Explaining peanut allergy in plain english to 3rd graders - any suggestions?

Posted on: Mon, 01/06/2003 - 10:44am
Julie1's picture
Joined: 11/09/1999 - 09:00

My daughter is in third grade and is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds and eggs. Her class is studying how the body works and she decided she wants to do a report on what happens inside of you when you have food allergies and you eat the food you are allergic to. The explanations we have read, which explain about IgE antibodies, mast cells, and histamines are hard to understand for her (To tell the truth, for me too!!) Does anyone have any ideas of how she can explain to her classmates in a simple way what happens inside the body during an allergic reaction?

Posted on: Mon, 01/06/2003 - 11:36am
mchammond's picture
Joined: 09/21/2000 - 09:00

FAAN has a lot of easy to read information about food allergies. There is a link from this sites homepage. Some of the materials you have to order but delivery does not take too long.
Good luck!!

Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2003 - 3:29am
Going Nuts's picture
Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

I agree, check with FAAN.
OK, here goes - maybe she could explain like this. Food isn't supposed to be a bad guy. But sometimes people's bodies don't realize that, and when certain foods are eaten some cells act like there has been an invasion of bad guys. So they go into full battle mode, releasing antibodies to kill the bad guys. The problem is that these antibodies make us really sick too.
On second thought - stick with FAAN! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img]

Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2003 - 4:57am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

I was thinking along the same lines as Amy - the "war" or "army" approach. As a matter of fact, this is how we convinced our son of the importance/necessity of using the Epipen - as "more soldiers" to help fight the "war".
Good luck!

Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2003 - 9:43am
Julie1's picture
Joined: 11/09/1999 - 09:00

Thanks for your ideas. I like the "soldier"
fighting the "war" image.
I have a lot of materials from FAAN, which I think are great, but I don't seem to have exactly the right thing. We used to show her classmates the Alexander the Elephant video, which my daughter loved when she was a little younger. I also have a book put out by FAAN called "Andrew and Maya Learn About Food Allergies" which is very good, but slightly technical for us scientifically challenged types! The teacher wants us to both give a talk!!
Thanks for your help!

Posted on: Tue, 01/07/2003 - 11:36am
cooper's picture
Joined: 12/20/2002 - 09:00

Julie1, I think kids your DD's age are really concrete thinkers and the soldier idea would fit nicely with this. Even using that theme in a diagram or drawing might be helpful too. And maybe it could be a good opportunity to remind or reassure other kids that it isn't contagious. I think kids can have their own ideas and fantasies about what causes things. My two cents. Good luck!

Posted on: Wed, 01/08/2003 - 5:59am
DebO's picture
Joined: 03/15/1999 - 09:00

i did my presentation to my daughter's grade 3 class as sort of a question and answer thing. Here is part of my "script"
Does anyone know what an allergy is?
- Your body thinks that a thing that is not normally dangerous is dangerous and needs to be fought like a germ or a cold virus.
- Cat and dog hair, grass, some medicines and foods are things that do not bother most people. But for some reason the allergic person

Posted on: Thu, 01/09/2003 - 1:34am
Fran's picture
Joined: 08/09/1999 - 09:00

I recently purchased a children's book for Jamie (who is also in 3rd grade) through Amazon.Com called "Taking Food Allergies To School" by Ellen Weiner. It was written for and adapted for the "Special Kids In School Series" created by Kim Gosselin. It's a book geared for ages 5-10 and will answer all or your quesions. You can also obtain info at [url="http://www.jayjo.com"]www.jayjo.com[/url] or write to [email]jayjobooks@aol.com[/email] or call 1-800-999-6884. JayJo is the publisher of books to help teachers, parents, and children cope with chronic illnesses, special needs, and health education in classroom, family and social settings. Hope this is what you are looking for!
Stay Safe,

Posted on: Thu, 01/09/2003 - 4:30am
Julie1's picture
Joined: 11/09/1999 - 09:00

Thanks for all of your helpful ideas. The teacher has asked us to give our presentation at the end of February, so I'll let you all know how it went!

Posted on: Mon, 01/13/2003 - 3:08am
Shawn's picture
Joined: 09/07/1999 - 09:00

Taking Food Allergies to School is a great book! We got it for Christmas (from Amazon.com). Gives a nice explanation of the histamine response in food allergies without being overly technical. My 4-1/2 year old loves it! The story is actually geared more to non-food allergic people (makes a point of people with allergies being just like every one else in other ways, that you can't "catch" allergies from playing with someone, etc.) There's also 2 pages of notes for teachers of kids with food allergies. One of the best books we've found.

Posted on: Wed, 01/29/2003 - 2:27am
Julie1's picture
Joined: 11/09/1999 - 09:00

I am excited! Although I thought I had looked around the FAAN site for ideas, I hadn't actually checked their kids site. There is a whole area on school project ideas! What they suggest doing, which is exactly what I was hoping for, is to make a model of a mast cell, ige antibodies and histamines. THey suggest using a small balloon as the model of the mast cell, filling it with water, to represent the histamines inside the mast cell, and putting stickers on the outside of the ballon to represent the iGE antibodies. Then you can use a straight pin to act as the allergic food that touched the ige antibodies and cause the cell to explode with the histamines!
What a great resource FAAN has been!

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