Beware of Look-Alikes

Lesson Objective:

Teach children not to mistake poisonous items for something that is good to drink or smell.

Students will understand that some things that LOOK harmless are NOT. They will be able to identify a situation that a product may look like a drink, candy, or other good thing to eat. They will learn to stay away from these products.

Children should learn to:

  1. Stay away from poisons that can hurt them.
  2. Never touch, taste, or smell something that could be poisonous, especially if you don’t know what it is.

Teacher preparation:

Before the lesson, collect examples of look-alike poisons. Make sure that anything you bring into the classroom is safe. Empty boxes and bottles or replace poisonous liquids with colored water.  Examples can include:

ItemLook-Alike
SodaDish Soap
Parmesan CheeseScouring Powder
Gummy CandyGummy Vitamin Bottle
Cooking Oil (aerosol)Insecticide (aerosol) or Furniture Polish
Bottled WaterRubbing Alcohol or Hydrogen Peroxide
JuiceDisinfectant Cleaner
Baby WipesCleaning Wipes
Bottle or Infant ToyPill Planner with Candies Inside

Teacher Narrative:

  • Do any of you watch a younger brother/sister while your mom or dad or caregiver is busy?
    • Who has a two year old brother or sister?
      • What is his/her name?
    • [Hold up soda bottle and ask:] What do you do with this? (it’s a soda – drink it)
      • Where is it found? (in the kitchen, in the fridge, pantry … etc.) 
  • Now imagine that _______ ‘s little brother/sister, __________, wants to be big and smart just like you. They’ve seen you drink from a soda bottle. They’re thirsty, so they go into the kitchen. They can’t find the soda bottle, but they see this (dish soap).
  • Hold up dish soap and ask:
    • What is this? (dish soap)
    • Where is it found? (in the kitchen, most likely under the sink or on the counter – right at the reach of a little one).
    • ________ can’t read. To them, what’s inside the dish soap bottle looks like soda, something that is good to drink. 
  • [Hold up dish soap and say:] This is a look-alike poison. It looks like something good to eat or drink, but if you put it into your mouth, it could be poisonous and can hurt you or your little brother or sister. Ask a grown-up before you put anything into your mouth – or before you allow your younger brother or sister to put anything into their mouths.
  • Repeat this lesson with other examples from the list above.  

Next, teach children steps they can take to prevent poisonings. 

  1. Keep poison out of reach and locked up. 
  2. Tell a grown-up immediately if you see a poison sitting out that should be put away. 
  3. Never take medicine by yourself. 
  4. Never take someone else’s medicine. 
  5. Do not play with things that could be poisonous.