According to the Center for Disease control, up to twenty percent of U.S. residents get the influenza each year. Approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized because of the flu. If people knew how to prevent the flu, they would be able to protect themselves and be less likely to get the flu. This would save many lives as well as save individuals, corporations, and healthcare providers time and money.
The purpose of this fun, interactive, hands-on curriculum is to educate children about preventing the flu virus. The curriculum includes information about preventing and recognizing the symptoms of Influenza. The chart below shows the topics covered in each station of the curriculum.
What is the flu virus and how does it spread?
What can be done to prevent the flu?
What are the flu symptoms?
How can a person keep his/her immune system strong?
Lesson Plan Station 1
Topic: What is the Influenza virus and how does it spread?
Lesson Objectives: Introduce the flu virus to children and explain how they may catch the virus.
Materials Needed: Paper, red and blue crayons
Summary of Tasks/Actions: This station will consist of a game and a mini-lesson on how the flu spreads from one person to the next. At the beginning of the game, each child will be given a piece of paper and two crayons, one red crayon and one blue. Two people will have papers with red dots, indicating that these players have "the flu." Players with the flu will mark two others' papers red. Once a player has a red mark, he or she must give red marks to two others. Otherwise, players give blue marks. By the end of the game, most players will have gotten the "flu." This game simulates how the flu is spread easily from person to person when no steps are taken to prevent the flu.
After the game, the instructor explains how the flu virus can spread from person to person.
Today we will talk about Influenza. Influenza has a nick name.
Q: Does anyone know the nick name?
A: Most people call it "The Flu."
It is more common in the winter months.
Q: Has anyone here ever had the flu?
Q: Did you know that one out of five people get the flu every year? Some people have such serious symptoms they have to go to the hospital.
We will learn what the flu is and how we can prevent getting the flu.
Q: Do you think we can see a flu germ?
A: No. The flu virus is a microscopic organism.
Q: What does this mean?
A: It means that the virus is very tiny and can only be seen with a microscope. When a person infected with the flu coughs or sneezes, he/she lets out droplets containing the virus. These droplets can enter the mouth or nose of a person nearby. These droplets can also be left on objects. If a person touches one of these objects and then touches his/her mouth or nose, the flu virus may enter and the healthy person may get sick.
Q: Did you know that on average, a person touches his or face two to three thousand times per day? If you touch a surface where someone with the flu virus has left droplets, then put your fingers in your mouth, you may get the flu.
To demonstrate how easily the Influenza virus can spread, we will play a game. (Explain and play game as described above.)
After the game, explain that the flu can spread easily, just like the red lines on the paper, when no steps are taken to prevent the flu. However, in the next few stations, you will learn how to take precautions to avoid getting the flu.
Lesson Plan Station 2
Topic: What can be done to prevent the flu?
Lesson Objectives: This station will teach children about preventing the flu by properly sanitizing their hands and getting a flu vaccine.
Materials Needed: Sink with running hot and cold water, anti-bacterial soap, and paper towels.
Summary of Tasks/Actions: First, the instructor will explain how hand washing can prevent a person from getting the flu and how the flu can spread from person to person. Then, the children will be taught how to wash their hands properly. The instructor will describe the steps to proper hand washing (see information below). After hand washing, the instructor will tell the children what the vaccine and spray are, how they work, and for whom each kind of prevention is best.
To maintain a healthy body:
get enough sleep
eat fruits and vegetables
make sure vitamins and minerals are consumed
When should you wash your hands? (From the CDC website)
Before, during, and after preparing food
Before eating food
Before and after caring for someone who is sick
Before and after treating a cut or wound
After using the toilet
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After touching an animal or animal waste
After touching garbage
What is the right way to wash your hands?
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
How do you use hand sanitizers?
Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
Rub your hands together.
Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.
What is the flu shot?
The "flu shot" -- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. There are three different flu shots available:
o a regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older
o a high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, and
o an intradermal (in the skin) flu shot approved for people 18 to 64 years of age.
What is the nasal spray?
The nasal-spray flu vaccine -- a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu because they can only survive in the nasal passage, not in the lower respiratory tract. LAIV is approved for use in healthy people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant
Q: How can you keep your body healthy and strong in order to avoid contracting the flu?
A: Sleep 10 to 11 hours each night (WebMD); drink water, eat fruits and vegetables; exercise. Another way to avoid the flu is to wash your hands.
Q: When should you wash your hands? (Use information above. If time permits, allow children to wash hands using the proper technique. )
Q: Did you know there is a proper way to wash our hands? (Use information above to discuss and demonstrate technique.)
Q: What should you do if you can't wash your hands with soap and water?
