In the Home

Lesson Objective:

Teach children not to touch, taste or smell something that may be poisonous, especially if they don’t know what it is.

Children will understand that some things LOOK safe but are NOT. They will be able to identify items in the house that aren’t safe and understand what to do and what NOT to do with these items.

Children should learn to:

  1. Stay away from areas in their home that could contain poisonous items: medicine cabinet, under the kitchen sink, bathroom storage closet, and garage.
  2. Never touch, taste, or smell something that could be poisonous, especially if you don’t know what it is.
  3. If you don’t know what it is – stay away and ask a grown-up. 
  4. Tell a grown-up if you see something that could be dangerous.

Teacher Preparation:

Before the lesson, collect empty cleaning bottles, aerosol cans, laundry or dishwasher detergent bottles, 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.

  • Print or show pictures of places and items that are SAFE (bedroom, refrigerator,  toy cars, stuffed animals, eating utensils, etc.) and places and items that are NOT SAFE (cleaning cabinets, medicine cabinets, medicine bottles, cleaning supplies).
  • Collect examples of pills or other harmful items that look like candy. For example, you may choose to bring in both TumsⓇ and SweetTARTSⓇ candy to compare, or laundry pods and hard candies. Or, you can bring in lemonade and floor polish that have a similar color. Note: Do not let children handle these items! Glue tops on any liquids you bring in, and secure loose items to poster board so you can show or compare these similar items.

Key Terms:

  • Poison
  • Medicine
  • Pill
  • Safe/Not Safe

A. Introduction to Poisons 

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 be found inside and outside of our homes. Grown-ups sometimes use poisons to do things around the house, like cleaning floors, washing clothes, killing bugs, and killing weeds. We should never play with, touch, or taste poisons. If you see something, but you don’t know what it is, stay away! Tell a grown-up. 

Lesson Instructions:

  1. Show children pictures of places that can be dangerous or contain poisonous items, like a storage cabinet, a medicine cabinet, or the garage. You may choose to have children guess what rooms these images are found in.
  2. Explain what a poison is using the narrative above. 
  3. Explain that, while some things look yummy or good to drink, they can be dangerous! Use examples listed above. 
  4. Lesson Options: Teach the “Stay Away” song and have children sing along. Or, use the story below to illustrate the lesson.
  5. Use pictures again to play a “SAFE” or “NOT SAFE” game. Show pictures and have children call out whether a place or an item is safe or not. Reinforce the lesson by asking students what to do if they see an unsafe area or item. 

B. Music Lesson: “Stay Away” Song

(Sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Teachers can add hand gestures to this song to encourage children to “stay away” from bad things.)

Verse I 

If you don’t know what it is, Stay away! (clap clap) 

If you don’t know what it is, Stay away! (clap clap) 

If you don’t know what it is, find a grown-up right away. 

If you don’t know what it is, Stay away! (clap clap) 

Verse II 

If you think it might be poison, Stay away! (clap clap) 

If you think it might be poison, Stay away! (clap clap) 

If you think it might be poison, find a grown-up right away. 

If you think it might be poison, Stay away! (clap clap)

C. Story Example: Henry Learns About Poison Look-alikes

One Saturday afternoon, Henry was playing kickball in his backyard with his friends. It was very hot outside. The kids decided to take a break and get something to drink. Henry and his friends were very thirsty. Henry went into his house to ask his Mom if she would fix them some lemonade. Henry’s mom was busy. She was cleaning the kitchen floor. Just as Henry began to ask for the drinks, the phone rang. “Henry,” his Mom said, “you and your friends are going to have to wait a few minutes.” “But, it’s so hot!” cried Henry, “I just can’t wait another minute!” While Henry’s Mom was answering the phone, Henry saw the bottle of pretty yellow cleaner his Mom was using to clean the floor. It didn’t look like cleaner to Henry. He thought it looked like it would be yummy to drink. Henry took the bottle outside to share with his friends. Just as Henry began to drink the pretty yellow liquid, Henry’s friends yelled “Stop! Henry, don’t drink that!”

Ask the questions:

  • Why do you think Henry’s friends tried to stop him from drinking the yellow liquid?
  • What do you think was in the bottle?
  • What should Henry’s friends tell him?

Moral of the Story: Henry’s friends tried to stop him because he didn’t follow a very important safety rule – Don’t touch, don’t taste, ask first! Henry took the yellow liquid without asking his mom. He thought it looked yummy, but he wasn’t sure what it was. The yellow liquid that looked like lemonade was really floor cleaner and it is a poison. Henry’s friends should tell him to remember the rule – Don’t touch, don’t taste, ask first!