Tobacco and E-cigarettes

Lesson Overview

Tobacco companies use messaging, advertisements and now different flavors in their tobacco products to try and gain new consumers that could potentially be life-long users. By knowing the dangers, risk factors, and marketing strategies associated with cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and the relatively new e-cigarettes young people will be aware of and able to discuss reasons not to use any type of tobacco product.

*Note: This lesson can take up to several hours (each activity below can be done separately in less time).


What happens when you use tobacco:

  • It causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, and your major blood vessels to become smaller, making your heart work harder.
  • It slows your ability to heal.
  • It reduces the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, making you short of breath.
  • It decreases your taste and smell.
  • It causes your blood to clot faster. Smokers have a higher chance of heart attack, stroke and circulatory problems.

Other facts:

  • Tobacco makes your teeth turn yellow or brownish in color.
  • Smoking makes your skin wrinkle more.
  • Your breath, hair, clothing and household furnishings all smell like smoke if you smoke or live with a smoker.
  • Secondhand smoke can have harmful effects on the health of your entire family.
  • Seventy-five percent of smokers have at least one parent who smokes.
  • Restaurants and public places don’t allow smoking.
  • Your furniture, curtains, and carpeting smell like smoke if you smoke in your home, which you don’t notice. (This smell is caused by thirdhand smoke.)
  • Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Many others are known to be toxic.

The human body was not designed to smoke.

Adding Up the Cost – Financial Facts

Smoking one pack each day, at $7.50 per pack costs:

  • $7.50 a day
  • $52.50 a week
  • $210 a month
  • $2,730 a year
  • $13,650 in 5 years
  • $27,300 in 10 years
  • $68,250 in 25 years.

Nationally, the total health care cost of smoking is estimated at more than $167 billion every year.


What is an E-cigarette?

  • An e-cigarette is a device used in place of smoking tobacco. It is also known as an electronic cigarette, e-cig or water vapor cigarette.
  • An e-cigarette is a small tube that is often made to look like a cigarette. However, they do come in many varieties.
  • All major tobacco companies own and make e-cigarettes.

How Do You Use An E-Cigarette?

  • Nicotine liquid or nicotine-free liquid (often called “juice”) is put in the e-cigarette.
  • Each time you take a puff, the liquid moves past a small metal coil.
  • The coil heats up and warms the liquid causing it to come out as steam that looks like cigarette smoke.
  • You breathe in and out the steam, which is usually called “vaping.”

Is The Steam Just Water?

  • The steam you breathe in and out is not just water. It is vaporized chemicals found in the liquid, along with any chemical changes from the heated metal.

Are E-cigarettes Safe?

  • E-cigarettes are not regulated (controlled). They are also not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • The chemicals used in the liquid do not have to be safe or listed on the label.
  • Private testing has found many harmful chemicals in the liquid including:
    • lead
    • arsenic (found in rat poison)
    • formaldehyde (used to preserve dead tissue)
    • glycol (used in antifreeze).

Testing has also found chemicals known to cause cancer in humans.

  • The chemical glycerin (used in soap and beauty products) has also been found in the liquid. At this time, there is no information on how breathing in glycerin will affect your body.
  • It is very common for there to be more or less nicotine that what is listed on the label. It is possible for nicotine-free liquid to still have nicotine in it.
  • The nicotine in e-cigarettes is usually not filtered the same way it is in FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies (such as patches and gum). This allows harmful chemicals from tobacco to be in e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes have become popular, very quickly. This means there hasn’t been time to get results on long-term studies on the safety or health effects of e-cigarettes.

Activity: Tobacco Quiz

  1. Begin with the interactive quiz about tobacco. Have youth take the quiz individually or work together as a large group and display the quiz on a large screen.

Activity: What’s Actually in a Cigarette?

  1. Tobacco is just one of many ingredients in cigarettes. They actually contain over 7,000 chemicals – including at least 69 that are known to cause cancer. Distribute the “Toxic Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke” handout to show youth some of the most prevalent examples.
  2. Have youth work in teams to find images from magazines or the Internet of products that contain some of the same ingredients that are found in cigarettes.
  3. Give each group a poster board and ask them to create a poster that raises awareness of the chemicals found in cigarettes. They may want to title it something like “That’s What’s In a Cigarette?” or put the names of the chemicals at the top and the images below that. Encourage them to be creative and also try to get the message across that there are lots of unhealthy and even dangerous ingredients in cigarettes.
  4. See if you can find a place to display the posters where others will be able to see them and learn from them.

