Teaching Tool - Puberty - Overview

This presentation teaches students about the changes that occur during puberty, and making decisions for healthy growth and development.

Target audience: students in Grades 5
Length of core content presentation: 55 minutes

Criteria Met

Grade Ontario Curriculum Codes
5 Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education (2015) C1.3, C2.4

Goals

In delivering this presentation, the teacher will:

  • Create a safe and comfortable environment in which students can learn and ask questions about puberty
  • Provide students with clear, quality information about the changes associated with puberty
  • Encourage students to reflect on the resources and strategies that can support them through puberty

Objectives

By the end of this presentation, students will:

  • Correctly identify physical and emotional changes associated with puberty
  • Develop strategies for coping with the challenges faced during puberty, including managing stress and building resilience skills
  • Identify trusted adults to whom they can turn for help with the challenges of puberty

Core Knowledge Content

Core knowledge content provides the teacher with the background information needed to prepare and teach this health class.

Learning Activities

  • Changes in puberty (essential)
    Time: 20 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue PowerPoint presentation
    • Using the second slide, guide students through an ice-breaker activity. Read each sentence starter and have 1-2 students complete the statement before moving on to the next one.
    • Cue the next slide (Feelings about Puberty) of the PowerPoint
    • Follow the notes in the presentation to discuss how they may feel and to present some guidelines for how they will be learning about puberty.
      • Optional: Introduce a question box/envelope into which students can put any questions about puberty that they would like to ask anonymously.
    • Cue the slide containing the image of the brain in the PowerPoint presentation
    • Following the notes in the presentation, initiate a discussion about puberty
    • Ask students what is meant by the term puberty
      • (Optional) Ask students what are the three periods of rapid growth in a person's lifetime
      • Draw a horizontal line on the board with an intersecting line to denote conception, birth, child, tween, teen, adult, older adult. Explain the three stages, conception to birth, birth to first year and puberty, the one you will focus on today.
    • Ask students how they think puberty happens
    • Using the notes in the presentation, explain the pituitary gland and its role in puberty
    • Ask students when they think puberty starts
    • Ask students how they think a person who starts puberty first or last in their class may feel
      • Answers may include: embarrassed, uncomfortable, left out, teased, something wrong with them, etc.
    • Cue the next slide, which contains a diagram of hormone production
    • Using the notes in the presentation, describe the process of puberty
    • Cue next slide and proceed to discussion of physical changes with Whose change is it anyway? activity
  • Whose change is it anyway? (essential)
    Time: 15 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue the Whose change is it anyway? slide in the PowerPoint presentation
    • Draw the chart below on the board
    • Ask students to think of a teenager who has already gone through puberty and how he/she is different from them
    • As students state these changes ask them to decide if it's a change that occurs in males only, females only, or both. Take time to talk further about each one, using the notes in the PowerPoint presentation to supplement the discussion as needed.
    • Observe the reactions of students during this activity. They may only be comfortable providing the non-threatening answers such as growing taller. It is often necessary to pause and take time to explore their discomfort and remind them of the 4 OK's.


    Males Both Females
    Shoulders and chest broaden Acne develops Breasts develop
    Muscles grow Perspiration and body odour Hips widen
    Hair - underarms, pubic area, face, chest, legs, back and arms Skin gets oily Menstruation (period)
    Voice deepens Moods swings and attitudes
    Spermatogenesis Want to be liked by your peer group
    Start having romantic feelings for someone
    Want more independence

    Discussion

    • Explore the various steps students can take to manage puberty challenges such as acne, perspiration and body odour. Stick to the physical changes as you will talk about the emotional ones in the next activity.

