Types of Poisons

Lesson Objective:

Teach children what poisons are and that poisons can come in solids, liquids, gases, and sprays. Children will understand how to identify items that are safe and items that are poisonous.

Students will understand that poisons can be found in many different places, and they come in different forms – solids, liquids, gases, and sprays. They will be able to identify poisons in the house that aren’t safe.

Children should learn to:

  1. Define poison.
  2. Identify different types of poison.
  3. Recognize bottles or packages that indicate an item is poisonous.
  4. Stay away from areas in the home that could contain poisonous items: medicine cabinets, kitchen, bathroom, garage and storage areas.
  5. Never touch, taste, or smell something that could be poisonous, especially if you don’t know what it is.

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.

We should never play with, touch, smell, or taste poisons. Grown-ups sometimes use poisons to do chores around the house, like cleaning and washing clothes. Poisons can be used to kill bugs, keep our cars running, and keep our yards looking nice. Even things we use to make us look and smell nice can be poisonous. For example: perfume, nail polish remover, and mouthwash can be poisonous. Similarly, medicine and vitamins, if used in the wrong way, can be poisonous. Many products are safe as long as they are used in the right amount and in the right way.

Key Terms:

  • Poison
  • Liquid
  • Solid
  • Spray
  • Gas
  • Invisibles

Teacher Instructions:

Before the lesson, collect empty cleaning bottles, aerosol cans, laundry or dishwasher detergent, perfume bottles, etc. to show children. You can also print out pictures of dangerous substances. Make sure that whatever you bring into the classroom is empty and safe for children to handle.

A. Introduction to Poisons10 minutes

1. Define poison/poisonous: things that could make you sick

2. Solids: Show pictures or examples of poisons that would be harmful if eaten (medicine, vitamins, wild mushrooms, berries, plants, flowers, cigarettes, mothballs, etc.) 

3. Liquids: Show pictures or examples of poisons that would be harmful if swallowed (mouthwash, windshield washer fluid, rubbing alcohol, alcoholic beverages, kerosene/gasoline, glue, etc.)

4. Sprays: Sprays: Show pictures or examples of poisons that would be harmful if accidentally sprayed in the face or on the skin (perfume/cologne, furniture polish, air freshener, hairspray, bug spray, etc.)

5. Gases: Show pictures of poisons that would be harmful if accidentally inhaled.

6. Have children help you identify where in the house these products might be located. Talk about what the shapes of the containers are like, and what to watch out for.

B. Stop Sign Craft10 minutes

1. Hand out sheets of paper cut into STOP sign shapes. Then, hand out crayons, popsicle sticks, and glue so that children can make their own stop signs to hold up.

C. Stop Sign Game10 – 15 minutes

1. Have a bag or box filled with various poisonous products that would be dangerous to eat, drink, inhale, or spray in the face or on the skin. Again, make sure these products are empty and safe.

2. In the same bag or box, put various items that are good to eat or drink (fruit, cereal, juice, etc.).

3. As you show each item to the children, have them hold up their stop signs and say, “STAY AWAY” if it is poisonous. If the item is good for them, have them put their signs down on the floor.

D. Closing Discussion & Review

Ask children the following questions to review what they’ve learned: 

  • What are some common poisons?
  • Who can tell me where you might find a poison in or outside of your home?

Poisons can be found in almost every room in your house. They can be found in your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, living room, basement, attic, garage, and closet. They can also be found in your backyard, in the park, or on the playground.

Remember: if you see these dangerous things, STAY AWAY.