Activity: Why Use Tobacco?

  1. We know a lot about how bad cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes and juices are for our bodies. But we also know that lots of people still choose to use these products. So why is that? Lead a conversation with young people about why they think some people choose to use tobacco. You can use these and other questions as prompts:
  2. Why do you think some people start using tobacco?
    • What’s appealing about it?
    • What do they think will happen because it?
    • What do you think they know about it before they start?
    • How old do you think most people are when they start?
  3. Why do you think people continue using tobacco once they have started?
    • Do most people want to stop?
    • Why or why not?
    • If they do want to stop, why don’t they?

Take notes on a flip chart or white board about the different reasons people give. See if you can agree as a group on at least three reasons people choose to use.

Activity: An Honest Tobacco Advertisement

1. Now that young people have learned about many of the ingredients in tobacco products and what these products can do to the body, it’s their turn to make an ad…a truthful one. Show some sample advertisements for cigarettes from magazines, the Internet or other sources. Talk about the meaning of the ads with the youth – or have them talk about it in small groups.

Here are some questions to use as a guide:

  • How is this company trying to get you to buy or want their cigarettes?
  • Who is the intended audience for this ad? How do you know who the intended audience is?
  • Do you think that having or not having the cigarettes will make a difference in your life?
  • Do you know anything about cigarettes that the advertisement is not telling you?
  • Do you think this ad would make someone want to use their product?

2. Have young people discuss what a truth-telling ad for cigarettes would look like.

3. Decide what format to use – print or video or audio – and have the youth work in teams to create their own honest ads.

4. Share the ads with one another and with others if there is a place to display them.


Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing the negative effects and consequences of using tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Blowing smoke: understanding the effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes

Additional Instructor Resources

Super Sleep

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand how important sleep is to growing bodies and minds. The youth will determine how many hours of sleep they should get each night and learn how to track healthy sleeping habits in a sleep diary.


Introduce the topic of sleep by asking the questions below and facilitating a discussion with the participants’ answers.

How many hours should kids sleep every night? Let young people guess first. Then tell them the answer according to the following guidelines:

  • ages 3 to 10: 10 to 12 hours each day
  • ages 11 to 12: about 10 hours each day
  • teenagers (ages 13 to 17): about nine hours each day.

Then ask them: OK, so if you get up at (use an example of a time they might get up), what time should you go to sleep at night to make sure you get enough hours in? Help young people figure this out if they cannot do it on their own.

Why do kids need plenty of sleep? Let the youth answer, but make sure they understand the following reasons why sleep is important:

  • Sleep plays an important role in healthy growth and development. Your body needs the deep rest it gets during sleep to help your muscles, bones, and skin prevent injury and illness and helps your brain develop well.
  • Sleep also helps you remember what you learn, pay attention and concentrate, solve problems and think of new ideas. Studies show that people can focus better when they’ve had enough sleep, that’s especially important during school. Having enough sleep simply makes you feel better during the day.

Is all sleep the same? Let young people answer first and then explain that just like nature is full of cycles (the earth rotates, causing cycles of light and darkness – day and night; the moon has cycles) we have cycles in our sleep as well. Our bodies can’t get fully rested unless they are able to go through all the cycles several times. Explain that there are five stages in one cycle of sleep. Each cycle of sleep takes about 90 minutes. That means that within 10 hours of sleep we go through about six cycles and 33 stages of sleep.

  • Stage 1 and 2: You first fall asleep, but are not yet in a deep sleep.
  • Stage 3 and 4: You are in a deep, restful sleep. Your breathing and heart rate slow down, and your body is still.
  • Stage 5: You are in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Your brain is active and you dream.

Activity: Healthy Bedtime Habits

Ask the youth to think about what bedtime is like right now.

  • How do you sleep best? (Have kids demonstrate their favorite way to sleep.)
  • Do you sleep with any special blankets, stuffed animals, pillows etc.? (Have kids raise their hands to answer.)
  • What kinds of things things help you relax and feel sleepy? 
  • What makes it easier for you to go to sleep when you need to? 

