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Section 3 - A healthier world

3.1 My role in the community
3.2 What is fitness?
3.3 The air around us
3.4 Traffic congestion
3.5 Greenhouse (MP and UP only)
3.6 Environmental sustainability (UP only)

3.1 My role in the community


To recognise the groups that make up communities, identify the membership of community groups and examine the idea that the actions of individuals within a community group impact on the community as a whole. To recognise the importance of individual contributions towards creating better communities through identification of personal community groups and responsible and irresponsible behaviours.


Students will be able to:

Activities Junior Primary – 3.1 Learning activities


Ask students to define their understanding of the word ‘community’. Most people are members of many different communities, including:

Focus questions:

Pencil Activity 3.1 JP – Community groups

Students use the Activity to record and label the communities they each belong to, then compare their work with a partner.

Concept map

Build a concept map that explores the good and bad things that are done by groups in our community. Consider the work of volunteers, sporting and hobby groups, school groups and individuals.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies

Pencil Activity 3.1 JP – My role in the community

Define ‘community’, ‘responsible’ and ‘irresponsible’. Discuss with students the idea that actions of individuals impact on the community. Ask students to categorise responsible and irresponsible behaviours in relation to the effect on the community. These could include:

Responsible Irresponsible
  • walking dog on a leash
  • speeding cars
  • picking up litter
  • drawing graffiti
  • maintaining gardens and walkways
  • noise pollution

Students draw and label responsible and irresponsible behaviours and list things that they could do to make their neighbourhood a better place in which to live.


Collating the information from the Activity, ask students to design posters for display in the community which show responsible community activities.

Role play

Students work in small groups to present a Role play depicting responsible and irresponsible behaviour and the result of each action.

Activities Middle Primary – 3.1 Learning activities


In understanding the impact of behaviours on communities, students explore the consequences of various actions. The local Council would have information to assist research.

Focus questions::


Most members of the class, or their parents or caregivers, will belong to at least one community group. Ask them to research a group they belong to – the purpose of the group, the place and time when it meets, the community work it performs.

Encourage students to collect brochures and pictures of their group. Many community groups belong to statewide or national organisations – their websites will provide more information.

Featuring work by all students, build a Display in the classroom, school reception area or the local library. Invite the organisations to provide more brochures for people to take from the Display.

WWW For example

Pencil Activity 3.1 MP – Behaviour in the community

Brainstorm types of responsible and irresponsible behaviours and how they impact on the community. Are there any ways that the irresponsible behaviours could be changed so that they become responsible community behaviours? For example, graffiti artists could be involved in wall decoration as part of a street art program.

Students complete the Activity, giving reasons for their decisions.

Activities Upper Primary – 3.1 Learning activities

“Alex Jackson: Grommet” by Pat Flynn

Alex is a skateboarder with a reputation. Selections from this book would be good to read in class, to initiate discussions about the issues of skateboarders and skateboarding in communities.

Focus questions:

WWW Student reviews of Alex Jackson: Grommet

Discussion – The car and the community

Speeding cars can have an impact on a personal level in regard to safety but they also affect the community. When people speed in our local areas we have unsafe streets and this means that less people are walking, cycling or spending time in community spaces.

Organise students to work in groups to explore this statement. Consider it from the points of view of residents, other drivers, workers, pedestrians, cyclists and the drivers of speeding cars. Can they think of responsible options for the drivers?

Form a panel to discuss the views fielded by ‘representatives’ of each of the groups monitored above.


‘That skateboarding (or scooters or skating) in public places should be banned’

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies

Pencil Activity 3.1 JP

Pencil Activity 3.1 MP

3.2 What is fitness?


To recognise the activities they undertake to maintain a healthy body and to explore the relationship between regular exercise and general fitness.

To introduce pulse rate, how to locate pulse points, measuring pulse rates before and after exercise.

To understand that fitness can be measured by recording pulse rates before and after aerobic exercise and then after a rest period.


Students will be able to:

Activities Junior Primary – 3.2 Learning activities

Research – Body parts

Use charts, models and other resources to learn about various parts of the body, focussing on body structure, heart and lungs. Explore breathing in and out, various ways that the body can move.

