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The Usual Suspects

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Learning area: Health
Prep: 10 minutes
Time commitment: 1 hour and 10 minutes (10 minutes prep, 1 hour activity)
Best for: Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5

Have students research and report on how to prevent becoming sick because of germs.



  • The Usual Suspects Handout
  • Poster board
  • Drawing and art supplies
  • Internet access for students or books on childhood infectious diseases



  1. Have students read The Usual Suspects handout.
  2. Ask students to think about when they have been too sick to come to school. What illness did they have? Have students brainstorm illnesses that have kept them or their classmates home from school. Some common childhood illnesses caused by microbes include: cold, flu, whooping cough, strep throat, stomach ache or diarrhea, croup, impetigo, pink eye, ringworm, and chickenpox.
  3. Assign each student or group of students an illness to research. Provide students with websites (if you have internet access) or with selected books covering common childhood illnesses, such as:
    • http://kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/germs.html
    • I Wish I Was Sick Too! by F. Brandenberg
    • Wash Your Hands! by T. Ross
    • Germs Make Me Sick! by M. Berger
    • Why I Sneeze, Shiver, Hiccup, & Yawn by M. Berger
    • Germs! Germs! Germs! by B. Katz
    • Those Mean Nasty Dirty Downright Disgusting But Invisible…Germs. by J.A. Rice

    Students can use the handout to take notes, as well as to plan their poster.

  4. When students have completed their research, give them poster board and art supplies. Students may also want to print images from their research to include on their poster. Some suggestions include microscope images of the germ that causes the illness or photographs of physical symptoms, such as rashes.
  5. Have students create a BOLO (Be On the LookOut) poster about the common symptoms of and ways to prevent their assigned illnesses.
  6. Give each student or group of students time to present their poster to the class and answer any questions their classmates have. If possible, give students additional time to walk around the room and look at each other’s posters.
  7. Have students summarize what they have learned by filling out the Case Report on the handout.

    Originally posted 2021

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