Can you name some things that might help you have better bedtime habits? When young people come up with helpful ideas for how to develop good sleep habits, ask them to write them down on a piece of paper in checklist form. (Alternately, create a master checklist based on the answers and distribute copies.) Possible answers:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Your body gets used to a schedule and will be ready to sleep.
  • Don’t drink sodas with caffeine, especially in the afternoon and at nighttime.
  • Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
  • Exercise during the day. Running and playing at least 3 hours before bed helps your body get ready for sleep.
  • Avoid big meals before bedtime. Drink a glass of warm milk or have a light, healthful snack like fruit.
  • Have a bedtime routine. Do the same relaxing things before bed each night, like taking a warm shower, reading or listening to quiet music. Your body will know it’s time to get ready to sleep.

Activity: Sleep Diary

A good night’s sleep is important. Keep track of your sleeping habits using a sleep diary.

After a full night of sleep, you wake up ready for a new day of school, fun activities or family time. You use a lot of energy throughout your day to go to school, play outside, do your homework, participate in sports, practice an instrument, and play with your friends. After all of that, your body needs sleep!  Your body is just like a car’s gas tank, full in the morning and empty at the end of the day. If your family has a car, your parents have to fill up the car’s gas tank. Getting enough sleep will help you to fill up YOUR own gas tank! A full tank gives you enough energy to stay busy and do your best each and every day!

When you get enough sleep, you can:

  • pay attention better in school
  • be creative
  • fight sickness so you stay healthy
  • be in a good mood
  • get along with friends and family
  • solve problems better.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you can:

  • forget what you learned
  • have trouble making good choices
  • be grumpy and in a bad mood
  • have trouble playing sports/games
  • be less patient with brothers, sisters and friends
  • have trouble listening to parents and teachers
  • become sick more often.

You should talk to your parents and doctor if you:

  • have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • snore or have trouble breathing while you sleep
  • have weird feelings or “growing pains” in your legs
  • feel sleepy or tired during the day.


Ask the young people to use this sleep diary to keep track of their sleep over the next week to help them know how healthy their sleep habits are or are not.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing healthy sleep habits at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog(s)

Promoting a good night’s sleep

Are your kids getting enough sleep?

Additional Instructor Resources

Your Kid’s Sleep

Splash! Why Is It Important To Bathe?

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand why we need to bathe on a regular basis—with an emphasis on bathing several times a week. The youth will take part in a demonstration that helps them visualize how germs are spread from person to person. Finally, they will practice proper hand-washing with soap.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following notes about cleanliness. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions about why it is important to bathe.

How often a person should take a bath or shower depends somewhat on individual preference and family and cultural norms. But there are several reasons that it’s important to make sure kids know why we bathe, including:

  1. Physical Health—Regular baths or showers with a mild soap, followed by drying with a clean towel, help wash away germs and prevent illness, infection, and other problems.
  2. Mental Health—Taking a bath or shower in the morning can be invigorating and help you wake up. If you prefer bathing in the evening, it can be soothing and help you calm down.
  3. Social Health—Bodies have smells…lots of them. The less often we clean ourselves the more likely we are to develop noticeable odors. Sometimes these can turn people off. The appearance of not being clean can also cause us to feel self-conscious and insecure. Most people don’t need a lot of deodorant, special creams, or perfumes to look, feel, and smell clean as long as they are following a regular cleaning routine.


Begin by asking the youth: “why is it important for us to regularly take baths or showers?” Most young people will be able to answer this but many children do try to avoid the bath at some point in their lives, so reinforcing the concept is a good idea. Use the information from the Instructor Notes above as appropriate.

Activity: Looking for Germs

Explain to the youth that one very important reason to take a bath or shower is to wash away germs that can make us sick. Tell them they are going to demonstrate how easy it is to pass germs around.

  • Explain that germs are a lot like glitter in that they get on everything we touch or that touches us. That’s why it’s so important to bathe ourselves at the end of a day or a time we’ve been very active or gotten dirty.
  • Give each young person a small amount of petroleum jelly to rub on their hands.
  • Then sprinkle their hands with a bit of glitter. Have them shake hands with one another, and touch pieces of paper or other objects that can get a little bit glittery. (Caution…this can get MESSY!)
  • Once the youth have experienced how easy it is to spread germs (by touching other objects), instruct them to wash their hands thoroughly to remove all glitter.
  • To assure proper hand-washing, we need to rub all surfaces of our hands using soap and clean running water to make a lather. Rub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Once everyone has had a chance to wash their hands, ask the youth about their experience and note that a quick rinse didn’t remove glitter or germs.

