Allergies Movie Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about allergies and allergic reactions.  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Allergies. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against potentially harmful, foreign substances. Antibodies circulate through bloodstream to fight off these substances. In allergy sufferers, however, the immune system overreacts, releasing antibodies to attack harmless substances. This triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals, which causes symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, and temporary rashes. Achoo!

In serious cases, people can go into anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can include shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, and shock. Long term exposure to allergens can cause health complications including asthma, ear infections, and sinusitis.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, about 40 to 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies. These allergies can be caused by indoor irritants, such as dust mites, cockroach droppings, and mold, or by outdoor irritants, such as pollen. Foods such as nuts, wheat, eggs, shellfish, and dairy products can cause allergic reactions in some people, as can many medications including penicillin and other antibiotics. So can the stings of insects like bees, hornets and wasps. Pet dander, or flakes of skin, as well as pet saliva and urine can also cause allergic reactions. We recommend watching the Caring for Pets movie together as a review for how different pets and their areas can be kept clean.

Fortunately, exposure to allergens can be controlled. People who are allergic to dust can buy special pillowcases and mattress covers that reduce dust mite, and they can reduce clutter in their homes that collect dust. Those who suffer from outdoor or seasonal allergies can use antihistamines or anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and eye drops to control their reactions or limit being outdoors during pollen season.

It’s important for your child to understand that people who have allergies, especially to certain foods, must be careful. Encourage children to think about ways to control allergies and how to communicate them to other people so accidental reactions do not occur. Teachers, schools, play date chaperones, camp counselors, and baby sitters are all people who should be notified about a child’s allergies. Understanding what triggers allergies and how to control them is an important part of understanding that people have unique bodies that react differently to different things.