10 – 12

Bacteria, viruses and other microbes


Bacteria, viruses and other microbes

What to do with this activity?

Bacteria are so tiny that we can only see them under a microscope - many thousands fit onto the head of a pin. Viruses are even tinier and need specialist microscopes. It's amazing that these tiny things have such a huge effect on our world and on our bodies. 

Viruses can only live and multiply in a host cell so they are not classified as a "living". Bacteria are the smallest living things on earth, consisting of just one cell each.  Our bodies, inside and out, hold millions of bacteria. Most of them are good for us - we need healthy bacteria in our tummies to help digest our food for instance. Sometimes bacteria make us sick. That's why we wash our hands before eating food, and are careful about eating food that has been around too long. The whole world depends on bacteria, which rots and recycles organic matter to improve the soil for growing. 

Viruses cause many illnesses, some that are usually very mild like the common cold and chicken pox, others like Covid-19 that we are still learning about. 

If you would like to read more about bacteria, viruses and other microbes, check out this interactive website organised by University College Cork and aimed at primary school kids. 

Also have a look at some Fun Bacteria Facts from Easy Science for Kids, and this Youtube video on Viruses by Peekaboo Kidz.




  • Why am I doing this?

    Children gain confidence in speaking through demonstrating their knowledge to others. Chatting and listening to your child will help build their communication skills. Talking about words and their meaning in everyday life will also help build your child’s vocabulary – and your own!

  • How can I do more?

    Funny stories are interesting and a good excuse to get your child talking. At mealtimes, each family member could tell something interesting or something funny that happened during the day. Watching TV together can also provide a good opportunity for chat and to discuss what you are watching. Check if your child understands different things they hear and encourage your child to teach you new words and things they have learnt.

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