Activity: Hand Washing

  • Teach young people a song to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” The words are, “This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands; this is the way we wash our hands, to make sure they get clean.”
  • Explain that this song can help you make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Using a clock or timer, see how long it takes you to sing the song. For example, if it takes 10 seconds to sing the verse, young people can sing it twice so that they know that they have washed their hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Have the young people each practice washing their hands while singing the song.
  • If time permits, ask for suggestions of other verses and mime them as a class. They might suggest, for example, “This is the way we wash our hair.”

How Often Should You Take a Bath?

One common question can be how often children should bathe or shower. While some resources will advocate the importance of bathing daily, we advocate a routine of bathing several times a week.


At the end of the session, you can reiterate that while bathing and washing are personal things and everyone gets to make their own choices about them—including whether to shower or take baths and how often—there are good reasons to have a regular routine. You can also emphasize that it especially impacts others around us if we don’t keep our hands clean. Check out our Starter Kit program and find all of your classroom lessons for kids in one place.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue the conversation about healthy washing habits.

Skin: Caring for the Largest Organ

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the basic structure, function, and care of skin. Youth will be introduced to the topic with an online interactive quiz. They will read about the skin, including tips for its care, then get creative by designing products and giving persuasive presentations.


This lesson focuses on three aspects of skin: its basic structure, the jobs it does for our bodies and how to care for it. You can introduce the topic by having young people take the Online Quiz either individually or as a larger group. Discuss the answers. Were there any answers that surprised you?

Give each of the young people a copy of the Skin Handout. Review the diagram and headings. If time permits, youth may want to read this before starting the activity below.


  1. In small groups, invent new skin-care products and try to “sell” them to the rest of the class. The youth can do this as a written advertisement (preferably with some art…like a magazine ad), a pretend radio ad (spoken with no actions) or a pretend video/television ad (incorporating actions). Be sure to include:
    • a description of your product (a cream, a cleanser, or something less common…be creative!)
    • the problem it solves
    • why people should buy it.
  2. Young people do skits or presentations for others about skin health and skin care. Tell them the goal is be persuasive…to convince their peers to do their best to keep their skin healthy. If they have access to the Internet you can allow them to look up additional information.


Skin health and skin care will always be an important part of our lives. Encourage young people to take the handout and newsletter home as references they can keep and perhaps share with other family members.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing skin health at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Safe and Fun, In the Sun!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand how to keep their skin safe in the sun. The youth will identify signs of melanoma and take note of any moles to watch on their own bodies.


Start by telling the youth that everybody needs some exposure to the sun.  It is our body’s main source of Vitamin D which makes our bones stronger and healthier by absorbing calcium. Most people do not need a lot of sun exposure to get the vitamin D that they need, in fact too much unprotected sun exposure can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and even cause skin cancer.

There are many ways to prevent these dangers.

  • Young people should wear a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher while in the sun.
  • They should also be especially careful from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.
  • It is important that sunscreen is reapplied often, especially after getting the skin wet.
  • It may be helpful to wear long sleeves and a hat to protect the skin from overexposure.
  • Tell the youth that wearing sunglasses with 100% UV (ultraviolet) protection while outside will help protect their eyes from being damaged by the sun.
  • Remind the  young people that their skin can get burned even on cloudy days so make sure to be careful if spending time outside.

If the skin does burn, there are some things you can do to make it feel better.

  • Take a cool bath.
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel to any part of the skin that is sunburned.
  • Use a moisturizing cream to rehydrate the skin to treat itching.

Activity: Body Map

  1. Hand out some laminated photos with different types of skin cancer for the class to pass around.  Tell them that a lot of skin cancers show up in moles. Teach them about the ABCDE’s of a mole (see right). Visit What Does Melanoma Look Like? for more information.
  2. See if the youth  can find any moles on their arms or legs. Have them inspect the mole using the ABCDE’s for skin cancer.
  3. Have each young person make a skin map of their bodies:
    • Hand out a copy of the body ‘map’ using the template provided.
    • Have each young person look at their arms, hands and neck and fill in any moles, birthmarks or freckles they have, onto the body “map.”

ABCDE’s of a Mole

  • A = Is it asymmetric or irregular in shape?
  • B = Does it have a border that is ragged or notched as healthy moles generally don’t.
  • C = Is it a funny color (red, black, mixture of colors)?
  • D = Is it larger in diameter than a pencil eraser?
  • E = Is it evolving or getting bigger? Any change in shape, color, elevation or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting is a danger sign.


