Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The effects of drinking alcohol – second level

What is this?

This learning activity supports children to understand some of the effects of drinking alcohol. They will learn that alcohol comes in different strengths.

The activity is intended to support teachers 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

Purpose of the activity

Children will consider some of the effects of drinking alcohol on the body. They will learn that alcohol comes in different strengths.

Learning activity

  • Be sensitive to any personal circumstances in children’s lives related to this topic. If you have any concerns about anything a child tells you, follow your school’s safeguarding procedures.
  • Ask children to research the effects of drinking too much alcohol. They can do this in pairs or groups, or with another adult. They might find information in books or magazines, by speaking with other people, or by looking on the internet if they have access to this.
  • Discuss with children what they find out about how alcohol affects the body. For example:
    • being more relaxed
    • slurring words when speaking
    • not being able to walk properly
    • slowing down reaction times
    • falling asleep
    • being more aggressive
    • losing inhibitions
    • being sick
    • accidents and injuries
    • alcohol poisoning
    • liver damage
  • Do children think that everyone is affected in the same way by alcohol? Are some people more affected than others? Why do they think that is? Explain that the effects can be worse if the person has not eaten because the alcohol gets absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream.
  • Explain that some alcoholic drinks are stronger than others. For example, spirits such as vodka, rum, gin and whisky are stronger than beer or cider. Some beers and lagers are stronger than other beer and lagers. You may wish to bring in bottles of alcohol and ask children which ones they think are stronger. If appropriate, you could link this with a numeracy activity by looking at the proofs on labels, shown as percentages. The strength of the alcohol affects the way our bodies respond; the stronger the alcohol, the stronger the effect on our body will be.
  • Explain that small people are more affected by drinking alcohol than larger people as the alcohol will be more concentrated in the body. You could demonstrate this practically using water and food colouring in different sizes of containers. Show the children different sized containers of clear water. Add the same amount of food dye to each container and ask them to watch what happens. Alternatively, you could put various amounts of coffee or tea in clear cups of hot water. Explain that the smaller containers, which will be darker in colour, will be stronger than the lighter ones.

Extension activity

Children could research how many units of alcohol there are in different drinks. For example:

  • a pint of strong lager (3 units)
  • a pint of cider (2 units)
  • a (25 ml) shot of vodka (1 unit)
  • a small (125 ml) glass of wine (1.5 units)
  • a 440 ml can of lager or beer (2 units)

You might consider linking this to a numeracy task by asking children to calculate the total number of units in different combinations of drinks.

National Benchmarks

Gives examples of what can happen to the body as a result of smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.

Possible approach to assessing learning

In assessing children’s understanding of this activity you might:

  • ask children to tell you about what happens to the body as a result of drinking alcohol
  • ask children to create a visual way of representing the different strengths of alcoholic drinks

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