Respiration teaching resources

Worksheets and lesson ideas to challenge students aged 11 to 16 to think hard about respiration, anaerobic respiration and fermentation (GCSE and Key Stage 3)

Respiration is such an important concept for students to understand. Because respiration can’t be seen it can be hard for students to conceptualise but making comparisons to combustion can help. This video from SAPS looks at how the temperature of different plant parts can be used to investigate processes such as transpiration and respiration. Students learn that plant temperatures are typically higher than their surroundings due to energy being released by respiration. This is helpful in helping students to see that plants photosynthesise AND respire. 

Breathing and respiration are not the same

GCSE activity on respiration and breathing.  Do plants get a temperature when they are sick? This activity looks at research that shows infected leaves have higher temperatures than healthy leaves. Students use this research to think about the process of respiration and consider how it differs from breathing. By looking at respiration in plants first, many misconceptions linking breathing to respiration can be avoided. (PDF)

Comparing combustion with respiration

The screaming jelly baby is a great demonstration to use when teaching respiration. You have a fuel, oxygen and a huge amount of energy being transferred.  What are the similarities and differences of this reaction compared to cellular respiration?

GCSE activity and worksheet comparing respiration with combustion. Students use a simple Venn diagram to consider the similarities and differences between combustion and respiration. This open-style activity is an excellent platform to challenge students and assess their understanding of this fundamental process. (PDF)

How much energy is in food?

How much energy is released when we burn food? Follow this link to a scientific investigation that asks students to determine the amount of energy present in Quavers and rice cakes. The practical can be used to help students make the link between respiration and combustion.

Anaerobic respiration and fermentation

GCSE worksheet on anaerobic respiration and fermentation. Students work in groups of four to silently review what they already know about anaerobic respiration and fermentation. They then answer a longer answer question comparing and contrasting these two important cellular processes. (PDF)

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Enzymes
  3. Photosynthesis
  4. Respiration