Tobacco Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Kristen Goode

Kristen has been an educator for 25+ years - as a classroom teacher, a school administrator, and a university instructor. She holds a doctorate in Education Leadership.

Tobacco! What an interesting word. This lesson will teach students about the harmful effects tobacco can have on the human body and encourage a tobacco-free mindset.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define the term ''tobacco'' and the different forms in which tobacco is made available
  • identify the harmful effects that tobacco can have on the human body
  • encourage a tobacco-free lifestyle


60-75 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.


Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer's purpose.


Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.


Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.


  • pencil/paper for each student
  • plastic drinking straws
  • poster-board or construction paper
  • markers or crayons


  • Introduce the lesson Tobacco Facts: Lessons for Kids
  • After reading 'What is Tobacco', ask and discuss:
    • What is tobacco?
    • Where does it grow?
    • Where do we typically see tobacco?
    • Discuss with the class the different forms of tobacco available including cigarettes, cigars, and chew (or spit tobacco).
  • Now read 'Tobacco's History', and discuss.
    • For what reasons did the Native Americans originally use tobacco?
    • What is a cash crop?
  • Read 'Heath Effects of Tobacco' and continue discussion.
    • What does it mean that cigarettes are addicting?
    • What are some of the negative health effects tobacco can have on the body?
    • What are some reasons that people should stay away from the use of tobacco?
    • Discuss some of the poisons found in tobacco smoke, relating how some are found in toilet cleaners, rat poison, and other forms of poison.
  • Read the rest of the lesson, then discuss:
    • Why is it important to stay away from people who smoke?
    • What is secondhand smoke?
    • Discuss a few of the facts, asking if there are any the students didn't know.
  • Ask if there are any questions before moving on to the guided activity.

Guided Activity

  • In order to make the point about the dangers of smoking more real to students, lead them in an activity during which they will experience, for themselves, what it means to suffer from decreased lung function.
  • Give each student a plastic drinking straw.
  • Instruct students to place the straw in their mouths and practice breathing through the straw.
  • Have students use their fingers to pinch off the end of their straws (not entirely, but most of the way).
  • Instruct students to try breathing through their straws with the ends pinched.
  • Conduct class discussion on the experience of trying to breathe through a straw with the end pinched (decreased lung function).

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