Poisons in the Home

Lesson Objective:

Teach children that there are many types of poisons in the home.

Students will understand that there are several types of poisons in and around the home that they should look out for. Children will be taught what to do if someone they know has taken something that’s bad for them.

Children should learn to:

  1. Define poison.
  2. Identify different types of poison.
  3. Identify things in and around the home that could be poisonous.
  4. Describe ways to stay safe from poisons and protect younger children.

Teacher Narrative:

A poison is anything that can hurt you or make you sick if you eat it, drink it, breathe it in, or get it on your skin or in your eyes. Poisons can come in many forms: 

  • Solids like powders, granules, plants, berries, mushrooms, and medicines
  • Liquids of different colors and in many types of containers, like cough medicine, cleaning products, or antifreeze
  • Sprays like hair spray or furniture polish
  • Gases such as fumes from a car’s muffler or smoke.

Key Terms:

  • Solid
  • Liquid
  • Spray
  • Gas

Lesson Instructions:

A. Introduction to Poisons10 minutes

  1. Ask students where they think poisons can be found. Possible answers may include: at home, at school, outside, in stores. 
  2. As a class, make a list of rooms that can be found in a house, and then brainstorm all the different poisons that can be found in each of these rooms. Here are some common examples that students may think of: cleaning solution, dishwashing liquid, mouthwash, bleach, medicine, perfume, furniture polish, paints, etc. 
  3. Explain to students that poisons can be any of the following: 
    • Cleaners, chemicals or other products in the house or yard
    • Medicines – if too much is taken or if it is taken by the wrong person
    • Things you might find in your garage
    • Things you might find underneath a sink or in a cabinet
    • Plants, berries, or mushrooms

B. PSA Project30 minutes

Next, have students use their creativity to create a public service announcement (PSA) about poisons. This can be a poster, brochure, or online presentation (depending on materials available) advertising the dangers of poisons to promote poison safety and awareness. 

Instructions and grading for this project may vary.

C. Reflection10 minutes

After completion of their poster, brochure, or online presentation, allow students to take some time to reflect on the effectiveness of their project. Choose a reflection method that is appropriate for the students’ grade level. The following questions can be addressed: 

  • What is the message or purpose of your project? 
  • Is this message easily understood? 
  • What process did you use to create your project? 
  • How can others learn about poison safety from your project? 
  • What part of your project makes you proud? 
  • What are you going to do with what you have learned about poisons?

D. Being Prepared for a Poison Emergency10 minutes

  1. Review what poisons are and how poisons in the home can harm people. 
  2. Discuss with the class correct emergency actions, including calling the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. 
  3. Finally, discuss with the class prevention tips and proper storage of dangerous products. Lead the discussion with statements and questions like the following:
    • To protect young children, we must keep poisons away from them. What could we do to protect them?
    • Where should we store products like medicine or cleaning products?
    • How else can we protect curious children who may want to explore in kitchen cabinets?

Optional Lesson

Make a Home Checklist for students to use/identify poisons in the home. Instruct each child to go home, and with parent supervision, look for poisons in their home like a “Poison Investigator” using the “Home Checklist” letter to be returned to the teacher.