Pencil Activity 3.2 JP – My body

Display – Our bodies

Use large sheets of blank newsprint paper (end rolls are available from newspaper printers) or join spreads of newspaper with tape to make a sheet large enough for a child’s body outline to be traced – one for each child. Students can trace each other, create labels for body parts and display the ‘bodies’ to make a frieze around the classroom. Organise the ‘bodies’ in height order, to encourage discussion about differences in bodies. Add hair, nails, facial features as an ongoing collage – students could suggest appropriate materials to use.

Class discussion – Linking our bodies and fitness

Being fit means that our bodies have to do exercise in order to work properly and be healthy.

Focus questions:

Pencil Activity 3.2 JP – What is fitness?

Ask students to think about two activities that they do to keep fit. Students then illustrate and write a sentence about each activity and complete the true or false statements based on the class discussion focus questions.

Where’s my pulse point?

Show students how and where to find a pulse.

Students locate the pulse points on their own bodies. They should use their index and middle fingers to feel the pulse correctly. They will need some time in which to locate the best pulse point and be able to find it quickly.

Complete these activities, recording the pulse count each time:

Focus questions:

Use a stopwatch for accurate timing.

Pencil Activity 3.2 JP – Finding a pulse

Complete the Activity. Encourage students to try different levels of exercise and count their pulse and record the count. They could develop a table to record their findings, or create a simple graph. They may wish to record the count of different members of their family, using the correct method and pulse points.

ICT ICT idea

Develop a spreadsheet to record counts and graph the result.

Activities Middle Primary – 3.2 Learning activities

Class discussion

Discuss with students the meaning of heart rate or pulse. Focus facts:

Students develop a true / false question sheet.


Find out more about the heart – how it works, how it keeps on beating – without missing a beat – for your whole life.


Class discussion

Being fit means that the heart and lungs can pump oxygen to the muscles.

For example, when running, leg muscles need oxygen to keep going. If the heart and lungs cannot pump enough blood, legs get tired and running stops.

Discuss with students the definition of ‘fitness’. Add it to the Glossary in their TravelSmart Log. (See Section 2 – Tuning in – 2.1 A changing world – Middle Primary)

Focus questions:

To increase aerobic fitness, the cardio-respiratory (heart-lung) system must be strengthened. The heart, like any other muscle, must be exercised enough to strengthen it but not to cause damage. The heart needs to be exercised for approximately 10 minutes or more at a time, on a regular basis. The exercise does not need to be difficult – you should be a little puffed but still able to talk.

Slow jogging is better for increasing fitness than a fast sprint. Why?

Pencil Activity 3.2 MP – What is fitness?

Students use this Activity to interview four different people about their perception of fitness and what activities they participate in. They could choose to interview their peers, or take the Activity home and interview family members. Surveying participants of different ages would result in interesting information. Contact the media to see if they are interested in covering the display.

ICT ICT idea

Using a spreadsheet program, graph results. Compare / contrast /similarities / differences / advantages/ disadvantages.


Students brainstorm all aspects of fitness and create a collage of the positive aspects of fitness on their lives. Organise a display of this work in the local neighbourhood, in relation to International World Heart Day – the last Sunday in September.


What does the Heart Foundation do? Why do we need a Heart Foundation?


Class or group brainstorm on the topic of ‘our bodies are like machines’. Explore the concept of what happens when machines are not used often or cared for properly.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies


Students design a machine that measures and records pulse count.

Activities Upper Primary – 3.2 Learning activities

Pencil Activity 3.2 UP – Finding a pulse

Revision of pulse, pulse rate, pulse points. Students work in pairs to complete the Activity. Discuss quicker ways of measuring pulse (count pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get the pulse for a minute).

To check pulse rates, students try some different activities; walking, running or skipping for a set time, walking up stairs, running up a hill. Also ask students to check how quickly their pulse rates return to resting rate.

ICT ICT idea

Graph results using a spreadsheet program

Class discussion

Revisit the concepts covered in the previous Activity. Discussion points leading to the completion of the next Activity include:

Pencil Activity 3.2 UP – How to increase fitness (2 pages)

Students answer the questions, using information given and accessing resources to extend their understanding of the topic of fitness. Page 2 of the Activity requires students to measure and record their heart rates both before and after exercise and over a set period.

In order to increase fitness, a recommended time frame is to exercise three times a week over a fortnight. Students should expect to see a slowing of the resting heart rate and more rapid recovery after exercise.

