Handwashing is pretty important for keeping our families healthy and preventing the spread of germs. Unfortunately, if your children are anything like mine, they are usually in so much of a rush to get back to playing, that they prefer to skip the hand washing step whenever possible!
Helping children to understand why washing our hands is essential is as important as teaching them the proper technique for cleaning them properly. And often, when children understand the why, they are more inclined to actually comply with the when and how!
Why Germs Are Hard for Kids to Understand
Germs are a pretty abstract concept for kids to understand – while they can see when their hands are dirty they certainly can’t see the microscopic organisms that we call germs. Finding ways to make this form of abstract learning more hands-on and tangible is very important to learning.
Simple science experiments are fun for kids and there are a number of experiments that can help them learn about germs. For example, Immy was fascinated when her school class tried this simple experiment – growing germs on apple slices (via Playdough to Plato).
As well as the science demonstration shared below, stories can be a fabulous resource for helping children to understand abstract concepts – be sure to check out our collection of Picture Books about Good Handwashing & Healthy Hygiene Habits.
A Quick Demonstration to Explain Germs and Handwashing
While not scientifically directly linked to germs (it’s actually about surface tension), the following simple demonstration takes just a few moments and acts as a great demonstration for reinforcing the importance of thorough hand washing.
Plus it adds a little magic for kids – the sort of magic that helps to make the message memorable! All you need is a bowl of water, some black pepper and liquid hand wash.
Sprinkle the pepper onto the surface of the water. It will float. Tell your child that the pepper represents germs.
Ask your child to dip one finger gently into the water to see what will happen to the pepper. Nothing happens – just like not much happens when they give their hands a cursory dip under a running tap when washing their hands.
Take their finger out of the water, dry it and coat it with hand soap. Now have them dip their finger again into the water. What happens to the pepper? Magic, right!
Helping Kids Develop Healthy Handwashing Habits
Teaching children healthy habits, especially thorough hand washing, really is a good way to help fight germs! To help you introduce or reinforce a thorough hand washing technique with your children I’ve developed a handy printable handwashing poster (download instructions below).
The instructions included on the poster, ‘How to Wash Your Hands’ are;
1. Turns on soft taps and wet your hands.
2. Squirt handsoap onto your hands.
3. Rub your hands and count to 20 or sing the Alphabet Song.
4. Rinse well.
5. Dry your hands thoroughly.
Feel free to print it out for use in your home or classroom.
Click here to download: Free Handwashing Poster. Save the PDF to your computer. Open the PDF and print the pages you require. When printing, select “Fit to printable area” (or similar) to ensure the page fits with your printer type and local paper size.
Having trouble accessing or downloading the file? Please try a different internet browser.
Please note: All Childhood 101 printables are for personal use only, you may not use any part of this content for commercial purposes-that includes selling the document, giving it away to promote your business or website, or printing the file to sell. You may not share, loan or redistribute these documents. Teachers may use multiple copies for students within their own classroom.
What are your top tips for teaching kids about germs and hand washing?