    Variations

    • Prior to completing the table above as a whole class, allow students to work in small groups to come up with 2-3 physical and/or emotional changes that occur in puberty and where on the table they should be classified.
    • Print each of the changes above onto a separate card or slip of paper. Distribute the cards to the students (individual, pairs, or small groups) and have students decide where each card should be placed on the table. Have students read each card aloud and place it under the correct column (using tape or magnets). After each card is placed, discuss whether it has been correctly categorized, correcting misconceptions and supplementing with additional information as required.
  • Emotional rollercoaster (essential)
    Time: 20 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue the slide with the picture of a rollercoaster. Have students draw their own rollercoasters. Ask students to consider what it is about rollercoasters that makes them exciting (e.g. speed, going up and down, going upside-down, being a bit scared, etc.).
    • Ask students to name different positive and negative feelings (e.g. anxious, happy, confident, self-conscious, sad, relaxed, silly, serious, angry, outgoing, shy, impatient, aggressive, indifferent, enthusiastic, irritated, disinterested, etc.)
    • Instruct the students to label a few of the high and low points of their rollercoasters with emotions
    • Ask students to consider scenarios that might make them feel positive or negative emotions
      • For example, physical changes might cause a male adolescent to feel odd or confused about his body (low) but then recognizing that his growth helps him be a more competitive hockey player might make him feel more confident (high); puberty might make a female feel more mature (high) but she may become confused or frustrated when her parents treat her like a child (low)
      • What might make you feel a positive feeling you've marked on the rollercoaster? How intense would that feeling be on a scale of 1-10?
      • What might make you feel a negative feeling you've marked on the rollercoaster? How intense would that feeling be on a scale of 1-10?
    • Have the students draw a new rollercoaster using a different colour (on top of the first rollercoaster or on a separate sheet), where the ups and downs are more extreme (i.e. much higher and much lower)
    • Explain that during puberty, those same scenarios might cause the same sort of feelings (or different feelings), but instead of being, say a 5 or 6 out of 10, it would be a 9 or 10 out of 10 in intensity, or maybe it would be so intense, it wouldn't be on that scale.
      • How do you think you would feel if your emotions followed the second rollercoaster instead of the first? Students might say they would feel: excited, scared, overwhelmed, out of control, frustrated, confused, etc.
    • Explain that puberty can affect our emotions, making us prone to mood swings, meaning that we change quickly and dramatically between emotions (e.g. sadness, anger, happiness, etc). And the emotions that we feel can be more extreme in puberty - something that might have made us a little frustrated in the past might now make us furious.
      • This can cause us to feel overwhelmed or can lead us to act in a way that causes conflicts in our relationships
      • This does not mean that puberty is an excuse for behaving irresponsibly or disrespectfully. But knowing about the effect puberty has on our emotions can help us to find strategies to make these changes less difficult to handle.
    • Have the students discuss ways of managing emotions and coping when their emotions are running high. Encourage them to think about healthy strategies for regulating emotions and for taking care of themselves.
      • Examples might include: taking deep breaths, getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, etc.
    • Explain that puberty and adolescence are also periods when young people become more independent and start to really make some more of their own decisions
      • What are some of the factors that might affect the choices you make for yourself? Examples include: friends and peer pressure, rules, values, curiosity, etc.
      • Sometimes those factors make it difficult to make the choices that are best for you. What are some strategies you can use to help you make good decisions? Even though you are tempted to say "yes" when a friend asks or pressures you to do something, stop and think about whether it is in line with what you believe is right and what is important to you.
        • For example, if you believe that it is wrong to break the law and sports are what is important to you, you will want to say "no" when a friend offers you drugs.
      • Sometimes it is difficult to make a good choice when you feel put on the spot. Give yourself some time to think before making a decision.
        • For example, if a friend asks you to do something and you're not sure, you might count to 10 or tell your friend that you will get back to him/her later.
      • Using assertive language and remembering what is important to you can help you stick to your decisions, even when there is pressure to do something you're not comfortable with.
      • Finding support is important - this might mean asking a trusted adult for advice or help, and making sure you have good friends who respect you and want what is best for you.
    • Explain that as they assert their independence, their parents' or guardians' trust is very important.
      • What are some of the ways that you can gain and keep your parents' or guardians' trust? Examples might include: showing responsibility; being honest; taking small steps toward independence; respecting the limits that they set, etc.
    • Explain that with all these emotional and social changes during puberty and adolescence, students may find themselves or their friends struggling.
      • If you noticed a friend struggling with these changes, what could you do? Who could you turn to for help?
      • Examples might include: talking to a trusted adult together (e.g. a youth worker, parent, teacher, coach, school nurse, doctor, etc.), talking with your friend, helping support your friend when facing peer pressure or other social challenges, telling your friend about resources that can help (e.g. Kids Help Phone)
    • What could you do if you were having a hard time with these changes?
      • Examples might include: talking to a trusted adult, reaching out to a good friend, distancing yourself from friends who pressure you to do things that you do not want to do, finding helpful resources or services (e.g. Kids Help Phone), practicing healthy habits (e.g. adequate sleep, healthy foods, physical activity, get some fresh air, refrain from doing drugs) to promote mental health and emotional well-being
    • Allow students the opportunity to ask any outstanding questions about the topic.

