University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #4H HEL 70.12

Headlines for Health! Asthma Attack!1

Joy Jordan, Hyun-Jeong Lee, Susan Williams, and Jessica Kochert2

Key Concept

Students learn concern for others by imagining different asthma-related scenarios.

Subject Matter outcome: Students will use a decisionmaking process to determine how they would handle asthma-related situations.

Targeted Age: 5th Grade

Time Needed: 60 minutes

Materials Needed:

• Scenarios about asthma

• Worksheet 6.1 (1 per group)

• Editor’s TIP SHEET on “Creating a Column”

Advance Preparation: Review Project Overview and Background Basics

Fast Facts: Did you know?

We had/have asthma:

    • Calvin Coolidge

    • Benjamin Disraeli (Britain)

    • Rev. Jesse Jackson

    • John F. Kennedy

    • Peter the Great (Russia)

    • Theodore Roosevelt

    • Woodrow Wilson

Let’s Begin

People with asthma feel fine most of the time. They don’t want to be treated differently. When they do have an asthma attack, it is important to be kind and helpful. Walk students through the problem solving process using the example scenario below. The problem can either be “solved” from Joe’s point of view or from that of the rest of the class. Have the students “solve” it from the class’s point of view first. Then have the youth “solve” it as if they were Joe.

Example Scenario

Joe doesn’t want to take his asthma medicine before his PE class or recess because other kids tease him about it. They say mean things. One kid called him a druggie. Some kids even hide his medicine from him. Joe feels hurt, angry, and embarrassed. During the PE class, many of the kids don’t want Joe to be on their team because he often ends up having trouble with his asthma. Summarize helpful and kind things students can do for someone with asthma. Include: no teasing, no pressure to do things or stay around things that make the asthma worse, letting them take their medicine without making a big deal about it, reminding them to take their medicine before exercise when applicable, and helping during an asthma episode by getting adult help.

Teacher Key for Scenarios

  1. Define the problem.

  • Joe’s schoolmates are tease him about his asthma. They play tricks like hiding his medicine.

2. Identify the alternatives.

  • Keep teasing Joe and playing tricks on him.


  • Be kind by asking Joe to join teams, not teasing him, not playing tricks on him, and reminding him to take his medicine.

3. Identify the consequences.

  • • Being mean could get students into trouble with the teacher; could make them feel bad; could make Joe angry with them; and/or could cause Joe harm.


  • Being helpful would make Joe feel better; they would not get into trouble; they could feel good about their actions.

4. Make a decision and act.

  • Being helpful and kind to Joe would result in the most positive consequences.

5. Evaluate the decision; modify as needed.

  • The decision makes other people (and ourselves) feel good as we accept and help others.

Helping Students with Asthma

Divide the class into groups of 4–5 students. Your groups are going to look at a few situations that involve someone who has asthma. Your group needs to solve the problem in the scenario using the steps we just used with “Joe”.

  1. Define the problem

  2. Identify the alternatives

  3. Identify the consequences

  4. Make a decision and act

  5. Evaluate the decision; modify as needed

Distribute the two scenarios to each group. Each group needs to have a recorder, a reporter, a timekeeper, and a manager. Discuss the questions and record your answers on your group sheet. Give students 20 minutes to work through both scenarios.

Now, as a class, let’s discuss our results. During your discussion, help students recognize why behavior like teasing or hiding medicine is inappropriate. Behaving in a way that can make a classmate’s asthma worse is mean and dangerous. Simple “tricks” can have serious and harmful consequences for youth with asthma.

