Let’s face it, any time a group of littles gathers together in one place there will be germs. Lots of them! But that does not mean that we have to become the victim to those pesky, microscopic creatures that cause all sorts of illnesses. Nope! We can take control of our classrooms and be proactive. Here’s some of my favorite classroom activities for teaching hand washing and minimizing the spread of germs in the classroom.
1. Go on a Germ Hunt
A germ hunt is a fun way to get your students interested in learning about good hygiene. Start in the classroom and ask students to identify some places they think germs can be found. Students are very likely to identify obvious places like the bathroom and the trashcan. But, they may be surprised at many other places like their desk top, pencils, and door handles. You can also walk through the school and identify places that might have germs in the school building and on the playground.
Do this as a discussion activity or have students make this germ craft before you begin. As students identify a place in the classroom or school where germs would be found, let them tape their germ on the item. This creates a really good visual for just how prevalent germs are in our environment.
This video by WonderGrove Kids is a great follow-up activity to a germ hunt. After watching the video ask your students if there are any other places they missed that should be labeled with germs.
2. Hand Washing Activities
After introducing the concept of germs, teaching your students about hand washing is a great next step. After all, the Center for Disease Control says that “regular hand washing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.” If you want to know or teach about the reasons why, or even look at the scientific data to support this statement you can find it all on the CDC website!
Teaching students good hand washing techniques does not have to be boring. In fact, it can be really fun, engaging and interactive.
Hand Washing Anchor Chart
I love, love, love anchor charts because they are such a valuable learning tool during a lesson and after. This hand washing anchor chart is no exception. Not only do the students love building it, but it gives us a great opportunity to really dig into the whys, whens and hows of hand washing. You can create this all in one day, or add a little each day as you learn about germs and hand washing.
As we create the anchor chart we work on the 5 steps to good hand washing. I also love to teach this song to my students. Not only does it remind them what to do, but by singing it while they wash their hands, they can make sure they are washing for the recommended 20 seconds.
After we create the anchor chart together, we review what we learned with this tri-fold reader.
Hand Washing Reader
I tell you, nothing makes my students feel more “grown up” than reading. Adding a reading component to any lesson is a great way to create cross-curricular learning for anything – even hand washing.
This tri-fold hand washing reader is the perfect way for students to read and re-read the important steps in hand washing.
A Digital Sorting Activity
Sometimes connecting learning to technology skills can be difficult. I really love using SeeSaw and Google Slides activities to help my students learn and review academic skills while practicing important technology skills. Both of these platforms allow my students to work on things like using a mouse, hand-eye coordination, and how to drag and move digital elements.
In this digital activity, students can read about hand washing and then sort the hand washing steps into the proper order.
A Hand Washing Writing Activity
Writing is a wonderful way to pull a lesson or topic together. It gets our students thinking about what they learned and using the vocabulary as they write about it. Many times, writing requires our students to use higher level thinking skills as they analyze and apply what they have learned.
While my students aren’t quite ready for a doctoral thesis they do love a good writing craft! Adding a simple craft not only engages them in writing, but it also makes a great writing display and keepsake.
This hand washing writing activity is so versatile. You can allow students to write whatever they would like based on what they learned about hand washing and germs. Or, provide a writing prompt that helps them practice different types of writing. Here’s some ideas:
- Pretend you were a germ and were about to get washed down the drain (Creative Writing / Narrative Writing)
- How to Wash Your Hands in 5 Steps (How To Writing)
- Germs are Everywhere (Expository Writing)
- Why it’s import to wash you hands (Persuasive Writing)
There are so.many.possibilities!
3. A Hand Washing Experience
After learning all about germs and hand washing, a great way to wrap-up your unit is with a hand washing experience. I’m talking about hands-on hand washing!
Both of these activities are great visual examples of how germs transfer from person to person and person to surface. They are also great to see how effective hand washing is in getting rid of germs.
Shine a Light on Germs
Have you ever seen the black light hand washing lesson? It’s a wonderful activity that allows students to see the germs that would be otherwise invisible.
Here’s the idea: Using a special lotion or powder, you rub a small amount all over your hands. Then turn off the lights and hold your hands under a black light. The areas that glow are areas where there are germs.
You can then go about your day and do some of your ordinary activities. Later checking the people around you and the surfaces in the room for germ transmission. You will be amazed at all the germs that start to glow around the room. Yuck!
Finally, go wash your hands. After washing, it’s time for one more visit under the black light to see just how many germs are gone. It is a great way for students to visualize what hand washing does. It’s also a great way for them to see areas they might have missed when washing (like between the fingers or near the wrist).
The school nurse or health teacher often has a black light hand washing kit. If not, then check out GloGerm to see the variety of kits they have available.
Hand Washing and Glitter
If you don’t have a black light kit available, or want to try something different then here’s an inexpensive activity that only needs baby oil or lotion, glitter and soap.
First rub a little baby oil or lotion on your hands – then add the germs, I mean the glitter. Not only is this fun but its a great way for the students to see the germs.
Check out what to do next (or watch this video from the Indianapolis Children’s Museum with your class.)
If you do this in the classroom, I would suggest only “germing” about 1/3 or 1/2 of your students. Then let your students mingle and see just how easy it is transfer germs from person to person and surfaces in the classroom.
Tip: When you are done, do a quick check around the room and then challenge the students to see if they can clean the germs from the classroom too! You might find glitter for a few days but each time you do it will be a good visual reminder of your germs and hand washing lessons.
Teaching Hand Washing is Fun and Easy
As you can see, these lessons on germs, germ transmission and hand washing are lots of fun. They are really engaging for the students too! Choose one or do them all. You can find all the printable hand washing activities in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s definitely a resource you will use year after year!
Don’t Lose This Page!
Don’t lose this page and these engaging activities in the vastness of the internet. Simply pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back for ideas on teaching hand washing and many other things!