Real Life Skills: First Aid

Is there anyone for whom it’s not beneficial to know how to administer first aid? For the following activity, borrow your school’s first aid kit or purchase one yourself (since it’s not a bad idea to keep one on hand). The main goal is to increase students’ practical language skills, not issue them first aid certificates. Clarify this and the fact that you are not a medical authority. (You should also be aware of any school policy restricting the medical assistance you can give to a student.)

Level: Intermediate to advanced

Objective: To learn the names of objects in a first aid kit and explain their uses.

Skills targeted: Practical medical vocabulary, expressing purpose.


STEP 1 – Show the first aid kit to the class and discuss reasons for having such a kit on hand. What is this? Why do people keep first aid kits in their homes or cars? Where else do people have or take first aid kits? As students volunteer reasons, note injuries/ ailments on the board, e.g., cut, burn, headache, etc. This list should form one column on the left.

STEP 2 – Pull out items from the first aid kit, ask students to identify the items by name (assist them as needed), and match the items to the words on the board. If an item has no match, add one to the list of injuries/ ailments. Example: “You can use antibiotic ointment on a cut.” = Write antibiotic ointment on the right-side of the board, draw a line that matches it to cut.

STEP 3 – Put all the items from the first aid kit in a bag or box. Have students take turns pulling out items. As they do, they must state the purpose of the given object, using either [for + gerund] or an infinitive of purpose. Example:  These are tweezers. You can use them to pull out splinters.

STEP 4 – Collect the items in the bag once again. This time have students work in pairs or small groups. Have one person from each group pull out an object. The group must write instructions for using the object. Encourage use of sequence markers (first, next…) and appropriate modals for giving advice (should, ought to…). Example: (tweezers) You can use tweezers to pull out a splinter. First, you should make sure the tweezers are clean. You can use an alcohol wipe to clean them. Then you use the tweezers to squeeze the end of the splinter and pull it out of the skin. If there’s bleeding, you should use antibiotic ointment and a band-aid.  Groups can write more than one set of instructions if additional objects are left in the bag.

STEP 5 – Students’ instructions can be read aloud to the class. Questions or clarifications can be voiced by those listening.


  • The Red Cross lists the contents of a Family First Aid Kit and includes suggested uses.
  • If you don’t have a first aid kit, you could fall back on photographs. The Blowing Rock Rescue Squad offers a good image with about a dozen objects, all labeled.
  • You can work in listening practice by watching videos on how to administer first aid. offers some first aid tutorials, and so does the British Red Cross on YouTube.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Brad Smith says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    Great tips! School teachers might also be interested in our Life Live it kit – it’s a first aid training resource designed specifically for teaching first aid in schools. Well worth checking out.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thanks for the follow-up recommendation.

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