SugarByHalf - Guardians of the Gums - How Sugar Attacks

SugarByHalf - Guardians of the Gums - How Sugar Attacks

Lesson 3 of 5 in this unit

  • Early Learning
  • Primary
  • Foundation
  • Year 1 - 2
  • Science
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Health
  • Social
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • ...

Lesson summary

The sugar army can be too much for the Royal Teeth to handle, And after a while, the damage can be quite substantial.
They help the bacteria in their great attack, And the Royal teeth begin to break down as they are covered in sticky plaque.
The bacteria’s first point of attack will always be your teeth and gums, And if not protected over time, your teeth will have to succumb.

It can be hard for young students to visualise such a process. After all, once we gulp down a soft drink it’s no longer in our mouths, right? 

This highly engaging lesson allows students to see the impact of plaque decaying teeth over time by using a substitute very similar in structure to tooth enamel: eggshells. Students will use the scientific method to simulate the decaying effect of a variety of sugary liquids on their teeth.

Learning intentions:

Students will...

  • understand the anatomy of a tooth
  • understand why too much sugar is bad for their teeth
  • understand why toothpaste contains fluoride.

Success criteria

Students can...

  • describe the parts and functions of a tooth using a cross-section diagram
  • conduct an experiment to visually demonstrate the impact of sugar on tooth enamel
  • compare and contrast an eggshell after being exposed to sugary liquids
  • think critically to make observations about the impact of sugar on teeth
  • think critically to make observations about the impact of fluoride (in toothpaste) in protecting teeth.

Lesson guides and printables

Lesson Plan
Student Worksheet
Teacher Content Info

Lesson details

Curriculum mapping

EYLF Learning Outcomes:

Learning Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

  • 3.2 Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

Learning Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners

  • 4.1 Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity

Learning Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

5.1 Children interact verbally and non,verbally with others for a range of purposes

5.2 Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts

5.3 Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work SugarByHalf – Guardians of the Gums – Early Learning to Year 2

Time required: 45 mins

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – conduct the experiment and facilitate understanding of high level concepts

Resources required

  • Eggs x 8
  • Clear glasses or plastic cups x 8
  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Different liquids:
    • Fruit Juice
    • A soft drink
    • A sports drink or energy drink
    • Water
  • Anatomy of a tooth image
  • Guardians of the Gums story – You can read the pdf yourself or watch the video.
  • Metal knife
  • Metal teaspoon
  • Student Worksheet – one copy per student
  • Toothbrush
  • Tube of toothpaste
  • Water

Additional info

These lessons were developed in partnership with SugarByHalf and the Australian Dental Association. Guardians of the Gums was written by Bee Healthy Stories; if you would like to see more of their stories, head to Bee Healthy Stories.

SugarByHalf promotes action to reduce sugar-related diseases so that we can live better, stronger and healthier lives.

Their message is simple: to reduce added sugar consumption by half. Eating too much added sugar is a key driver of serious health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, dementia and mental health conditions. A poor diet also puts children behind their peers, affecting brain development, sleep and ability to learn. Poor diet choices ultimately mean that this generation of children could be the first in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents.

Much of the added sugar in our diet comes from the processed foods and drinks we consume. On average, we consume 14-16 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Teenagers consume more than 20 teaspoons per day. The World Health Organisation says we should limit our daily added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons for good health. To put that in perspective, there are 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. If something has 20 grams of sugar, that's 5 teaspoons of sugar. 

This English lesson focuses on developing the skills and knowledge students need to critically consider messages about food and drink they are exposed to, thereby equipping them to be able to make healthy choices.

Talking about Health:

  • Be mindful of students who may experience weight stigma. Some students may be sensitive to conversations around weight, body size or shape. Terms including obesity, weight issues, weight-problem and fat can be stigmatising for some people because they assign blame. It is important to note individual preferences around language vary. Research has shown using the terms ‘weight’, ‘weight gain’, ‘healthy weight’, ‘unhealthy weight’, and ‘high BMI’ are preferred as better alternatives.
  • Be mindful about how you use the word ‘diet’. We recommend focussing students on the positive impacts of healthy nutrition and healthy lifestyles which help us to have stronger bodies and minds, feel good and sleep well.
  • Steer students away from any focus on appearances by communicating that appearance does not determine your worth. We recommend the fact sheets from the Butterfly Foundation on body image tips.
  • Avoid using labels such as obese or diabetic. Refer to people living with diabetes, people living with cancer, people with high BMI etc.
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