Lesson One for Grades K-3
What Is Asthma?
On Your Mark
Students will be able to:
- Describe asthma as something that makes breathing
hard for children with asthma.
- Explain that asthma can be controlled so that
children can live active lives.
- Describe asthma as something that cannot be passed
from one person to another like a cold.
- Identify two things that can make asthma worse,
such as furry or feathered pets, colds, playing hard, and cigarette smoke.
Asthma: A condition that affects the
airways in the lungs that makes it hard to breathe. Asthma cannot be caught
like a cold. Some people develop the symptoms of asthma when they are very
young and others do not have the symptoms or signs of asthma for many years.
People can control their asthma and live active, healthy lives.
Asthma Symptoms: Coughing, wheezing,
feeling short of breath, feeling pain or tightness in the chest
Classroom Activity: Administer and
If instructional time is limited, you may want to omit
the pre/post test. Depending on your students' reading ability, you may want to
administer the test orally. Use the Check for Understanding questions
in the lesson to ensure that the objectives have been met.
Focus the Learner
"I'd like you to take in a big breath. Now let the air
out. Put your thumbs up if that was easy. Put your thumbs down if it was hard.
Most of the time breathing is easy."
"Breathing is very important. All the parts of our
body need air to work."
"By the time we finish this lesson, You'll be able to
tell me about something called asthma, which can make breathing hard. You'll
learn about things that can make asthma worse for someone who has it. You'll
also learn that you cannot catch asthma from another person."
Classroom Activity: Write the word
asthma on the chalkboard. Say the word and have the students repeat it. Explain
to students that asthma can make it harder for people to breathe. Ask students
to breathe in and out normally.
"Now, make a fist and press it firmly to your lips.
Try and breathe in and out through your mouth now. Was it harder or easier to
breathe with your fist there? If it was easier or about the same put your
thumbs up. If it was harder, put your thumbs down. It's usually harder to
Additional Activity: As alternatives
to the lecture format here, you can use a story, puppet show, or video to
provide basic asthma information to your students. See the Reference Section
for resources. An alternate activity for demonstrating breathing difficulty is
presented in Lesson One for Grades 4-6.
"People with asthma sometimes have a hard time getting
air in and out of their lungs. When this happens they may cough or wheeze,
which is breathing with a noisy sound. Or they may feel short of breath or have
pain or a tight feeling in their chest. Why do some people have asthma? People
who have asthma are born with it. Sometimes, people have the signs of asthma
when they are little babies, but sometimes the signs do not show up until they
are much older. Asthma is not something that you can "catch" from someone else.
It is not something that can be passed from one person to another like a cold.
Many children have asthma."
"Most of the time, we cannot tell if someone has
asthma. People with asthma can run and play just like everyone else. But
sometimes they have trouble breathing in and out. Sometimes, it's just a little
harder to breathe; sometimes, it's very hard. It depends on how serious their
"Certain things can make asthma worse and make it hard
to breathe. Pets that have fur or feathers can make asthma worse. Can you name
some furry or feathered pets?" Responses may include dogs, cats, hamsters,
rabbits, parrots, and parakeets.
Classroom Activity: Pass out the Furry and Feathered Pet sheets. Give the directions: "On this sheet
there are lots of animals. Put a circle around the animals that have fur or
feathers." You can check the sheets or have partners check sheets. As an
alternative you can use the Furry and Feathered Pet sheet as a transparency to
stimulate group discussion.
"Other things can also make children's asthma get
worse. When children with asthma get a cold or the flu, their asthma might get
"Do you ever have trouble breathing when you play
hard? Playing hard can make it harder to breathe for anyone, but it makes it
even harder for someone with asthma. Most of the time, children with asthma can
play like everyone else. Sometimes, they need to take a special medicine before
they run or play hard."
Classroom Activity: Use the Things That Make Asthma Worse cards to illustrate your presentation.
As time permits, you may discuss other things that can make asthma worse.
Background Note: Things that make
asthma worse include colds and flu; allergies to tree pollen, grass pollen,
dust and cockroach allergen; cigarette and other tobacco smoke; cold air;
changes in the weather; and laughing or crying hard.
Background Note: Furry or feathered
pets should not be kept in the classroom if there are students with asthma.
Although foods may cause allergic and asthmatic reactions in some children,
scientist now think that it is not common that foods provoke asthma symptoms.
When reactions to food do occur, they may be very sudden and severe.
Episodes can sometimes be brought on by the physical
effects of strong emotions such as laughing, crying or strong emotional
distress. However, it is important to know that asthma is not caused by
emotional factors such as a troubled parent-child relationship. Some people
think asthma is "all in one's head." This is wrong. It is a disease in the
Additional Language Arts Activity: Use the word asthma as a vocabulary and spelling word. Have students
use the word in a sentence. As a class, write a story about someone with
Check for Understanding
Classroom Activity: For older
children, have them write their answers or respond orally and you write on the
"Draw a picture of what you think it is like to have
asthma." Pictures might include: a person with asthma who has a hard time
breathing; a person taking a special medicine before playing hard.
"Draw a picture of some things that can make asthma
worse." Pictures might include: furry pets, cigarette smoke, colds, playing
hard, allergies to grass, trees, and dust.
Additional Activities: Have children
find the things that make asthma worse in the Hidden Picture worksheet. As an in class or homework extension activity, ask each child to
draw a picture or collect magazine pictures of the things at home that make
asthma worse. Give each child or team an outline drawing of the school or
classroom. Have them draw the things that make asthma worse that they find in
Closure for Lesson One
"Today we've learned that some people are born with
asthma. It makes breathing harder sometimes. We have also learned furry or
feathered pets, cigarette smoke, colds and flu, playing hard, and allergies can
make asthma worse."
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