Alexander the Elephant Who Couldn't Eat Peanuts

CONCEPT: Self Esteem, Understanding PKU


Watch a video about an elephant who is allergic to peanuts. Discuss the similarities and differences between PKU and a food allergy.



After completing this activity, children will be able to:

  • realize the similarities between food allergies and PKU
  • realize the differences between food allergies and PKU
  • give advice that would be helpful to a person with PKU



Explain: "Today we're going to watch a cartoon about an elephant who is allergic to peanuts." [Write the word "allergy" on the chalkboard.] "Who knows what an allergy is? Who knows somebody who has an allergy?"

"PKU is not an allergy, but it is sort of similar. People who are allergic to foods can't eat certain foods; people with PKU can't eat certain foods too. When you watch the video think about how Alexander's allergy is similar to PKU. What messages does the video try to give?

Watch the first half of the video "Alexander the Elephant Who Couldn't Eat Peanuts".

Discuss the first half of the video:

  • Have the children write their name on one half of a large piece of paper and write Alexander's name on the other side. Ask them to list the things they have in common with Alexander. Using another piece of paper, make the same headings and ask participants to list all the things that are different. Help the participants to discover that there are more similarities than differences and that the differences are what make each one of us special.
  • How is Alexander's allergy similar to PKU?
    • He can't eat certain foods--peanuts; kids with PKU can't eat foods with lots of phe
    • He'll feel sick if he eats peanuts; kids with PKU will feel sick if they eat too much phe
    • His allergy is something he has to think about when he eats
    • Sometimes he has to check with his parents about what foods are okay to eat
  • How is it different from PKU?
    • PKU is not an allergy--an allergy can cause you to get sick right away
    • Some people with allergies use "epi pens" when they accidentally eat something that they are allergic to. There is not an "epi pen" for PKU.
  • What are the three main messages that you picked up on? Would they be helpful to a child with PKU? Would you need to change them at all?
    • People with food allergies/PKU are special--though sometimes it makes them feel different
    • Everybody has differences--allergies, other conditions
    • It is helpful to have friends who understand

Explain: "In the second half of the video, several kids who have allergies talk about the issues they face. Let's pretend that we're making the second half of the video for people with PKU. Listen to what they say and think about what things you would change, and what things you would keep the same."

Watch the second half of the video.

Discuss each section and decide what the PKU video would be like. Write the ideas on the chalkboard. If the group is having trouble coming up with ideas, have them try to recall the ideas in the video (below) and give some suggestions/prompts.

  • What's it like having a food allergy/PKU?
    • You have to be careful about what foods you eat.
    • If I forget to read the ingredients, sometimes my friends help me to remember.
    • Sometimes you feel different--lots of times you feel special.
  • How does it make you feel?
    • Mad, Sad, Why Me?!, Same as my friends, teasing makes me feel ....
  • What do you do if someone offers you food?
    • Decide if it is a "yes" or "no" food--and check with parents if not sure
    • Say "No thank you"
    • Feel scared
    • Don't take food from people who don't understand PKU--unless you are sure it's low phe
    • Check with Mom--or say I'll check with her later
    • Bring my own special treats to parties
  • What advice would you give to other children with food allergies/PKU?
    • Don't feel bad, there are others with allergies/PKU too.
    • There is no need to be scared if you are being careful.
    • You don't have to feel alone.
    • You may feel left out or different, but other people have differences too.
    • Find some friends who understand--that's why it's nice to come to clinic (to meet other people who can't eat certain foods and to learn about foods that you can eat).
    • Find some friends with PKU and share your low phe foods.
    • If you accidentally eat something that you are not supposed to, tell somebody who knows about your diet.


  • TV and VCR
  • Video: "Alexander, The Elephant Who Couldn't Eat Peanuts", available from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network,
    phone: (800) 929-4040, website:
  • Sheets of paper
  • Markers



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