A: Use hand sanitizer.
Q: Has anyone here ever used hand sanitizers? When?
Q: Something else that we can use to protect ourselves from the flu is to get a flu vaccine. What is a vaccine?
A: A vaccine is an inactive virus or a killed flu virus that is given with a needle.
For those people who don't like needles, a nasal spray is sometimes an option. This is a vaccine with a live, but weakened flu virus that is sprayed into the nose.
The flu vaccine is extremely effective. In 1918, a pandemic of the Spanish Flu swept across the US, infecting many. Doctors attempted to create vaccines to protect people. They tried taking the blood and mucus of the sick and taking out the virus to inject in others, but their attempts were futile. 675,000 Americans died that year of the flu.
In modern times, approximately 3,300 to 48,600 Americans die from the flu each year (CDC website). This decrease in death is mostly due to the effectiveness of vaccines. Some people believe that they can get the flu from the vaccine, but this is a myth. The flu vaccine does not carry a live virus; it contains inactivated or weakened organisms. Vaccine manufacturers grow the flu virus in eggs, then cleanse and chemically treat the virus to deactivate it. It is then injected into the body, where the immune system fights off the already weakened virus easily. The immune system will remember the virus and will be able to fight it off easily if that person is to get the flu.
In summary, plenty of sleep, a healthy diet, good hand washing, and a vaccine will minimize one's chances of getting the flu.
Lesson Plan Station 3
Topic: What are the symptoms of the flu?
Lesson Objectives: In this station the children will learn the different symptoms of the flu by acting out the symptoms. Then, they will learn how long a person is contagious after they have the symptoms of the flu.
Materials Needed: Flash cards labeled: Fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, achy body, vomiting.
Summary of Tasks/Actions: First, the instructor must define the word symptom to the children. Then, the instructor will explain that the flu has many symptoms and that if a person had one or many of the symptoms, they may have the flu. The children will each be assigned a symptom to act out and the other children will guess which symptom each child is acting out. The instructor will tell the children not to go to school if they are sick because they may be contagious.
Information: People who have the flu may have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, achy body, headaches, fatigue, and may vomit or have diarrhea. Depending on the type of flu a person has, the symptoms may be more or less severe. Most healthy adults with the flu become contagious one day before symptoms become present and remain contagious until five to seven days after. People with weakened immune systems, such as children, will remain contagious even longer. If a person is contagious, they should refrain from attending school or work until he or she is not contagious.
Q: How do you feel when you are sick?
A: Tired, achy, nauseous, etc.
Q: These are symptoms. What is a symptom?
A: A symptom is something that a patient feels that may indicate that he or she may be sick. (Hand a symptom card to a child and ask him/her to act it out. Discuss whether it is a symptom of a cold, flu or both. Repeat with another symptom and volunteer until cards are completed.)
Most healthy adults with the flu become contagious one day before symptoms become present and remain contagious until five to seven days after. People with weakened immune systems will remain contagious even longer.
Symptom Cold Flu Onset of illness Slow onset of illness Sudden onset of illness Fever No or mild fever High fever; 100-102 F; lasts 3 to 4 days Headache Mild or absent Common Muscle aches Mild or Absent Significant Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usual; can last 2 to 3 weeks Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual; at the beginning of illness Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes Sneezing Usual Sometimes Chest Discomfort, Cough Mild to moderate; hacking cough Common; can be severe Vomiting and Diarrhea Uncommon Associated with Swine Flu
Lesson Plan Station 4
Topic: How can a person keep his/her immune system strong?
Lesson Objectives: In this station, children will learn about their immune system and how to keep it strong. They will then prepare and eat a healthful snack.
Materials Needed: Various fruits, yogurt, blender, and other smoothie ingredients.
Summary of Tasks/Actions: The children will discuss what things they can do to avoid getting the flu and will learn about their immune system. They will learn that people with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience complications from the flu. The children will then prepare and eat a healthful snack.
Q: What are some things you can do to try to avoid getting the flu?
A: Children's responses may include washing hands, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthful foods.
Q: Doing these things will keep your immune system strong. What is your immune system?
A: Your immune system protects the body from foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. It consists of millions of cells which work together to recognize an invader and destroy it.
Some people, such young children, the elderly, and the sick, have very weak immune systems.
Q: What kinds of foods are more likely to build up your immune system?
A: Fruits and vegetables because they contain vitamins.
Q: Are potato chips and Doritos healthful?
A: No because they don't have vitamins to keep bodies strong.
Q: What are some examples of fruits and veggies that you like?
Today we will prepare a healthful snack. A smoothie is a good alternative to candy or salty foods when you are hungry for a snack.