Discuss and answer the questions at the end of the record page.

Take a breather

Students will measure their lung capacity, using a calibrated glass bottle or jar to measure and represent the amount of air that their lungs can hold. They can record their work by writing a procedure.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.3 Text types


Class discussion / concept map

Organise class discussion groups to develop concept maps around the issues of good lung capacity, fitness and lung capacity, the importance of breathing fresh air, the implications of various forms of air pollution, how a polluted environment can cause problems even for fit people. Topics could be assigned for individual groups.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies

Research – Initiatives

Community health is becoming increasingly important to our governments. Surveys indicate that today, people are more overweight and less fit than they were in previous years. These factors are costing the nation many thousands of dollars in medical expenses, every day.

Commonwealth and state budgets are allocating money for health initiatives to ensure that people become fitter and healthier.

Access the Australian Bureau of Statistics website, or use the Year Book of Australia, to discover some health facts about Australians and fitness.

Many websites are able to explain health initiatives – Active8 and Active for Life are only two of many. Students research and prepare a plan showing how they could start one of these initiatives in their local area. Think about the reasons for starting the initiative, how much it would cost, where it would be held, who would be involved, what sort of activities would be offered, and how to publicise it.

Share plan with the class as an oral presentation and include pictures, brochures and application forms for interested people to use.

WWW For example

Pencil Activity 3.2 JP

Pencil Activity 3.2 MP – What is fitness?

Pencil Activity 3.2 UP

3.3 The air around us


To introduce the fact that air is made up of a mixture of gases and that excessive car use can add other gases which pollute the air. To conduct scientific investigations that explore air pollution and its effect on the environment.


Students will be able to:

Activities Junior Primary – 3.3 Learning activities

Class discussion

Students discuss how they can determine air quality, just by breathing.

Focus questions:


If it can be done safely, organise a class excursion to a local garage, crash or exhaust repair shop. Ask the manager to conduct a tour of the garage, showing students all the aspects of car maintenance and why it is important. Discuss what it smells like inside and outside the building. Interview the manager about the business, including the aspect of air pollution from cars.

Alternately, the manager could be invited to school to discuss these aspects of the business.

Focus questions:

From the information, students could plan a way of reporting their findings and presenting them to the school.

Activities Middle Primary – 3.3 Learning activities

An excellent teaching resource, Who cares about our air? – A workbook on Air Pollution for Primary Schools has been produced by the Department of Environmental Protection (WA) for AirWatch.

Scientific investigations – Air – Is it there?

Access a copy of the AirWatch workbook and conduct investigations outlined in Section 1 – Let’s check out the air, Section 2 – What’s in the air? and Section 3 – Polluting the air. These activities encourage the understanding that air is there, it is a vital resource and we must care for it. Two of the Air Watch investigations are included in this section.

Pencil Activity 3.3 MP – The air around us*

Working in groups, students organise to collect the following materials which represent gases in the environment. Put them all in the jar and mix well.

The mixture represents the following gases:
Mixture contents Environmental gases
dried peas nitrogen gas
chocolate buds oxygen gas
pop corn carbon dioxide
raisin water vapour
Fruit Loop trace gases

Focus questions:

Build on earlier research to answer these questions.

TravelSmart Log

Provide opportunities for students to complete reflective writing about the understandings they have developed in regard to air and air quality. (See Section 2 – 2.1 A changing world – Middle Primary).

* From Who cares about our air? A workbook on air pollution for Primary Schools. 2002. Department of Environmental Protection (WA). Perth. p. 13, 24-25

Pencil Activity 3.3 MP – How clean is our air?*

This investigation measures pollutant concentration in the local area through collection of air particles. Procedure:

Class discussion

Focus questions:

This investigation could be carried out during different seasons of the year, in different locations and with the particle collectors facing different directions.

Activities Upper Primary – 3.3 Learning activities

Research – What is air?

Students commence their research by brainstorming all the things that they know about air and categorising them.


Investigation – Who cares about our air?*

This Activity must be done outdoors and under very close teacher supervision. It could be linked to OHS & W regulations in the school. The purpose is for students to examine exhaust pollution by using a white sock to collect pollutants from car exhaust. Process:

Class discussion

Discuss with students what they see on the sock, for example:

Pencil Activity 3.3 UP – Who cares about our air?*

Students could either complete the Activity, or record this investigation as a scientific procedure, describing the resources needed, the three steps of the process and listing some conclusions about car pollution and our health.

