork or pork products.
    --- If you suspect your child has influenza, call your pediatrician. Antiviral medication, if taken soon after infection, can shorten the duration of the illness. These medications are effective against swine flu.

    Comprehension Check

    Refer back to the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson. Now that students have read the article, did they learn anything new to add to their list?

    Recalling Detail

  • How does the flu virus infect the body? (The virus can live on the hands; it often enters the body when people touch their hands to their eyes, nose, or mouth.)
  • How long should you wash your hands to ensure that you're killing germs? (For as long as it takes to recite the alphabet [about 20 seconds].)
  • How far do germs travel when you cough or sneeze? (Typically, they only travel a few feet or less; virus-bearing droplets from a sneeze or cough are heavy, so they don't travel far.)
  • What are some ways of protecting others from germs when you cough or sneeze? (Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your shirtsleeve. Note: If you use your hand, you should wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.)
  • How long does it take to create a vaccine for a new flu virus? (about six months)

Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page.

Follow-Up Activity

Art - health. After reading this week's News for Kids article, have students create a poster to illustrate a fact they learned or a tip for preventing the spread of flu germs.

More Lesson Plans from Education World

The Flu in Context: Epidemics, Vaccines and Prevention

Germs Experiment
Students observe the growth of germs on three germ-covered potato slices and one "control" potato slice.

Germs Experiment 2
Students use art glitter to create a simple demonstration of the way germs travel.

Tissue, Please!
Share a read-aloud story and a fun art project to teach cold-season manners.


Germs "Spread" Into School Curriculum: Handwashing Saves the Day
People -- kids and adults -- do not wash their hands as often or as well as they think they do, risking poor health and the spread of infection. That was the finding of a 1998 survey of people's handwashing habits conducted in public restrooms across the United States. Included: Resources for classroom lessons.

School-Wide Handwashing Campaigns Cut Germs, Absenteeism
Studies reveal that school-wide handwashing programs can make a difference in the health of students and staff and, as a result, improve school attendance. If your school does not have a program in place, are you aware of how many resources -- including many free ones -- are available to help get you started?


Use the Comprehension Check (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 question on the news story page.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 9 - 12
NA-VA.9-12.3 Choosing and Evaluating A Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas
NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NPH-H.K-4.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.K-4.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 5 - 8
NPH-H.5-8.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.5-8.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
GRADES 9 - 12
NPH-H.9-12.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.3 Life Science
NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
GRADES 9 - 12
NS.9-12.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.9-12.3 Life Science
NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Updated 12/01/2014