Colds and the Flu


If you’re looking for a fun and educational way to teach your students about colds and the flu, this lesson plan is perfect! Through hands-on activities, students will learn about the causes and symptoms of these illnesses, as well as how to prevent them.

Students will also gain a better understanding of why it’s important to take care of their bodies and stay healthy. They will discover that their health is their responsibility. Not only is this lesson plan informative, but it’s also interactive and engaging—perfect for keeping your students’ attention.

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What our Colds and the Flu lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Colds and the Flu explores the causes and symptoms that come with these two types of illnesses. Students will discover ways to prevent getting sick and understand why it’s important to maintain good health. They will also learn that they are responsible for their own personal wellness and health. This lesson is for students in 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you need to provide for this lesson are glitter, baby powder, and writing utensils.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page offers a number of suggestions for additional ideas and activities to incorporate into the lesson. There are a plethora of fantastic videos with songs for all age groups online. One idea is to find and show some of these videos to your students throughout the lesson. The CDC has a free booklet online about colds and the flu, and there are several winter illness guides online as well. Consider using a few of these booklets to supplement the lesson. Booklets can help guide parents and provide an extra resource for students. Another option is to consider having a doctor or other healthcare professional talk about germs and viruses with the class. They could discuss topics from hand-washing practices and covering the mouth and nose to mask-wearing and current Covid-19 practices.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page gives you a little more information on the lesson overall and describes the things on which you may want to focus your teaching. It explains that the goal of the activity is to make students more aware of the importance of washing their hands. The blank lines are available for you to write out any thoughts or ideas you have as you prepare for the lesson.



The Colds and the Flu lesson plan has two content pages. The first focuses on the cold virus and explains first that a cold is an infection in the upper respiratory system. This means that the virus affects our nose, throat, and sinuses. The most common cold virus is called the Rhinovirus, but there are actually over 200 kinds of cold viruses. There is no vaccine for it because there are so many variants.

The body’s immune system defends against colds by sending white blood cells to fight it. If the virus enters our bodies, our white blood cells battle against it to keep us from becoming sick. However, they aren’t always strong enough to win the battle, and we get sick anyway. It is vital to keep our immune system healthy and strong enough to fight these invaders.

When someone with a cold coughs or sneezes, mucus droplets (the wet, slimy stuff in our nose and mouth) float in the air around them. If another person breathes in those droplets, the cold can transfer to them, too. Another way to catch a cold is to touch something that the virus has been exposed to, like doorknobs or backpacks.

This is why it is so important to wash our hands. The soap can kill the germs before they get inside us. Symptoms of this illness include body chills, low fever, itchy or sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, feeling tired, and a lack of appetite. It is best to stay home when experiencing such symptoms so that it doesn’t spread to others.

Influenza (the Flu)

Influenza is an infection that we can get because of a virus. As with a cold, the flu virus spreads from tiny drops of mucus. A healthy person could breathe in those floating droplets or touch an exposed surface. Washing our hands and cleaning the surfaces around us is essential to help prevent the spread of the virus.

A couple of the symptoms for the flu are similar to those of a cold—fever, chills, and cough. Other symptoms include body aches, headaches, vomiting, and nausea. Luckily, unlike for the cold virus, the flu virus has a vaccine. Lots of people choose to get a flu vaccine every year. It helps lower the likelihood of contracting the virus.


The Colds and the Flu lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. These worksheets will help students demonstrate what they learned throughout the lesson and reinforce the lesson concepts. The guide on the classroom procedure page outlines when to hand out each worksheet to your students.


Divide students into two groups. One group will put glitter on their hands, and the other will not. The group with glitter will then shake hands with the students who don’t have glitter on their hands. After they complete the activity, they will answer a series of six questions on the worksheet. The goal is for them to see how germs can spread very easily from person to person.


The practice worksheet relates to the activity, so make sure you complete the activity before the practice worksheet. (Refer to step 4 of the classroom procedure guide regarding the baby powder.) Students will answer another series of questions about the spread of germs. If you want, they can work in pairs or small groups instead of alone. They may also need to use the content pages for reference.


For the homework assignment, students will create a brochure that teaches people about either colds or the flu. They will fold a paper into three sections. There should be a front cover, back cover, and four content sections. The first section will describe and explain what a cold or flu is. The second will discuss how it spreads. For the third section, students will list the symptoms of their chosen illness, and the last section will explore ways to stay healthy.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The practice and homework assignments also have answer keys. Students’ answers on the homework assignment will vary given the nature of the worksheet. The practice answer key provides answers in red to make it easy to compare them to your students’ work. There may also be variation in their responses here as well, but they should mirror the answer key fairly closely. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade



State Educational Standards

NHES.1.2.1 – NHES.1.2.5, NHES.1.5.1 – NHES.1.5.5

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state