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20 October 2014
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Micro-organisms lesson plan

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Bacteria on a petri dish
  1. To understand that micro-organisms are living organisms that are often too small to be seen.
  2. To understand that micro-organisms may be beneficial or harmful.

National Curriculum

Sc2, 5f.


You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Micro-organisms (clip compilation). Ask the children if they know what they are learning about today.
  2. Place the pictures around the room and ask the children to go to each picture and try to guess what it could be.
  3. Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Bacteria growth. Ask the children what factors bacteria need to grow.


  1. Discuss the definition of the terms bacteria, virus, fungi, beneficial microbes and harmful microbes. Ask the children if they can name examples of each.
  2. Return to the pictures. Ask the children if they can identify to which category each organism belongs.
  3. Open the Bitesize micro-organisms activity on an interactive whiteboard. Explain to the class that they are looking at a garden and kitchen scene and that as the cursor is moved over the scene, the cursor changes to a camera when it spots a micro-organism (as in the compost heap or the rotting food). A click of the mouse collects the micro-organism. Clicking on the magnifying glasses reveals additional information on each example.
  4. Click the Sorter button. Explain that they must sort the photos into harmful or beneficial micro-organisms.
  5. Divide the class into groups, with a computer for each group. Ask the groups to work through the Spotter and the Sorter sections of the activity. Encourage them to look at the information screens by clicking on the magnifying glasses.


  1. Complete the Spotter and Sorter sections of the activity with the class on the interactive whiteboard.
  2. Discuss safety when looking at real micro-organisms.
  3. Discuss the harmful effects of micro-organisms (illness, disease, rot).
  4. Discuss how bacterial disease can enter the body (breathing in, drinking water, eating food, cuts) and ways to help prevent this.
  5. Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - Micro-organisms (clip compilation). Ask the children to list the good and bad micro-organisms.
  6. Ask the children to complete the Bitesize micro-organisms quiz to assess their learning.


  1. Ask the children to research examples of micro-organisms at work from magazines, newspapers, CD-ROMs, the internet and reference books and to make a display. Alternatively, ask the children to complete the Micro-organisms worksheet (PDF 57KB).
  2. Watch Learning Zone Class Clips - The use of microbes in the food and drink industry. Ask the children to list the key facts learnt.


Ask the children to create a rap that explains the key learning from the lesson and includes key scientific vocabulary such as 'attract', 'repel' and so on.

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