    Variations

    • Offer students the opportunity to come up with some more suggestions to promote healthy development and decision-making. Encourage them to think about something they might do that would be proactive.
      • The students might suggest trying to create healthy habits in the classroom (e.g. a meditation or movement period after recess)
      • The students might suggest creating an anonymous question box in the classroom
      • The students might suggest having the opportunity to practice standing up to peer pressure and modelling healthy relationships

    Curriculum Connections

    Some of the variations above offer the opportunity to use this activity to meet additional curriculum expectations in Health and Physical Education (Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8, Health and Physical Education, 2015: Grade 5, Active Living, A2.1) and/or The Arts (Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8, The Arts, 2009: Grade 5, Drama, B1.3).

  • Let's see what you remember
    Time: 15 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue the Let's see what you remember slide in the PowerPoint presentation
    • Go through the questions on each subsequent slide, allowing students to respond and confirming or correcting responses. Supplement or clarify using information in Core Knowledge Content, if necessary.

    Variations

    • Split the class into 2 or more teams and have them compete to answer the most questions correctly
    • Distribute mini white boards (these can be made using a white sheet of paper inserted into a plastic sleeve) to each student or to small groups of students and have students write and show their answers on the white boards
  • Shower time
    Time: 10 minutes

    Materials

    • None

    Instructions

    • Using lots of humor, walk the students through a daily shower and getting ready for school routine incorporating as much information as possible

    Shower stepsDiscussion points
    Choose clothes and bring them to the bathroomCan you wear all the same clothes you wore yesterday?
    Set the water temperature
    Enter shower and get wet
    Wash hairWhat kind of shampoo should you use? How often should you wash your hair? What are the steps for properly washing your hair? Wash your hair using your fingertips so that your scalp gets clean too.
    Wash your bodyWhat kind of soap is best for you? Wash all body parts.
    Finished with showering? Get out and get driedWhy is it important to dry yourself well when you're done your shower?
    Getting dressedDiscuss dressing in clean clothes.
    Combing hairDiscuss brushing hair.
    Cleaning teethWhat are the steps for properly cleaning your teeth? What about flossing?
    Cleaning up the bathroomWhose job should it be to clean up the bathroom when you're done? Which clothes are dirty? What do you do with the dirty clothes?