Each young person should bring the body ‘map’ home to have the rest of the body completed with the help of a parent. Tell the youth that they can look back to the body ‘map’ if they see any new or changing spots.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which includes tips for keeping skin safe in the sun and instructions for watching the ABCDE’s of moles.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog(s)

Summer sun protection

Sun protection – we’ve got you covered

Additional Instructor Resources

Sunwise for Kids computer games by


What Are These Spots On My Skin by Scott Naughton
Skin Sense: A Story about Sun Safety for Young Children by Lori Lehrer-Glickman

Power Off!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people define “screen time” and potential problems with spending too much time looking at electronic screens.  They will analyze how much of their day they spend in front of electronic screens and think of healthy ways to limit their screen time.


Help the youth define screentime by asking these questions and discussing as a group:

  • What exactly is screen time? (Screen time includes time spent in front of the TV, computer, phone/texting, or video game playing.)
  • How much screen time do you have?
  • What are some ways you can cut down on screen time?

Activity: How Much Screen Time Do You Have?

Ask young people to write down their screen time each day for one week. They track their total numbers of hours each day. It could also help for them to write down what type of screen time it is. This will give them a visual sense of how they’re spending their time throughout the week.

After young people have tracked their screen time for a week, discuss the group’s results with the following questions:

  • How much screen time do you usually have in the morning, before school? Is this your routine just about every morning?
  • Do you have any screen time during school? How much?
  • What about after school, before dinner?
  • How about during dinner?
  • How about at night, after dinner?
  • How about on Saturdays? Sundays?

Young people might be surprised by how much screen time pediatricians (doctors who take care of children) think is healthy for youth to have each day.

Ask the youth, how much for kids 2 years old and younger? (Have the young people write down a number.)

Next, how much for kids older than 2? (Again, have them write down a number.)

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following for screen time:

  • Children younger than 18 months: No screen time, except for video-chatting.
  • Children 18 months to 24 months: If you want to introduce screen time to your child, choose high-quality programs and watch them with your child.
  • Children age 2 to 5: Limit your child to 1 hour or less of high-quality programs each day. Watch these programs with your child to help him/her better understand them.
  • Children age 6 and older: Set a screen time limit that is right for your child and the whole family. It’s important that screen time never replaces healthful behaviors such as physical activity, sleep and interaction with others.

Ask the young people, how do you feel about this? Does it surprise you? (Getting feedback from them will help them to feel like they’re part of this process.)

Can you guess what some of the reasons are for why you should only have two hours or less? Ask them for their ideas, but make sure they get this message:

  • One of the main reasons is that the more screen time you have, the more time you spend sitting or lying down, and not really moving your body.
  • The less time you spend moving your body, the higher the chances are that you could end up having too much extra weight on your body.
  • Extra weight can cause health problems now, and when you get just a little older. Health problems include: weaker heart and bones, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These conditions used to only be found in older people, now pediatricians are seeing younger kids with these conditions.

Activity: Cutting down screen time

Now we need to take a look at the amount of time you spend in front of a screen each day to figure out ways to get it to about two hours or less, if it’s not there already. Here are some simple things you can do:

  • Try to remember to turn off the television if nobody’s really watching.
  • Plan ahead! Look at the shows that are going to be on each day, and choose which ones would be good to watch.
  • Turn off the television and games when eating meals.
  • Avoid eating while at the computer or watching TV. This helps keep us from eating too much.
  • Set a timer to help us remember to get away from the TV or computer or whatever screen we’re using, because it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re in front of a screen.

Ask the youth to come up with some ideas of things they would like to do to replace screen time with other things. And let’s make them things that will be fun to do as a family, or fun for you to do with your friends, or sometimes just fun for you on your own.

Remind young people that this is just one of many lessons about breaking habits that aren’t so healthful and replacing them with habits that are healthful. Changing habits is challenging for everybody—kids and parents. We can all help each other, and remind each other we’re doing this to make improvements in our health, but also to have fun together as a family.


Set screen time goals for the next week. Some examples include:

  • Turn the television off if nobody’s really watching it.
  • Eat our food in the kitchen or dining room. No screen time while eating!
  • Do not text during family meals or other time set aside for family activities.

