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Asthma Poster Campaign



Grade Levels: 3 - 4
This activity would be most effective if delivered in four 50-minute to one-hour sessions.

Before beginning this activity, watch the video listed below or preview the clips on the Web. Contact municipal or health organizations or your local hospital for copies of campaign posters on topics such as asthma, smoking, recycling, etc.

Materials Needed:
Children will need:
  • Poster paper (one per group)
  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Rulers
  • Children's magazines
  • Glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Drinking straws (one per child)
  • Newsprint paper
Group leader will need:
  • The video KEEPING KIDS HEALTHY "Asthma: A National Epidemic," or the ability to show the digitized clips on a TV or projector
  • Television with VCR
  • Chart paper
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Informational posters about issues such as: asthma, smoking, recycling
Academic Goals:
Children will:
  • Understand fractions as the relationship of part to whole through real life applications
  • Learn about the condition, triggers, and ways to cope with asthma
  • Compare their previous knowledge of asthma with new information presented in an educational video
  • Gain media literacy skills by analyzing advertisements for style, information, and effectiveness
  • Draw from and synthesize information about asthma and apply it to the creation of an asthma poster
  • Develop oral presentation skills
Social Goals:
Children will:
  • Have opportunities to work collaboratively in small groups toward a common goal
  • Brainstorm ideas and design a creative asthma awareness campaign poster
  • Share information within a small group and across groups

Introductory Activity (15 minutes)
  1. Explain to the students that the next few activity sessions will focus on asthma, which they may know something about, either personally or from other people they know who may have it. To begin, go around the room and ask each student to say something they know about asthma. If students are unsure, they can say what they think it is or any associations they have when hearing the word. Write their responses on chart paper. Put a question mark next to any comments that students are unsure of. You can refer back to these as the activity sessions progress and students learn more.

  2. Next, ask the students what they would like to know about asthma, and write their responses on a separate piece of chart paper. Tell them that their questions will be answered as they go through the activities (simulation, video, website, interviewing people with asthma).
Activity 1 (45 minutes)
  1. Ask the children to count off and write the total number of students in the room on the chart paper. Then, ask students to stand up if they have asthma. Ask them to count off and write the number of students with asthma above the total number of students. Add a line in between the numbers to make a fraction. Ask students, "What do you call this?" (a fraction) Ask students to explain the relation between the top number to the bottom number (part to whole) and ask, "Does a small or large part of the class have asthma?"

  2. Next, ask students to stand up if they know someone who has asthma, aside from themselves. It could be a family member, neighbor, or friend. Have those students count off, and ask them to create a fraction with that number. Ask students to write the answer on a piece of paper and then share the answer aloud. Write the second fraction next to the first on the chart paper. Ask the children what they think about the amount of people who have asthma or know someone who does - is this more or less than they thought it would be?

  3. Ask the students who do not have asthma what they think it physically feels like to have it. What part of their body does it affect? Record the responses on chart paper. If no one has any ideas, proceed to the next part of the activity, the asthma simulation. Tell students that they will do an activity next so they can get an idea of what it feels like to have asthma.

  4. Ask the students to stand up and take a long deep breath. Instruct them to inhale slowly until they cannot take in any additional air. Ask them to exhale slowly. Talk them through the process a number of times. While they are doing this, tell them to pay attention to what it is like to breathe comfortably and how we do it without even thinking about it. Ask them to consider what it would feel like if they suddenly could not breathe.

  5. Next, hand out one straw to each student, which they hold in their hand. Explain to the students that they will first run in place for three minutes, and afterwards they will inhale and exhale only through the straw. See if they have any questions, and if not, instruct students to begin running. (Children who identified themselves as having asthma should be timekeepers and not participate in this exercise.) As the students are breathing through the straw, ask them to pinch it so that there is less space for the air to travel through it. Explain to them that what they are experiencing is how people feel when they are trying to breathe during an asthma flare-up.

  6. Ask students to describe how they felt trying to breathe through the straw and write their responses on the paper next to how they thought it would feel, comparing ideas before and after the breathing activity. Tell the students that the next activity session will begin with watching a video that explains what they experienced. In the meantime, students should speak with other people they know who have asthma and ask them some of the questions they came up with, or any other question they may have about what its like to have asthma, in order to learn more to share the next time.

Activity 2 (50 minutes to one hour)
  1. Begin the session by having students go around the room and share any new information they learned about asthma from conversations with friends and family. Add the comments to the chart paper that lists what they know about asthma. If they have additional questions, add them to the piece of chart paper with the students' questions.

