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Activity for MAY! Diarrhoea & the Rehydration Doll!

May is Diarrhoea month here at Children for Health! Read our 10 Messages For Children To Learn and Share about Diarrhoea or download a PDF with 100 messages from 10 topics. Now is a great time for you to read one ‘Lesson Plan‘ that can be used or adapted to introduce children to the importance staying hydrated. Dehydration kills many babies, if children understand why it’s so important to rehydrate people after episodes of diarrhoea – this can save lives! By the end of this activity the children should be able to:
  1. Know and feel able to share a health message on rehydration.
  2. Make and demonstrate the diarrhoea doll to others.
  3. Have a discussion with friends or their family on this topic.
We have been working closely with Save the Children and their Diarrhoea Prevention and Control Programme programmes for schools in Nigeria and India. These programmes implement the WHO 7-point plan and, as part of the Community Mobilisation Strategy, children are involved in learning and sharing twelve messages (adapted from Children for Health messages) and other activities linked to these messages. Note that Children for Health lesson plans are not designed to be ‘one off’ lessons. There should always be a series of lesson plans on one topic or message to give the children a chance to go home, share and discuss the topic with friends and family; then come back to the class/club, discuss what their friends and family were saying about the message and then go back again. We find that three (or more!) lessons or sessions works best for each topic.

The Dehydration Doll Lesson Plan


A plastic bottle, a jug or cups, a container (like a bucket), a pen cap, a pair of scissors, a cloth


Plan to do this experiment in a place where water can spill or have a containers to catch the spills. Practice making and demonstrating a Dehydration Doll before the session:
  • Make a small hole at the base of the bottle.
  • Plug it with a pen top.
  • Mark a level that is around 4/5th of the bottle.
  • Draw a face on the bottle.
  1. Do some introductory activities with the children – singing, name games, clapping games etc.
  2. Learn this, Rehydration message, “Diarrhoea is dangerous because the loss of water and salts dehydrates and makes the body weak. Replace liquids to stop diarrhoea killing young children from dehydration.” Ask the children to make up actions. Pick the best action message and learn it together.

The Dehydration Doll Activity

  • Explain to the children that human bodies are made up of around 70-80% water. Show them the 80% or 4/5th mark you made on the bottle.
  • Fill the bottle up to the mark with water.
  • Hold the doll over a container and pull the pen top out of the hole and water will come out! Explain that the doll has diarrhoea.
  • Ask the children what is happening to the level of the water in the bottle (It’s going down!).
  • Explain that if the a lot of the water runs out of the body, it becomes dehydrated. This can cause serious illness and death.
  • Explain that children with diarrhoea need liquid to be given each time they pass a loose stool, to replace the liquid they have lost and keep it at the right level.
  • The doll shows that we need to keep on putting water into the baby for as long as they have diarrhoea to replace the water that they lose.
  • Ask the children to make their own dolls or, if you only have one, use yours. Practice keeping the water level at the same point.

Reflection Circle

In a circle the children say in turn what they learned and enjoyed about this session. Ask the children these questions:
  • What happened to the liquid in the doll’s body?
  • How can we replace the liquid in the body that was lost through the diarrhoea?
  • How do we keep enough liquid in the body all the time?
  • What happens to people, animals and plants if they have nothing to drink?

Closing Activity

Repeat the message together. Then ask those that know the message to share it with classmates, friends and family when they get home.

Further Reading

Children for Health has two story books on hygiene and sickness, download them now!
The Puzzle Book Cover The Puzzle The Special Glasses Book Cover The Special Glasses