This activity could be extended by setting up investigations to compare the particle emissions of different makes of cars, noting their age and how long since their last service or tune-up. It is important to discuss with students that a significant proportion of car pollution is in the form of gases, which filters do not collect. Visible pollution is not a good indicator of whether vehicles are emitting pollutants such as NOx.

Students could record and rank the results, from the types of cars that show the biggest sample of particle pollutants, to the least. Do any patterns emerge from their investigations?

Environment Reporting

You can access information about the air quality of your local environment by visiting the Australian Government’s National Pollutant Inventory. Search the national database to determine emission levels for your local area.


How does your local area rate in air quality?

Can you identify local factors that are environmentally friendly and environmentally unfriendly?


As an online research exercise, ask students to brainstorm the keywords they could use to find information about air pollution, public health, the national costs of being unhealthy. Show students how to access the main daily newspaper in their state and how to use the contents listings to locate news items on these topics.

If the school subscribes to an online news database, this activity could produce some interesting information from Australia and other countries for comparison.

* From Who cares about our air? A workbook on air pollution for Primary Schools. 2002. Depart1ment of Environmental Protection (WA). Perth. pp. 58-59

Pencil Activity 3.3 MP

Pencil Activity 3.3 UP

3.4 Traffic congestion


To measure the amount of traffic around school ‘drop off’ zones during peak times and highlight the problems that congestion creates.

To give students the opportunity to observe traffic, to record vehicles that show signs of air pollution and to record single or multiple occupancy of vehicles.To explore ideas for decreasing the number of students arriving and departing by motor car.


Students will be able to:

Activities Junior Primary – 3.4 Learning activities

Class survey

How many people travel in your car when you come to school?
Where do you get out of the car?
Do you have to cross any roads to get into the school?


Students observe the school ‘drop off’ zone and discuss what they see. They could take photos of the zone, for use in follow up classroom activities.

Organise displays that highlight the issues of the school ‘drop off’ zone – with space for people to write comments. Ask if the work could be displayed in public areas at school and in the community, local library or council chambers.

Collect the displays, collate the comments that have been made and prepare a report for presentation to the school’s administrative team and to the governing council.

ICT ICT idea

Students observe the zone and take photos with a digital camera, select the best photos, import them to a word processing document and use them to build a class display for comments.

Activities Middle Primary – 3.4 Learning activities

Class discussion

Students take photos of the ‘drop off’ zone during peak times, for example, the half hour before school starts and the half hour after school finishes.

Focus questions:


How could the school’s traffic congestion problem be solved? Students brainstorm ideas for positive change. Develop a plan that includes details of:

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies

Getting the message across

Suggestions for recording the plan include:

Activities Upper Primary – 3.4 Learning activities


In pairs, students design a tally system for recording the number of cars entering the ‘drop off’ zone and the number of passengers they count in a 15 minute period. Students can also take photos of the area, to use as discussion starters or as part of their final presentations.

Class discussion

Focus questions::


Brainstorm general ideas for reducing the amount of traffic. Remind students of active transport options such as walking, cycling and using public transport. Individually or in groups and using class discussions, students then develop a plan for reducing school traffic congestion.

Who will be the audience for the presentation of the plan? Consider the needs of the audience when deciding how to present – use posters, pamphlets, information sheets, photos, computer presentations, displays, plays and songs, etc. – to make sure that you get your message across to the widest range of people.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.1 Thinking and teaching strategies

Pencil Activity 3.4 UP – Traffic count survey*

Students design a tally sheet for recording their observations about traffic, in particular smoky vehicles. The observation point needs to be on a flat, straight, moderately busy road where vehicles do not have to accelerate.

A smoky vehicle is one that gives off visible smoke for 10 seconds or more when not climbing steep hills or accelerating heavily.

When designing the tally sheet, students will need to allow for the following information to be recorded:

In the Activity students are asked to interpret their findings and to comment on the potential impact these findings could have on the environment.

Class discussion

Focus questions:

Car pools

Organise a car pooling day or week where parents and caregivers and students are encouraged to car pool with friends. Record the car pool groups and the number of trips that have been saved by using this positive travel option.


Community car cooperatives have been started in some communities.

