Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Momma Always Said, “Cover Your Mouth When You Sneeze!”

Margaret Markey


Yuck! Germs! Students practice knowledge of personal care related to health and extend social/personal skills as they learn some of the many ways germs are carried to other people. This lesson allows for reading to interpret information and diagramming of that information to show how germs are passed.


Complete personal care, health, and fitness activities.


-White paper, (8 1/2 x 11 or larger)
-Markers or colored pencils
-Pencils or pens
-Informational review sheet, Ways that Germs are Spread in the Associated File
-Criteria Checklist in the Associated File
-Chalkboard/chalk, or marker board/markers


1. Copy the informational sheet and criteria checklist provided with this lesson plan for each of your students. (Copy an extra set of the criteria checklist for your assessment in the Associated File.)
2. Clear a space in the room to allow room for role playing.
3. Have paper, colored pencils and markers available for student use.


Note: Students should have prior knowledge of personal hygiene.

1. Ask students if they know why their moms always told them to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough.

2. Demonstrate the covering of the mouth when one coughs.

3. Call on students and listen to their responses.

4. Distribute informational sheet, Personal Care and the Spread of Germs.(See Associated File.)

5. Give the students five minutes to read the sheet silently before asking for volunteers to read sections aloud. (Reading silently first gives them a chance to “practice” their reading.) If there are no volunteers, begin to read to the students.

6. After each way that germs are spread is read aloud from the sheet, stop to explain (or physically demonstrate with objects in the class or by drawing pictures on the board) how the germs are spread according to the statements read.

7. Ask students if they have any questions to help them understand these concepts better.

8. Explain that to stay healthy, a person must use personal care such as not being around people who are ill and by washing their hands often after touching objects in public. ( We never know if a person has coughed or sneezed where germs may have landed on the on the object.)

9. Ask the students to think of openings in the body where germs could enter.

10. List answers on the board. If they cannot think of any, hint by opening your mouth or by taking a deep, loud breath through your nose.

11. Have students use informational sheet and write “mouth” or “nose” by each concept to label the body part where germs would enter. (Only animal or bug bites will not have “mouth” or “nose” written beside them.)

12. Tell the students that you will distribute blank, white paper and markers. Tell them they should complete a diagram to show germs leaving a person’s body. Then, using directional arrows show where the germs go next. Continue showing where the germs go each step of the way until they reach a way to enter another person’s body.

13. In the diagram, apply information interpreted from the personal health care informational sheet to show two ways in which the germs could enter the second person’s body.

14. Ask if there are questions about the assignment.

15. Distribute criteria checklist for assessing the students’ diagrams. Students will use this as a self-checking list before submitting the assignment to the teacher for evaluation.(See Associated File.)

16. Read over each item and explain criteria to the class.

17. Tell the students that their work must include the items on the checklist for each part of the criteria.

18. Ask if there are any questions over the checklist.

19. Distribute the blank papers and markers.

20. The students are told to begin to draw the diagram and label the path of germs leaving a body and two ways the germs would enter another body. They should draw arrows between each picture to point to the direction the germs are moving.

21. As the students draw, teachers should walk around the room to observe student work and give feedback.

22. Have students trade work with peers to review and complete a checklist for their peers to see if the criteria is present.

23. Ask if any students would like to role play and orally explain the diagram to the class. Make sure to explain that students don’t’ actually touch other students in showing “ Germs are spread through direct contact with another person,” but only act it out.

24. Tell the students that using personal care such as covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing when they are ill may keep others healthier. Tell them that using personal care when they are around others who are ill, may help them stay healthy.


Criteria consists of a checklist to assess students' ability to comprehend, interpret and apply information on personal care and health presented in print and read to them orally. Assess the diagram completed by the student using the checklist criteria to show the path of germs while being spread from one person to another as described in the printed information sheet.

This is a formative assessment. Students who do not perform well will need additional instruction and practice in this area.


To modify for individual learning styles within the Exceptional Student Education class:

1. Prepare an overhead transparency of the informational sheet. Read aloud as you point to information being read.
2. Allow students to orally describe the diagram to you is they are unable to write the description.
3. Allow students to role play a description of the diagram.

This lesson may be used in regular classes for grades 2-3.

Attached Files

Personal Care and Ways Germs are Carried     File Extension: pdf

Germ Path Worksheet     File Extension: pdf

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