Keep track of your screen time each day. When you’ve reached two hours, replace your screen time with a healthy activity. If you’ve had plenty of exercise already, read a book, make artwork or crafts, or even just have a conversation with other family members.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing ways to limit screen time at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Decreasing Screen Time Article

Wash Hands for Health!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the importance of hand-washing. Youth will learn how to wash their hands and color a worksheet with the  proper hand-washing steps.


Germs are everywhere, but we can take action to reduce them and lower our chances of getting sick! Washing your hands is the easiest way to reduce the risk of spreading germs that cause infections. Everyone can benefit from learning good hand-washing techniques. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, and before eating.

If you cannot get to a sink, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Hands get more germs on them than other parts of your body.

When you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the germs can get inside your body and can make you sick. And when you have germs on your hands, you can spread the germs to other people and make them sick too.

Germs on your hands can also get on food you eat and can make you sick. That’s why it’s important to wash your hands before helping with any food preparation and before meals or snacks.

To help stop the spread of germs you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Put the used tissue in the waste basket and go wash your hands.


We know that germs can make us sick. But where are germs and how do they make us sick? What can we do to stop germs from making us sick? Wash our hands!

Today we’re going to learn why we need to wash our hands and how to wash germs away the right way.

Engage the youth in a discussion about the right steps to good hand-washing. Refer them to the “Simple Steps for Squeaky Clean Hands” handout. Read through steps one through six and show good hand-washing if a sink is available. The youth can color the worksheet as well.

Ask young people, how long should we wash our hands to be sure to get the germs off?

You should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song. And be sure to wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold)… and use soap!

Depending on the age of the youth, you might want to post hand-washing tips near the sink in the bathroom.


Conclude the lesson by handing out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue developing healthy hand-washing habits at home.

 Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Practicing good hand-washing techniques will help keep germs away

Smile Bright! Tooth Care

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand why it is important to brush and floss their teeth. The youth will observe effects of corrosive liquids on eggshells as a demonstration of how harsh materials affect tooth enamel.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about dental care for children. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

There are many more reasons to keep your teeth clean than just having a nice smile, though that’s a good one too! Tooth decay (also known as cavities or dental caries) affects children in the United States more than any other chronic (long-lasting) infectious disease. If not prevented or properly treated, it can cause infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

The combination of dental sealants and fluoride has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-age children, but good habits are also still a part of the equation.

Brushing your teeth twice every day keeps your teeth—and your gums—clean and healthy. Even if you don’t have permanent teeth yet, you still need to brush. If you don’t brush, the permanent teeth growing underneath can be damaged by the tooth decay that can be growing on the surface.

And you need to brush permanent teeth every day because that’s the best way to keep them healthy. Those teeth need to last your whole life! Healthy teeth are one sign of good health.


Use hard-boiled eggs to demonstrate the impact of different substances on teeth.

  1. Explain to young people that eggshells are similar to the enamel (hard surface) on our teeth and just like eggshells, our teeth can be damaged if we don’t keep them clean and healthy.
  2. Fill one cup with soda (cola or other carbonated sugar beverage) and place an egg it.
  3. Fill one cup with vinegar and place an egg in it.
  4. Fill one cup with water and place an egg in it.
  5. Explain to young people that everyday for several days they should check on the eggs to see what’s happening with them.
  6. After several days (3 to 5) remove the eggs from the liquid. Ask the youth to describe what they notice. The youth will see that the egg in the soda is stained, the egg in the vinegar is soft and pitted, and the egg in the water is fairly intact. Explain how cola, vinegar or other substances can cause damage to our teeth just like it did to the egg shell. Brushing and flossing and drinking plenty of water help to keep our teeth clean and healthy.
  7. Ask the young people what they think about the experiment, and whether there is anything they’ll change about how they treat their teeth now that they’ve done the experiment.


Remind young people that taking care of their teeth is an important part of living a healthy life. Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing dental health at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Get brushing: February is oral care month!

Additional Instructor Resources

Healthy Me Checklist

Living a Healthy Life

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand how living a healthy life has to do with more than just what they eat. Healthy living requires following certain habits and routines each and every day. The youth will identify the things they each do personally to lead to healthy lives. Then together they plan an event that includes treats that encourage healthy habits.


Explain that health can mean different things to different people. In this lesson, we’re going to talk about healthy stuff that’s not about food. Why? Because to have a healthy life, you need to have certain habits and routines that you follow each and every day.

