The Lion Who Had Asthma, by Jonathan London

This book helps children who have asthma, or know of someone with asthma, to know what symptoms and signs to look for to help lessen an asthma attack and how to stay calm. It introduces children to a nebulizer. Preschool aged children are twice as likely to have an emergency asthma attack as older children. Use this book to help alleviate some of the fear and questions that are part of asthma and asthma management.


  • Bubbles and bubble wands.  (Wands can be made by twisting pipe cleaners into a loop at one end)
  • Small paper lunch plates
  • Lion features
  • Paper straws, one per child
  • Cornstarch and green food dye.
  • 2 sets of the Water Cards
  • Is/Is Not boards and magnet letters


  • Asthma (when air cannot get into your lungs and you have trouble breathing)
  • Inhaler (a machine that helps you breathe if you have asthma)
  • Imagination (to pretend something using your brain thoughts)
  • Imaginary (not real, pretend)

Before Reading the Story

Talk to the children about the importance of lungs.  Put your hands on your chest and tell the children that this is where your lungs are.  When your lungs are working properly, the air flows easily in and out.  Have the children hold the back of one of their hands near their mouth to feel how the air comes out.  Explain to the children that if you have asthma, that means your lungs make mucus which is thick and sticky making them feel tight and hard to breath.  It also makes you feel like coughing.  Explain that people with asthma can get help by using a special kind of machine called a nebulizer that has medicine inside and makes it easier for you to breath.  Tell the children that you cannot get asthma from another person.

Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; grows in eagerness to learn about and discuss a growing range of topics, ideas, and tasks.

Reading the Story

On the first page where Sean is a lion, tell the children that Sean is using his imagination.    On the page where he is a giant, ask the children if they know what the trees really are that he is munching on?  (Broccoli).  On the page where Sean makes a wheezing sound, demonstrate what a wheeze sounds like to the children.  Ask them to look at his face; it looks like he might be a little bit afraid.  On the next page where his mother tells him it’s time for a treatment, explain that people with asthma can use a special inhaler machine that they breath into and it helps make their lungs feel better.  On the page where Sean is able to breathe again, ask the children to look at his face now, he looks so much better and happier.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

In the story Sean was having trouble breathing, ask the children if they remember how that made him feel?  (He cried and coughed.  He was scared.  Sean used his imagination.  Ask the children to recall some of the things that Sean pretended to be.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions; and for other varied purposes.

Talk to the children about watching out for their friends.  Ask the children How they can help when they see a friend who is having trouble breathing? (tell an adult right away).  If a child in your class has asthma, remind them to let you know right away if they feel like they cannot breathe very well.  Ask the children to help you make a list of things that should be done if someone is having an asthma attack. (Relax & stay calm.  stop, sit down, relax, take quick-relief medication (if prescribed by the child’s physician), tell a friend or adult). Post the list on the wall.

Literacy/Early Writing; develops an understanding that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes.


At lunch or snack today, give each child a straw. Tell them that you want to show them what breathing with asthma might feel like. Tell the children to sit and use the straw to breath in and out. Can they feel how they are not getting as full of lungs? The air is not going in well. Take the straw out and try a few breaths. Feel the difference. Let the children use the straws for their milk or juice today.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; bgins to participate in simple investigations to test observations, discuss and draw conclusions, and form generalizations.

Music and Movement

Teach the children the chorus of That’s What Breathings All About

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and respect for their bodies and the environment.

The Water Song.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and respect for their bodies and the environment.


Show the children how to make a maze with the blocks. Give them a puf ball or ping pong ball to try to blow through the maze.

Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; demonstrates increasing ability to set goals and develop follow through on plans.


Give each child a small paper lunch plate to paint in shades of orange (set out orange, red, yellow, and white paint).  After the paper plate has dried, have the children glue on the lion’s eyes, nose, mouth, and ears (The teacher will probably need to cut out the shapes for younger children).   Draw on whiskers with a marker.

Creative Arts/Art; progresses in abilities to create drawings, paintings, models, and other art creations that are more detailed , creative, or realistic.

Sand and Water

Make gooey mucus; Add one cup water, 2 cups cornstarch, and green food coloring.  Slowly mix this all together.  The mixture will appear solid but when you pick it up, it will ooze from your hand.  As the children play with the mucus, explain that this is like what happens in your lungs if you have asthma.  Have them pick up some of the goo.  Let it flow between your fingers, does it flow fast or slow?  If flows slow, that’s what happens in your lungs making it hard to breath.  Now add a few drops of water to the mucus.  Does it feel the same?  Does it flow through your fingers differently?  Explain to the children that it’s important to drink plenty of water as drinking lots of water thins the mucus and makes it easier to breathe.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to participate in simple investigations to test observations, discuss and draw conclusions, and form generalizations.

Library and Writing

As children look a books today, ask them if the book they are looking at is fiction or not-fiction (Imaginary or not imaginary but real).

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction, and poetry.

Put out the magnet letters and is/is not boards for the children to use tofday.

Dramatic Play

Ask the children what they think they might like to imagine play today.  As their play progresses, check in and tell them you like how they are using their imagination to __________.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; uses an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.

Math and Manipulatives

Make two sets of the water drinking cards. Make sure the children cannot see through the back. Use to play Memory. Turn all the cards face down on the table. The children take turns picking cards trying to find sets.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develop[s and increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns during games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive. AND Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks and activities.

Outdoor Play

Bring bubbles and wands out onto the playground today.  Show the children how to take a long slow breath out to make the bubbles.

Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks and activities.

Remind the children when they are out running that it sometimes feels hard to breathe.  When this happens you need to slow down and catch your breath and grab a glass of water.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, amd responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, or activities.


Play snake breath.  Have the children take a breath in and then very slowly let their breath out while making a hissing snake sound.  Who can make the longest hissing sound?


The CDC has put out information specifically for children.

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.