34. Handwashing Activities for Children
Updated: Jan 28
The last few days I have been building a unit on Health and Hygiene. I mean what better time to encourage and teach the importance of staying healthy than in the middle of a global pandemic? The little ones know the basics but, we'll spend the next few weeks getting to the nitty gritty of germs and bacteria and how we can do our best to fight them off.
This week we began with a lesson on handwashing. In this article I cover the materials and instructions for 3 different activities. Bab Bread, Soap and Pepper, and Super Simple Soap. Your children will be able to see how bacteria spreads, see soaps germ fighting power in action, and make their own bars of soap.
We started with the question "Why". Did you know that 80%, EIGHTY PERCENT, of infectious disease is spread from touch? Be it touching other or touching surfaces, germy hands are the biggest culprit. Its hard to explain to them how BIG of a problem germs can be when they are so small you cant see them. So we started the lesson with an activity to show them.
Bread Experiment! In this experiment all we needed was sliced bread, unwashed hands, clean tongs, and zip lock bags. The control slice was taken out with tongs and put straight into a bag and labeled. Then each of the kids took a slice out with their hands and placed into their own bag and we labeled it. We also rubbed a slice on the top of our echo dot and another on our computer mouse.
We followed up by making predictions about what would happen. They were sure the bread would spoil, which it will. Next we made hypothesis' about which slices we thought would spoil the fastest or slowest and why. Over time we will observe the bread slices until we get our results and whether or not our predictions were right! (I will be back with updates on this one!)
If you're interested in trying this at home, I created a sheet to write out predictions and results! You can download it free now!
So now we know how germy our hands (and other surfaces we touch often) can be. But why can't we just rinse them off? Why do we NEED soap? Soap breaks up the surface tension of water that allows us to actually get the germs off of our hands. So we did a little soap science to show how soap works.
Soap and Pepper Science
In this activity, we really got to see soap in action! It led to a good discussion on surface tension and how the soap works to break the surface tensions so that we can actually get our hands cleaned.
Another fun fact. Did you know that damp hands spread more germs? 1,000 times more! So not only is rinsing not enough but it is equally as important to dry your hands off after washing them!
And now that they have learned how important it is to wash their hands, with soap, I really wanted to encourage their interest in soap. What better way to do that than letting them make their own soap? So, that's what we did!
Super Simple Soap
Glass bowl or measuring cup
Essential Oils (optional)
Popsicle Sticks or toothpicks
(Materials are linked with the amazon item I purchased for this activity, if you need any of the materials)
Cut the bar into smaller chunks, place in glass measuring cup. Microwave until completely liquid. Amount of time will vary depending on amount of glycerin. Microwave at 30 second intervals.
While melting the glycerin, prepare the soap molds by putting a few drops of the desired essential oils into the mold (if using).
Once liquified, pour the glycerin into the soap molds.
Allow children to immediately begin adding decorations and other additions to the soap using the popsicle stuff to stir and push the decorations in.
Allow the soap to cool and solidify (typically 30min to an hour) and done! If the soap is still soft after this time, which may happen with larger soaps, allow to sit longer. You can refrigerate to speed up the cooling process or allow them to sit overnight.
I created a PowerPoint lesson plan that we used for this lesson on handwashing that includes the materials and instructions for the activities. I also added videos into the PowerPoint (one is an activity and the other is a handwashing video for children) and I added additional video links that compliment the lesson. My children range from preschool to second/third grade. So some links are to preschool handwashing songs while others are to more informational (though still age appropriate). Each video linked is labeled so you can choose which you want to watch and share with your littles! I created this on a desktop so, while it opened fine for me using Keynote and PowerPoint on my mobile device, I don't know if the formatting will work for everyone's mobile device.