Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Passive smoking – second level

What is this?

The activity involves children learning about the respiratory system and discussing the effects of passive smoking.

This learning activity is intended to support teachers and practitioners to plan learning experiences for children in their usual setting or while they are learning at home.

As well as taking account of national and local guidance relating to Covid-19, the activity should be used or adapted accordingly to consider the range of learners and their prior knowledge and individual circumstances in relation to this learning experience.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Experiences and Outcomes:  

I understand the effect that a range of substances including tobacco and alcohol can have on the body. HWB 2-38a              

When I engage with others, I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, show that I value others’ contributions and use these to build on thinking. LIT 2-02a

By investigating some body systems and potential problems which they may develop, I can make informed decisions to help me to maintain my health and wellbeing. SCN 2-12a

Purpose of the activity

Children will learn about the respiratory system, then discuss the effects of passive smoking on the body.

Learning activity

  • Introduce the activity by explaining that our bodies need to take in a steady supply of oxygen to help turn food into energy in our bodies. This produces carbon dioxide which our body has to get rid of. Our respiratory system supports the body to do that. Invite children to name any of the main body parts in our respiratory system:
    • Nose
    • Throat
    • Windpipe
    • Bronchi
    • Lungs
    • Alveoli
  • Explain that within the lungs, the bronchi divide into smaller and smaller branches which end up with tiny air sacs called alveoli. The alveoli contain tiny blood vessels called capillaries. We breathe in air, and blood in the capillaries picks up oxygen from the air. As the blood picks up oxygen, it also brings carbon dioxide from the body to the alveoli to be transported out of the body. You may wish to show children this video to support their understanding of the respiratory system.
  • Invite children to talk about how smoking tobacco might affect the respiratory system. They can do this with their classmates or with family members if they are learning at home. Remind them of what they need to do to listen well to others and to contribute effectively to discussions.
  • Take some feedback from children about their discussion with others about the effects of smoking on the respiratory system. This might include:
    • irritation of the windpipe
    • build-up of mucus or tar in the lungs which means they can’t work as efficiently
    • may cause a bad cough
    • running ‘out of breath’ when doing activity such as running for a bus.
  • Remind children that it is against the law to smoke indoors in public places. It is also not allowed to smoke inside a car if there is anyone under the age of 18 inside. Why do they think this is? Help children to understand that it is to reduce the impact of passive smoking, when people breathe in others’ tobacco smoke. What are children’s views about passive smoking? Ask them to discuss this with others.
  • Invite feedback from children’s discussions. Ensure they are aware that passive smoking can cause a higher risk of respiratory infections, bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Most exposure to passive smoking happens in the home and it can also reach very high levels inside cars because it is a small, enclosed space.

Extension activity

Invite children to create a visual demonstration of the dangers of passive smoking.

National Benchmarks

  • Gives examples of what can happen to the body as a result of smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.
  • Contributes a number of relevant ideas, information and opinions when engaging with others.
  • Discusses the main preventable causes of bronchitis, lung cancer and asthma, for example, smoking.

Possible approach to assessing learning

In assessing children’s understanding of this activity you might talk to children about their understanding of the respiratory system and the effect of smoking, including passive smoking.

When planning your approach to assessing learning, please take account of the latest guidance on assessment approaches.

Resource subject Health and wellbeing
Resource type Learning activity
Resource format Webpage