    • Proceed with discussion, using the following prompts:
      • How often should you take a shower/bath?
      • What if for some reason you're unable to take a shower/bath every day, such as when camping? (discuss use of sink, washcloth and soap)

    Variations

    • If students are familiar with this activity (it is a part of the Grade 4 lesson as well), allow them to lead the discussion, supplementing or clarifying information as needed
  • Self-care collage
    Time: 30 minutes

    Materials

    • Shopping flyers (e.g. from pharmacies, grocery stores, department stores)
    • Scissors
    • Poster board
    • Glue

    Instructions

    • Organize students into small groups (3-4 students).
    • Ask students to think about how they can take care of their changing bodies as they go through puberty
      • Encourage students to think about different hygienic practices (e.g. taking regular showers, brushing teeth, wearing deodorant, changing clothes regularly, etc.)
    • Distribute one sheet of poster board, scissors, glue, and several flyers to each group
    • Instruct students to find items that are used in self-care during puberty
      • Instruct them to cut pictures of these items out and glue them on the poster board
      • Remind them to consider how the items they have selected relate to puberty
      • Inform students that the brands are not important, but rather to pay attention to the kinds of items and how they relate to healthy behaviours in puberty
    • After the groups have several items posted in their collage, open a discussion with the whole class about the items they have selected
      • What are some of the things that you have included in your collage?
      • How does [item] relate to puberty?
      • Can [item] be used as a part of healthy self-care?
      • Are there any items or activities that you did not find in the flyers that you think could be included in your collage? Prompt students to consider activities or items that were not yet covered. Supplement or clarify using self-care items information sheet.

    Variations

    • Students may draw self-care items and practices, rather than creating a collage
    • Students may create a digital collage or slide show, rather than creating a paper collage
  • What would you do?
    Time: 20 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Tell students that this activity will give them a chance to apply some of what they've learned today. Now that they know more about puberty their friends may come to them for advice, as they're now student experts!
    • Divide the class into small groups of 3-4
    • Have each group choose a scenario
    • Give groups 1-2 minutes to problem-solve their questions
    • Encourage students to consider the following questions:
      • Why is this happening?
      • What can the person do? What are the options? Which option is likely to have the best outcome? Which option is the healthiest?
      • What are some things to consider? Is this common? Would it help to know that it is common?
    • Give each group an opportunity to share their question and solution with their peers

    Variations

    • Use scenario cards to create a gallery walk. Create several different stations throughout the classroom. Place one scenario and a blank sheet of paper and pencil at each station. Have each group begin at a different station discussing that scenario and writing down one response on the blank sheet before moving on to another scenario. Each group will record their response to one scenario on the same sheet.
    • Invite the students to create their own scenarios
    • Quick review: Use the scenario cards whenever time permits (5-10 minutes) for quick review of strategies for managing the changes that accompany puberty. Students can choose and read a scenario aloud and discuss possible responses. This can be done as a whole class or in small groups or pairs.

    Adapted from grade 4 activity www.teachingsexualhealth.ca.

  • Reaching out about puberty
    Time: 5 minutes

    Materials

    • None

    Instructions

    • Congratulate students for their maturity discussing today's topic and reinforce that feelings of uncertainty or embarrassment are common
    • Remind students of the rules of the question box (if using)
      • (Optional): distribute small blank pieces of paper onto which students may write a question to put in the box.
    • Ask students to brainstorm some of the trusted adults they could talk to about puberty
    • Encourage students to ask an adult they trust one or more of these questions:
      • What was the first sign you noticed that indicated you had started puberty?
      • How old were you?
      • What was the best thing about puberty?
    • Remind them to reflect on the conversation. For example, think about how you feel while you are having that conversation with an adult you trust.
    • Prepare students for the next class. Inform students that at the beginning of the next class, they will have time to share their reflections on the conversation they had with a trusted adult. Encourage students to reflect on questions, such as:
      • How did you feel when you approached the person?
      • How did the person react?
      • What surprised you about the conversation?
      • Do you feel you learned anything through this conversation (e.g. about the person, about yourself, about puberty, about your relationship)?
    • Inform students of the topic for the next class (either the female reproductive system or the male reproductive system).

Consult Your School Health Nurse

Your school's public health nurse can help you prepare for delivering this presentation and can assist you in developing engaging projects and extension activities. To reach your school health nurse, contact healthyschools@niagararegion.ca or 905-688-8248 ext. 7379.


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