Quick Facts

Famous Athletic Asthmatics

Professional Sports

    • Jerome Bettis—pro football player

    • Art Monk—pro football player

    • Dennis Rodman—pro basketball player

    • Isaiah Thomas—pro basketball player

    • Dominique Wilkins—pro basketball player

    • Jim “Catfish” Hunter—pro baseball player

Olympic Medalists

    • Tom Dolan—swimming

    • Nancy Hogshead—swimming

    • Greg Louganis—diving

    • Jackie Joyner-Kersee—track

    • Jim Ryun—track

    • Bill Koch—cross-country skiing

Other Athletes

    • George Murray—wheelchair athlete & Boston Marathon winner

    • Robert Muzzio—decathlete

    • Alberto Salazar—marathon runner

Adapted from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Let’s Reflect

  1. Did solving the problem with a formula help you think of more solutions than if you had made a quick decision?

  2. Have you ever felt unpopular or uncool? Why did you feel this way and how did you handle it?

  3. Have you ever participated in a mean trick played on someone else? How did it make you feel then? How does it make you feel now?

Let’s Apply

  1. Why do you think people tease other people? What kinds of things can you do or say to help prevent teasing and bullying?

  2. Why are people sometimes hesitant to accept differences in others? How can you help family members and friends become more accepting of people who are different?

  3. Why is it important to look at different solutions while solving a problem? How can using this decisionmaking formula help people make personal, financial, and social decisions?

This assignment is part of a series of newspaper-related pieces that each student will include in his/her own Children’s Environmental Health Newspaper. At the conclusion of this unit, students will bring the newspapers home to educate parents and other family members about the possible dangers in their own environments.

Have students create a DEAR ABBY COLUMN. Encourage students to use what they learned from their lesson today.

  • Create a Pen Name—what name would you write your column under?

To aid students in creating the above newspaper pieces, refer them back to the Editor’s TIP SHEET on “Creating a Column.”

Need more ideas? Below are activities that can be integrated into this lesson for a challenge or to provide variety.

  • Have students swap questions and respond to a friend’s questions about asthma.

  • Have students find and interview someone with asthma. (If a student suffers from asthma themselves, they may write an autobiographical piece.) This interview can be added to the newspaper as a human interest feature.

Student Scenarios

Use the 5 steps to solve these scenarios

Set 1

  1. It is recess time. Everyone is outside on the playground running, climbing on the jungle gym, playing ball, and jumping rope. It is a windy, spring day with lots of pollen in the air. One of the things which brings on Juan’s asthma is pollen. Juan is sitting all alone during recess with nothing to do.

  2. Kesha’s science team wants to learn about caring for animals for their science report. One of the things which brings on her asthma is a furry pet. Without this project, the team will not get a good grade.

Set 2

  1. Joey is a new boy in our class. On one of his first days at school, he had an asthma episode. Now he never joins the other children playing games during recess and stays to himself.

  2. Maria is the best runner on the class relay team—if she remembers to take her asthma medicine and avoid asthma symptoms. She hates to take her medicine because she says it tastes yucky. She also says it makes her feel different and sick. The class really wants to win the school championship.

Set 3

  1. The prize for the winning class in a school contest is to have the school rabbit mascot, “Little Bunny,” live in the classroom for a month. There are two children with asthma in the classroom.

  2. Jennifer is supposed to take her asthma medicine right before lunch. Each day she has to go to the nurse’s room to get it, and this makes her a few minutes late getting to the cafeteria. When she gets to lunch, she has to sit with a group of younger children because there is no seat with her class.

Set 4

  1. Each day when Kim and Marta jump rope before school, Kim sees that Marta cannot seem to catch her breath even long after they have stopped jumping rope.

  2. Kadir has asthma, but because he has never had asthma problems in school, his teacher doesn’t know about it. The teacher has given Kadir the job of clapping the very dusty erasers. This is one of the things that brings on his asthma.

Set 5

  1. Miguel plays for his class soccer team. Today there is an important game with a rival class. Exercise is one of the things which brings on his asthma. He has forgotten to bring his asthma medicine to school.

  2. While putting together a display of old Native American crafts which had many furred items, Tran noticed that he could not stop coughing. He remembered that the same thing happened when he borrowed a friend’s fur-lined gloves.



This document is 4H HEL 70.12, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 2007. Revised July 2018. Visit the EDIS website at


Joy Jordan, 4-H youth development specialist; Hyun-Jeong Lee, housing specialist; Susan Williams, grant project manager; and Jessica Kochert, graphic design and publication support, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.