Focus questions:


* From Who cares about our air? A workbook on air pollution for Primary Schools. 2002. Department of Environmental Protection (WA). Perth. pp. 66-67

Pencil Activity 3.4 UP

3.5 Greenhouse


To learn about the effect that air pollution has on our environment. To understand that our lifestyle contributes to the pollutants that cause the enhanced ‘greenhouse’ effect.


Students will be able to:

Learning activities for Middle and Upper Primary only

Activities Middle Primary – 3.5 Learning activities

TravelSmart Log

Students use a dictionary and other resources to define the following terms: greenhouse gas, emission, pollution, environment, sustainable, smog, active transport, carbon monoxide, haze, global warming, etc. They can use the TravelSmart Glossary for more information. (See Section 2 – 2.1 A changing world – Middle Primary).

Add the definitions to the Glossary in their TravelSmart log.

Create a display of TravelSmart words as a mobile, screensaver, poster or banner.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.4 Glossary

ICT ICT idea

Create a poster of words, scan it and import it to your desktop as a screensaver display.

Pencil Activity 3.5 MP – Small changes made by many

Students brainstorm suggestions for reducing pollution and individually develop plans for personal change which could help the environment.

Discuss with students why they have made these choices. Rank the suggestions from easiest to hardest to implement and discuss reasons behind the rankings.

Can students suggest any improvements for the local area, and ways to make the changes easier? How could they involve their families and members of their local neighbourhoods?


Using the list of local issues from the brainstorming session and class discussion, write a letter to the local council explaining the changes required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Items could include an upgrade of walking and riding trails, planting of extra trees and shrubs or more programs to encourage the recycling of materials, creation of bicycle libraries (see Glossary) or car co-operatives.

Links Section 5 – Resources – 5.3 Text types

Activities Upper Primary – 3.5 Learning activities

Research – What is ‘greenhouse’?

Plan a concept map with students which explores the What, How, When, Where, Why and Who of greenhouse gas emissions and the resultant greenhouse effect.

The Australian Greenhouse Office website has lots of information.


Links Section 5 – Resources – Thinking and teaching strategies

Greenhouse Calculator

This software allows businesses and schools to calculate the greenhouse gases, the energy costs and air pollution effects that their energy choices have on the environment. It can be viewed on the Victorian Government’s Environmental Protection Agency website and is available for purchasing from CSIRO Publishing.


Kyoto Protocol

Governments of countries around the world are very aware of the impact that our energy choices are having on the environment. An international agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, was drawn up and has been signed by representatives of many nations.

Find out about the Kyoto Protocol – why it is so named, what it involves, what are the implications for us and for our country. Is Australia a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol? Why? What strategies does our government have in place reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions? What countries have signed? Locate and name the countries on a map of the world.



State governments in Australia are very concerned with environmental issues. One initiative, which has been applied in South Australia, is to directly link the cost of an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) licence to the amount of pollution an industry produces.

Students could research and debate the topic
‘That industries should pay for the environmental effect of the pollution they produce.’

Pencil Activity 3.5 MP

3.6 Environmental sustainability


That we need to live in and contribute to a sustainable society – and that we have the capacity to make choices that can make a difference.


Students will be able to:

Learning activities for Upper Primary only

Activities Upper Primary – 3.6 Learning activities

What is environmental sustainability?

Current scientific findings suggest that our daily choices and lifestyles are unsustainable. That is, there simply are not enough resources (environment, social, cultural, etc) for them to continue undiminished over time if we keep using them at the current rate, through our current practices.

Environmental sustainability is about making smart choices that minimise the environmental and social impacts of our lifestyles and ... (encourages) ... creativity and ingenuity to address current problems and avert future crises.*

What do you think?

Develop a concept map that explores the environmental and social aspects of our lifestyles, listing the choices we make at home, school and in leisure – and considering the changes we could make.

Sustainable Living Project

The Sustainable Living Project offers definitions and a competition for schools to participate in.


Ecological Footprint

Another way of looking at environmental sustainability is to calculate your ecological footprint – the impact that your living has on the ecology of our world. Access an ecological footprint calculator and organise for students to complete it, to give them a better idea of the issue of ecological sustainability and how they are part of it.

Discuss the outcomes of individuals and compare and contrast results in a graph or table. Display it in the classroom.