A healthy life is like a puzzle that you’ve put together. All the pieces are connected, and when one piece is missing, the puzzle is not complete. For a healthy life, you do need to eat well, but there are other pieces of that puzzle that need to come together too.

Activity: Healthful Habits

  1. Ask the young people what they could do today to live a healthier life. To start the discussion you could say: “I brushed my teeth this morning and I’m going to do it again tonight before I go to bed.” Ask the young people to name a healthy activity they’ve done today and have them give a reason why they believe the activity is healthy. Correct the young person if needed.
  2. Can you think of your habits that are connected to good health? Give the youth the chance to think about this for a moment. They might need you to give them some hints to get them on the right track. You could offer questions, such as:
    • “What about your teeth?” to prompt them to answer that brushing their teeth is a healthy habit.
    • “What do we do with our hands before we eat?” To prompt them to answer that washing their hands before they eat is a healthy habit.
    • “How do we keep our whole bodies clean?” To prompt them to answer that taking a bath or shower each day is a healthy habit.
    • “What do you do every night, until morning?” To prompt them to give you the answer that they need “a good night’s sleep.”

Activity: Plan a Healthy Celebration

Ask the youth to coordinate a healthy birthday celebration or Halloween or Valentine’s Day treat. Instead of bringing in sugary treats, advertise healthier options. Have the young people brainstorm ways to make their school party’s sugar-treat free! Suggest small treasures instead, such as decorated pencils, homemade cards, erasers, toothbrushes, etc.


Close the lesson by reminding young people that there are many ways to be healthy everyday. For the next couple days, try to notice the healthful activities you do such as exercising, eating healthy snacks, keeping clean and getting a good night’s sleep. Keep track of your healthy choices on the Healthy Me Checklist. Each time you notice one, congratulate yourself for taking steps to live a healthy life!

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue to discuss healthy choices in daily life.

Additional Instructor Resources

Let’s Talk! Maximizing the Benefits of Family Mealtime

Lesson Introduction & Overview

There’s lots of talk in the world of parenting about the importance of connecting as a family at mealtime, with good reason. Research shows that some of the benefits can include:

  • better academic performance
  • higher self-esteem
  • greater sense of resilience
  • lower risk of substance abuse
  • lower risk of teen pregnancy
  • lower risk of depression
  • lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
  • lower rates of obesity

Very rarely do adults encourage young people to take the initiative when it comes to family dinner (or another meal); the focus is typically on parents. This lesson helps young people become leaders of positive family mealtime communication and provides them with tips and conversation starter ideas.


  1. Introduce the topic – Depending on the maturity of the youth, ask and talk about a few of the questions below:
    1. How many of you have dinner or other meals with your family three times a week? More than that? Less than that?
    2. What are some things you like about family mealtimes?
    3. What are some things you don’t like or wish were different about family mealtimes?
  2. Family mealtimes, away from distractions such as media, are important for a variety of reasons:
  • families that eat together regularly tend to be physically healthier
  • relationships between parents or guardians and young people tend to be stronger
  • young people do better in school
  • families talk about important topics that might not otherwise get talked about.

Explain to young people that they can be important leaders in their families. Young people can encourage their family to sit down to eat together and have important or fun conversations. The rest of this activity is one way to do that.

  1. Brainstorm conversation topics. Have them write their ideas on slips of paper. You can also distribute the Let’s Talk handout that is included with this lesson. They can use it to spark ideas or can cut it up and use it as is.
  2. Create “Let’s Talk – Conversation Starters” jars or boxes. Give young people time to decorate their jar or box. Distribute the Let’s Talk handout for youth to cut into strips along the dotted lines. Each youth can then fill his or her jar or box with the strips and take it home for his or her family to choose a strip from the jar or box and start talking!

Reflection – Ask young people the following questions:

  • What is their favorite food to have at a family meal?
  • Why is this meal their favorite?
  • Does it remind them of a special memory?
  • Is it cooked by someone they love?


This activity turns the tables, so to speak, when it comes to family mealtimes. It puts young people in the driver’s seat. Adults are not always used to thinking of young people as leaders in their families, but giving them small roles like this can help them strengthen connections with their families as well as build important social and emotional skills that will help them in other areas of their lives.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English and Spanish so that families can practice an attitude of gratitude at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Parent Resources