“Don’t Sneeze!” Germs, Illnesses, Bacteria, Viruses – Science Lessons for Elementary Students

No matter the weather, sometimes we feel a little under the weather.

Let’s grow forth and multiply into learning about some of the world’s nastiest germs, bacteria and viruses.

One of the key takeaways this unit is the importance of handwashing to scrub the bacteria off of our hands and skin. And also to cover our mouths when we sneeze, cough, and breathe and are showing signs of sickness.

Below are discussion questions ready for a Germs Heath and Science Unit Study. These questions are based around the amazing book, “Germs Make Me Sick” by Melvin Berger, part of the Let’s Read and Find Out science series. Every question listed below in the discussion can be answered by this detailed, accessible science book! It is designed that an upper elementary student can follow along and answer this non-fiction text by themselves, or that preschool and kindergarten students can answer questions orally after hearing each page read aloud to them.

I really recommend checking this book out in the library or buying a copy if you want to follow along. It’s very informative and is a starter book for learning all about germs.

Click here if you want to jump ahead to videos of germs, hygiene, and illness prevention.

Discussion Questions:

What are ways you know that you are sick?

How do illnesses affect your throat? Your head? Your energy level?

Can we see germs?

Fun fact: the word germ comes from the word seed. This is because early on they knew germs were small, and like seeds they plant a sickness inside of their host.

Can we see germs?

What two types of germs most affect us and make us sick?

b__________ and v_____________

Draw three shapes that bacteria can look like.

Are viruses bigger or smaller than bacteria?

Draw a picture of what a virus can look like:

Where are germs?

Do you have germs on you right now?

Does food have germs?

Does a glass of water have germs?

Are all germs harmful to us?

What part of our body stops most germs from getting in?

What happens if it has open cuts or wounds?

How does your nose prevent germs?

How does your mouth prevent germs from coming inside?

Do sneezes have germs?

Are there germs in the cup we are drinking from?

What should we do if we get a cut on our knee or hand from falling down?

How will that keep us from getting germs?

Which color blood cell goes after the germs that get into our bodies?

What are the proteins that attack germs called? __________________

Germs multiply. Let’s try this doubling pattern to see how germs grow.

1+1 =2+2=4 + 4 =8 + 8 =

What will be the next number in the pattern? So 1 bacterium can become ______ bacteria really quickly as the germs grow and double.

Do some bacterias give off poisonous waste?

What are things that might go wrong in someone’s body if their cells are being damaged?

What can harm your teeth and cause cavities?

For this reason, dentists recommend _________________________ to wash away the germs on your teeth.

Choices: eating sugar brushing your teeth smiling big

Ear infections and pimples are also caused by ___________________________ .

Some bacteria can release proteins that travel all around your body through your __________________.

Viruses work differently. To reproduce, they need to get into a body’s ____________.

How many copies of a virus can be made?

What are some illnesses that are caused by viruses? Name 5.

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .
  4. .
  5. .

Most illnesses from bacteria and viruses are short-lived, How long do you feel really sick from these?

When the illness doesn’t pass in 1 to 2 days, as expected, one person you should visit is the ________________.

They will test your germs using your _______________ or _______________ to figure out what germs are making you sick.

Do we have medicine to stop bacteria from growing?

Do we have medicines that stop all viruses?

Instead, what do we have that can prevent viruses from getting us sick?

When you are sick, should you exercise a lot, or rest in bed?

Should you drink lots, eat well, and rest? Why?

What are eight rules for staying healthy? Draw a picture for each of them, or write them down.

Which of the rules is your favorite?

Connection Questions: [after finishing the text]

Ask your relative about a time that they got sick. What germs did they have that caused them to get unwell? What were the signs that they were sick?

What advice would you give someone who is sick from germs. What can they do to feel better soon?

If someone is feeling sick, should they sneeze without covering their mouth? Should they attend school and crowded events? Should they wash their hands?

Wow, that’s a lot of information about germs. These questions do not have to be written down by the student. They can be asked and answered orally. They can be used as trivia questions. They can be a jumping off place for researching more about specific bacteria and virus germs.

They might want to be asked over several read-throughs, so that the first reading lets the student make a first impression – learning what is germ in general – and then later readthroughs have the student identifying the eight rules for not spreading germs, comparing viruses to bacteria, and explaining how to reduce germs by washing cuts and scrapes on the body. .

Again, all answers for this discussion book can be found in “Germs Make Me Sick” by Melvin Berger, the book illustrated by Marilyn Hafner. It is a really rich resource for young readers – it not only provides a science lesson, but a health and public safety lesson that prevents illness as well.

This would go well with a Human Body Science Unit Study, a unit on germs and hand-washing, or during cold and flu season in a classroom. It’s a great book: “Germs Make Me Sick” by Melvin Berger.

Germs, Sickness, and Hygiene Health Videos for Elementary Students

Video about Washing our Hands, why we get sick (Storybots): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBKvbQ12X1U

Video about Germs and how we catch colds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ECPrtjnoCg

If you made it this far, thank you for spending this time with me learning about germs, microbes who too often crash the party. You can crash the party of our learning adventures by joining us on and subscribing to the fun on our email list.

Final Question

What is your favorite thing to do on a day you feel sick and have to stay home? Or, what is your biggest pet-peeve with germ hygiene?
Let me know in the comments below. It’s now time to go disinfect, shower, and hydrate to stay healthy.

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