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KS3: Respiratory Hygiene

In this lesson plan, students learn how easily microbes can be spread through coughs and sneezes, resulting in infections spreading over large areas. This lesson complements the Health and Prevention element of the new PHSE/ RSHE curriculum for KS3.

Scroll down for more information and to download resources.

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Learning objectives
All students will:
  • Understand that sometimes microbes can make us ill
  • Understand that prevention of infection, where possible, is better than cure
  • Understand not to spread their harmful microbes to others
  • Understand that infection can spread through sneezing or coughing
  • Understand that covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze helps prevent the spread of infection
Most students will:
  • Understand that coughing or sneezing in your hand can still spread infection
Background Information

Colds and flus are the most common illnesses in the classroom and perhaps one of the most contagious. Coronavirus is a respiratory illness that is transmitted in a similar way to colds and flus. The most common mode of transmission for RTIs is through close contact with respiratory droplets in the air from coughs and sneezes or through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Good respiratory hygiene is especially important in the approach to the winter cold/ flu season each year, and when there is an outbreak of a respiratory infection.

In this lesson plan, students learn how the microbes transmitted in a sneeze can spread to others in close proximity. They explore the efficacy of different respiratory hygiene methods for preventing transmission and explore how quickly harmful microbes, spread through respiratory droplets, can travel around the world.

Main activity:
  • Snot gun runway
Main Activity video
Extension activities:
  • Spread of infection on a cruise discussion
  • Respiratory hygiene best practice class discussion
  • Respiratory hygiene quiz
  • Germ defence research
Curriculum links


  • Health and prevention


  • Working scientifically
  • Biology


  • Reading
  • Writing

Supporting Materials
Teacher sheets
KS3 Respiratory hygiene teacher guidance
TS1 Snot gun answer sheet
KS3 Snot gun - video transcript
Student worksheets
SW1 Snot gun student worksheet
SW2 Respiratory hygiene quiz
Student handouts
SH1 Respiratory hygiene poster