The story ”Oliver’s ear hurts”


During the assignment, pupils learn that: 

  • medicines have different uses – medicines can cure and prevent illnesses and alleviate symptoms. 
  • medicines should always be used as directed.


The mother wonders what the boy has been up to in his room. The boy is lying in a bed with a variety of monitors to monitor the effects of medication and says to the mother "Don't you know that the effects of medication should be monitored?".


For the teacher

It is a good idea to reserve half a lesson for this assignment. This assignment supports the environmental science objective O8 and content area C1 of the Finnish national core curriculum for grades 3–6.

Progress of the assignment:

1.  The teacher reads the story aloud or pupils read it themselves.

2.  After reading the story, discuss what kinds of medicines were in the story:

  • What cured the illness? (antibiotics kill bacteria and prevent their growth, curing a bacterial ear infection)
  • What alleviated a symptom? (an orally taken painkiller alleviates pain)
  • Were any of the medicine preventive? (a vaccination prevents the onset of an illness)

3.  Continue the discussion with the pupils’ own experiences and consider what effects the medicines they used had. You can discuss the importance of vaccinations more extensively if the subject seems interesting to the pupils.


The Story

Oliver wakes up in the middle of the night in pain. He has been feeling fluish for several days already, but now his right ear is hurting as well. Oliver can no longer sleep because the pain keeps him awake. He gets out of bed and tiptoes to his mother. His mother is sleeping. Oliver nudges her and says: “Mother, my ear hurts”. Mother wakes and asks about his ear pain. She knows that there is no need to go to the doctor’s office in the middle of the night, but she says that Oliver should take a painkiller. Oliver takes the tablet and knows that he should drink a glass of water with it. It does not take long until the ear pain eases up. Oliver manages to sleep the rest of the night in peace.  

In the morning, Oliver and his mother go to the doctor’s office. The doctor examines the ear and states that there is an infection. “I must prescribe a 7-day course of antibiotics for this to cure the infection,” the doctor says. On the way home, Oliver and his mother visit a pharmacy. In the pharmacy, Oliver says that he has previously taken a course of antibiotics for an ear infection. Back then, Oliver was still a little kid, and the antibiotics were in liquid form because he could not yet swallow a tablet. Oliver thought that the medicine tasted so bad that he decided to practice swallowing using blueberries.  

And now, indeed, the doctor prescribed a tablet medicine for him. They also talk with the pharmacist about how the course of antibiotics is to be taken regularly. When Oliver takes a dose in the morning at around eight o’clock before going to school, he is to take a dose again around eight in the evening before going to bed. As Oliver is leaving, the pharmacist also reminds him to complete the entire 7-day course according to the doctor’s instructions even if the ear pain goes away in a couple of days. Otherwise, some of the bacteria causing the ear infection could stay alive and start spreading again.  

At home, mother gives Oliver the first antibiotic tablet, and Oliver’s ear starts getting better. Because his ear still hurts, mother gives him another painkiller.  

Ding dong, ding dong goes the doorbell. Oliver runs to open the door. Well, if isn’t his friend Emma there behind the door. Emma slips inside and shows a band-aid on her upper arm. “The nurse gave me a vaccination there today. The needle hurt a little, but luckily it doesn’t hurt anymore”, Emma sighs, relieved. “What vaccination did you get?” Oliver asks. Emma says that she got a polio vaccination. She knows that polio is a serious disease that can cause paralysis. Oliver shows his own medicines to Emma and says that he can go to school as soon as tomorrow because he does not have a fever, and he is also feeling fine otherwise. Oliver also knows to say that an ear infection is not contagious.

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