Puberty - Managing change and transition

Time to complete Puberty - Managing change and transition: 50 minutes

Year level: 6


Students develop an understanding that the changes that occur during puberty affect young people physically, socially and emotionally and can affect boys and girls differently.

Learning focus

Sorting knowledge of puberty into physical, social or emotional change.

Key understandings

  • The changes associated with puberty happen to different people at different times.

  • Puberty involves physical, social and emotional changes.

  • There are changes associated with puberty that affect mostly males, some that affect mostly females and some that affect both males and females.

  • Many of the physical changes associated with puberty allow people to reproduce, however they may not be socially or emotionally ready.


  • A3 paper [one per student]
  • Teaching Resource: Changes in puberty
  • Student Activity Sheet: Male or female changes?

General capabilities

No General Capabilities values have been selected.

Health and physical education(P)

Personal, social and community health

This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.

Mental health and wellbeing

Blooms revised taxonomy

No Blooms values have been selected.

Inquiry learning phase

No Inquiry Learning phase values have been selected.

Related items

Teaching resource (download) Guides

Before you get started

  • The topic of puberty may be an exciting and interesting topic for some. Be mindful that some students may feel embarrassed, uncomfortable or worried learning how their bodies are going to be changing. Increase the comfort of students through introducing this topic with excitement and fun. Providing popcorn (or something similar) for students to share can be a fun way to reduce their anxiety levels.

  • Students may have questions that they feel uncomfortable to ask. Providing a question box for students to place their questions in anonymously will ensure their questions are answered in a safe environment.

  • The WA Department of Health has developed a free resource for parents: Talk Soon. Talk Often. A Guide for Parents Talking to their Kids About SexIt is recommended that teachers communicate to parents and explain the topics that will be covered such as healthy relationships, puberty, hygiene, emotions, resilience, etc. and that you are not teaching their child to have 'sex'.

  • Puberty kits: The use of a puberty kit can be a useful tool in the classroom. Check with your school's public health nurse to see if there are any kits readily available or that can be made up to use.

  • If you are using an educational video students can often be distracted if the videos are obviously out of date, as evidenced by the clothes, hairstyles and quality of the video, although this could be used to add humour to the experience. Ensure that any multimedia used is current, relevant and appropriate, and sufficient time is allocated for a discussion afterwards.

  • Many teachers ask the question of whether or not they should separate the boys and the girls for such classes. Research shows that there is no significant difference for either strategy. You may choose to separate your class by gender, keep them all together or mix strategies by separating your class for certain activities. If you do choose to separate the sexes, ensure that both groups receive the same information. It is just as important for students to learn about their changing bodies as it is for them to learn what the other sex is going through in order to promote compassion. Remember when making this decision that all students need to overcome any potential discomfort in order to be able to effectively communicate sexual matters in relationships when they are older.

  • Provide students with a copy of the booklets Girls and Boys in Puberty and Relationships, Sex and Other Stuff to take home and read.

  • Refer to the Guide: Puberty for further content information related to this activity.

Learning activities

Whole Class

This activity involves the students brainstorming the changes that occur during puberty.

  1. Divide the class into 4 groups and play the Alphabet Game to list words (or phrases) associated with puberty. Each group needs to develop a list of words associated with puberty corresponding to each letter of the alphabet, e.g. A = anxious, B = breasts, .... Z = zits.

    • Ensure physical, social and emotional words are included in the list.

    • Use the examples in the Teaching Resource: Changes in puberty to prompt students if needed.

    • When the list has been completed, encourage the students to think about physical changes (e.g. grow underarm hair), social changes (e.g. become interested in having a boyfriend or girlfriend) and emotional changes (e.g. become embarrassed more easily) as a way of categorising the different types of change they have suggested. Circle or highlight each change in a different colour depending on the category it belongs to.

    • Identify the areas that suggest a lack of knowledge or understanding as an area for future development. Encourage students to demonstrate independence and initiative by attempting to acquire the information themselves or by asking questions via the question box. Encourage students to refer to their puberty booklets.

  2. Have students develop a group definition for puberty. For example: Puberty is when your body begins to change from the body of a child to an adolescent and then into an adult. It does not happen all at once. It happens in stages and starts according to each person’s own body clock.

Independent or Small Group

Students extend their understanding of puberty in this activity by identifying whether the changes that occur are gender specific and whether they are physical, social or emotional changes. This will provide the foundation to discuss coping strategies in the reflection activity.

  1. Provide students with A3 paper, which they need to divide into three columns with the headings Male, Female and Both, and 3 rows with the headings Physical, Emotional and Social (refer to the Student Activity Sheet: Male or female changes?).

    • Using the list of changes from the whole class activity they should record each change under the appropriate heading.

    • Students can add potential changes they know of that were not mentioned in the whole class activity using a different coloured pen.


  1. As a class, review student results from the independent task.

    • Identify similarities and commonalities amongst the students' results.

    • Discuss and clarify any misconceptions.

    • Highlight that the changes that occur during puberty happen to different people at different times.

  1. Acknowledge that puberty may be a stressful transition for some young people. Stress that we can all feel sensitive about our bodies at this time of our lives and we need to be respectful of each other’s feelings.

    • Discuss potential feelings and ways of coping with changes, how the changes may affect the students' behaviour, and other people's reactions to the changes that are taking place.

    • Discuss strategies to help deal with these situations that may arise as a result of the changes people experience during puberty.

  1. Ask:

    • How might a young person feel when they start to develop pubic hair?

    • How might a young person feel when they start to develop acne?

    • Are our feelings guided by the change being public or private? Why/why not?

    • How might a young person behave if another person makes a comment about his or her acne?

    • What sort of self-talk would help you if you were embarrassed by some external body change due to puberty (e.g. facial hair developing, chest widening, breasts developing, hips widening)?  

  2. Highlight that the physical changes associated with puberty allow people to reproduce. However, being pregnant and having a baby is a major life transition and can impact significantly on a person's lifestyle (physically, emotionally, socially, financially).

External related resources

Aborginal specific pamhlets from SHINE SA (Family Planning South Australia)

Puberty for Boys

Puberty for Girls

$7.50 per pack of 20

$10 combo pack (20 boys/20 girls)