medical file cabinet Health

Keeping Your Children Healthy at Home

By Lally Stowell, in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Dobberteen

A Lesson on Common Childhood Illnesses, with Video

Keeping Your Children Health at Home VideoDescription
Step by Step
Follow Up Activities


This lesson uses a 20-minute video to begin the process of using health-related vocabulary, learning some basic health information, and discussing health issues with a health professional. In the class where this was developed, the viewing and discussing of this video prepared the students for a live visit from the same doctor afterwards. With this preparation, the students and doctor were better able to communicate their questions and answers, and have a meaningful discussion. In the process, the students shared and validated their knowledge and experience, and gained confidence in discussing health issues with professionals.

This lesson will be most effective if you pair it with a visit from a local health professional in your community. (Please see Chapter 2: Collaborating with Health Entities for ideas on collaborating with health professionals, and working with guest speakers.)


1. To introduce vocabulary, basic health information, and common practices related to common childhood illnesses.

2. To facilitate discussions that help students strengthen basic language skills, including integrating new information with existing ideas and practices.

3. To prepare students for a meaningful discussion with a local health professional.

4. To create a collaboration between the literacy class and community health resources.


Step by Step:

1. Before viewing each section, ask students to review and share information, beliefs, and practices they have learned or discussed in previous classes on this topic. List any questions they would like to have addressed in the video or follow up talk by a health professional.

2. Present important vocabulary words that students will hear used in the section they are about to view.  Present the words and definitions in the context of how they are used in the video.  (See the Vocabulary handout.)

3. View and discuss the video section by section. In each section, Dr. Dobberteen talks about symptoms to look for, what to have in the house and what to do

  • when children eat or drink something potentially poisonous
  • when children have a fever, cold, cough or the flu
  • when children are dehydrated or constipated
  • when children have minor cuts or scrapes
  • when children are exposed to a lot of sun

4. After watching each section, have students tell each other in pairs what they remembered, suggestions they liked or disagree with, and questions they have. Record their questions on the board for the subsequent visit from the local health professional.

5. Have students read the transcription/summary of the section they have just viewed. In pairs, have them summarize what they remembered, write down additional questions, and talk about any personal experiences they want to share.  This can be one of many opportunities for students to build trust, respect, concern for each other, and empathy for each other’s challenging life experiences. At the same time, they are developing basic language skills.

6. Send the final list of questions to the health professional who is scheduled to visit the class. Talk with this person about your students’ skill levels in English speaking and literacy.

7. Schedule the health professional to come to your class as a guest speaker. This person can respond to the questions that were listed earlier, as well as additional student concerns.

Follow Up Activities:

Have students write about:

  • information that interested them
  • experiences they have had
  • suggestions they plan to act on
  • questions they want to explore further
  • ways they plan to share information they learned

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