  2. Remind students of the breathing exercise they did and tell them they will watch a video clip relating to it. Before beginning the video, ask the students to count off so they are in pairs or threesomes, and have them sit next to their partners. Pass out pencils and one copy of the handout What I Know about Asthma to each group. Tell them that after they watch the video they will work together to list the things they learned about asthma.

  3. Video Clip
    child with asthma

    Anthony's Story:
    Asthma Attack
    If you can't show the clip from the Web, cue the video to where the host, Dr. Winnie King, says "Karen, when Anthony is having an asthma attack…" End the clip after she says "It's a pretty scary feeling, isn't it?" and the boy responds "Yeah."

  4. It is also possible to show the clip more than one time so students can listen and take in the information in order to write their responses. After they complete the handout, have students share what they've written. If applicable, point out which of their previous questions have been answered.

  5. Next, give a copy of the handout What Can Cause an Asthma Attack? to each group. Tell students they will watch another video clip about factors that may trigger asthma attacks. Afterwards, they will work in their groups to record what in the environment can trigger asthma attacks. If you can't show the clip from the Web, start the tape when Dr. King asks "Well, Ben why does it seem asthma is so prevalent in inner city areas?" End it when the expert says "get so excited and cause this attack."

  6. Video Clip
    Doctor speaking of Asthma

    Asthma Attack?
    The video can also be rewound and shown more than one time. While students work on the handout, circulate around the room and ask students to explain their choices. When they're finished, have them share what they've written and list their responses on a piece of chart paper titled Asthma Triggers.

  7. Ask students to look at the lists they made on the two worksheets and think about how they would explain asthma to someone else their age, someone who does not know anything about what asthma is, how it feels to have asthma, or what can trigger an attack. Explain that each group will use the information on the charts and on their worksheets to create an asthma poster to help other kids learn about asthma. Give each group the handout My Asthma Poster and ask them to write down the information they want to include on their posters. Guide each group as they work to create a plan. Tell students that in the next session they will design and create their posters. If students want additional facts about asthma, and computers with Internet access are available, they can go to the Asthma Kids' Zone Web site at

Activity 3 (50 minutes to one hour)
  1. Have available copies of different ad campaigns from magazines, health organizations, and/or hospitals dealing with such topics as: asthma, smoking, or recycling. The campaign advertisements used should have bold lettering, large pictures, color, and be informative. If possible, have copies of the ads for each group. If they are too large, they can circulate among the groups or be posted on the walls.

  2. Ask children to identify the subject of the ads, what aspects stood out to them and why, paying attention to pictures, graphics, color, and style of text. Record their answers, and tell them that they should refer to this list as they complete their posters.

  3. Hand out newsprint for the students to use for a rough draft of their poster and other materials they may need such as: magazines, markers, rulers, pencils, and scissors. Explain that they should first write and draw their idea on the newsprint, and cut out any items from magazines and place them where they would want them to be on the poster board. Instruct students that when each group finishes the task, they should look over their worksheets and chart papers to check if they have all the information they want to present. Tell students that they should raise their hands when they have completed their draft, so that you can discuss their work with each group. After doing so, give each group a piece of poster paper and glue sticks. If time permits, students can begin transferring their ideas and items to their poster. Remind students that the posters are to teach other kids about asthma, and that they will present and explain them to the group upon completion.

Activity 4 (50 minutes to one hour)
  1. Students can continue working on their asthma posters in small groups. Upon completion, look at each poster, discuss it with the group, and offer any additional suggestions or questions for clarification. When students have finished, they should plan how they will present their work to the group so that each student will have a chance to speak. Students who complete their posters and are ready for their presentation before the rest of the group is ready can play asthma games on the Web site

  2. When all the groups have completed the project, congratulate the students for a job well done. Have them come up by group and share their work with the larger group, reminding students to speak slowly and clearly, and be respectful and attentive to their classmates. After each group presents, ask if other students have questions for the presenters. Ask students, based on what they learned, how they would handle a situation in which they were alone with someone experiencing an asthma flare-up.

  3. Prompt children to talk about their experience doing this project. Ask each child to say one thing that was good about doing it and something they learned, and one thing they would change to make it better. At the end, students' posters can be hung on other classroom walls or in public spaces or hallways so other children in your program can learn from them.


This AFTERSCHOOL EXCHANGE activity was developed by Esther Grant-Walker, Afterschool Program Coordinator at the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, and Julie Spiegel Ph.D., Educational Specialist at The Point CDC, based on the KEEPING KIDS HEALTHY episode "Asthma: A National Epidemic."

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