Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hands on Handwashing - A Lesson on Germs

If you are the parent of or work with young children, there is one thing you know all too well.  They are notoriously bad at sharing except for when it comes to their germs.  They have a tendency to pick their noses, chew on their fingers and rub their germs on any available surface.  Despite these undesirable behaviors, we love them all the same.

My niece Chloe demonstrating said undesirable behavior.
In an attempt to win the war against germs, I have often used the following activity to help children develop an understanding of germs and how they spread.  This activity also supports good hand washing practice.  And of course it's fun too!

You will need the following items: A dish pan, a few toys that can be washed with soap and water, cinnamon and vegetable oil (any oil will do, this is simply the most cost effective)

 Once you have gathered the necessary supplies it's time to begin.  Place your toys in the dish pan and coat them with oil.  Then sprinkle a bit of cinnamon all over the toys.

Now it's time to invite your children to join you.
Sean dove in right away.  Isabel was a bit unsure at the start.
For my purposes I placed a cloth underneath the bin in an attempt to contain the inevitable mess.

At this time, depending on the age of your children, you can have a brief discussion about germs and how you cannot see them with your eyes.  Explain that you will be pretending the cinnamon represents germs and that your children will be able to see how the germs spread when they play with the toys.  Invite your children to begin manipulating and playing with the toys.  They will quickly notice that their hands are covered with germs.  If using this activity in a classroom setting, children enjoy shaking each others hands and giving high fives to see how they share germs with each other.
The children enjoy noticing how the germs pass from the toys to their hands.

Uh oh.  Isabel even got some germs on her face!
Now that your children are good and covered in germs, it's time for the clean-up.  Thanks to the oil, your children will have to do a thorough job of scrubbing with both soap and water to be rid of all the germs.  
Now it's time to wash the germs away. 

I hope that you will enjoy this activity with either your own children or those in your class.  Following this activity with my students, they became much more adept at hand washing.  They learned that you really need to scrub with soap to get the germs off.  We no longer have any children that just rinse and run!

*Originally posted here Tutus and Tea Parties as a guest blog post.  Check out the rest of the Tutus and Tea parties blog.  Tons of great activities and ideas for children!

No comments:

Post a Comment