Teaching Tool - Puberty - Grade 4

This presentation teaches students about the emotional and physical changes that occur during puberty and how they can make decisions for healthy growth and development.

Target audience: students in Grades 4
Length of core content presentation: 55 minutes

Criteria Met

Grade Ontario Curriculum Codes
4 Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education (2015) C1.5, 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 changes associated with puberty, including classifying them as changes for males, females, or both
  • Develop strategies for coping with the challenges faced during puberty
  • 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: 30 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue PowerPoint presentation on SMART Board
    • Using the second slide, guide students through an ice-breaker activity. Read each statement and have the students follow the directions ("stand up if...", "sit down if...").
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    • Ask students how they think puberty happens
    • Using the notes in the presentation, describe the process of puberty

    Variations

    • Before beginning the presentation, open the lesson with the What's in the bag? activity
      • Create a story box or several story boxes containing the items from this activity
      • Before introducing the topic, have students explore and discuss the item and try to identify a theme
      • Begin the presentation, referring to and discussing the items as they become relevant throughout the presentation
    • Proceed with Chris's story followed by the Rollercoaster of emotion activity
      • Alternatively, follow Chris's story with Shower time and/or What's in the bag? activities before proceeding with the Rollercoaster of emotion activity
  • Chris's story (essential)
    Time: 15 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Distribute copies of the story to students and/or project the story using SMART board or other projector
    • Read the story aloud
    • Discuss the story with the students, using the suggested questions below:
      • Ask students whether they think Chris is male or female, or are they unsure? (no change discussed indicates Chris's sex)
      • Ask students if they think the changes that Chris is experiencing are common? (purpose of the reproductive system is to grow and develop in preparation for reproduction, there are variations in how puberty is experienced and that while some changes are "common", such as those experienced by Chris, there is no "normal" or "abnormal" when it comes to puberty)

    Variations

    • Have students discuss this story in small groups or use Think-Pair-Share throughout discussion
    • Extend activity by having groups choose one of the changes identified in the story and discuss how Chris can manage the change
    • Follow immediately with Shower time activity and/or What's in the bag? activity to review hygiene in relation to the physical changes that occur in puberty
  • Rollercoaster of emotion (essential)
    Time: 10 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Cue the slide with the picture of a rollercoaster (second to last slide in the PowerPoint presentation).
    • Explain that puberty not only affects the body but it also affects the brain and emotions
    • Explain that puberty is also often accompanied by mood swings and can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions
    • Begin a discussion about puberty and its effects on emotions:
      • What do you think is meant by "mood swings"? Encourage students to think about what kinds of emotions people might experience (e.g. anger, sadness, happiness) and how shifting quickly and dramatically between emotions might feel.
      • How might mood swings affect relationships? Encourage students to think about how friends and family might become confused or frustrated with someone who has unpredictable emotions.
      • What strategies or supports might help you if you feel like you're on an emotional rollercoaster? Examples might include talking to a parent or other trusted adult, explaining to others how you're feeling, taking deep breaths, calling Kids Help Phone, etc.
    • 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.
      • What could you do 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 the 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), practice healthy habits (e.g. get adequate sleep, eat healthy foods, do 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

    • Conduct discussion as a think-pair-share
    • 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 modeling 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 4, Active Living, A2.1) and/or The Arts (Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8, The Arts, 2009: Grade 4, Drama, B1.3).

  • 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

    • Use this activity immediately following Chris's story before proceeding with presentation and Rollercoaster of emotions activity
  • What's in the bag?
    Time: 15 minutes

    Materials

    Instructions

    • Inform students that the bag contains items and pictures that relate to puberty. These items/pictures will be discussed one by one as they are pulled from the bag.
    • Encourage students to brainstorm answers to these questions:
      • What is the item/picture?
      • How does this item/picture relate to puberty?
      • When you think of this item/picture what are some things that should be considered?
    • Supplement the discussion as needed using the descriptions of the items and how they relate to puberty, provided below.
    • Once all the items have been pulled from the bag, discuss them by asking:
      • What items from the kit are most helpful for shaving? Preventing acne? Smelling good? Looking good? Feeling good?
      • Where can you find or buy most of the items in the puberty kit?
      • Who can you talk to about getting items in this kit?

    Variations

    • Use this as the opening activity for the lesson. Before introducing the topic, have students explore the items.
      • Create a story box or several story boxes with items for students to explore in small groups
      • Encourage students to reflect on the items and how they relate, trying to predict a theme
      • Facilitate a whole class discussion trying to elicit responses that relate to puberty and physical changes in males and females
      • Begin the presentation and pause throughout to discuss items from the story boxes as they emerge or become relevant in the presentation
    • If not using as an opening activity, include it immediately following Chris's story and Shower time (if using)
  • Advice corner
    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
    • Give each group an opportunity to share their question and solution with their peers

    Variations

    • Allow students to complete this activity in small groups as a gallery walk
      • Create several different stations throughout the classroom. Place a different 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.
    • 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 the normalcy of their feelings
    • 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 told you had started puberty? How old were you?
      • What was the best thing about puberty?
      • Alternatively, the student could be encouraged to mention one thing that they have learned in class.
    • 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
    • If time permits, ask the students the next day (or 2 days later) about the conversation they had with a trusted adult. Questions might include:
      • 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)?

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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